Cairns TNQ connection to Canberra



Cyber Convoy Focuses on Key Priorities

Nick Trompf
: (07) 4080 2900

Executive Chairman
Advance Cairns

We at Advance Cairns participated in a ‘virtual delegation’ to Canberra on November 23 and 24 under the banner ‘Cairns TNQ Connecting to Canberra – 2021 Cyber Convoy’.

The delegation’s advocacy centred around a list of priorities that Advance Cairns and other stakeholders have been developing over the past 10 months.

The new list of regional advocacy priorities, including eight infrastructure and seven policy priorities, were officially launched on November 10, with Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers among the guests.
More than 30 delegates took part in the cyber convoy, with teams working across the following sectors: defence and marine, health, education and research, tourism and aviation, transport and roads, food and water security; and Small and Medium Enterprises.

There was a broader representative team including senior officials from Advance Cairns, Tourism Tropical North Queensland, the Cairns Chamber of Commerce and Regional Development Australia Tropical North.

This team met with the most senior MPs including the Prime Minister, Opposition Leader, Treasurer and Shadow Treasurer. In October 2018, we led the biggest ever delegation to Canberra from this region.

The sheer size of our delegation (50 people) was a strong representation for the region and a high impact way of being noticed and heard.

We lead a delegation typically once in an electoral cycle. We are about to launch into the next Federal Election cycle. Because we are unable to take a physical delegation to Canberra due to Covid restrictions, this time we gathered in Cairns, meeting with key MPs as we have done in the past, however via Zoom meetings. We were again adorned in signature orange ties and scarves.

The advocacy priorities focused on opportunities such as the marine maintenance precinct and the Cairns University Hospital, two existing priorities which will continue to be elevated at Federal and State levels. Whilst we’ve had a Federal Government commitment of $60 million for the hospital so far, the State Government is yet to commit major capital works funding required.

At a Federal Government level, our centrepiece of the university hospital is going to be support of places for teaching medicine at JCU from years 1-6 in Cairns. (Currently students can only do years 4-6 in Cairns, necessitating them to go to Townsville for the first three years). We are asking the Federal Government for $26 million a year in recurrent funding for extra Commonwealth Supported Places for JCU’s medical degree. Given that the building of the facility will start in the next 12 months, it’s now really important that the Government steps up and funds these extra places.

The marine maintenance precinct is built around continued expansion of HMAS Cairns and facilities for maintenance of Navy and Border Force vessels. A business case funded by the State Government will soon be released outlining growth opportunities and the scale of investment needed at the port to maximise business and jobs growth. Hundreds of millions of dollars will need to be spent over the coming decade to upgrade facilities.

Two new policies focus on the Cairns Airport and the ship building industry. We will be seeking substantial investment from the Federal Government to rejuvenate the Cairns International Airport. With the ending of international flights due to Covid, the international terminal is desperately in need of substantial upgrades as we look to bring back international tourists.

It is critical that we ensure that Cairns Airport is brought up to a new level to ensure the visitor experience and facilities are first class. We will also be advocating for government support to revive the ship building industry in Cairns. Cairns has a long history of ship building. There are opportunities emerging for Cairns to again be a centre for the building of ships and boats. We do have some very exciting opportunities emerging in Cairns and I look forward to seeing them come to fruition.