How we operate

Project proponents are encouraged to review this process page, the NAIF mandatory eligibility criteria and our Frequently Asked Questions prior to providing NAIF with information. Based on a review of this information, if you believe your project might be eligible for NAIF finance, please contact NAIF by emailing details of your project (including project scope, size and status) to the NAIF team. A member of the NAIF team will be in touch with you as soon as possible.

Shipping containers on a railway

Assessment and approval process  

If you are considering applying for finance from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF), please review our process page, the mandatory eligibility criteria, and the Frequently Asked Questions before providing us with information about your project. If you believe your project might be eligible for NAIF finance, please contact us by emailing the details of your project, including project scope, size, and status, to the NAIF team. A member of our team will be in touch with you as soon as possible.  

Initial review  

During the initial review phase, we will evaluate your project against our mandatory eligibility criteria. If NAIF concludes that the project has the potential to meet these criteria, it will undertake a Strategic Assessment of the project, including evaluating it against our strategic assessment considerations. For eligible projects, we will prepare a Strategic Assessment Paper (SAP) and present it to NAIF’s investment review bodies.  

Our strategic assessment considerations include:  

  • The capabilities and track record of the proponent, sponsors, management, and consultants.  
  • The development or enhancement of infrastructure in, or with significant benefit for, northern Australia.  
  • The pathways for the project to be fully funded, including the availability of equity to support the project and whether credible co-financiers have been identified.  
  • If there is a sufficiently developed and viable business case that enables financial close to occur within a reasonable time.  
  • Revenue certainty and realistic operating cost forecasts that support debt repayment.  
  • The project’s executability, including a strategy to achieve close within a reasonable timeframe.  
  • An assessment of environmental and social considerations in accordance with our Environment and Social Review of Transactions Policyopens PDF file  
  • The potential for the project to meet NAIF’s Public Benefit Guidelinesopens PDF file and Indigenous Engagement Strategyopens PDF file guidelines.  
  • The need for NAIF funding for the project.  

Please note that this step does not constitute an Investment Decision, nor is it an offer of finance. It does not guarantee that the NAIF eligibility criteria will be met, nor is it an endorsement of any specific terms or conditions.   

Relevant government stakeholders (Commonwealth, State, and Territory) will be consulted and informed.    

Due diligence 

During the due diligence phase, we will undertake detailed project due diligence, including project, financial, and credit risk analysis, as well as a technical, environmental, and social risk analysis.  

NAIF Environmental and Social Review of Projects Policy (ESR) 

Our ESR Policyopens PDF file is an essential component of the NAIF assessment and approval process. The policy requires that all projects undergo a rigorous assessment to ensure they meet specific environmental and social criteria. The assessment includes an evaluation of the project’s potential impact on the environment, including the direct and indirect environmental effects of the project, as well as an evaluation of social impacts, such as the project’s impact on local communities, employment, and other socio-economic factors. The policy ensures that projects funded by NAIF are sustainable and have a positive impact on the environment and the communities they serve. 

Download the Environmental and Social Review of Projects Policyopens PDF file   

NAIF Act and Investment Mandate 

We will work collaboratively with you and the co-financiers (if applicable) to develop appropriate terms and conditions for NAIF’s finance. We must assess whether the proposed transaction satisfies all the requirements of the NAIF Act and Investment Mandate.  

The Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility Act 2016, establishes the legal framework for NAIF’s operations, including its mandate to provide financial assistance to infrastructure projects that will promote economic and social development in northern Australia. NAIF’s Investment Mandate sets out the specific criteria and requirements for projects seeking NAIF finance, including the need to demonstrate public benefit, Indigenous engagement, and environmental and social responsibility. NAIF is required to ensure that all projects it funds are consistent with its Act and Investment Mandate, and undergoes a rigorous assessment and approval process to ensure compliance. 

We will carry out additional consultation with relevant Commonwealth, State, and Territory government stakeholders. Where NAIF financing will be greater than $250 million, NAIF will consult with Infrastructure Australia.  

Learn more about the NAIF Act and Investment Mandate 

Undertake a Public Benefit Assessment 

To ensure that NAIF-funded projects deliver positive outcomes for the public, NAIF requires project proponents to undertake a Public Benefit Assessmentopens PDF file as part of the application process. The Public Benefit Assessment involves an analysis of the expected social, economic, and environmental benefits that the project will bring to the region. The assessment considers factors such as job creation, capacity building, community engagement, Indigenous participation, and sustainability. By requiring project proponents to demonstrate public benefit, NAIF aims to ensure that its investments contribute to the long-term development and prosperity of northern Australia.  

Download the Public Benefit Assessment Guidelinesopens PDF file  

Develop an Indigenous Engagement Strategy 

Proponents are required to collaborate with NAIF in developing an Indigenous Engagement Strategyopens PDF file to ensure that the Indigenous communities in northern Australia have opportunities to participate in, and benefit from, infrastructure development in the region. The strategy sets out principles for engagement, including recognition and respect for the unique culture, history, and aspirations of Indigenous people, and the importance of meaningful consultation and collaboration with Indigenous communities. The strategy also aims to identify and address any potential adverse impacts on Indigenous people resulting from infrastructure development projects. The Indigenous Engagement Strategy is an important part of NAIF’s commitment to social responsibility and sustainability. 

Download the Indigenous Engagement Strategy Guidelinesopens PDF file  

Submit a Formal Investment Proposal 

The Formal Investment Proposal is the final step in the NAIF assessment and approval process. It is a detailed submission made by the project proponent which includes information and documentation on the project, its funding requirements, the proposed terms and conditions of NAIF’s finance, as well as assessments of public benefit and Indigenous engagement strategies. The proposal is reviewed by NAIF’s investment review bodies and, if all criteria are met, an Investment Decision is sought from NAIF’s Board.  

Learn more about the Formal Investment Proposal 

Ensure you comply with the Commonwealth’s Australian Industry Participation Plan  

The Australian Industry Participation (AIP) Plan is a Commonwealth government initiative aimed at promoting and encouraging the participation of Australian businesses in major public and private sector projects. The AIP Plan aims to maximize opportunities for Australian industry, to improve access to information on major projects, to ensure the consideration of Australian industry capabilities in procurement, and to create a level playing field for Australian industry in accessing supply chain opportunities. For NAIF loans of $20 million or more, proponents will need to comply with the Commonwealth’s AIP Plan policy. 

Read the User Guide for Australian Industry Participation Plansopens PDF file  

Commonwealth’s Work Health and Safety Accreditation Scheme  

The Commonwealth’s Work Health and Safety Accreditation Scheme aims to improve workplace safety and health by promoting high standards of health and safety management. Under the scheme, entities that are involved in Commonwealth-funded construction work or provide construction-related goods or services are required to have accreditation from a recognised accreditation body. Accreditation involves a comprehensive assessment of an entity’s safety management systems and processes, and those that meet the required standards are awarded accreditation status. The aim of the scheme is to encourage a culture of safety in the construction industry and to reduce the incidence of workplace accidents and injuries. 


Commonwealth Minister Consideration Period  

If the NAIF Board makes an Investment Decision to offer finance, the responsible Commonwealth Minister has a consideration period during which the Minister may veto the project (on specific grounds specified in the NAIF Act).  

For projects that will be financed via a State or Territory, the relevant Government must confirm its support.  

The negotiation and execution of legal documentation and the satisfaction of any conditions to the NAIF financing is required before a project can receive funding.