Representatives from six South Pacific nations, as well as Timor-Leste, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and France will gather in Cairns this week for the Palaszczuk Government’s inaugural South Pacific Defence and Industry Forum.
Minister for State Development Cameron Dick said attendees would join more than 100 industry representatives, and Commonwealth and State Government personnel at the forum.
“Countries represented include the Republic of Palau, Tonga, Fiji, Cook Islands, Republic of Marshall Islands, Timor-Leste, New Zealand, United Kingdom and France,” Mr Dick said.
“Queensland is already kicking goals in the defence and aerospace industries, and we want to further build our maritime capability to create more jobs for Queenslanders, especially in the maritime industry and sustainment of vessels across the region.
“HMAS Cairns is the homeport for nine Royal Australian Naval Vessels and its operations are supported by 900 Australian Navy and civilian personnel.
“We want to maximise Queensland’s geographically significant position in the Asia Pacific region.
“Increased interest in Queensland’s defence industry capabilities will mean more business opportunities and more local jobs.
“Far North Queensland has all the elements to become the port of choice to deliver services across the South Pacific and indeed the Asia-Pacific region.”
Member for Cairns Michael Healy said Cairns had played a major role in the maintenance of vessels in the current Pacific Patrol Boat program, which has been running for 27 years.
“The estimated size of the maritime sustainment and operational market value for the Pacific Patrol Boat replacement fleet is $400 million over the life of the project,” he said.
“Following the forum, delegates will tour local maritime businesses as well as our Great Barrier Reef International Marine College.
“Some of these businesses will be showcased on the Queensland Government stand at the Pacific 2019 International Maritime Exposition being held in Sydney in October, just as they were in the corresponding event in 2017.”
Member for Cook Cynthia Lui said the Queensland Government is focused on creating local jobs.
“We are committed to building an economy that is sustainable, diverse and inclusive for all Queenslanders, and growing our maritime industries is key to that goal.”
“The flow on effect of growing an industry like this in the Cairns region will have benefits for the whole of the far north.
Speaker of the Queensland Parliament and Member for Mulgrave, Curtis Pitt said Cairns’ local maritime industry was already a significant employer, supporting many Royal Australian Navy and Border Force vessels.
“Queensland has the leading naval and maritime capabilities Australia’s future needs, and with a significant presence already in the far north, this is a great opportunity to capitalise on future defence industry needs.”
Member for Barron River Craig Crawford said the forum was a key initiative under the Queensland Defence Industries 10-Year Roadmap and Action Plan.
“Building relationships between domestic and international maritime, defence and defence industry stakeholders will create ongoing benefits for North Queensland.