The Palaszczuk Government has announced a $150 million commitment for a major expansion to the Cairns Marine Precinct that will enable the maintenance, repair and overhaul of more and larger ships.
The Queensland Government will invest half the cost of a new Common User Facility at the precinct that will include a 5000-tonne shiplift, allowing ships of up to 120 metres in length to be repaired and maintained on hardstand areas.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the expansion would allow Cairns to capture larger defence and maritime contracts.
“Cairns is the leading maintenance, repair and overhaul destination for defence and recreational vessels, including superyachts, across Australia,” The Premier said.
“Expanding the Cairns Marine Precinct with a Common User Facility will ensure Cairns can keep up with demand and continue to remain a world leader in maritime manufacturing and repairs.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a big impact on the Cairns economy and expanding the Cairns Marine Precinct will help diversify the Cairns economy.
“My Government has now locked-in our $150 million investment in the future of the Cairns marine sector and the 4,600 jobs it supports.”
Deputy Premier and State Development Minister Steven Miles today made the announcement at the Cairns Marine Precinct where the Common User Facility will be built.
“Expanding the Cairns Marine Precinct with a Common User Facility will ensure Cairns continues to ride a wave of success as northern Australia’s home of vessel repair, maintenance and overhaul,” Mr Miles said.
“Construction of a Common User Facility will allow local service providers to pursue additional maintenance work from the Royal Australian Navy and Australian Border Force as well as from the private sector.
“We have a significant opportunity, particularly in the lead up to the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games, to leverage the growth in the tourism vessel and superyacht sector.
“We will now seek a cost-sharing arrangement with the Australian Government to ensure more Queensland jobs and economic growth.”
Treasurer and Minister for Trade and Investment Cameron Dick said the adaptability of Common User Facility would enable Cairns to rapidly adjust to the changing demands of regional marine operators.
“This is an opportunity to position Cairns as a leading marine maintenance, repair and overhaul hub,” the Treasurer said.
“Cairns Port is one of the few Australian ports offering both in water and land facility expansion opportunities for the Department of Defence.
“There will also be specialist facilities for blasting and painting vessels and more capacity for wet berths.”
The Cairns Marine Precinct Detailed Business Case, finalised in December 2021, recommended an investment in a Cairns Common User Facility.
Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said a Common User Facility would allow the port to expand and remain competitive against the demands of the industry.
“The facilities at Cairns Port are vital to our economic development in regional centres, handing bulk shipments of sugar, molasses, livestock and cargo including the mammoth wind turbines needed for the Kaban Wind Farm.
“Thanks to the Palaszczuk Labor Government keeping assets like this in the hands of Queenslanders, we’re able to invest in infrastructure like a Common User Facility to grow Far North Queensland’s economy and it’s the people of this great state that will reap the benefits.”
Member for Cairns Michael Healy said the $150 million funding commitment would grow the Cairns marine industry and Cairns economy.
“Cairns is a location of strategic importance to Northern Australia. It is the gateway to the Pacific region and is of major economic importance,” Mr Healy said.
“A Common User Facility will open up significant opportunities for industry to pursue new business opportunities, increase capabilities and create additional skilled jobs throughout the supply chain.”
Advance Cairns chairman Nick Trompf welcomed the State’s commitment saying that upgrading the marine precinct is one of the top priorities for the advocacy and economic development group.
“With Cairns home to Queensland’s only operational Navy base – and the increasing geopolitical uncertainty in the Indo-Pacific region – the city is already seeing huge growth in demand for maintenance work for larger, more complex vessels,” Mr Trompf said.
“Our three shipyards are heavily booked, sometimes months in advance. Investment in the proposed common user facility will enable a step-change in capabilities, enabling the dry-docking of multiple large vessels simultaneously.
“Advance Cairns has been working closely with the State for more than four years advocating for upgrades in the marine precinct, with our most recent meetings with the Deputy Premier and Minister for Transport and Main Roads just last week. We welcome the collaboration the State has shown on this vital project.”
The Queensland Government’s $150 million funding commitment is in addition to a separate $30 million investment in the Cairns Marine Precinct which included $2 million for the development of the Detailed Business Case and $28 million for new infrastructure including two wharves which will expand capacity to carry out in-water maintenance on vessels used by the Australian Defence Force and Australian Border Force.