Precincts to Redefine FNQ Region
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We’ve got terrific opportunities in Cairns at the moment on two fronts. Two major precinct developments will redefine Cairns and the broader region over the next 10 years.
One is the health and innovation precinct that’s going to be developed near the hospital and the other is the marine maintenance precinct near the port.
The State Government is funding and leading both of these business cases.
The first is the marine maintenance precinct, which is well under way. A major contractor, PWC, has been appointed to carry out this business case.
This business case is due for completion by November, so it’s a very fast time frame for a Government-led business case.
Cairns is one of three new Regional Maintenance Centres the Navy is creating, with the other two being Darwin and Perth.
There’s a lot of momentum from a defence point of view to get our RMC up and running and to be able to handle a broad range of vessels.
There’s a substantial amount of vacant land that can be developed, as well as existing facilities that can be further enhanced.
Ports North has been conducting master planning on the port as well as the Port of Mourilyan which it also owns.
The marine maintenance sector will be an important chapter in the master plan of the Cairns port, and is due for completion by the end of this year or early next year.
There are 4500 people working in marine maintenance. It’s been a big part of our history and it promises to be an even bigger part of our future, not only in maintenance but also with the expansion of our naval base, HMAS Cairns, which is the only operational navy base in Queensland.
It’s a game changer and the beauty of any jobs that are linked to defence is that they have a long tail — maintenance contracts can last 20 or 30 years, so it’s a really good opportunity.
The other project that is at an exciting phase is the health and innovation precinct that will jointly be developed by James Cook University and Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service.
JCU has acquired a large parcel of land nearby the hospital. It’s in active, early stage planning of what the site might look like.
These two precincts are game-changing. If you cast your mind forward 10-20 years, what will occur in those two locations will be quite transformative, with hundreds of millions of dollars spent, not just by Government, but by private sector.
On that note we have already seen huge private interest in the marine precinct, with two of our three slipways sold in the last six months to larger firms, which have seen the opportunity for this region. Similarly the hospital health and innovation precinct is attracting plenty of enormous private enterprise inquiry.
We are going to see a scenario over the next 10-15 years of thousands of extra workers and hundreds of millions of dollars being spent in those two precincts.
A year ago we were gravely concerned about the future of many businesses in Cairns and indeed what the state of the economy might look like at the back of COVID-19 implications.
On the back of huge COVID-related government spending, particularly federally, many businesses have been trading extremely strongly in the current financial year, so we are in a far better place than we expected to be.
We should look forward with real confidence and as international tourism resumes, our brand Australia is in a great place.