The ASI has welcomed the Gillard Government’s release yesterday of guidelines for its new Regional Infrastructure Fund (RIF), but cautions that with it focused on the mining regions, it needs provisions that assure local industry gets a fair crack at supply. Bankrolled from proceeds from the Government’s Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT) and worth $6 billion over 2010–11 to 2020–21, the Prime Minister said that the RIF was intended to “spread the benefits of the boom across the entire nation”. The ASI is urging the Government to apply a requirement for Australian Industry Participation Plans (AIPPs) to be submitted on all works supported by the new Fund to help maximise opportunities for work to flow across local industry. Currently AIPPs are required for projects receiving $20 million or more of Government grants and also for all funds flowing from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC). The ASI has for some time urged that AIPPs be applicable to all projects, public or private, worth more than $100 million. ASI’s National Manager – Industry Development, Ian Cairns said the new fund is a welcome step to assist in rebalancing the so-called two-speed economy created out of the current resources boom. “This has the potential of being a real win-win for the nation by both creating important new infrastructure to facilitate regions where the activity is concentrated, whilst providing opportunities to spread the benefits of the Government-funded development works,” he said. “With many in the local steel industry capable and accustomed with supplying into large projects across regions and State borders, there is a real opportunity here to help boost industry located in the non-resource areas of the country as well. “Following the Government’s decision to implement the AIPP process in projects with grants over $20 million and on CEFC projects it makes sense that RIF projects would follow the same process. “This would create a lot more transparency for procurement processes and provide local industry with greater confidence that work will flow to them. We would strongly suggest that the relevant Departments work together to implement this ASAP.”