The Palaszczuk Government will invest $15 million to acquire land for a new research precinct near Cairns Hospital to be built in partnership with James Cook University.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the announcement – part of the Cairns/FNQ Regional Recovery Action Plan – was in addition to a $52.9 million investment in upgrades for Cairns Hospital committed at the recent Cairns Community Cabinet.
“This land will be for the construction of a purpose-built research, education and innovation (REI) precinct in close proximity to the hospital, in collaboration with JCU,” the Premier said.
“It’s a crucial further step following last month’s commitment to upgrade the hospital and begin planning with JCU to transition the facility to a university hospital, bringing our current commitment to $67.9 million.”
The $67.9 million investment includes:
- $15 million for land for a research, education and innovation precinct at the Cairns Hospital
- $1.5 million for the preliminary business case to start planning for a research and training facility and additional beds to cater for future population growth
- A $26.4 million expansion of the Cairns Hospital Emergency Department
- $1.5 million to turn a currently unused space into a multidisciplinary pre-admission clinic
- $2 million to add a new endoscopy room
- $800,000 to fit out a 12th operating theatre
- $20.7 million has also been committed to critical upgrades at Cairns Hospital which will cater for projected future demand on utilities at the site.
“My government’s vision is to protect Queenslanders’ health and to support projects that will create jobs now and into the future, here in the Far North and throughout the state,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“That’s why our recovery plan for the region includes this financial commitment for the hospital land on top of the upgrades, which will provide better health care for the Far North and allow us to welcome the future generation of health professionals to learn and train right here in Cairns.
“Thanks to our strong health response we have been able to get on with Queensland’s plan for economic recovery, investing in job creating projects like this.”
Deputy Premier and Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Steven Miles said alongside these investments, the Queensland Government had also brought more health professionals to the Far North region.
“Since 2015, we’ve hired 223 more doctors, 489 more nurses and midwives and 128 more health professionals across Far North Queensland to help meet the health needs of the growing and aging population,” he said.
Member for Cairns Michael Healy said the land announcement comes on top of the previous funding to support jobs for the region.
“Not only will these upgrade projects deliver world-class health facilities for the region, but will support a further 150 construction jobs which is critical for our economic recovery,” he said.
Member for Barron River Craig Crawford said the Palaszczuk Government will continue to invest in the Far North region.
“We recognise that the COVID-19 pandemic is a long-term response that requires a long-term approach and we will continue to work with the Far North community on creating more opportunities for future growth,” he said.
Speaker of the Queensland Parliament and Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt said the land announcement was another step towards supporting local students to study in the region.
“We have a great health system here in Cairns, and it will be fantastic for the next generation of health professionals to be able to learn right here in the Far North,” he said.
Member for Cook Cynthia Lui said living in rural and remote areas can mean having to travel for complex health care, just as health students from the region need to travel far for their clinical placements.
“Having Cairns become a university hospital will mean students living in North Queensland and live and learn closer to home,” she said.