Cairns Marine Precinct upgrades to diversify FNQ economy

JOINT STATEMENT

A $30 million investment by the Palaszczuk Government will deliver two new wharves for the Port of Cairns and a business case to grow further as a key centre for maintaining and repairing large defence vessels.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the funding would deliver 150 new jobs during construction at the Cairns Marine Precinct.

The announcement is a major initiative of the Cairns/FNQ Regional Recovery Action Plan to support economic recovery and create jobs, based on the hard work of the region’s MPs Craig Crawford (Barron River), Michael Healy (Cairns), Curtis Pitt (Mulgrave) and Cynthia Lui (Cook).

“Global economic conditions have been hit hard by COVID-19, but my Government is determined that the Far North, like all of Queensland, will emerge strongly from the downturn,” the Premier said.

“Working with Ports North, the construction of these new wharves in Cairns will expand the capacity to carry out in-water maintenance on vessels used by the Australian Defence Force and Australian Border Force.

“The funding will also cover a business case to identify how we can build on this initial investment and grow as a centre for large vessel repair work.

“We recognise that the COVID-19 pandemic response requires a long-term approach and will continue to work with the Far North Queensland community on creating more opportunities for future growth.”

Treasurer Cameron Dick said in addition to the maintenance growth, shipbuilding could return to Cairns, with a separate study into the possibility of building vessels at the Cairns Marine Precinct.

“The Cairns Reshoring Shipbuilding Project business case will investigate the manufacture of commercial vessels required for servicing the region that would bring more new jobs to the city,” the Treasurer said.

“There is an existing skilled work force, contractor base and infrastructure within the Cairns Marine Precinct which has a legacy of significant ship building in the city over many years.”

Member for Barron River Craig Crawford said investing in the Cairns Marine Precinct would stimulate local economic activity and create employment.

“The project will provide opportunities for local and regional suppliers, contractors, service providers and the wider business community,” Mr Crawford said.

“Shipbuilding could expand and develop our region’s highly skilled marine workforce with complementary benefits to our existing training and maintenance, repair and overhaul operations.”

Member for Cairns Michael Healy said the new work will build on the $127 million Cairns Shipping Development project which was completed this year.

“That work opened a new chapter for the local marine industry, with vessels up to 300m including visiting naval ships, cargo carriers and cruise ships now able to enter the port,” Mr Healy said.

“We’re wasting no time now in moving on to the next phase for this vital marine precinct.”

Ports North Chairman Russell Beer said it was doing a 30-year Master Plan for the Ports of Cairns and Mourilyan and the planning process is well underway.

“This work will be vital to ensure Cairns is well positioned to take advantage of future marine maintenance, repair and overhaul work,” Mr Beer said.

“Ports North is working closely with the Queensland Government and a range of stakeholders including the Department of Defence in Canberra and the three Cairns based shipyards to firm up options which have arisen from the Master Planning work done to date.”

“The work we have done shows that there is a need for a step up in facilities in the Cairns Marine Precinct to deliver on the opportunities of future growth of the marine sector.”

The initiative aligns with the Queensland Government’s Defence Industries 10-year Roadmap and Action Plan which is focused on growing capability in the state and supporting Queensland defence firms to access new opportunities and create new jobs.

“COVID-19 continues to devastate lives and economies around the world,” the Premier said.

“But because of Queensland’s strong health response and strong borders, we are on the path to recovery – and we’re seeing that here in Cairns.

“Since the pandemic struck, my government has announced $8 billion in measures as part of Queensland Economic Recovery Plan to support Queenslanders’ health, Queensland jobs and Queensland businesses – and there is more to come.”

Cairns FNQ Regional Recovery Action Plan initiatives include:

  • $30 million to upgrade the Port of Cairns with two new wharves and a business case for further development of the Cairns Marine Precinct creating 150 jobs.
  • $450,000 to boost Far North Queensland’s biosecurity capacity to protect agricultural jobs.
  • $15 million to position the Cairns TAFE campus as the region’s main training hub
  • $3.5 million for Cairns Aquarium to help local tourism sustain and recover
  • $70 million for the Cairns Hospital Mental Health Unit redevelopment
  • $52.9 million with James Cook University to make Cairns Hospital a university hospital
  • $164 million for the Smithfield Bypass
  • $33.4 million for the construction of the 94km Wangetti Trail
  • $2.5 million Mareeba Ambulance Station replacement
  • $2.1 million Atherton Community Centre
  • $237.5 million jointly funded Cape York Region Package, which includes work on the Peninsula Development Road which will open up new opportunities for Indigenous businesses.

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