Advance Cairns Budget submission 2023/24

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CAIRNS

TNQ

2023-24 BUDGET SUBMISSION

FORGING A BRIGHTER FUTURE

ADVANCE
OUR REGION ONE VOICE THE COMMITTEE FOR TROPICAL NORTH QUEENSLAND
CAIRNS

ACCELERATING INTO 2023-24: HOW THE FEDERAL AND STATE GOVERNMENTS CAN ENABLE COVIDRECOVERY FOR CAIRNS TNQ

As the world reconnects post-COVID, a sense of urgency exists around the need for Federal and State Government investment to capitalise on this narrow window of opportunity and to position the region for recovery. At the same time, investment in much-needed transformative infrastructure projects, which have been confirmed, needs to begin across a tighter timeline. In doing so, we acknowledge the commitments by both Federal and State Governments to support Tropical North Queensland and are committed to bringing forward their catalytic impact.

This need to accelerate our response as a region is imperative as we witness the importance of economic diversification coming to the fore in this new post-pandemic world.

These integrated initiatives build on our objectives to drive renewal, resilience and greater diversity in the far north’s economy. This extension of our Forging a Brighter Future plan highlights the need for more immediate funding timelines to bring forward key programs of State and Federal Governments.

Covid has reshaped the global tourism market requiring new partnerships to be established and new opportunities to be tapped. This in turn requires our tourism industry, which has demonstrated extraordinary resilience and versatility through the pandemic, to forge new ties with critical partners in the competitive international marketplace. This calls for a more flexible approach to initiatives to allow tourism operators to engage with new global partners and hence a change to the Export Market Development Grant criteria, which would have a material impact, has been proposed.

This submission calls on State and Federal Governments to deliver on the funds to provide a transformative upgrade to the Cairns Marine Precinct: the construction of the Common User Facility (CUF) is one of the most significant investments at this site which is a primary driver of economic diversification in the wider economy. The precinct is a critical enabler of the Tropical North Queensland economy serving both multi-million dollar commercial maritime operations as well as supporting Australia’s strategic defence and foreign policy initiatives. It is vital that funds to deliver on this project begin to flow as a matter of urgency.

This call is in line with the Federal Government’s deepening engagement in the Pacific which requires an expansion of our marine capabilities in the region. This strategic focus has seen Prime Minister Anthony Albanese recently deliver a historic address to the Parliament of Papua New Guinea and announce a joint Australia and PNG pledge to a new security pact.

The region’s geographic proximity to the Pacific combined with our deep business and cultural ties call for Cairns to play a greater role in Australia’s engagement. Central to that is the opportunity to position an operational arm of the Office of the Pacific here in the city. This is both a logical strategy and an operational step as Australia forges enduring and deeper ties to our north.

This too links with our call for an expansion of the vitally needed maritime training facilities at the TAFE Great Barrier Reef International Marine College which serves both commercial and defence training requirements. It is also further reinforced by drawing on the capacity-building opportunity which exists within our two universities and TAFE across the Pacific and particularly in PNG.

A brighter future will be forged for Cairns TNQ with Federal and State Budget support for the following:

• Marine - Delivery of shared federal and state funding to build the Common User Facility at Cairns Marine Precinct

• Health - State funding for detailed design and construction of Cairns Health and Innovation Centre, plus planning progressed for the Health and Innovation Precinct

• Education - Delivery of $50m for a permanent CQUniversity Cairns CBD campus, plus additional Commonwealth Supported Places at JCU Medical

• Roads - $25m to finish sealing the Kennedy Developmental Road, plus $210m for Kuranda Range Road.

We commend the commitment to this region and want to work hand in hand with both levels of government to ensure that the steps towards greater economic diversification are realised in the near term to achieve maximum benefit across the economy as a whole.

JACINTA REDDAN FROM THE CEO
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INFRASTRUCTURE & POLICY PRIORITIES

THE OPPORTUNITIES SUMMARISED BELOW ARE PIVOTAL TO HELP CAIRNS TNQ REBOUND FROM THE DEVASTATING ECONOMIC IMPACTS OF COVID-19 AND, IMPORTANTLY, CREATE MUCH-NEEDED DIVERSIFICATION AND RESILIENCE IN THE REGION’S ECONOMY.

INFRASTRUCTURE

CAIRNS MARINE PRECINCT - P4

Delivery of federal/state funding to build the Common User Facility; $15m state funding to expand the Great Barrier Reef International Marine College; $24m federal funding over two years for capacity increases to the city’s shipyards.

CAIRNS UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL

REDEVELOPMENT - P6

State funding for detailed design and construction of Cairns Health and Innovation Centre plus land acquisition for acute clinical services building; progress planning for Health and Wellbeing Precinct.

EDUCATION & RESEARCH - P8

Delivery of $50m federal funding for new CQUniversity CBD campus; $15m state funding Great Barrier Reef International Marine College; consideration for 40 of 80 additional places JCU Medical School.

FOOD AND WATER SECURITY - P10

State and Federal Governments finalise funding agreements with CRC, deliver shared $215m Cairns Water Security - Stage 1; state completes RWA Atherton Tablelands by mid-2023; $2.5m federal funding Etheridge Shire Irrigation Project; $7m from NWIDF business case North Johnstone River diversion scheme.

NORTHERN BEACHES ROADS - P12

Shared funding for Captain Cook Hwy ($359m) and Cairns Western Arterial Road ($300m) allocated over four years in State and Federal Budgets; master planning for both projects finalised by mid-2023.

TABLELANDS ACCESS - P14

Delivery of $210m federal funding Kuranda Range Road, including $21m for business case into preferred alternative routes; State and Federal Governments work together to extend NLTN from Smithfield to Mareeba.

INLAND ROADS - P16

$398m state and federal funding over 10 years Gulf Savannah Way; $25m federal funding to complete upgrade Kennedy Developmental Road.

POLICY

REGIONAL HEALTH PLANNING - P18

$6m federal funding palliative care hospice; $1.5m federal funding mental health initiatives; $2m federal funding local workforce strategies.

TNQ EXPORT MARKET DEVELOPMENT

GRANT WAIVER - P20

Federal Government commitment to extend and waive eligibility for the Export Market Development Grants to TNQ export businesses.

SUPERYACHT CHARTERING - P22

Federal Government removes or extends for further five years the sunset clause in Special Recreational Vessels Act.

PACIFIC ENGAGEMENT - P24

Operational headquarters in Cairns for DFAT Office of the Pacific; Cairns designated Australia’s northern hub for Step-Up to the Pacific.

SPECIALIST BOAT BUILDING - P26

$8m joint funding for landslide supply chain resilience. That Cairns be recognised by Federal Government as high priority alternative for specialist boat building; State and Federal Governments commit to working with Sea Swift to ensure their vessel upgrades occur in Cairns.

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INFRASTRUCTURE TO FORGE OUR FUTURE

CAIRNS MARINE PRECINCT

THE ISSUE

BRIEFING NOTE SUMMARY

• The Cairns Marine Precinct (CMP) is vital to the economic diversification of TNQ as the region continues to recover from devastating impacts of COVID-19 on its tourism and hospitality sectors.

• Cairns is a strategic port for Defence. The RAN’s Regional Maintenance Centre (RMC) North-East is now operational in Cairns following its launch in January when it became the first of four new RMCs in Australia.

• It is crucial that the Federal and State Governments work together to deliver on the initial $300m shared funding and further sufficient funds for the CMP’s Common User Facility, with the State Government delivering its share of $150m+ over a three-year period, as a centrepiece of fully developing the precinct’s infrastructure and tomorrow’s workforce.

• A commitment is needed to provide long-term continuous sustainment programs and to support the redevelopment of ship and boat building in the precinct.

• The Federal Government’s Defence Strategic Review, which is due for completion in March 2023, will play a significant role in shaping ongoing investment in and support for Queensland’s only naval base and indeed for broader strategic defence positions elsewhere in TNQ.

The Cairns Marine Precinct (CMP) is a critical enabler of the Tropical North Queensland (TNQ) economy, supporting Australia’s strategic Defence and foreign policy initiatives, as well as border and fisheries, tourism, and maritime trade operations. The precinct is home to a large and diverse marine sector with 1603 commercial vessels across tourism, fishing and shipping, and cruising yacht sectors, in addition to several Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and Australian Border Force (ABF) vessels. The precinct also hosts superyachts and cruise liners visiting the Pacific. COVID-19 exposed the fragility of Cairns’ tourism-based economy, and the continued growth of the CMP is critical for economic diversification in the region. A sustainable marine capacity to ensure that both strategic Defence priorities and industry needs are met is vital to provide growth and jobs for TNQ.

Recently, growing tensions between the United States and China have elevated the strategic importance of the Pacific, and Australia is now more than ever a frontline player in terms of engagement and development of the region. Australia’s StepUp to the Pacific program, launched by the previous Federal Government, signalled a key change in Australia’s Defence posture as it prioritised the Indo-Pacific region.

The Albanese Government has further elevated the importance of Pacific engagement with Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong making several trips to the region throughout 2022. As well, in August 2022, the government committed to delivering the most comprehensive Defence Strategic Review the country has seen in 35 years with its findings due by March 2023. Under the Security of Critical Infrastructure Act (2018), the Port of Cairns is a critical national infrastructure asset. The port includes HMAS Cairns, Australia’s most northern naval base on the eastern seaboard, and the CMP, and it plays a

key strategic role in Australia’s northern naval capability.

There is unmet and growing demand in naval, commercial and superyacht maintenance opportunities that supports a step change in ship sustainment capacity in the CMP. Certainty in the future pipeline of maintenance and sustainment work is critical in the workforce and resource commitments required by industry. Defence can play a key role in underpinning this.

The State Government’s CMP Expansion Detailed Business Case, released in January 2022, identified necessary infrastructure and skills requirements to ensure future growth and development in the precinct. The business case identified the potential to develop a maritime Common User Facility (CUF), accessible by all shipyards, to enhance the infrastructure capacity and capabilities at the CMP, optimise the use of the waterfront land, and maximise the emergent defence and marine industry opportunities. The CUF includes a 5000-tonne ship lift, two blast and paint facilities, additional wet berth capacity and three hardstand areas for vessels up to 120m in length.

It is essential that the State and Federal Governments deliver on their commitment to fund and develop the required infrastructure as outlined in the business case.

A commitment to long-term continuous maintenance programmes by the RAN will assist the individual shipyards to forward plan in their own businesses and give them the ability to make investments in their own infrastructure. Understanding the opportunities in specialist boat and shipbuilding will also allow further private investment and give security to individual businesses of a pipeline of continuous work in the marine precinct.

The CMP expansion needs to be complemented by a significant step up in industry workforce skills and training, both within the shipyards and also within the sector’s support industries. To support the CMP, there is a major role for training to upskill existing workers and contextualise training for the marine sector, and to recruit and grow the workforce through stronger training pathways. A further investment of $15m to expand and upgrade training facilities at the Great Barrier Reef International Marine College would play a vital role in meeting these needs.

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COUNCIL: CAIRNS STATE ELECTORATE: CAIRNS FEDERAL ELECTORATE: LEICHHARDT Pictured: The proposed Common User Facility for the Cairns Marine Precinct.
CAIRNS
BUDGET SUBMISSION 2023-24
TNQ

BACKGROUND

The Cairns region has the largest marine services sector in northern Australia, and has a skilled, year-round permanent marine and engineering workforce of 4600 across 270 organisations.

In 2017 the Federal Government committed to a Phase 1 $24m investment into Ports North Leaseholds to enhance and modernise the three shipyards within the CMP. In 2020, the State Government committed $28m for increased wharf capacity as well as $2m for the CMP Expansion Detailed Business Case to inform a step-change within the precinct. Significantly, the Federal Government committed $150m to the CMP in its October 2022 Federal Budget, which is also to be matched by the State Government.

In August 2022, the government announced details of the first Defence Strategic Review the country has seen since 2012. Defence Minister Richard Marles said the review, which is being led by former Minister for Defence Stephen Smith and former Chief of the Australian Defence Force Sir Angus Houston, will ensure the ADF is well positioned to meet security challenges amid “more aggressive posture” from China. With these current geopolitical tensions, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region, and with internationally significant events such as China’s security deal with the Solomon Islands, it is essential that this review sees a strengthening of Defence Force operations in far northern Australia.

The RAN is currently undertaking longterm planning for HMAS Cairns, and, in conjunction with Ports North Master Planning and the CMP Business Case, is looking at expansion of the current site as well as future purpose and requirements for the base. This expansion would align well with strengthening posture in northern Australia

OUR RECOMMENDATION

following results of the Defence Strategic Review.

The CMP is Australia’s maintenance centre for the RAN’s hydrographic vessels as well as ABF Cape Class vessels. It has serviced the Defence, ABF, and marine industries for many years and, as home to Fleet Base Pacific (HMAS Cairns), is one of the few ports in Australia that can offer the Department of Defence significant expansion opportunities in berth and land facilities.

The new Regional Maintenance Centre (RMC) North-East for the RAN under Plan Galileo is part of the CMP. RMC North-East provides a national naval sustainment and maintenance hub, enabling the CMP to build on its present capacity and commitments of servicing vessels from HMAS Cairns, Darwin, the United States, and the Pacific Islands.

The State Government’s CMP Expansion Detailed Business Case (released January 2022) highlights that one in six vessels in Australia over 15m – and four in five NQ registered vessels – are serviced in Cairns. The business case also highlights the existing shipyards are at or near capacity and that future demand will not be met with current capabilities.

Without a significant step-up in infrastructure and capability at the CMP, existing operators may not be able to compete for future sustainment contracts, and/or maintain or grow their business. Upskilling and training to meet critically under-resourced maritime workforce needs form a key part of this sector with planned expansion by the TAFE-operated Great Barrier Reef International Marine College essential. A combination of these factors will result in a potential decline in market share and loss of economic opportunity, while overall regional activity levels in allied industries will also sharply decline.

• That the Federal and State Governments work together to deliver the Common User Facility as outlined in the Cairns Marine Precinct Expansion Detailed Business Case.

• That Defence commits to basing and sustaining additional vessels in Cairns.

• That the State Government provides $15 million to expand the GBRIMC in order to further enhance this existing pipeline which is vital to deliver an increasingly skilled maritime workforce.

• That the Federal Government commits $24m over two years for stage 2 capacity increases within the three existing shipyards.

• That the Department of Defence delivers on its expansion of HMAS Cairns with the initial $155m upgrade of the Navy base by 2025, and further potential investment following the release of the Defence Strategic Review.

The objectives of the Defence Industrial Capability Plan are to broaden, deepen, and grow the industrial base of Defence to enhance Australia’s national security.

NEXT STEPS

To ensure further growth and job creation in the region, to attract greater private investment, and to enable Defence to achieve its strategic goals, the following commitments for the CMP are needed to facilitate a transformation in the overall capacity and capability of the precinct:

• Delivery of the CMP’s Common User Facility as committed by the State and Federal Governments in accordance with the Cairns Marine Precinct Expansion Detailed Business Case released in January 2022.

• $15m investment in establishing a virtual sustainment college through the Great Barrier Reef International Marine College (GBRIMC). The college will develop and deliver agile micro credentials that meet future Defence sustainment demands (see Education & Research priority).

• A commitment of $24m for stage two capacity increases within the three existing shipyards.

• A commitment from Defence to provide additional vessels in Cairns and longterm continuous maintenance and sustainment programmes.

ESTIMATED PROJECT COST $494M+ 20222023 Recommended state investment 20232024 20242025 $50m Construction of Common User Facility Stage 2 shipyards $20m 20252026 HMAS Cairns infrastructure Construction of Common User Facility $30m $50m $45m $40m Recommended federal investment Federal funded, delivery required $15m GBRIMC expansion * Funding is recurrent to 2027-2028 05 $50m $50m $24m $30m $30m*

INFRASTRUCTURE TO FORGE OUR FUTURE CAIRNS TNQ BUDGET SUBMISSION 2023-24

CAIRNS UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL REDEVELOPMENT PROJECT

THE ISSUE

services, with more skilled and highly trained clinicians.

BRIEFING NOTE SUMMARY

• Investment in expanded health facilities, services and staff at Cairns Hospital is critical to meeting the health needs of TNQ in the medium and long term.

• Transitioning to a university hospital will allow Cairns Hospital to achieve its vision to grow its capabilities to ultimately provide the community and staff with more complex clinical services closer to home. This will be based on cutting-edge research, clinical trials and expanded education to support the current and future health needs of our community.

• An ongoing commitment is needed from Federal and State Governments to support the development of Cairns Hospital in two phases:

º Phase 1 is the Cairns Hospital Capacity Expansion Project by 2026 and the Cairns Health and Innovation Centre, for which further funding is needed.

º Phase 2 is a new acute services building on an expanded Cairns Hospital footprint. Planning and initial funding are required now to enable Cairns Hospital to meet projected growth in demand for health services.

The two phases have broad partner support and seek to build on successive government investments. CHHHS, supported by the Northern Queensland Primary Healthcare Network, James Cook University and other tertiary institutions, is seeking to improve the ability of Cairns to build its own medical, nursing, and allied health workforce, to expand its clinical services and to translate research into practice to improve health outcomes for TNQ communities.

The Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service’s (CHHHS) operations extend across Tropical North Queensland (TNQ) to some of the most remote communities in the state, with a population increasingly experiencing complex, chronic conditions above national averages. Expanded health services, clinical research, and education are critical to meeting the health needs of TNQ’s growing population.

Cairns Hospital faces a number of sustainability challenges. These include:

• Short- and long-term infrastructure capacity – Cairns Hospital is now at capacity across all bed types and there is no hospital bypass option. By 2036/37, this gap is predicted to be more than 360 beds. Capacity is a critical risk and immediate planning is needed for a new acute clinical services building to ensure sustainable health service delivery for the medium term.

• Site constraints and resilience – Cairns Hospital is the smallest block of developable land for comparable hospitals, and the waterfront location creates service continuity risk (via flooding and storm surge).

• Workforce and Innovation – CHHHS needs to increase its locally grown health workforce to enable it to deliver expanded services closer to home. Attraction and retention of skilled clinicians and researchers will be vital to achieving the necessary innovation and associated research.

Transitioning Cairns Hospital to a university hospital will allow it to deliver world-class, high-quality care to address the critical current and future health challenges facing TNQ. This will result in more complex medical and surgical

Capacity Expansion Program

– Funded

» Relocate subacute care offsite to free up capacity for acute services at Cairns Hospital (by June 2023)

» Develop the Cairns Surgical Centre to enable increased surgical capacity and to increase bed capacity at Cairns Hospital for additional acute care beds

Cairns University Hospital will also enable enhanced education and research, meaning more TNQ locals can complete their entire health education and training in the Cairns region. It will also facilitate research in areas that are relevant to our region and embed the research outcomes into better health services.

The many elements that combine to become Cairns University Hospital will have the added benefit of attracting and retaining staff and clinical expertise.

Complementing the vision to transition to a university hospital, the Federal Government has committed $13.2m for 20 Commonwealth Supported Places for local students to study their medical degree at James Cook University (JCU) in Cairns. This enables JCU to offer the full 6-year program in Cairns to expand the junior medical workforce. Additionally, a further 80 CSPs have been committed for rural and remote students to be allocated nationally via competitive process. JCU is now seeking allocation of 40 of the 80 CSPs.

The Queensland Government has committed funding to help address short-term capacity challenges through temporary relocation of subacute services offsite from Cairns Hospital and a commitment to develop a new surgical centre.

To deliver on the vision of Cairns University Hospital, CHHHS needs to progress phase 1 (increased bed capacity at Cairns Hospital and CHIC) and commence planning for phase 2 (new acute clinical services building) – with both phases in close proximity to Cairns Hospital.

Cairns Health and Innovation Centre (CHIC) – Pending funding commitment

» Invest in construction of new Health and Innovation Centre adjacent to James Cook University planned building on land adjacent to Cairns Hospital

» Deliver new, innovative care models – virtual health, ambulatory care, clinical trials (reducing bed pressures at Cairns Hospital)

New acute clinical services building – Pending planning and funding commitment

» Invest in an expanded hospital footprint to meet projected services demand (360+ beds by 2036)

» New Acute Services Building to meet critical care needs –expanded emergency dept, theatres, ICU, wards – on a location relatively protected from potential tidal storm surge

» Expanded sub-acute services

COUNCIL: CAIRNS STATE ELECTORATES: BARRON RIVER, CAIRNS, COOK, MULGRAVE FEDERAL ELECTORATES: KENNEDY, LEICHHARDT PHASE 1 (2022-2026)
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PHASE 2 (2022-2036+)

BACKGROUND

The Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service (CHHHS) needs to support a growing population whose demand for healthcare services consistently outstrips population growth. The CHHHS annual report for 2020-2021 highlighted that Cairns Hospital supports an estimated resident population of 289,000, including the regular provision of acute medical services for residents of the Cape and Torres region, an area larger than Victoria1 Combined with estimated population growth of 2.13% (compound annual growth rate) per annum and an ageing population, it is estimated that by 2032 an additional 67,000 people will reside in the catchment area with more than one in five residents aged over 60 – a third more than the national average2

Cairns Hospital continues to see increased demand on its Emergency Department. In 2021 there were more than 86,000 presentations to the Cairns Hospital Emergency Department (a 10,000 increase on the previous year), averaging 236 patients per day. In 2022 there was further increased pressure on the Emergency Department with a recordbreaking 314 patient presentations on May 4, its busiest day ever on record and a 10% jump on the previous record set in February 20213. Increasingly, there is demand for specialist services and elective surgery, placing additional pressure on Cairns Hospital.

In the 2022-23 State Budget, funding was committed for accelerated capital works to help address the most urgent bed pressures at Cairns Hospital. These include the relocation of subacute care offsite (45 beds) to help address existing bed capacity issues at Cairns Hospital. Additionally, there is $250m planned for a new surgical

OUR RECOMMENDATION

centre and additional bed capacity to be built by 2026 to help repurpose some existing areas of Cairns Hospital for acute care.

NEXT STEPS

To successfully transition Cairns Hospital to Cairns University Hospital, an expansion of bed capacity and selected specialty services is required over coming years, potentially including endoscopy, paediatrics, and other medical and surgical specialties. This will also include new expanded clinical and professorial roles. This will be delivered through strong partnerships, the right infrastructure, and expanded provision of safe and sustainable clinical services for Tropical North Queensland.

• Complete planning of the $250m Cairns Surgical Centre (part of phase 1) by the end of 2022 and progress construction of the centre on a five-year timeline to increase surgical capacity and refurbish parts of Cairns Hospital for additional acute care beds, delivering an additional 96 beds by 2026 to help address short term capacity needs.

• Secure a funding commitment for the detailed planning and construction of the Cairns Health and Innovation Centre

(part of Phase 1) on land adjacent to James Cook University’s site in North Cairns, which will accelerate innovation and enable the much-needed workforce of the future. The CHIC will be a critical step towards realising Cairns University Hospital.

• Secure a commitment for the mediumterm sustainability of Cairns Hospital, including the land purchase, planning and construction of a new acute clinical services building near Cairns Hospital with construction to occur between 2027 to 2032 to expand the hospital footprint and address environmental resilience risks.

• Establish a planning commitment for a broader Health and Wellbeing Precinct within a 2000m radius of Cairns Hospital. The Health and Wellbeing Precinct will bring together a range of both private and public health services, closely located to the sporting precinct of Cairns and enabling co-location of health and wellbeing services for the benefit of the community.

1. State of Queensland (Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service) Annual Report 2021-2022.

2. State of Queensland (Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service) Annual Report 2020-2021.

3. https://www.tropicnow.com.au/2022/may/4/cairns-hospitalemergency-department-records-its-busiest-day-in-history

ESTIMATED PROJECT COST

2022-2023

2022-2026

2027-2036

• That the Federal Government allocates 40 of the additional 80 Commonwealth Supported Places for JCU Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery in Cairns.

• That the State Government commits to capital funding for the detailed design and construction of the Cairns Health and Innovation Centre.

• That construction of the $250m Cairns Surgical Centre is progressed on a five-year timeline (part of phase 1).

• That funding is committed now to acquire land to support the new acute clinical services building (phase 2).

• That the State Government starts planning now for the new acute clinical service building to enable Cairns Hospital to meet medium-term health service demands (phase 2).

• That planning for the Health and Wellbeing Precinct is progressed (within 2000 metres of Cairns Hospital).

Recommended

Recommended state investment $250mcentre*surgical Recurrent operational costs offsite subacute care facility*

Commence planning**

*Funding delivered, timing pending for detailed business case **Timing pending on Capacity Expansion Project ***Recommended allocation in 2023-24
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project
and
to
Phase 1 Cairns Health and Innovation Centre Phase 1 and 2 Delivery of
To be completed
services open with construction
begin 2027
land
Phase 2 New acute clinical services building Purchase
federal investment 40 additional medical CSPs for JCU Cairns through competitive process*** JCU Medical School
Phase 1 Capacity Expansion Project Full funding as per costs in business case
funding
per costs in business case
Detailed business case* Full
as

EDUCATION AND RESEARCH

THE ISSUE

BRIEFING NOTE SUMMARY

• Tropical North Queensland’s education sector includes two universities, six TAFE campuses, 35 secondary schools, and private language and business schools.

• Youth unemployment sits at 10.7% and the region faces a skills shortage in health, allied health, aviation, and a number of other STEM professions.

• Two key infrastructure projects have been identified to address regional skills shortages, with $50m committed in the October 2022 Federal Budget for a new CQUniversity campus in the Cairns CBD and $15m required from the State Government for the Great Barrier Reef International Marine College expansion.

• The CQU campus project is shovelready and will create an estimated 330 jobs (direct and indirect) during construction and contribute $549m to the regional economy over 10 years. The project will address current skills shortages in allied health, engineering, and technology.

• Regional medical shortages will also be addressed by enabling students to complete James Cook University’s full Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery program in Cairns following allocation of 20 Commonwealth Supported Places in the October 2022 Federal Budget. This commitment will build critical rural and remote medical capability throughout the  region. Support is also sought for allocation of a further 40 of the 80 CSPs included in the March 2022 Federal Budget.

• With the full medical degree now offered at JCU’s Cairns campus, the opportunity to build medical capability and capacity amongst our Pacific neighbours is consistent with the Federal Government’s commitment to greater strategic engagement with our Pacific neighbours.

Tropical North Queensland (TNQ) has a dynamic and vibrant education sector with two universities, six TAFE campuses, 35 secondary schools, and a number of private language and business schools. In 2020/21, more than 11,000 people were employed in education and training in TNQ, contributing $950m to the local economy 1 The region is shifting towards a knowledgebased economy, which has implications for educators and regional training facilities. To accommodate the shift, the sector has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in infrastructure in recent years, and additional projects are flagged for investment.

With a strong student base now established, James Cook University (JCU) and CQUniversity (CQU) continue to play a vital role in capacity building and the knowledge economy in the region. Through collaborative partnerships and to address current gaps in education pathways, the two universities are working to build capacity across a range of industries and community initiatives.

JCU: Building on 30 years of commitment to Cairns, 20 Commonwealth Supported Places were awarded to JCU Medical in Cairns in the October 2022 Federal Budget, with another 80 to be allocated nationally via a competitive process, as per the March Federal Budget. It is now critical that the university receives the committed 20 initial CSPs and is considered further for 40 of the additional 80 CSPs.

CQU: Since commencing on-campus delivery in Cairns in 2016, CQU Cairns has experienced significant year on year growth 2 Given this, it has outgrown its current premises and requires new purpose-built facilities. As part of its 2019 Community Impact Plan, CQU has a shovel-ready project to build a permanent new CQU Cairns CBD campus. The university currently operates from four leased premises across Cairns. The

new campus may allow some consolidation of sites.

CQU welcomed the Federal Government’s $50m commitment in the October 2022 Federal Budget towards construction and fit out of the site, and now await confirmation of a delivery timeline for the funding.

TAFE Queensland: The Great Barrier Reef International Marine College (GBRIMC) continues to grow and expand its range of innovative marine training capabilities, offering domestic and international students specialised maritime education in areas such as safety and survival, security, fire, communications, and electronic chart display information systems. With the growth of Cairns as a strategic marine defence hub and a renewed focus on the Pacific as part of the Step-Up to the Pacific programme, in March 2021 TAFE Queensland and the GBRIMC were awarded the contract for the Department of Defence’s Pacific Maritime Training Services (PMTS), a key part of the Australian Defence Cooperation Program. Under this 5-year contract (with three 3-year extension options) TAFE Qld was awarded $36m to deliver vital maritime training to an estimated 320 Pacific Islands people annually, who will crew the 21 Guardian Patrol Boats gifted by the Federal Government to replace the existing pacific patrol boats that have been in-service since 1987. A GBRIMC Business Case has outlined that $15m is required to upgrade and expand the college to meet the requirements of the PMTS program. Land is available adjacent to the existing premises and work continues on the business case. Skills shortages in the marine sector have not abated and this expansion would provide much-needed additional trained personnel across a variety of professions as well as important skills upgrades and mandatory training for mariners across a variety of commercial and defence vessels.

INFRASTRUCTURE
FORGE
CAIRNS TNQ BUDGET SUBMISSION 2023-24
COUNCIL: CAIRNS STATE ELECTORATE: CAIRNS FEDERAL ELECTORATE: LEICHHARDT
TO
OUR FUTURE
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BACKGROUND

The TNQ region has an estimated resident population of 292,943, with that figure expected to reach 378,000 by 2041 3. ABS figures for 2021 showed the attainment of a university degree in Cairns was 55% lower than the national average at 16.9%, while 9.2% of residents had an Advanced Diploma or Diploma and 20.6% had a Vocational Certificate, on par with the rest of the state 4

In November 2022, the youth (1524 years) unemployment rate stood at 10.7% 5 compared to 7.7% nationally 6 . While Cairns has two universities, access to appropriate courses and pathways into university is critical in bridging the high youth unemployment rate and encouraging young people to enter the workforce. Conversely, the high demand for unskilled workers has acted as a disincentive for young people considering gaining critically needed tertiary qualifications.

Nationally over the next five years, an additional 85,000 health workers and 28,000 educators will be needed to fill jobs in regional areas. COVID-19 has also exacerbated shortages in other sectors in Cairns, most notably engineering. Engineering is ranked as one of the major skills shortages nationwide, and this shortage is greater in regional areas. To fill this need, the importance of regional universities cannot be overstated with more than 65% of employed regional university graduates remaining in regional areas on completion of their studies 7

NEXT STEPS

In addressing youth unemployment and preparing the region’s workforce for the future, the following four projects have been identified as essential enablers.

1. To support the training and recruitment of Cairns-based clinicians, JCU requires the committed 20 Commonwealth Supported Places for medicine students

OUR RECOMMENDATION

to be funded from 2023, plus allocation of 40 of the additional 80 designated Commonwealth Supported Places (CSPs) announced in the March Federal Budget.

2. CQU seeks delivery of the Federal Government’s commitment of $50m to establish a permanent, purposebuilt CBD campus for 4000+ students by 2030. Located next to the Cairns Convention Centre, the new campus will complement existing infrastructure, effectively creating a knowledge hub precinct in the Cairns CBD. Most importantly, the campus will address the significant skill gaps identified in the region, particularly in terms of allied and mental health, engineering, and technology. The project is shovel-ready and will generate an estimated 330 jobs during construction (80 direct), plus more than 300 direct jobs through expanded university operations and staff and student expenditure in the region. The economic impact over 10 years will be around $549m8.

3. TAFE Queensland, following preliminary design and planning work, seeks to undertake a facility extension to the GBRIMC campus, with site stabilisation

works including pre-loading, construction of new classrooms, and a simulator suite. The cost of this extension is expected to be $15m. This extension will allow the provision of services to the 320 PMTS students expected each year as well as catering for the growth in Defence and other marine training, following commencement of the Regional Maintenance Centre for Defence in 2022.

Source:

1. https://economy.id.com.au/fnqroc/value-add-by-industry?sEndYear=2020&WebID=10

2. https://www.tropicnow.com.au/2020/october/14/cqunis-push-for-new-cbd-campus-picks-up-steam

3. https://www.statedevelopment.qld.gov.au/regions/ queensland/far-north-qld

4. https://www.abs.gov.au/census/find-census-data/quickstats/2021/306

5. https://www.qgso.qld.gov.au/issues/3431/regional-youth-unemployment-202211.pdf

6. https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/labour/employment-and-unemployment/labour-force-australia/latest-release

7. ACER JTD Research briefing (2011) Higher education and community benefits: The role of regional provision Volume 1, number 5

8. Cummings, W. Economic and Socio-Economic Impact Analysis: Proposed Development CQUniversity Campus May 2020 p16

• That the Federal Government delivers $50m in funding towards establishing a new CBD campus for CQUniversity.

• That James Cook University receives its allocated 20 CSPs for its Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) in Cairns to begin in 2023, as well as an additional 40 of the 80 CSPs announced in the March 2022 Federal Budget.

• That the State Government supports the expansion of the GBRIMC with an investment of $15m, to enable training for the Pacific Patrol Boat training programme and other Defence and marine requirements.

ESTIMATED PROJECT COST

Recommended

2023

09
2022-
federal investment 20 medical CSPs at JCU Cairns $50m $15m CQUniversity CBD Campus JCU Medical School TAFE Queensland GBRIMC Recommended state investment 20232024
additional medical CSPs for JCU Cairns through competitive process
40

INFRASTRUCTURE TO FORGE OUR FUTURE

CAIRNS

TNQ BUDGET SUBMISSION 2023-24

FOOD AND WATER SECURITY

COUNCILS: CAIRNS, MAREEBA, ETHERIDGE, COOK, TABLELANDS STATE ELECTORATES: BARRON RIVER, CAIRNS, HILL, TRAEGER FEDERAL ELECTORATES: KENNEDY, LEICHHARDT

BRIEFING NOTE SUMMARY

• The ability to meet increased demand for fresh Australian food from North Queensland is at risk due to the lack of a long-term water implementation strategy.

• To cater for growing demand for water, four significant water supply and infrastructure projects are considered essential enablers for the region: Lakeland Irrigation Area Scheme, Cairns Water Security – Stage 1 project, Etheridge Shire Agricultural and Irrigation Precinct Project, and North Johnstone River Diversion Scheme.

• All four projects require the following bilateral commitment and shared investment to facilitate environmental approvals and to progress to construction stage:

º Finalisation of funding agreements for Cairns Water Security – Stage 1, delivering on the Federal and State Government combined Budget commitments of $215m

º Federal and State Governments working together to coordinate development approval processes for Lakeland Irrigation Area Project, including early review of the Mitchell River Water Resource Plan

º $2.5m over two years to progress the Etheridge Agricultural and Irrigation Precinct implementation strategy

º $7m for a full North Johnstone River Diversion Scheme business case.

THE ISSUE

Tropical North Queensland (TNQ) has seen sustained population growth over the past 30 years, underpinned by the expansion of industries including agriculture, tourism, fisheries, education, health, and retail. Throughout COVID, agriculture was a continuing success story for the region and vitally important in driving postCOVID-19 economic recovery. At the forefront of agricultural growth has been the Atherton Tablelands, driven by the Mareeba Dimbulah Water Supply Scheme (MDWSS) with rapid expansion in high-value crops such as avocados, bananas, berries, and sugarcane. Water is now 100% allocated1 and 80% used, with purchase prices rising more than four-fold since 2011, peaking at more than $4000/ML.

To address high prices and supply issues on the Tablelands, short- and long-term action is urgently needed. The Queensland Government, via its Regional Water Assessment Program, is currently undertaking a $3m investigation into possible additional water supply and long-term water security across the broader Tablelands region. In late 2022 a shortlist of five potential projects was identified by the RWA investigation, including the proposed North Johnstone Diversion Scheme. These projects will be further investigated in 2023. Sunwater has carried out much-needed improvements in the MDWSS to provide efficiencies in the short term, but the scheme will also need supplementing with extra supply through the proposed North Johnstone River Diversion Scheme.

In addition, agriculture in areas such as the Lakeland district near Cooktown and surrounding the Gilbert River in Etheridge Shire has the potential to expand rapidly through value crops such as bananas, grains, cotton, legumes, and watermelons. Water security has been a concern for a number of years and is now limiting supply in both regions.

Agricultural exports are vital to FNQ with the industry sector output currently valued at $1.9bn2, constrained mainly by factors such as irrigation and access to market. A landmark supply chain study titled Export 2030 – Fresh Food Fast3 was released in June 2020, which highlighted the potential to double high-value food exports through Cairns Airport within a decade.

Urban demand also continues to increase with Cairns’ population growth averaging 0.9% per annum over the past five years4. This, combined with a long-running history of three million tourists visiting TNQ annually (pre-COVID), means an effective and multi-faceted water supply strategy

is required to ensure the growing needs of the region can be met. Addressing this urban need will also reduce the impact on agricultural water supply. In Cairns itself, modelling by the Cairns Regional Council shows that demand for water will outstrip supply within the next five years. As a result, the Cairns Water Security – Stage 1 project is an essential piece of infrastructure to secure urban water supply for Cairns well into the future. In summary, four significant water supply and infrastructure projects are considered essential enablers for water security and growth in the region:

• Cairns Water Security – Stage 1 project

• Lakeland Irrigation Area Project

• Etheridge Shire Agricultural and Irrigation Precinct Project

• North Johnstone River Diversion Scheme.

Sources:

1. https://www.sunwater.com.au/schemes/Mareeba-Dimbulah/

2. https://economy.id.com.au/fnqroc/exports-by-industry

3. https://www.advancecairns.com/economic-development/ export-2030/

4. https://profile.id.com.au/cairns/population-estimate

5. https://www.cairns.qld.gov.au/council/projects-and-priorities/ advocacy/security

6. https://statements.qld.gov.au/statements/95451

10

BACKGROUND

Water and food security have become priority national policy issues on the back of record drought periods in Australia, as well as disruption to supply chains through COVID-19 and recent flooding. In 2020, the Federal Government committed a further $2bn to the National Water Infrastructure Fund to build resilience in regions and to help grow the agricultural sector. A National Water Grid Authority has also been established to develop investment frameworks. In strengthening northern Australia’s role as a food bowl, substantial feasibility work has progressed in the past few years to explore new agricultural development opportunities. With many of these studies now coming to a close, there are clear priorities for progressing environmental impact and construction activities, and a coordinated approach to development is required.

Cairns Water Security – Stage 1 project: Forecasts indicate that by 2026, Cairns will be at risk of a drinking water shortfall. The Cairns Water Security – Stage 1 project is therefore a critical piece of infrastructure for the city, securing urban water supply well into the next decade. The project was identified as a key priority by Cairns Regional Council’s (CRC) Water Security Advisory Group (WSAG), with the group highlighting that continued population growth means increased storage capacity is urgently required to access more of the plentiful rainfall the region receives during wet season. To reduce the financial burden on Cairns water users, Council has secured combined Budget commitments of $215m from the State and Federal Governments ($107.5m each) towards the project’s capital cost. Delivery of the $215m now relies on funding agreements being finalised with Council. In addition to helping secure the region’s water supply, this funding will deliver an estimated 1658 FTE jobs (direct and indirect) and an estimated $243m in Gross Regional Product (GRP)5 during project construction.

OUR RECOMMENDATION

Lakeland Area Irrigation Scheme Project: Regional Development Australia Tropical North, through the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund (NWIDF), funded a strategic business case that investigated new water storage options to expand the Lakeland irrigation area. Once constructed, the proposed dam will store 200,000ML with a secure output of 80,000ML per annum, irrigating up to 10,000ha of highly irrigable land. Federal Government funding of $10m to further develop the detailed business case has seen work advance materially with aerial mapping, geological drilling and sampling, and dry season ecology fieldwork all completed. The draft Reference Design was completed in December 2021, while the detailed business case is scheduled for release in the first half of 2023. Bilateral government support is now required to further the development approval processes for the project, support a proponent through the detailed design stage (including funding through the NWIDF) and accelerate the review of the Mitchell River Water Resource Plan.

Etheridge Shire Agricultural and Irrigation Precinct Project: Etheridge Shire Council, in conjunction with RDA Tropical North, proposes to develop an agricultural and irrigation precinct in the Shire. The project aims to establish protocols that facilitate the approval and expansion of agriculture and horticulture across the precinct on a regional basis. As much as 530,000ha of Class A and B soil is potentially available in the Shire, but there are barriers to water access and security. Around 495,000ML of water is available in the Gilbert River catchment area. A $2.5m investment is proposed for an implementation strategy to leverage the work of the CRC for Developing Northern Australia and the Northern Australia University Alliance, which are conducting research as part of the Water Security for Northern Australia program. This important research will support the Precinct proposal, however the research on its own will not deliver an implementation strategy

• That the Federal and State Governments deliver on shared Budget commitments of $215m towards Cairns Water Security – Stage 1 by finalising the funding agreements with Cairns Regional Council.

• That the Queensland Government completes and releases its Regional Water Assessment for the Atherton Tablelands by mid-2023, and applies to the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund for $7m for a full business case for the North Johnstone River diversion scheme.

• That the State and Federal Governments work together to facilitate and coordinate the development approval processes for the Lakeland Irrigation Area Scheme Project.

• That the Federal Government gives due consideration to funding the detailed design stage of the Lakeland Irrigation Area Scheme.

• That the Federal Government provides $2.5m over two years for the Etheridge Shire Agricultural and Irrigation Precinct Project implementation strategy.

• That the Queensland Government gives consideration to an early review of the Mitchell River Water Resource Plan.

– the funding will analyse the best means of accessing water and irrigating up to 50,000ha of land to diversify crop types and drive economic growth in the area.

North Johnstone River Diversion Scheme: Sunwater completed a preliminary feasibility study in early 2020 indicating the diversion scheme could deliver up 50,000ML annually into Lake Tinaroo. In 2021 the State Government announced its $9m Regional Water Assessment Program for three regions, one of which was the Atherton Tablelands. The state says the RWAP will ‘set a roadmap for economic growth, building on previous water supply investigations in each region and will take a comprehensive view of local water needs and identify gaps to be filled. The North Johnstone scheme is one of five priority projects by the initial RWA evaluation. The RWA assessments will set out how infrastructure and non-infrastructure solutions can be used to maximise water supply in each area and drive economic growth’. This study must be a catalyst for much-needed investment in water security on the Tablelands. A $7m investment is sought for a full business case into the North Johnstone diversion scheme.

NEXT STEPS

Development of the four proposed water infrastructure projects would meet a range of state and national policy objectives, including:

• Expanding northern Australia’s agricultural productive capacity – this is nationally significant given the impact of drought on food and water security in southern Australia.

• Increasing northern Australia’s contribution to GDP through an increase in agricultural production.

• Diversifying northern Australia’s economic capabilities to facilitate investment and reduce reliance on tourism.

• Strengthening Australia’s international competitiveness through proximity to Asia.

11 ESTIMATED PROJECT COST $224.5M Recommended federal investment $7m 20242025 20252026 North Johnstone Business Case Recommended state investment $1m Etheridge Shire scoping study $55m Cairns Water Security - Stage 1 project $52.5m Cairns Water Security - Stage 1 project6 $55m 20232024 $1.5m $52.5m

INFRASTRUCTURE TO FORGE OUR FUTURE CAIRNS TNQ BUDGET SUBMISSION 2023-24

NORTHERN BEACHES ROADS

COUNCIL: CAIRNS STATE ELECTORATES: CAIRNS, BARRON RIVER FEDERAL ELECTORATES: LEICHHARDT

BRIEFING NOTE SUMMARY

• Continued population growth in Cairns’ northern beaches and under-investment in road upgrades have led to daily travel gridlock

• In 2019 the Federal Government committed $287m towards upgrading the Captain Cook Hwy and in 2020 extended the National Highway A1 from south of Cairns CBD to Smithfield.

• In the 2021-22 budget, the Federal Government allocated $240m to duplicate the balance of Cairns Western Arterial Road (CWAR).

• The Queensland Government has committed its funding share of $72m for Captain Cook Hwy and $60m for CWAR.

• Almost four years since the first funding commitment, planning is still being undertaken with no major works having taken place.

THE ISSUE

An integrated and efficient road transport network is critical for economic stability and growth in Tropical North Queensland (TNQ) and the Cairns northern beaches road network plays an important part.

The road network provides vital access to the region’s resident population of more than 281,0001 (with up to 50,000 tourists during peak holiday season) ensuring accessibility to health, education, community services, and trade. Due to sustained population growth, TNQ’s road transport system faces increasing pressure – which is particularly evident on Cairns’ northern beaches. Meeting the growing demand for freight has strained existing infrastructure, impacting on transport costs and service levels across the supply chain.

Construction of a Cairns Ring Road has long been sought after to provide a safer and more effective transport route.

There is significant traffic congestion on the Captain Cook Highway and along the Cairns Western Arterial Road (CWAR), the only two access roads from the northern beaches into the city. This makes the transport of freight to, from, and between the key port locations difficult. While there is significant potential to expand export activities for the TNQ region, particularly to Asian markets, connectivity between ports is a critical enabling factor in the future development of Cairns as an export and service hub.

When the Captain Cook Highway is flooded, CWAR is the only flood-free access route between Cairns, the northern beaches and the Kennedy Highway.

Cairns’ population is forecast to grow 42% by 2046, and with its geography highly constrained by World Heritage-listed mountains and rainforest to the west and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park to the east, the ability to build

new roads is severely limited. Therefore, it is imperative for the future prosperity and liveability of Cairns that both the CWAR and Captain Cook Hwy sections of the Cairns Ring Road be upgraded.

Source:

1. https://economy.id.com.au/fnqroc

2. https://www.data.qld.gov.au/dataset/crash-data-fromqueensland-roads/resource/e88943c0-5968-4972-a15f38e120d72ec0

3. https://www.infrastructureaustralia.gov.au/map/ cairns-western-arterial-road-capacity

4. https://www.infrastructureaustralia.gov.au/publications/ Infrastructure_Priority_List_2021

12

BACKGROUND

Cairns Ring Road (Captain Cook Highway section): The National Highway A1 was extended by the Federal Government in 2020 to the intersection of Captain Cook and Kennedy Highways and Mount Milman Drive, Smithfield, north of Cairns. In 2019, just before this road re-classification, the Federal Government announced it would undertake the majority of funding ($287m of $359m) for road upgrades to Smithfield. The need to upgrade Captain Cook Highway to enhance connectivity was recognised by the Federal Government in its July 2020 release of the 2019 National Land Transport Network (NLTN) Determination Review.

Cairns Ring Road (Cairns Western Arterial Road section): The effectiveness and safety of the road transport network in and around Cairns will continue to be adversely impacted until the Cairns Western Arterial Road is fully duplicated from Redlynch to Smithfield as well as major intersections being upgraded. Federal funding of $240m plus $60m from the State Government have been committed to duplicate from the Barron River north.

In January 2023 the Department of

Transport and Main Roads released a preliminary master plan for the Captain Cook Hwy outlining some of the proposed upgrades of stage 1 of the $359m project and seeking public comment. DTMR announced the master planning would be complete by mid to late 2023.

Although some early works on the project will start in 2023, the State Government announced the Captain Cook Hwy upgrade was a 25-year project.

The Cairns Western Arterial Road is considered a priority infrastructure project as the road is heavily congested on a daily basis. Furthermore, when the Captain Cook Highway is flooded during wet season or natural disaster, it is the only flood-free access route between Cairns, the northern beaches, and the Kennedy Highway.

Upgrading the state-owned Western Arterial section of the Cairns Ring Road, which carries approximately 42,000 vehicles per day 2, is essential to connecting Cairns’ freight routes with the region’s premier agriculture producing areas (Atherton Tablelands, Cape York Peninsula, and Mossman), while also meeting demand for daily commuter traffic. At the 2020 State Election, the

State Government pledged $60m to the Western Arterial Road. In the May 2021-22 budget, the Federal Government committed $240m for the duplication of the remaining single carriageway section of the road. It is now imperative that the State Government commits to the balance of funding and that planning for the duplication work is completed as soon as possible.

NEXT STEPS

A number of significant investments previously announced to address safety and efficiency challenges on the Cairns northern beaches road network must commence as soon as possible.

• Captain Cook Highway: Finalise master planning for upgrade between Cairns and Smithfield by mid 2023 and $359m (State and Federal) be allocated for construction during 2023-2027.

• Cairns Western Arterial Road: With the Federal Government committing $240m in the 2021-22 budget, it is imperative that planning for the duplication of the road between Smithfield and Redlynch be completed to enable works to commence as soon as possible with funding allocated for construction during 2023-2027.

OUR RECOMMENDATION

• That master planning for both major upgrades of the only two access routes from Cairns CBD to the northern beaches – the Captain Cook Hwy and Cairns Western Arterial – be finalised as a matter of urgency by mid 2023.

• That the $359m pledged for Captain Cook Hwy upgrades be allocated over four years FY23-27 in the Federal Budget ($287m) and State Budget ($72m).

• That the $300m pledged for Cairns Western Arterial duplication from Caravonica to Smithfield be allocated over four years FY23-27 in the Federal Budget ($240m) and State Budget ($60m).

13 $14m $57m ESTIMATED
$659M, DELIVERY BY 2027 Captain Cook Highway upgrades Cairns Western Arterial Road duplication Recommended federal investment Recommended state investment 20232024 20242025 20252026 Captain Cook Highway upgrades Cairns Western Arterial Road duplication 20262027 $86m $86m $58m $48m $72m $72m $48m $21m $21m $16m $12m $18m $18m $12m
PROJECT COST

TABLELANDS ACCESS

COUNCILS: CAIRNS, MAREEBA, TABLELANDS STATE ELECTORATES: BARRON RIVER, CAIRNS, COOK, MULGRAVE, HILL, TRAEGER FEDERAL ELECTORATES: KENNEDY, LEICHHARDT

BRIEFING NOTE SUMMARY

• There are four main roads linking Cairns with the Atherton Tablelands: Palmerston Highway, Gillies Range Road, Kuranda Range Road, and Mossman Mt Molloy Road. Of these four, Kuranda Range Road is the fastest route from Cairns to Mareeba, saving up to two hours in travel time each way.

• FNQROC reports the Kuranda Range Road has already exceeded its capacity of 9500 vehicle movements per day, catering for over 11,000 daily traffic movements. On average the road is closed 44 times every year for around 6.6 hours each time.

• Extending the National Land Transport Network (NLTN) from Smithfield to Mareeba as part of the next NLTN review will ensure continued economic and social development of the region and will improve national and regional connectivity.

THE ISSUE

The road networks linking Cairns with the vital agricultural, mining, and tourism regions of the Atherton Tablelands and beyond are critical enablers of the regional economy. With sizeable growth in both agriculture and mining in the region predicted in the next decade, a safe and reliable road network that enables increased heavy vehicle traffic is vital for economic growth and prosperity in the region. The road network in and out of Cairns acts as the main distribution hub for the region and is essential to further developing the agricultural and mining exports of the region. However, meeting the growing demands for freight has strained existing infrastructure, impacting transport costs and service levels across the supply chain.

There are four main roads linking Cairns with the Atherton Tablelands: Palmerston Highway and Gillies Range Road servicing the Southern Tablelands, and the Kuranda Range Road and Mossman Mount Molloy Road for the Northern Tablelands. The Palmerston Highway and Kuranda Range Road are considered priority transport routes for goods to and from the region1. Of the four roads, Kuranda Range Road is the fastest route, saving up to two hours in travel time each way. All roads pass through World Heritage-listed areas, increasing the complexity of any potential transport solution.

The Kuranda Range Road (Kennedy Highway, Cairns/Mareeba section) links Smithfield with Kuranda and is the main coastal gateway to the Atherton Tablelands, Cape York Peninsula, and the Gulf Savannah. It is a critical link for commuter, commercial, and visitor traffic in Tropical North Queensland and a vital strategic corridor linking the Atherton Tablelands, North Tropical Coast, and Cape York to the Cairns Airport and seaports. The Kuranda Range Road underpins the commercial viability of primary industries, producers, and exporters in the region in providing access to markets through the Cairns air and seaports, and road links to southern markets2. In recent years, there has been a rapid increase in traffic demand due to growth in tourism, freight movement,

and residential development on the Tablelands. FNQROC reports the road is now operating beyond capacity with safety and traffic efficiency now at critical levels for action.

There are other impediments to a safe and efficient transport corridor from Cairns to the Tablelands. The Barron River Bridge on the Kennedy Highway at Kuranda was reduced to one lane and load limited to 50.5 tonnes for a year due to concerns over the safety and stability of the bridge. The State Government in March 2021 announced a $2.1m investigation into long-term solutions for either replacing or rehabilitating the bridge3.

In July 2020, the then Federal Government released the 2019 National Land Transport Network (NLTN) Determination Review, confirming the National Highway A1 would be extended from Cairns to Smithfield. The objectives of an integrated land transport network include improving national and regional connectivity for communities and industry; improving national, regional, and international logistics; and trade and consistency with viable, long-term economic and social outcomes4

Continuing the NLTN from Smithfield to Mareeba, and ultimately to Weipa, would meet these objectives and ensure the continued economic and social development of the Atherton Tablelands region and beyond. It would be the next logical step in the network, with Mareeba being the gateway to the region’s agriculture production areas of Atherton Tablelands, Cape York Peninsula, and the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Source:

1. FNQROC (2020), State Government Regional Priorities, Far North Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils https://www.fnqroc.qld.gov.au/files/media/ original/004/d6c/243/58c/State-Delegation-Brief-August-2020-Web-V2.0.pdf

2. FNQROC Kuranda Range Road Far North Queensland Regional Priority August 2019 (https://www.fnqroc.qld.gov.au/files/media/original/004/98d/138/272/FNQROC-Kuranda-Range-Road-August-2019-_DIGITAL. PDF)

3. Cluff R. Government investigates replacement of Barron River Bridge, Tropic Now. 2020 18 Mar. Available from: https://www.tropicnow.com.au/2021/march/18/ government-investigates-replacement-of-barron-river-bridge

4. Australian Government Infrastructure Investment Program, What is Infrastructure Investment?, (https://investment.infrastructure.gov.au/about/what_is_infr3astructure_investment.aspx).

5. Department of Transport and Main Roads https://www.tmr.qld.gov.au/projects/ cairns-to-northern-tablelands-ac¬cess-strategy-planning

6. Queensland Government 2009, Far North Queensland Infrastructure Plan 2009 – 2031, https://cabinet.qld.gov.au/documents/2009/feb/far%20north%20 queensland%20infrastructure%20plan/Attachments/Final%20FNQ%20Infrastructure%20Plan.pdf

INFRASTRUCTURE TO FORGE OUR FUTURE CAIRNS TNQ BUDGET SUBMISSION 2023-24
14

BACKGROUND

In late 2021, the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads began a $30m project to upgrade Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) on the Kuranda Range Road, adding variable message signs, variable speed limits, radar technology (to determine travel times and traffic levels), and closed-circuit television. The department has since completed its $1.6m Cairns to Northern Tablelands Access Strategy, looking at improving the capacity and efficiency of transport routes between Cairns and the Northern Tablelands5. This study investigated current problems and future needs with the aim to determine the most appropriate solutions for the existing routes.

The Access Strategy identified Kuranda Range Road as of high significance to the regional economy due to its direct line of access to Cairns CBD, the port, and the airport for traffic and freight. It acknowledged regular road closures related to weather and traffic crashes have significant impacts on the reliability of the corridors and delays to motorists. The study has recommended an alternative route as a potential long-term solution and that actions to progress this planning should begin.

Despite the Access Strategy’s conclusion, local industry experts and stakeholders firmly believe the road has already exceeded its capacity of 9500 vehicle movements per day, catering for over 11,000 daily traffic movements. Each year the road experiences an average of 44 closures, on average each one impacting traffic for 6.6 hours5. The current average travelling speed on this 9.5km corridor is 42km per hour. The corridor has been the subject of multiple impact assessments and design studies dating back to 2000 but is yet to see any major upgrades other than targeted safety measures. While the need to improve the link and undertake necessary long-term planning was identified in the 2009-2031 Far North Queensland Infrastructure Plan6, more than 13 years on this remains a critical infrastructure project that is yet to secure

significant funding.

The Federal Government committed $210m towards safety and capacity upgrades on the Kuranda Range Road in its October Federal Budget. It is vital that the total funding is now delivered and includes an allocation of $21m for a detailed business case.

NEXT STEPS

To address short-term safety, it is vital that the Federal Government’s $210m Budget commitment is delivered and that the overall funding package includes $21m for a preliminary evaluation and detailed business case into preferred alternative routes to the Kuranda Range Road.

CAIRNS

There have been 21 years of studies on the Kuranda Range Road with most recommendations not implemented. As a result, safety, capacity, and efficiency issues are now at a critical point. Failure to address this issue has also resulted in constraints on economic development in the region, as evidenced by the abandoned $600m KUR-World tourism development project. Continued growth in tourism, agriculture, mining, and population on the Atherton Tablelands and beyond mean it is imperative that a solution is developed for access from Cairns to the Tablelands prior to a major crisis.

OUR RECOMMENDATION

• That the Federal Government delivers its funding commitment of $210m for Kuranda Range Road, including $21m for a preliminary evaluation and detailed business case into preferred alternative routes to this vital economic corridor.

• That the Queensland Government works with the Federal Government to amend the National Land Transport Act 2014 to extend the national highway designation from its current terminus at the intersection of Captain Cook and Kennedy Highways to the intersection of the Kennedy Highway and the Mulligan Highway.

ESTIMATED PROJECT COST $210M 2023-2024

Recommended federal investment $21m

Kuranda Range Road Business Case into alternative routes

2024-2026

Kuranda Range Road safety upgrades $30m $159m

Port Douglas Mossman Rifle Range Creek Rest Area MOSSMAN / MT MOLLOY RD Mareeba KENNEDY HWY Kuranda KURANDA RANGE RD Gordonvale Atherton Millaa Millaa Innisfail GILLES RANGE RD PALMERSTON HWY
15
ATHERTON TABLELANDS

INFRASTRUCTURE TO FORGE OUR FUTURE CAIRNS TNQ BUDGET SUBMISSION 2023-24

INLAND ROADS

COUNCILS: BURKE, CARPENTARIA, DOOMADGEE, FLINDERS, ETHERIDGE, CROYDON STATE ELECTORATES: HILL, TRAEGER FEDERAL ELECTORATE: KENNEDY

THE ISSUE

BRIEFING NOTE SUMMARY

• The Savannah Way stretches for 3700km and is considered one of the top 10 Great Australian Drives, linking Cairns in Tropical North Queensland to Broome in Western Australia’s Kimberley, and delivering $69.8m into the Gulf region annually in drive tourism.

• Segments of the Queensland section of the Savannah Way are unsealed and flood prone, isolating communities during the wet season and limiting the economic value of this northern road link.

• The Kennedy Developmental Road is a key strategic link from northern Australia to the southern freight hubs of Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne.

• To realise the benefits of a fully sealed inland road between Cairns and Melbourne, it is critical that funding be provided to complete the remaining 11km of the Kennedy Developmental Road and complete a heavy vehicle safety upgrade at White Cliffs.

The inland roads of Tropical North Queensland (TNQ) are vital to enhancing the productivity of northern Australia, while contributing to the national economy through providing improved connectivity to southern markets1. With the growth in population, employment, tourism, and freight volumes, the safety and capacity issues on these roads will only be exacerbated, resulting in nationally significant productivity losses. It is for these reasons the Gulf Developmental Road (Savannah Way Gulf Section) and the Kennedy Developmental Road were highlighted as priority roads in the Infrastructure Australia Priority list for 20212

The Savannah Way traverses northern Australia, linking Cairns in TNQ to Broome in Western Australia’s Kimberley. The route is approximately 3700km long, crossing 15 national parks and five World Heritage areas as it traverses across the Top End.

Considered to be in the top 10 road trips of Australia, the self-drive tourism market delivers $69.8m annually into the Gulf region3, with 38% of visitors starting the journey in Cairns.

The Gulf section of the Savannah Way (Gulf Developmental Road) takes in 888km from Forty Mile Scrub west of Mt Garnet to the Northern Territory border, with significant sections of the road already sealed. However, there are many substantial sections that require pavement upgrades, bitumen seal, minor realignment of substandard curves, concrete causeways, and four major river crossing upgrades.

The Kennedy Developmental Road is a key strategic link from northern Australia to the southern freight hubs of Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne. However,

for many years sections of the road remained unsealed, causing safety issues for the locals, tourists, and transport companies that regularly used the road. To address these concerns, in 2017 under the $600m Northern Australia Roads Program, the Federal and State Governments provided $53.3m to complete 42km of sealing of the Kennedy Developmental Road between the Lynd and Hughenden, and a 3.4km section of road widening and sealing between Mount Garnet and the Lynd. A further $50m was secured in 2018 to complete the remaining 48km of the Kennedy Developmental Road. However, with funding fully allocated and current work scheduled for completion in December 2023, there will still be 11km of the highway yet to be sealed when the current project comes to a close. Additional funding support to seal the remaining 11km on the Kennedy Developmental Road as well as a safety upgrade at White Cliffs would accelerate this project to timely completion and finalise an important link for tourism, horticulture, freight, and cattle movement through Queensland’s north and north-west region. This would reduce the cost of transporting cattle which, at times, can cost a third of their final value to transport to market.

The completed highway will be of tremendous economic benefit to the entire Cairns region, providing a direct transport corridor for banana and other fruit growers and primary producers to freight goods from TNQ to southern markets faster and more reliably than the existing Bruce Highway route.

1. https://www.northqueenslandregister.com.au/story/5611276/inlandqueensland-road-network-strategy-launched/

2. https://www.infrastructureaustralia.gov.au/map/queensland-inland-roadnetwork-upgrade

3. Keirle, P, (2018) Gulf Savannah Way Tourism Survey Report, Gulf Savannah Development

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BACKGROUND

Savannah Way (Gulf Section): In recognising the need to seal the Gulf section of the Savannah Way, in 2019 the Federal and State Governments committed $62.5m for road upgrades through the Roads of Strategic Importance – next priorities initiative, along with an additional $31.6m in the March 2022 Federal Budget. This will be spent across various shire councils, with a prioritised list formulated in 2021. Garnet to Carpentaria Shire border section is 510.5km and requires funding to upgrade the road and floodways for reliability and to meet current construction and safety standards for heavy vehicles, tourists, and commuters. Burke Shire to the Northern Territory border is approximately 302km long with less than 50% of the road sealed.

Kennedy Developmental Road: Sealing the road in its entirety is a priority project as it will reduce costs and increase safety for all road users travelling from TNQ to southern parts of Australia. A fully sealed highway would provide a year-round, all-weather route to southern markets for agricultural produce and livestock.

With an expanding population base and

rapid growth in agricultural production, the importance of the route for economic, tourism, and critical connection has increased in recent years. Completion of the road sealing would:

1. Ensure an alternate supply route to TNQ – vital when the Bruce Highway traffic is disrupted due to extreme weather events.

2. Reduce the cost of transport to market from TNQ, supporting the sustainability of primary production in northern Australia. Using this inland alternative, the distance between Cairns and Melbourne is reduced by 800km, saving 8-10 hours in travel time.

3. Provide the opportunity for economic development and growth in agriculture (including irrigation), mining, tourism, and freight along with a multitude of employment, lifestyle, and social benefits that will follow.

4. Enhance Queensland’s road infrastructure, demonstrating the integrated capacity as a catalyst for development in northern Australia.

5. Enhance supply chains in time of need, providing sovereign capability. Over the course of the Kennedy Developmental Road upgrade, it has been estimated

that 130 jobs were created, including Indigenous employment, with more than 100km of highway being sealed.

NEXT STEPS

Savannah Way (Gulf Section): Upgrading the remaining sections is estimated to require at least $39.8m annually over 10 years (including the $94.1m already committed). Completing the project over 10 years with annual investments to local councils will allow for incremental improvements on this road and ensure the retention of a local roads workforce. The estimated investment breakdown over 10 years for each local shire is as follows:

• Burke Shire to NT Border - ~$64m

• Carpentaria Shire - ~$185m

• Croydon Shire - ~$78m

• Etheridge Shire - ~$71m

The project will extend across north-west Queensland, travelling along the Gulf of Carpentaria from Forty Mile Scrub to the Northern Territory border, passing through remote towns including Croydon, Burketown, and Doomadgee in Queensland and connecting to Wollogorang in the Northern Territory.

Kennedy Developmental Road: In the most recent round of government funding of $50m under the Roads of Strategic Importance Program, 48km of unsealed road between the Lynd and Hughenden are being sealed by the Flinders and Etheridge Shire Councils. This funding has been fully allocated and work is scheduled for completion in December 2023. However, the final 11km section of unsealed road on the Kennedy Developmental Road will not be covered under the current funding agreement. Sealing the remaining section as well as the White Cliffs realignment is expected to cost $25m.

OUR RECOMMENDATION

• That the Federal and State Governments support the sealing and improved flood resilience of the Gulf section of the Savannah Way by providing project funding, and that allocation of funds be distributed to the controlling Local Government Authorities in equal portions over a 10-year period from 2023-24 onwards.

• That the Federal Government provides $25m to seal the final 11km of the Kennedy Developmental Road and complete the White Cliffs realignment to ensure this key strategic route between Cairns and southern freight hubs is sealed in its entirety.

17 Recommended Federal Investment ESTIMATED PROJECT COST $424+M 20232024 20262027* 20252026 $7.96m 20242025 Recommended State Investment $15m $31.84m Savannah Way (Gulf Section) $31.84m $31.84m $31.84m $7.96m $7.96m $7.96m * Funding is ongoing to 2031-2032 Kennedy Developmental Road Savannah Way (Gulf Section) $10m

FNQ REGIONAL HEALTH PLANNING

THE ISSUE

BRIEFING NOTE SUMMARY

• The population in the Far North Queensland region has higher health risk factors, lower life expectancy, a higher prevalence of disease and a higher number of potentially preventable hospitalisations compared to the rest of Queensland.

• Cairns Hospital is under constant pressure as the only tertiary-level hospital in Far North Queensland. Additional health and community care initiatives can help to meet the community health needs and alleviate pressure on the hospital.

• There are three identified strategies to address the health burden in the region:

º Community based mental health initiatives

º Bolstering of the local health workforce –including investment in education and research to ‘grow our own’

º FNQ Palliative Care Hospice.

Tropical North Queensland (TNQ) continues to experience a high burden of disease and poorer health outcomes compared with the Queensland average. Cairns Hospital is the only tertiary-level hospital in TNQ, but it is under constant bed pressure, which negatively impacts the community’s access to acute care services. Unlike large metropolitan areas, there is only one emergency department in Cairns, with no option to divert to any other facilities when the hospital reaches capacity, both in terms of inpatient beds and emergency care. Strategic initiatives are being progressed to maximise capacity at Cairns Hospital – including transitioning Cairns Hospital to university status – to allow the delivery of more and better health services, but additional primary health, early intervention and community care initiatives can also position the community to achieve better health outcomes and assist in alleviating the pressure on the acute care system.

To successfully achieve genuine improvements in health and wellbeing in TNQ, investment is required to ensure the community can access timely and appropriate healthcare and services. The five identified strategies are:

Community-based mental health initiatives –Mental health and wellbeing can dominate a person’s health status across their lifespan (including at a young age), and the demand for services in TNQ is at a critical point. Self-harm is one of the top five leading causes of death for people under the age of 65 in Queensland, and suicide and self-inflicted injuries in TNQ are higher than the state-wide rate. Services are needed in Cairns and regional areas to address the doubling of mental health and behavioural conditions since 2001, inclusive of psychological supports for

children (who are often missed in service delivery) and to improve post-natal mental health where the impacts are felt by children and families.

Bolstering of the local health workforce –including investment in education and research to ‘grow our own’ with the view that investing in people creates long-term stability. Attracting people to rural and remote areas requires the system to demonstrate what it will do to retain them. Cocontributions to Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service and universities are sought to partner and provide conjoint appointments and research support positions to fully realise integration across clinical, research, and education functions, to enable the university hospital to become a reality. Coupled with James Cook University’s full medical degree training in Cairns as well as allocation of further Commonwealth Supported Places (CSPs), considerable benefits will be realised.

A Far North Queensland Palliative Care Hospice – The demand for palliative care services within TNQ continues to increase year on year, with more than 720 people being admitted to hospital for palliative care in 2022 and many more receiving palliative care support in their homes. Currently, there are no palliative care hospice or respite centres for people with palliative care needs in TNQ. Cairns Hospital and the Gordonvale Palliative Care Unit (an off-site ward of Cairns Hospital) provide acute care for patients needing interventions and life-extending treatment. A community-run hospice would provide a comfortable residential environment away from a hospital environment to improve the wellbeing of adults and children who need end-of-life care and who cannot manage at home.

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BACKGROUND

The Cairns Hospital supports an estimated resident population of 259,000 and regularly provides acute medical services for residents of the Cape York and Torres Strait Islands regions (a population close to 30,000). Combined with estimated population growth of 1.3% (compound annual growth rate) per annum and an ageing population, it is estimated that by 2026 an additional 27,643 people will reside in the catchment area with close to one in five residents aged over 65. Cairns Hospital continues to see increased demand on its Emergency Department (ED). In 2021-2022 there were 85,622 ED presentations, growing 7.2% annually from FY20 to FY22 (significantly above population growth).

Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service (CHHHS) provides health services across the continuum of care to some of the most remote communities in Queensland and strives to meet the unique health needs of the largest and most diverse Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in the state. A funding injection into the five identified health priorities will see benefits for the region, whilst also resulting in reduced pressure on Cairns Hospital, enabling the community to receive health care when and where they need it.

NEXT STEPS

A suite of community-based mental health initiatives will address current and emerging mental health needs for the community, exacerbated due to the pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic. There are four highimpact strategies prioritised for communitybased mental health intervention:

• A GP/mental health model targeting integrated physical and mental health outcomes

• Mental health services for children and families including psychological and family therapies

• Community mental health services to

OUR RECOMMENDATION

regional townships such as the Atherton Tablelands (connected with existing initiatives)

• A transition to parenthood (perinatal mental health & wellness) program.

A funding injection of $1.5m to the North Queensland Primary Health Network (NQPHN) to commission these services under the Joint Regional Wellbeing Plan for Northern Queensland is sought.

Ongoing investments into local health workforce development via bolstering of research and education is critical to enable development of alternative models of care and to ensure optimum health outcomes can be achieved. Cairns Hospital has a vision to become Cairns University Hospital with a range of benefits identified, including expanded clinical services enabling patients to receive care closer to home, attraction of high-calibre health specialists and researchers, and development of the local workforce. A recurrent funding injection of $2m to Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service is required to enable educational pipelines and conjoint appointments across Cairns Hospital and university partners.

Far North Queensland Palliative Care Hospice: Cairns Organisation United for

• That funding of $1.5m be provided to enable comprehensive investment in community mental health initiatives.

• That local health workforce funding ($2m recurring) be provided to enable strategies to ‘grow our own’ via education pipelines and conjoint appointments between universities and Cairns Hospital to attract and retain staff.

• That infrastructure funding of $6m be provided to build a palliative care hospice.

Cancer Health (COUCH), a communityfocused charity, has a strategy to create the Cairns COUCH Community Health Precinct, inclusive of a 12-bed palliative care hospice with respite facilities. Capital funding of $6m is sought to build the hospice within the COUCH precinct.

ESTIMATED PROJECT COST 20232024

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Recommended federal investment $1.5m Palliative care hospice $2m Mental health initiatives Local health workforce funding $6m 20242025 $2m 20252026 20262027 $2m $2m Source: 1. Queensland Health Rural and Remote Health and Wellbeing Strategy 20222027 Handbook

OUR FUTURE

TNQ TOURISM RECOVERY FUND

BRIEFING NOTE SUMMARY

• Tropical North Queensland (TNQ) is one of Australia’s most international regional economies, with tourism contributing $1bn to the region’s economy.

• The region’s international tourism sector was decimated by Covid-19 and SMEs need to rebuild partnerships with distributors and sales partners in offshore markets. This will complement the recovery in aviation capacity by stimulating demand.

• Austrade run the EMDG program which facilitates trade development. Many of the TEQ tourism operators exceed the 8-year term limit for funding. Advance Cairns is seeking a waiver of the EMDG term limit to enable SMEs to receive a further 3 years of support, which will play an important role in the region’s international recovery.

THE ISSUE

Tropical North Queensland (TNQ) is a significant tourism destination for both domestic and international visitors, with tourism underpinning the region’s international air access which further supports liveability, investment attraction and exports. International tourism represents $1bn of spending which is 7.4%1 of the local economy. International connectivity further supports the region’s agriculture and aquaculture industries, and our international air access remains one of the most impacted from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Loss of international flights, both in seat capacity and freight capacity, means many international tourism operators and exportoriented sectors in the region have yet to see more than 25% of their pre-pandemic export value return. Re-establishing trade connections post-pandemic will require more than the removal of travel restrictions; many of the international trade partners have changed their businesses also and global markets have changed permanently. For many tourism/ export businesses in the region this will mean starting again with trade relationships, new airline partners, new markets, new countries, and new staff to educate on the products and

experiences on offer.

As one of the country’s most internationally connected regional economies, many of the export-oriented businesses have either exceeded their eight (8) year Export Market Development Grant (EMDG) eligibility period or have suffered significant losses over nearly three years and have limited cash reserves to support taking international trade missions.

While the regional tourism organisation, Tourism Tropical North Queensland, has been committed $15m by the Federal Government to support the region’s international tourism recovery – this is not able to be used to support operators where programs such as the EMDG already exist.

An increase in the support for internationally focused regions, such as Tropical North Queensland, through the EMDG including a three-year waiver of the eight (8) year eligibility period would help to drive international exports from Cairns and underpin sustainable aviation routes over the next decade.

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BACKGROUND

Prior to the pandemic, the region’s international tourism expenditure generated more than $1bn in spending per annum which is 7.4% of the local economy. Today, that is estimated to be just $144m (14%) based on the year-end September 2022 International Visitor Survey. For Queensland, the current spend is estimated to be 22% of 2019 international visitor spend, showing that the closure of international borders impacted TNQ disproportionately. International recovery is not expected to fully recover until 2024/25. Tourism operators will need to be active in international markets to assist in the recovery.

TNQ stretches from Cardwell to the Torres Strait and west to the Northern Territory border. Pre-COVID-19, TNQ received nearly one million international visitors annually, spending over $1bn per annum. During the past decade, the number of businesses eligible for the EMDG has stagnated and our freight capacity has not kept pace with the increased level of competition both in Australia and globally.

Cairns Airport is the nation’s seventh busiest in terms of combined international and domestic passenger movements. It has historically handled around 130,000 aircraft and more than 5.2m passenger movements per year. The airport is widely recognised as one of the most significant economic drivers in the TNQ region and its facilities are critical pieces of economic infrastructure. To ensure international flights return to Cairns, there is an immediate need to drive demand to ensure these services are sustained and new services can open in passengers and in freight, beyond simply leisure visitors.

NEXT STEPS

To drive the recovery of the TNQ export industries and the wider regional economy, it is vital that there is investment in targeted support that will drive measurable outcomes. The TNQ tourism/export supply chain has been severely damaged as a result of COVID-19, and 20 years of investment in destination marketing and export relationship have been disrupted. Rebuilding the supply chain – including sourcing new products and suppliers, attracting new international airline partners, restarting the direct international agriculture and aquaculture export markets, and developing new international source markets –will require significant investment in destination marketing and relationship building.

A three-year investment in the region’s exporters includes:

• A regional waiver from Austrade of the eligibility criteria for three years to allow successful businesses already established in the international market to access the EMDG, to enable them to access new markets and re-engage with new suppliers in a changed business world.

• An increase in the amount exporters can claim to give the region the kick-start it needs to restart our international exports.

OUR RECOMMENDATION

• That the Federal Government commits to extend and waive the eligibility for the Export Market Development Grants to TNQ export businesses that have exceeded their timeframe for eligibility, to ensure international trade activities can restart and drive the recovery of the region’s international export market.

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Source: 1. Tourism Research Australia, 2022

SUPERYACHT CHARTERING

BRIEFING NOTE SUMMARY

• The Special Recreational Vessels Act 2019 (SRV), passed into law in December 2019, allows foreign-owned superyachts to charter in Australia via temporary licences which are issued under the Coastal Trading Act.

• The change in policy unlocked 6261 jobs and $790 million in revenue to the Australian economy in 2021, despite the advent of COVID-19 and associated travel restrictions dramatically curtailing the potential growth.

• An independent Economic Impact Study commissioned by the Queensland Government showed an overall injection of $3.01 billion to the Australian economy and 22,646 FTE in 2021, an increase of $1.045 billion and 8,146 FTE since 2016. The introduction of the SRV Act has contributed an estimated 76% of this growth in jobs and economic value.

• A sunset clause attached to the Act will see the temporary licensing option expire on 30 June 2023.

• Allowing foreign flagged superyachts to charter in Australia beyond 2023 requires a revision of The Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) Act 2012 or an extension or removal of the sunset clause included in the current Special Recreational Vessel laws.

THE ISSUE

Continuing to allow foreign superyachts to charter in Australia without the need to be “imported” is worth an estimated 14,346 jobs and $1.846 billion in revenue to the Australian economy by 2025.

In December 2019 the Special Recreational Vessels Act was enacted by Federal Parliament, allowing foreign owned superyachts to charter in Australia under temporary licencing arrangements. However, the Act contained a sunset clause that was scheduled to expire on 30 June 2021 – as proposed by then-Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development the Hon Catherine King MP – requiring a permanent solution to be included in the planned revision of the Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) Act 2012. Due to the impacts of the pandemic and

then subsequent change of government, this work has not been conducted. However, an extension to the sunset clause from 2021 to 2023 was passed by the Parliament in 2021 due to the lack of progress on the Coastal Trading Act revisions.

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BACKGROUND

There are 7247 registered superyachts worldwide, the majority based in the Mediterranean and Caribbean. About half of this fleet are charter vessels. Australia attracts less than 1% of these vessels with between 60-70 foreign flagged vessels visiting annually. The inability for foreign flagged superyachts to charter in Australia (until 2020) had been the single biggest inhibitor to growth in the Australian superyacht industry. In neighbouring countries such as Fiji, changes in legislation to allow foreign flagged superyacht charters has seen a 40% increase in vessel visitation and an increase in average stay from 21 days to 136 days. New Zealand enjoyed an increase of 54% in superyacht visitation in 20142015 with new legislation permitting a vessel to stay up to two years and to conduct charters.

In December 2019 the Federal Government introduced a Special Recreational Vessels Bill which was enacted by the Parliament to allow superyacht owners to apply for a temporary licence, enabling superyachts to engage in coastal trading in Australia over a 12-month period. The extended sunset clause in the Act will expire on 30 June 2023 when it was originally anticipated broad reform of the Coastal Trading Act would have been achieved. However, this timeline has not been met.

Economic modelling of the Australian superyacht industry shows the $3 billion industry had grown by an additional 76% in 2021 due to this new legislation – despite the impacts of COVID-19.

Indeed, Covid and consequent border closures had a significant impact on superyacht activity during this period which prevented a more complete assessment of the broader impact of the superyacht chartering rules without such

limitations, justifying a further extension.

Economic forecasts anticipate further growth to $4.346 billion and 33,185 FTE by 2025 if the legislation remains in place. Critically, a failure to act would see an estimated decline by almost half to $2.5 billion and 18,839 FTE by 2025 if the SRV Act is removed.

In Tropical North Queensland (TNQ), in 2021 the industry injected an estimated $392.6 million into the regional economy and supported 3467 full-time equivalent jobs. This represented 10.5% of the 33,186 jobs supported by the superyacht industry Australia-wide. The flow-on effects into tourism, hospitality, vessel sustainment and maintenance clearly bring wider economic benefit to the region

NEXT STEPS

It is strongly recommended that the Special Recreational Vessels Act sunset clause be removed, or alternatively be extended for a minimum of five years, in order to permit foreign flagged superyachts to charter in Australia beyond June 2023. The Act is a successful piece of legislation that will continue to drive significant economic benefit to regional Australia, and particularly Cairns. COVID-19 has meant the true economic benefit of this Bill has yet to be realised. There is no necessity for government investment to secure an additional $1.846 billion in GDP per annum by 2025 and to provide surety to the sector.

The urgency of a solution is demonstrated by interest from international companies such as Burgess (the world’s largest superyacht charter company) which has recently established an office in Sydney to support the growing number of international events that will attract superyachts to the Indo-Pacific region.

OUR RECOMMENDATION

• To provide certainty to the superyacht sector beyond June 2023, the Federal Government removes or extends for a further five years the sunset clause in the Special Recreational Vessels Act to allow foreign flagged superyachts to charter in Australia.

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PACIFIC ENGAGEMENT STRATEGY

THE ISSUE

“As two big Pacific Ocean states, Australia and PNG must work as equals with our fellow Pacific states to build a stronger, safer, more secure region. All of us have a part to play in realising that vision.” –Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at the conclusion of his visit to PNG and following his historic address to the PNG Parliament in January 2023.1

“…We share a desire for a peaceful and stable Pacific region…Australian businesses already invest heavily in PNG, and we explored ways to increase opportunities for industry and for workers.

“We also discussed how we can expand cooperation when it comes to people-to-people connections and support education and training and assist access to the labour market.”2

BRIEFING NOTE SUMMARY

• Cairns is the ideal strategic hub for implementation of Australia’s heightened Pacific engagement strategy.

• The ambition to establish Cairns as Australia’s Pacific hub is aligned with the Federal Government’s agenda of closer engagement with the Pacific, particularly PNG as part of a reset of broader regional geopolitical considerations.

• Cairns has the geographic adjacency, structures, business, education and cultural ties, and relationships to become the operational base to deliver many of the programs of the Office of the Pacific.

• James Cook University’s new fully Cairns-based medical degree offers the chance to build critical health sector capacity in PNG as part of the Federal Government’s Pacific engagement strategy.

The Federal Government’s renewed focus on multi-lateral engagement with Papua New Guinea (PNG) further underpins the importance of Cairns as Australia’s natural home for implementing much of the national Pacific Engagement Strategy. With Port Moresby, Cairns’ closest capital city, the geographic proximity would provide the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Office of the Pacific with close direct air and sea access to Pacific nations and would enable stronger partnerships for economic growth, regional security, free trade and critical business-tobusiness and people ties.

The establishment of Cairns as Australia’s Pacific hub is aligned with the Federal Government’s own agenda in which PNG “…and Australia share a desire for a peaceful and stable Pacific region”. Cairns is home to a multicultural society and with 10,000+ PNG nationals residing in the region, it is already a base for Australia’s participation in the development of cultural and educational research and teaching, health care, marine training, and more for South Pacific nations. The role of Cairns as a cultural and commercial hub for the Pacific nations was recognised with the Department of Defence awarding the contract for Pacific Maritime Training Services to TAFE Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef International Marine College.

The impacts of COVID-19 have been greatly felt by Pacific nations, with their heavy reliance on tourism a key pillar of economic development.3 To address the economic challenges of our Pacific neighbours, as well as the workforce shortages in Australia due to the pandemic, the Pacific Labour Scheme has become an important program for both nations. It helps address labour shortages in Australia whilst supporting economic prosperity in participating countries and helps Pacific economies recover from the impacts of COVID-19. With its existing links to the Pacific community, Cairns would be a natural location for the organisational hub of the Pacific

Labour Scheme. From now until 2030, the Pacific region is estimated to need US$3.1bn in investment per year.3 While Australia has consistently been the largest investor in the region, with a record $1.44bn in 2020-2021, a total of 62 countries are active Pacific investors with the top five being Australia, China, New Zealand, the US, and Japan. Australia has traditionally focussed on building capacity for social initiatives such as health care, policing, and security, while other countries such as China have focussed on infrastructure projects such as marine facilities, airports, and roads.

Health workforce is a vital concern for PNG and Pacific Island nations. North Queensland has long established relationships with Western Pacific neighbours in education and training of health and medical professionals through James Cook University (JCU). JCU has active collaborations with universities and Ministries of Health in PNG, the Solomon Islands and Fiji in health and medical workforce capacity building. In medicine, the recent delivery of additional medical school places by the Federal Government has enabled JCU to establish a full medical course based in Cairns, in addition to Townsville. The university’s expertise and delivery of courses in tropical and remote medical, nursing and health offers material relevant capacity-building opportunities for the Western Pacific.

JCU, CQU and TAFE Queensland have longestablished programs of engagement in the Pacific. JCU has the highest rate for students travelling to the Indo Pacific (60%, compared with a national average of 49%) and both universities have active New Colombo Plan engagement. Amongst other global relationships, TAFE has strategic partners in PNG, the Solomon Islands, Nauru and Fiji and leads the Australia Pacific Training Coalition.

Australia’s Step-Up to the Pacific program, which sees engagement in the Pacific as one of the highest priorities of Government, is tied to the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper and commits Australia to a more ambitious level of Pacific engagement.4 The Pacific nations have identified a number of challenges in regard to pursuing economic growth. These include unreliable telecommunications networks; skills shortages; security concerns; and control of fisheries, their most prolific natural resource.

While the Office of the Pacific has been tasked with overseeing Australia’s Pacific Engagement Strategy, Cairns already has strong established networks with Pacific nations, together with expertise in working with dispersed populations and tropical climates. The city is therefore well placed to facilitate the administration of the next phase of security, education, health, trade, and investment conversations in the region.

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BACKGROUND

Recently, growing tensions between the US and China have elevated the strategic importance of the Pacific, and Australia is more than ever a frontline player in terms of engagement and development of the region. Increased emphasis on the region is largely due to tensions around trade agreements, which reflect strong economic growth in the Pacific. In November 2020, China signed an MOU with Western Province in PNG to build a $204m fish processing plant less than 200km from the Australian border, a move that raised concerns over Australian border security. However, in the case of China, trade agreements are linked to repayable loans, which appear beyond the capacity of Pacific nations as developing economies with scarce national resources. This has increased the need to secure their fisheries, resource productivity, policing, and security. This agreement was followed by the bilateral security cooperation pact between China and the Solomon Islands in early 2022.

Evolving geopolitical tensions in the region have led to a number of significant collaborations in the Pacific. These include a bilateral agreement between the US and Australia to reinstate the Lombrum Naval Base on Manus Island, and a quadrilateral partnership between Australia, Japan, the US, and India to mobilise infrastructure investment in the IndoPacific. In addition, Australia has established a $2bn Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific, signalling the significance of the future economic partnership.4 As well, commitments to form bilateral security treaties in the Pacific, notably with PNG and Vanuatu, have marked recent negotiations. On the back of these collaborations and negotiations, the Pacific is a region that has undergone and is undergoing profound change. This will be further accelerated through the establishment of the PACER Plus free trade agreement, through which 14 countries (including Australia) are collectively focussed on facilitating trade to strengthen the Pacific’s global position.

NEXT STEPS

Cairns is already home to many of the Commonwealth’s Pacific engagement initiatives, covering security, education, economic development, and more. Establishing an operational headquarters of the Office of the Pacific in Cairns will enable Australia to build stronger relationships with our Pacific neighbours, providing a more coordinated approach and better value for existing budgeted measures. For example:

• Defence and Marine – Cairns Marine Precinct is home to HMAS Cairns, one of only five naval bases in Australia, and is the ideal base for OPV and Border Force vessel sustainment and maintenance, the Pacific Maritime Security Program, and the Pacific Mobile Training Team. Under the Security of Critical Infrastructure Act (2018) the Cairns port is a critical national infrastructure asset.

• Education – Strong alignment exists between Cairns’ tertiary institutions and the Australia Pacific Training Coalition, with structures in place to administer the Australia-University of the South Pacific partnership worth $84m over six years (2019-24) . With a strong record of teaching and research collaborations with universities and government across the Tropics, and active participation in the Australia Award and New Colombo Plan scholarship and mobility program to the Solomon Islands, PNG, Vanuatu, French Polynesia and Samoa, JCU is positioned for increased engagement throughout the Asia Pacific. Cairns also offers essential marine training through its TAFE Great Barrier Reef International Marine College, which provides the chance to contribute to the development of South Pacific nations’ fisheries control and security.

• Infrastructure and Development – With the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund headquartered in Cairns, the structure exists to either manage or co-locate the $2bn Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific from the region. Cairns is also supported by direct flights and shipping links to and from Pacific nations.

• Sport – Cairns is the ideal base for elite athlete training camps associated with the Australia-Pacific Sports Linkages Program. It has strong links through the Pacific Games and provides the perfect base for hosting or co-hosting future Pacific Games. It would also be an ideal location for a Pacific training hub for the 2032 Olympics. The Prime Minister recently lent his support to having a National Rugby League team based in PNG.2

• Pacific Labour Scheme – Creating an organisational hub in Cairns for the program would be a natural fit, linking agricultural and hospitality employers with around 22,000 available workers.

• Government and Trade – Cairns is home to the Exchange Innovation and Information Centre (EiiC), which works in partnership with PNG to promote business and educational links between Cairns, PNG, and the Pacific. The EiiC is unique within Australia and houses the offices of Tradelinked Cairns PNG Pacific, and of PNG National and Provincial agencies. Cairns also hosts 12 Foreign Consulates, and through existing business links is engaged with and supports the Pacific Labour Scheme.

• Health – Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service, in partnership with JCU, is established as a world leader in tropical health and diseases, knowledge that is vital to our Pacific neighbours. Through its medical and allied health disciplines, JCU has already established research relationships with the University of the South Pacific, Fiji National University, and the PNG Institute of Medical Research, and capacity building programs with University of PNG and Divine Word University (PNG) The new

full medical degree on offer at JCU Cairns offers a material opportunity to build critical capacity in PNG, and provides globally relevant training to deliver a medical and health workforce for Australia and the Asia-Pacific that is prepared to handle the region’s health challenges.

Sources:

1. https://www.afr.com/politics/federal/albanese-to-deliverhistoric-address-to-png-parliament-20230111-p5cbtj

2. https://www.linkedin.com/posts/albomp_papua-new-guineais-our-closest-neighbour-activity-7019608389248847872vP_y/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=member_desktop Jan 14, 2023

3. https://www.griffith.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_ file/0036/1197189/Pacific-islands-tourism-during-COVID-19.pdf

4. https://www. pm.gov.au/media/address-australia-and-pacificnew-chapter

5. Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Fact Sheet: Stepping-Up Australia’s Pacific Engagement, November 2018

OUR RECOMMENDATION

• That, through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Federal Government establishes an operational headquarters of the Office of the Pacific in Cairns to drive the implementation of Australia’s Pacific Engagement Strategy.

• That the Federal Government formally designates Cairns as Australia’s northern hub for delivering the Step-Up to the Pacific program.

• That the Federal Government funds additional places for the new six-year undergraduate medical program at Cairns’ JCU Campus as part of longterm capacity building with PNG and the Pacific.

• That the New Colombo Plan and the Australia Awards continue to enable university students at both JCU and CQU to engage in highquality industry-based experiences in countries of high political importance to Northern Australia while offering access to university programs in Cairns which offer specific areas of research to students from neighbouring Pacific nations.

• That the Federal Government, through diplomatic and trade support, promotes JCU’s international expertise in tropical health and medicine/workforce development, aquaculture, disaster resilience, and ecology and environmental management focussing on an uplift in capability in the Asia Pacific and Tropics more broadly.

• That the Federal Government provides $1.5m for developing a comprehensive strategy to identify and maximise opportunities for Cairns as part of delivering its StepUp to the Pacific agenda.

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POLICY TO FORGE OUR FUTURE

SPECIALIST BOAT BUILDING & SUPPLY CHAIN RESILIENCE

BRIEFING NOTE

SUMMARY

• Cairns has a long and proud history of shipbuilding, with Defence and Coast Guard vessels, cruise ships, and passenger ferries being constructed in the region since 1954.

• The Cairns Marine Precinct has proven capability in ship maintenance and sustainment, as well as pre-existing supply chain arrangements and infrastructure, and transferrable skills and knowledge that would ensure a ship and specialist vessel building industry could be quickly established.

• Cairns is ideally located to play an important strategic role in any future foreign policy objectives in northern Australia and the Pacific. However, the industry needs further investment in supply chain resilience if it is called upon to play a strategic role in northern Australia.

• A commitment from the State and Federal Governments is sought to secure the long-term, continuous building of small specialist Defence vessels, commercial vessels, and enabling infrastructure in Cairns.

• Specialist shipbuilding and supply chain enabling infrastructure will further enhance sustainment capabilities in the region and will enhance the overall capacity, capability, and resilience of the industry.

THE ISSUE

The Cairns Marine Precinct supports Australia’s strategic defence and foreign policy initiatives, as well as border and fisheries, tourism, and maritime trade operations including essential services to northern Australia’s regional and remote communities. The precinct is home to a large and diverse marine sector with 1603 commercial vessels across tourism, fishing and shipping, and cruising yacht sectors in addition to several Royal Australian Navy and Australian Border Force vessels. After COVID-19 exposed the fragility of Cairns’ tourism-based economy, project cargo and the continued growth of the marine precinct became critical for economic diversification in the region. The reestablishment of a small specialist vessel and boat building industry to service Defence and industry needs would provide stable growth and jobs for the Tropical North Queensland (TNQ) region and build on the pre-existing capability in the precinct and region.

The Federal Government’s 2020 Defence Strategic Update1 outlined the changing environment for Australia and the strategic realignment of the Indo-Pacific in global geopolitics, primarily due to strategic competition between the United States and China. This has led to Defence prioritising sovereign industrial capability2 and a nation-wide approach to investment. The objectives of the Defence Industrial Capability Plan3 are to broaden, deepen, and grow the industrial base of Defence

to enhance Australia’s national security. Cairns is ideally located to assist with these objectives, with existing marine and international airports that would allow it to play a strategic role in the Federal Government’s Step-Up to the Pacific program and other foreign policy objectives.

Cairns also has proven capability in ship maintenance and sustainment, along with a long and proud history in shipbuilding. The pre-existing supply chain arrangements and infrastructure, as well as transferrable skills and knowledge in the precinct, would ensure a specialist boat building industry could be established quickly, whilst contributing to a Defence strategy of regionalisation.

As well as Defence vessels, there are a number of commercial vessels that could also be manufactured in Cairns, including tourism and cargo vessels. The Defence and commercial sectors together could provide workload for a continuous pipeline that would enable a greater underlying level of business, leading to an increase in private investment in the region.

The commitment of long-term Defence contracts will underpin private sector work and lead to growth and resilience. Investment in a specialist boat building industry and investment in supply chain resilient enabling infrastructure in Cairns will ensure highly skilled jobs and a more diversified and resilient economy for the region. Most importantly, Australian sovereign capability will be improved.

COUNCIL: CAIRNS STATE ELECTORATE: CAIRNS FEDERAL ELECTORATE: LEICHHARDT
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CAIRNS TNQ BUDGET SUBMISSION 2023-24

BACKGROUND

From Defence vessels to commercial barges, ferries, and catamarans, Cairns has a long and proud history of boat building. Since 1954, commercial and Defence vessels have been built in the CMP. NQEA, a world-renowned shipbuilder based in Cairns, constructed 11 landing craft, 14 Fremantle Class Patrol boats, hydrographic survey vessels, Coast Guard patrol boats, passenger cruise ships, and passenger ferries between 1965-2008. A significant portion of these skills still exist in the marine precinct today, with several businesses still constructing fishing and tourism vessels.

Small-scale Defence shipbuilding has also recommenced in Cairns with Tropical Reef Shipyards and fabrication firm BME NQ being awarded the $4m contract to build 7 new Army watercraft in March 20214

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) plans to invest up to $800m to design and build new Australian-built amphibious vehicles and landing craft for Army from 2026. The Land 8710 Army Littoral Manoeuvre Phase 1 Project involves replacing LCM-8 and LARC-V small boats originally built in Cairns.

The current “default” shipbuilding location for the Land 8710 is Henderson, Western Australia. Advance Cairns would like to see these vessels built in Cairns. It is understood the tender document allows for alternative build locations. Advance Cairns would like the Federal Government to nominate Cairns as a high priority alternative to the current default WA location, so that tenderers can have some certainty that their alternative proposal will be seriously considered. Cairns has the history and capability to build these types of vessels.

The Phase 1 vessels will likely be based in Townsville, and it makes sense that these vessels be designed, constructed, and sustained close to their operational base and HMAS Cairns for interoperability. Having these vessels constructed thousands of kilometres away from their home base in N.E. Australia increases the length of the supply chain, increases risk, and has the effect of placing “all eggs in one basket”. Enhancing shipbuilding capacity in Cairns diversifies Australia’s shipbuilding capability and improves resilience.

From a commercial shipping perspective, Sea Swift is a large Cairns-based national sea freight company servicing Australia’s northern borders, supplying 54 communities with essential services over thousands of kilometres of coastline. With 26 ships, Sea Swift’s civilian fleet is the size of a small navy and has specialist capability in servicing a broad range of markets, many in remote areas. In the event of a maritime security threat, Sea Swift has sovereign and specialist capabilities in remote logistics that could support or supplement Defence capabilities.

Sea Swift provides an opportunity for catalytic government investment in supply chain resilience and the modernisation of the CMP. Sea Swift is already investing in these priorities, but government investment could bring forward this change. A partnership between Government and Sea Swift to invest in supply chain resilience infrastructure in the order of $8m in landside infrastructure over the next 2 years would further enable supply chain resilience for essential services to northern Australian communities. Sea Swift is currently using local shipyards to refit a number of vessels (2021 > $3.5m) in Cairns and is evaluating the commercial feasibility of the majority of vessel refits and the construction of new purpose-built landing craft vessels in Cairns in the future. Such a program would add to the continuous pipeline of work to enable a sustainable long-term industry. Sea Swift could also provide Australia with enhanced sovereign capability through targeted upgrades, particularly around integration, plug-in capability, surveillance, logistics, and hydrographic uses, should the need arise.

Combining the above two maritime initiatives significantly improves resilience, resulting in a more sustainable marine industry. Furthermore, Cairns’ other large existing marine sectors such as fishing and tourism will also underpin demand and a viable business case.

NEXT STEPS

The reestablishment of Cairns as a regional centre for specialist vessel building is a logical step for Defence and industry due to the existing infrastructure, skills, and supply chain arrangements already in the region. The current investment being undertaken in the Cairns Marine Precinct would assist and support ship building and align with the ADF’s strategy of strengthening Australian manufacturing capability.

To further develop the Cairns Marine Precinct and reestablish the small specialist vessel shipbuilding industry in Cairns, a long-term commitment from State and Federal Governments would be required. This could be through Defence contracts and investment in private sector partnerships. Reshoring shipbuilding in the region could create hundreds of jobs over the next 10 years and ensure the reestablishment of a commercial shipbuilding industry in Cairns. There is already a commitment in sustainment and maintenance in the Cairns Marine Precinct, and specialised boat and ship building that includes enhancing existing and new vessels would be a logical next step to ensure a continuous program of work. It would also assist to develop a viable and resilient industry that will attract significant private sector investment.

OUR RECOMMENDATION

• That Cairns be recognised by the Federal Government as a high priority alternative for building specialist Defence vessels (including the Land 8710 contract) to the current “default” shipbuilding locations as identified by Defence.

• That the State and Federal Governments commit to Sea Swift by investing in $8m (split 50:50) in landside supply chain resilience infrastructure ensuring sovereign capability.

• That the State and Federal Governments commit to a partnership approach by working with Sea Swift to ensure their program of work, including vessel refits and new builds, is commercially viable and constructed in Cairns.

Source:

1. https://www1.defence.gov.au/sites/default/ files/2020-11/Factsheet_Strategic_Update.pdf

2. https://www.minister.defence.gov.au/minister/melissaprice/media-releases/australian-businesses-building-oursovereign-defence-industry

3. https://apo.org.au/sites/default/files/resourcefiles/2018-04/apo-nid142496_0.PDF

4. https://www.cairnspost.com.au/news/cairns/hmascairns-development-tropical-reef-shipyard-wins-armycontract/news-story/1490d33bda4c708404d63c11 8571d884

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ADVANCE CAIRNS OUR REGION ONE VOICE ADVANCE CAIRNS OUR REGION ONE VOICE THE COMMITTEE FOR TROPICAL NORTH QUEENSLAND THE COMMITTEE FOR TROPICAL NORTH QUEENSLAND contact: Jacinta Reddan e: jacintareddan@advancecairns.com p: 07 4080 2900
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