Invest Cairns 2019-2020: World's eyes on tropical jewel

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agriculture // real estate // tourism // aviation // renewables // education + more

World’s eyes on tropical jewel The Far North is known far and wide for its tropical beauty and rich heritage, which lures millions of visitors every year. The region’s economic depth across diverse and burgeoning industries also makes this a land of opportunity.







WE CONNECT YOU TO PEOPLE AND Cairns in Tropical North Queensland is an ideal investment location. As Australia’s most global regional city, Cairns is a prosperous, growing and investment-ready regional centre with a motivated and skilled workforce. In 2018, a united business community led by Advance Cairns was pivotal in securing unprecedented federal funding commitments of $658m for TNQ. With local and state elections in the next 12 months, now is the ideal time to drive for increased investment in the region.



PROJECTS IN OUR DYNAMIC REGION Advance Cairns is the peak independent non-government advocacy and economic development organisation for Tropical North Queensland. Business-funded, outcome-driven and with a long-term vision.

Contact CEO Nick Trompf for more information or to enquire about membership. e: or ph: 07 4080 2900





The future of FNQ

InvestCairns Editors Jennifer Spilsbury and Lauren Pratt Designer Evolet Hill Writers Arun Singh Mann, Roz Pulley, Daniel Bateman, Chris Calcino, Peter Carruthers, Jack Lawrie, Alicia Nally General manager Andy Reeves Advertising sales manager Stephanie Campbell Business operations manager Trish Travers Advertising inquiries 4052 6662;

A growing region Renewable energy





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Industry innovation


Small business








Boutique farming


Indigenous tourism


Cruise ships





Region is our business For more than 135 years, the Cairns Post has been there, capturing Far North Queensland’s can-do spirit, sharing the battles and championing its growth


T has been this masthead’s proud history to set the agenda of the Far North for more than 135 years. Our role is to champion and advocate for our way of life, ideals, hopes and dreams. We do that on a daily basis through general news reporting, at election times and quite simply when the region has had enough — or wants more ... and better. Through necessity, adversity and sometimes purely due to geography the Far North has proven time and again it is innovative and entrepreneurial in its endeavours. Earlier this year the Cairns Post delivered an exciting new project called Future Cairns in which we worked with leading Australian demographer Bernard Salt, who dipped his analytical hat to these very traits that make up our DNA. Mr Salt provided exclusive data-driven insights into how the Far North Queensland region would develop between now and 2030 and what

it meant for individuals and business. Provocatively he weighed in on the “Quexit” debate signalling the North’s maturation could indeed, in coming decades, support a breakaway state. The campaign ended with a sold-out luncheon in which the audience hung on to every pearl of wisdom from someone who knows a bit about the aspirational value of avocado on toast. Mr Salt labelled Cairns Australia’s most global regional city and celebrated its can-do spirit. With this year’s edition of Invest Cairns the Cairns Post continues that celebration tapping into the engine room of our region to provide a snapshot of what’s happening now and into the future in our established and emerging sectors. I welcome you to this 2019 edition and ask that as you read, you consider your part in the vision of our region and how you can contribute to its success.

Jennifer Spilsbury editor, Cairns Post

SUPPORTING SUSTAINABLE REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT Ports North’s nine ports are critical to the regional economy representing $1.8 billion gross value added and 17 % of the gross regional product. These ports, located in stunning Far North Queensland, have made up the “blue highway” between our communities and national and international markets for more than a century. Customers include those in the tourism, renewable energy, minerals, agriculture, coastal trade, marine services, naval, fishing and project and export cargo industries. Ports North’s recent milestones and achievements include: • Completing the dredging campaign and beginning wharf upgrades for the Cairns Shipping Development Project, which will facilitate cruise ship industry growth at our Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal • Undertaking the Port Master Planning Project for the Ports of Cairns and Mourilyan to inform land use, infrastructure and operational decisions in an economic and environmentally sustainable way for the next 30 years

• Initiating the Ports North Sustainability Strategy to assess economic, environmental and community issues as well as our policies, strategies and governance against the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals • Working with New Century Resources to successfully re-establish trans-shipping operations through the Port of Karumba • Negotiating the successful start-up opportunity for the Metro Mining bauxite export operation at the Port of Skardon River • Partnering with the State Government to develop a Tropical North Global Tourism Hub in Cairns • Working with United Petroleum to develop a proposal for a fuel terminal import facility at the Port of Mourilyan • Supporting the growth of the Superyacht industry through our world-class Cairns Marlin Marina

Contact Us Phone: Fax: Email:

+ 61 7 4052 3888 + 61 7 4052 3853




Projects in the pipeline Major projects will be a big part of the Cairns construction landscape over the next four years with an estimated $5 billion spending in the pipeline from both private and public sectors. They cover the spectrum of tourism, infrastructure, energy, education, health, retail, residential and recreation. Here’s what to expect, writes Roz Pulley

$200 million

BOTANICA: retirement resort and residential estate for over-50s at Caravonica. Under construction.

BRUCE HIGHWAY: $481m Stage 3, Southern Access Corridor, Edmonton to Gordonvale; $104m Stage 4, Kate St to Aumuller St. Under construction. CAIRNS AIRPORT: $55 upgrade of domestic terminal from 8000 to 10,000 sqm. Completion: Late 2020. CAIRNS CENTRAL: $60m upgrade. Myer relocation, new Woolworths, fresh food market hall. First major redevelopment in 20 years. Ready: Late 2020.

COUNCIL: $164.7m Cairns Regional Council capital works program. Roads, bridges, CBD upgrades, water and waste infrastructure, community, sport, cultural and tourism projects. Start: 2019-20 financial year. CQU: Ambitious $35m plan to build Queensland’s first comprehensive university high school with Cairns State High. Has spent $4.8m on first stage of Asia Pacific Aviation Hub at Cairns Airport. Seeking funding for Stage 2. CRYSTALBROOK: Syrian entrepreneur Ghassan Aboud is putting the final touches to Crystalbrook Collection’s 217-room $150m Bailey hotel and 303-room $150m Flynn. A further $150m development on the former Cairns City Library site between Lake and Grafton streets will include commercial facilities, apartments and a 3.5-star hotel. EAST TRINITY: $2.2m Mandingalbay Indigenous Tourism Precinct, under construction. Also planned, $39.5m new vessel, pontoon jetty and boardwalk. EDMONTON: $100m Edmonton Business and Industry Park. Retail, business, industrial premises, recreational facilities, green space. EDMONTON: $25m Cairns South Health Facility, Edmonton. Back-up for Cairns Hospital during cyclones and floods. Start: Late 2019. ELLIS BEACH: $100m eco resort with 221 rooms next to caravan park proposed by Melbourne-based Bellbird Park Developments. ELLIS BEACH SURF CLUB: $3.5m Federal Government grant to help relocate Ellis Beach Surf Lifesaving Club across Captain Cook Highway to beachside land. Application submitted to Cairns Regional Council. ESPLANADE: $16.5m dining precinct and Shields St beautification. ESPLANADE CENTRAL: $11m hotel above McDonalds restaurant with 76 rooms, a rooftop bar and views to Green Island.

CAPTAIN COOK HIGHWAY: $287.2 upgrade. Start: 2020.

FITZROY ISLAND: Bought by Doug Gamble for $8.5m in 2010. New designs being drawn up for Stage 2 works, including 20 rooms, gym, wellbeing centre, kids playground and a cinema.

C3 CAIRNS: $550m six-star city resort proposed by Gasparin Group. Three residential towers of 23-24 storeys, 795 apartments, street level retail. Approved 2016. No construction date.

GALLERY PRECINCT: $40m Cairns Gallery Precinct. Cairns Regional Council spent $5.75m buying heritage-listed Courthouse Hotel in 2016 and will spend $6.2m fixing defects. Still without state and federal funding.

COCA: $5m Centre of Contemporary Arts redevelopment for JUTE Theatre and KickArts. New facade, entry, office, studio spaces, theatre upgrade, improved gallery. Ready: December 2019. CONVENTION CENTRE: $176m Cairns Convention Centre upgrade and extension by Queensland Government. Start: May 2020.

1 billion


GLOBAL TOURISM HUB: potential, Deptartment of Innovation and Tourism Industry Development.

HARVEY NORMAN: $5m upgrade and expansion, Harvey Norman, Spence St, Cairns. HEALTH: Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service: $70m Mental Health Unit; $70m Atherton Hospital redevelopment; $5.6m Cairns ambulance station and operations centre redevelopment; $60m Federal Govt commitment to Cairns University Hospital, but dependent on State Government funding. JCU: $30m Cairns Innovation Centre. Threestorey education facility at James Cook University’s Smithfield Campus to enhance innovation and scientific activities. Ready: July 2020. JCU HIGH SCHOOL: Northern Beaches Secondary Catholic College. MOU signed by Catholic Education and James Cook University to build high school at JCU’s Smithfield campus. Opening: 2022. KUR-World: $650m eco-resort in Kuranda. Construction over nine years. Depends on upgrade of Kuranda Range Rd. Start: 2021/22. MSF SUGAR: $75m construction of green energy power plant, Atherton Tableland. Similar projects proposed for South Johnstone and Mulgrave mills.

$600 million

NAVY: The Federal Government has committed more than $600m to upgrade HMAS Cairns naval base.

NOVA CITY: $550m seven-tower project, Spence St, Cairns, by Singapore-based Aspial Corporation. Site preparation $48m, included 300-plus piles for first two towers. Builders invited to tender. Includes 1158 apartments, ground-floor entertainment, dining, retail. PORT DOUGLAS: $200m Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina redevelopment with 5-star hotel, luxury apartment complex, superyacht berths. Committed. PORTS NORTH: $127m Shipping Development Project. Dredging for 300m+ vessels, new shipping swing basin, wharf construction. Ready: Early 2020. Plus $19.58m foreshore development; Marlin Marina expansion $4.84m; Tingira St subdivision $14.8m. SMITHFIELD BYPASS: $152m two-lane, 3.8km road between McGregor Rd and Yorkeys Knob roundabouts to bypass Smithfield roundabout. Ready: Late 2020. SPINAL LIFE AUSTRALIA: $12m Healthy Living Centre will be the first of its kind in Queensland and regional Australia. Under construction. THE PALMS: $330m project to turn Paradise Palms golf course into residential estates, retirement village and more. Application lodged with Cairns Regional Council. Planned: 2020.



The best is yet to come for FNQ What excites Mayor Bob Manning? The prospect of a National Indigenous Australians Heritage Centre in Far North Queensland. Cr Manning shares the things that get him out of bed each morning


5 minutes with Bob Manning What is your focus for the year ahead? Pursuing a City Deal for Cairns. We have a raft of projects on the table, and a City Deal would bring together the three levels of government to see these come to fruition. What big-ticket item are you most excited about? There is a growing realisation that Cairns is ideally, strategically located as a key port for Australia’s Pacific Step Up Defence initiative. There is a re-positioning taking place that could mean huge growth for the HMAS Cairns naval base and the Cairns Port.


AIRNS is the only place in the world where two World Heritage-listed areas are located side-by-side – the magnificent underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef and a rainforest more ancient than the Amazon – the Wet Tropics Rainforest. Cairns welcomes more than three million visitors from all over the world who come to experience these wonders and our vibrant and dynamic tropical city. The unique natural attractions, enviable climate, relaxed lifestyle, friendly hospitality and the wonder of our indigenous history and culture, make this one of Australia’s most desirable places to live in and visit. But the city offers much more. It also presents an investment opportunity and an ideal place to do business. The Asia-Pacific is emerging as a geopolitical centre and the primary region of global economic growth. Cairns’ close proximity, with direct access to major cities in that region, creates exciting opportunities for tourism development, investment, trade and business. But wait, there is more ... the Cape from Cairns to the Torres Strait is a whole new frontier to be opened and developed. A huge nature reserve and environmental park sitting adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef and north of the Wet Tropics – the ‘home’ of our first nations peoples – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. It doesn’t get any better than this. The next 20 years will be our greatest. Due to a stable economic environment and strong growth forecasts, combined with competitive property markets and flexible planning regime, investors are drawn to our safe

long-term investment climate. Private sector projects are leading the way in driving growth and investor confidence, including Crystalbrook Collection’s $370m set of luxury hotels (Riley, Bailey and Flynn); Aspial Corporation’s proposed Nova City development (which has just gone to the market for construction); and a $55m upgrade for the Cairns Airport domestic terminal. Public sector projects contributing to growth include the $176m expansion and refurbishment of the Cairns Convention Centre, the $127m Cairns Shipping Development project (which paves the way for additional and larger cruise ships) and nearly $750m in roads infrastructure projects underway. The Federal Government has also committed more than $600 million towards upgrades of the HMAS Cairns naval base. Cairns Regional Council is a proactive and pro-business local government that is investing heavily in public infrastructure to underpin future commercial development. We welcome private investment in strategically important industries and work closely with investors to explore potential projects and tactical partnerships to capitalise on our city’s significant opportunities. I invite you to contact us to discuss the many investment opportunities on offer in Cairns, and I look forward to welcoming you soon.

Bob Manning Mayor of Cairns

What are the battles Cairns leaders will face in the year ahead? Cairns is on the cusp. All the fundamentals are in place. The only risk is that we snatch defeat from the jaws of victory if we don’t work together. Teamwork has never been more important. What would be your dream government-funded project? A National Indigenous Australians Heritage Centre built in Far North Queensland, that recognises the contribution of our First Nations peoples. It would not only be a great act of reconciliation, but would open up a truly exciting world of opportunity for us to learn about and celebrate the art, culture, language and history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, and to share that with visitors.



million the Federal Government’s commitment towards upgrading the HMAS Cairns naval base




On a path to prosperity The priorities have been mapped and are firmly in the sights of Advance Cairns, which is pursuing $2.5 billion worth of investments for the region


HE continued growth of Far North Queensland is firmly front and centre at Advance Cairns. The Cairns advocacy organisation recently released its focus projects, the result of six months’ work mapping the regional priorities in partnership with more than 20 key stakeholders, according to Advance Cairns CEO Nick Trompf. The result is Pathway to Prosperity. “Pathway to Prosperity involved business leaders from across TNQ, and representatives from the Cairns Chamber of Commerce, Tourism Tropical North Queensland and Regional Development Australia Far North Queensland and Torres Strait,” he said. “Through Pathway to Prosperity we’re pursuing regional investments worth more than $2.5 billion, with opportunities to capitalise on infrastructure and policy projects that will redefine the region.” CAIRNS UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL INNOVATION PRECINCT $90m is sought for Stage 2 of the Research, Education and Innovation (REI) Centre, plus $60m to fund 80 new beds in the existing hospital. Establishment of the REI Centre will support the transition of Cairns Hospital to Cairns University Hospital status and underpin creation of the Cairns University Hospital Innovation Precinct, enabling future investment in medical technologies and research. CAIRNS RING ROAD Stage 2 funding of $365.5 million is sought to upgrade the Cairns Western Arterial Road. When the Captain Cook Highway is flooded, the Western Arterial Road is the only flood free access route between Cairns, the northern beaches and Kennedy Highway. Investment in this road will lead to increased property development and commercial activity in addition to improved liveability for residents.

NATIONAL HIGHWAY A1 Stage 1 funding of $21 million is required to undertake a Strategic Assessment of Service Requirements, Preliminary Evaluation and Business Case for Kuranda Range Road upgrades. To maintain and grow North Queensland’s competitiveness, we are also seeking fast-tracked delivery of planned Bruce Highway upgrades, together with a strategic transport plan to deliver a dual-lane freeway between Cairns and Townsville. DAMS AND WATER SECURITY $854m is required to fund 80 per cent of the cost of Nullinga Dam (Option 2A in the Building Queensland detailed business case) with water users to fund $215m. An additional $7.2m is sought to progress the Southern Tablelands Irrigation Project. At a time when demand for fresh Australian produce is increasing, these investments will lead to accelerated opportunities for agricultural producers. CAIRNS MARINE PRECINCT Stage 2 funding of $25m is sought, followed by Stage 3 investment of $100m to upgrade precinct capacity and complement the $420m committed to upgrade HMAS Cairns facilities by 2026. The Cairns Marine Precinct is a national defence asset that employs 4600 people. Investment in the precinct will lead to increased opportunities for the sustainment and maintenance of superyachts, defence and border force vessels. EDUCATION AND RESEARCH SECTOR $35m is sought to establish Queensland’s first Comprehensive University High School, plus $50m for CQUniversity’s Cairns CBD campus and $45m for Stages 2 and 3 of CQUniversity’s Asia Pacific Aviation Hub. In addition, $26.7m recurrent is required for 80 new medical student placements at JCU, leveraging investment in the Cairns University Hospital. The

combined investments will deliver globally relevant training to regional students across multiple academic disciplines. ARTS, SPORT AND CULTURE To strengthen arts, sport and culture in the region, $26.6m is required for the Cairns Gallery Precinct, $40m is sought for Cairns Showground, Sporting and Community Precinct upgrades, and $1m is sought for a sports tourism sector business case. As an international sports destination and home to a large indigenous population, investment in these areas will unlock further potential in areas such as professional women’s sport. GULF SAVANNAH WAY Considered to be in the top 10 greatest road trips of Australia, the self-drive tourism market relies heavily on this vital link between Cairns in TNQ and Broome in Western Australia. With sections of the road remaining unsealed, $136m is sought to continue upgrading




the Western Queensland section of the national highway, opening the communities to greater opportunities for economic development and tourism. POLICY PRIORITIES SUPERYACHT CHARTERING Revisions to the Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) Act 2012 are imminent. This will lead to significant opportunities for services that cater to high net-worth individuals travelling through the Asia-Pacific region. CAIRNS UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL Recurrent funding is sought to enable Cairns Hospital to transition to a full tertiary referral facility known as Cairns University Hospital. In addition, $6 million is required to complete a detailed business case to implement the Cairns Hospital’s new 20-year master plan, leading to additional investment opportunities in medical technologies and research. CAIRNS CITY DEAL To establish a City Deal for Cairns, the Queensland and federal governments are required to join Cairns Regional Council in signing a Statement of Intent. The resulting deal will position Cairns as an economic powerhouse in northern Australia and fast-track opportunities for catalytic projects. PACIFIC ENGAGEMENT STRATEGY To drive Australia’s Pacific Engagement Strategy and deliver the Pacific Step Up program in a strategic, co-ordinated way from northern Australia, an Office of the Pacific is sought for Cairns. The resulting strategy will open doors for business-to-business networks between Cairns and the Pacific Island nations. POPULATION AND MIGRATION STRATEGY $1.5 million is sought to develop a Population and Migration strategy for Cairns. The strategy will inform catalytic and social infrastructure requirements for the future and enable targeted workforce planning. Aerial view of the domestic terminal at the Cairns Airport. Picture: BRENDAN RADKE


Australia’s most global regional city Bernard Salt, April 5, 2019 Future Cairns

Advance Cairns’ Pathway to Prosperity publication.

CAIRNS AVIATION ROUTE DEVELOPMENT Commitments for four $25 million airline support packages are sought to aid in attracting new airlines to the region, driving an estimated $800 million in economic growth. LAND USE AND AGRICULTURE A framework for prioritised Strategic Agricultural Areas is being pursued for TNQ to reduce the uncertainty of agricultural investment. A Cairns Office of the Coordinator General is also being sought to effectively co-ordinate regional land use planning, major development approvals and land tenure resolution. STRATEGIC ENERGY SECTOR FRAMEWORK A commitment of $1.5 million is sought to develop a TNQ Energy Sector Strategic Investment Framework, leading to a renewablesdriven pathway for investment in energy services and energy exports.

Nick Trompf CEO Advance Cairns

Unlocking investment in Australia’s most global regional city


airns in Tropical North Queensland is an ideal investment location. As Australia’s most global regional city, Cairns is a prosperous, growing and investment-ready regional centre with a motivated and skilled workforce. The economy is increasingly diversifying. As well as our world-class tourism industry, the region is seeing continued innovation in the agricultural sector, emerging manufacturing and construction sectors and a rapidly growing research and education portfolio. Our expertise in sustainable design and construction, biosecurity, tropical health and medicine and agriculture, combined with being home to two universities at the cutting edge of research and innovation, an international airport, shipping port and close proximity to our Asian neighbours, sees us perfectly positioned to attract new industry and investment. Advance Cairns’ newly launched advocacy priority list, Pathway to Prosperity, captures this diversity of sector expertise and was developed in partnership with more than 20 key stakeholders in the region. While our list includes 16 priority areas, there are three core priority areas that will lead to catalytic change across the health, transport and agriculture sectors. They are:

$90 million to establish a research, education and innovation centre at Cairns Hospital

$365.5 million to duplicate and upgrade the Cairns Western Arterial Road

$854 million towards building Nullinga Dam




Cairns is a global city Now is the time to capitalise on Far North Queensland’s potential for global growth, writes Chris Calcino


AIRNS is leaning into the cusp of an unprecedented opportunity to truly spread its reach into international markets that extend far beyond the lucrative tourism offerings typically sprung to mind with the uttering of the city’s name. A threshold is about to be crossed that promises to build on the blood, sweat and tears of previous generations of economic luminaries who have paved the way for their beloved home to truly become a global city. In fact, that threshold has already been crossed. What comes next will buttress the existing relationships, build new ones, and grow, grow, grow – as long as the rare moment is not squandered. The numbers speak for themselves. Cairns has the busiest airport in regional Australia with more than 5400 international flights annually – a number only expected to grow as negotiations with major global airlines forge ahead. Those flights give Cairns direct connections to regions with more than 88 million people and more than $7 trillion GDP. The city attracts 2.1 million domestic visitors each year, spending a combined $2.4 billion, according to Tourism Tropical North Queensland data. Add the 863,000 international visitors and their $1.1 billion annual economic injection and it equals a tourism industry worth $3.5 billion per year. Cairns is the top superyacht destination in the country, and is connected to the Far North’s ever-growing agricultural food bowl which is already feeding a voracious international appetite for the region’s produce. Figures from the National Institute of

Economic and industry Research show the gross regional product for Cairns is now worth $8.83 billion. For Far North Queensland as a region, that figure is $15.2 billion. Quite the story for what was once a quiet little fishing town, but the story is nowhere near over. The Federal Government has committed to “step up” its engagement in the Pacific with a range of major economic and social measures – most notably the development of a joint Australian-US naval base on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. Cairns is the natural jump-off point for the vast majority of exports – of materials, support

Far North Queensland gross regional product worth

$15.2 5400+ billion

2.1 Million

domestic visitors per year

international flights annually

863,000 international visitors

* Australia’s busiest regional airport * Top superyacht destination in Australia

and knowledge – due to its close proximity and close existing ties with PNG and the Pacific at large. Add that to the major mining expansion in the region, and the looming construction of an international airport in Lae. There are enormous prospects for investors to get on board now before the work starts in earnest, but the clock is ticking. Gary Aylward from Tradelinked, an organisation formed to strengthen Cairns business links with the Pacific, said opportunities like these were not frequent knockers. “The fact is that we’re so engaged in PNG now regardless of the recent focus on politics,” he said. “We’ve been doing this for a long period of time here in terms of FIFO (fly-in, fly-out), with aviation, education and training.” None of this growth has happened on its own, just as future expansion needs a concerted effort from the community, governments and private investors need to make sure opportunities are not missed. Demographer Bernard Salt, during his recent visit to Cairns, said the city and region at large was on the cusp of something quite remarkable. The secret was to put the time, money and effort where they were needed most. “I think there needs to be more investment in education in Cairns, because the future belongs to skills, and the skilled – so more courses and technical training, I think is important,” he said. “I think there should be more investing in the airport – greater connectivity. “I would love to see Cairns Airport with greater airlinks into maybe 20 or 30 Chinese cities, maybe some Indian cities, or Dubai, for example.”


A future Far North Flying cars? Drones delivering pizza? Aside from the Back to the Future-style stuff, Far North Queensland is predicted, and primed, to further its global reach on a massive scale, writes Chris Calcino


HE economic landscape of Cairns will be a very different beast by 2035 – with direct flights to 15 countries, Australia’s premium defence marine maintenance port and food exports doubled. Advance Cairns CEO Nick Trompf said such predictions were absolutely achievable as the city built on its reputation and impact as Australia’s most global regional city. That “global” position has already been achieved in the tourism sector but opportunities abound to take things much further. “We haven’t really leveraged that global branding in other areas – like food, in particular, and also in the renewable energy sector,” Mr Trompf said. “There’s a number of major renewable energy projects on the drawing board so this clearly has some momentum. “And that aligns very well with our global position as one of the best eco-tourism destinations in the world.” Far North Queensland in 2035 will have well and truly tapped some of the phenomena that have worked so well for Tasmania in recent years. The Atherton Tablelands will be home to one of the country’s most widely recognised foodie trails, and the hiking, cycling and walking market opened up by the development of the Wangetti Trail between Palm Cove and Port Douglas will be envied the world over. “Cairns will be the superyacht mecca of the southern hemisphere, given the (taxation) rules will change and white boats from the Caribbean and Mediterranean flood here for the wonderful weather,” Mr Trompf said. The city will establish itself as a medical tourism hotspot focused on the premium market rather than trying to outprice competitors in Asia. It will also be home to Australia’s most renowned tropical health research facility at the Cairns University Hospital, with services upgraded across the Tablelands and further north into Cape York and the Torres Strait. A massive new export distribution centre based at the Cairns Airport will be processing vast amounts of agricultural and aquacultural products for markets all over the world. The accompanying construction of two new dams will help double growers’ output to feed a global diner’s hunger for premium Far North Queensland flavours. Mr Trompf said the city’s cultural reputation would also be cemented with the major expansion of the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair into an international festival that attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors over a fortnight, as well as the $40 million Cairns Gallery Precinct and other major enterprises still yet to be realised. The economy will increasingly hinge on the marine sector – particularly given Australia’s increased role in the Asia-Pacific. “Townsville has long been known as a garrison city,” Mr Trompf



said. “Fifteen years from now, we will be much more significant in terms of the defence of Australia, given our proximity to the shenanigans * Doubled food exports going on between * Direct flights to 15 countries China and the US in terms of power. * World-renowned Tablelands foodie trails We’re going to see a * Massive export distribution much larger HMAS centre at Cairns Airport Cairns with a huge * New dams driving agricultural expansion grey boat fleet based * Australia’s premium hub for naval vessel out there. “The marine maintenance maintenance sector * Country’s most renowned tropical health won’t just service research facility Australian naval vessels, but also vessels from the US and other allied countries stationed in this part of the world. We will be renowned as Australia’s premium maintenance hub for all defence vessels.” There is already $1.1 billion worth of projects committed that are still yet to kick off, and another $11.1 billion worth of planned projects just waiting for the trigger to be pulled. Demographer Bernard Salt has estimated the northern part of Queensland, stretching from Torres Strait to midway between Gladstone and Mackay, will reach one million people by 2043. His recent demographic audit found Cairns as a city alone was about to hit 300,000 residents within the next decade with an 18 per cent population growth by 2030.

Far North Queensland in 2035

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Rise in renewables As climate change fears rise, Far North Queensland is ahead of the game on renewable energy sources, writes Daniel Bateman


DRIVE through the Atherton Tablelands reveals one of the Far North’s most prominent alternative energy projects. The Mt Emerald Wind Farm, consisting of 53 turbines sitting aloft a mountain range overlooking Walkamin, started energy production in August, 2018, after a two-year build. Thai company Ratch’s $400 million project is expected to generate 500-600 million KW/h of renewable electricity a year on average. This is equivalent to delivering enough energy to power an estimated 75,000 northern Queensland homes over a 20-year period. It is just one renewable energy project set to power the region. Ratch Australia is also in the early stages of planning an 80MW wind farm at Evelyn near Ravenshoe on the Tablelands, and there is also another wind farm planned for the nearby township of Kaban — a 29-turbine project proposed by French company Kaban. And that’s already in addition to Ratch’s 20-turbine wind farm at Windy Hill, the first wind farm to be constructed in Queensland, which has been helping reduce Australia’s carbon emissions by up to 25,000 tonnes of carbon every year for the past 20 years. But, of course, wind is not the only source of alternative energy in the Far North. WATER Stanwell Corporation operates three hydro power stations across the region. Barron Gorge Hydro, located 20km northwest of Cairns, sources water from the Barron River to produce electricity, before releasing the water back in to the river, to the delight of



The Atherton Solar Farm is an 81MW peak solar photovoltaic power generation facility, planned near Tolga, involving the installation of about 240,000 solar panels. It is being developed by China-based Qingdao New Energy Solutions.

invested by Ratch in the now operational Mt Emerald Wind Farm

GREEN ENERGY MSF Sugar is behind the $75 million green energy power plant at the Tableland mill. The plant works by turning 100 per cent renewable sugarcane fibre into green energy. After lengthy delays the plant was due to come online in October, producing electricity to be sold into the grid, according to cane supply general manager Hywel Cook.

million white-water rafting enthusiasts. The 56-year-old hydro station underwent a $28 million refurbishment in 2011, extending its life for another 20 years. Stanwell also operates Kareeya Hydro, near Tully, which was commissioned in 1957. At their peak combined capacity of 154 megawatts, the two hydros can power most of the households in Cairns or provide power for other parts of the region. There is also Stanwell’s Koombooloomba Hydro, on the Tablelands, which was constructed in 1960. The hydro operates by capturing energy from existing water releases required for the operation of Kareeya Hydro. SOLAR While the Wet Tropics’ weather may appear contrary to solar energy projects, there is two major developments in the region underway to harvest the sun’s rays for electricity.

RISE IN RENEWABLES The Far North’s peak economic body, Advance Cairns, has estimated there is more than 100 businesses operating in Far North Queensland’s renewable energy sector, providing employment for more than 700 people, and a turnover of more than $100 million per year. The organisation says many of these businesses export their renewable energy services, technology and hardware to the Asia Pacific region, and beyond to markets in Europe. “Businesses have developed unique capability in delivering renewable energy solutions to challenging, remote locations such as isolated communities and mine sites,” it said. “There are opportunities on the table now and in the future, in local renewable energy projects, to create a much greater level of energy self-reliance and to limit potential electricity cost increases borne by residents and businesses.”


Education the key in hospitals With a growing region, the focus increasingly turns to health services and how they can accommodate residents, writes Daniel Bateman


AIRNS is expected to have a univer- regarded as being a world leader in tropical sity hospital within the next decade, health research. if the city’s population keeps on its JCU’s Australian Institute of Tropical current trajectory. Health and Medicine has one of its key nodes Leading Australian demographer Bernard at the university’s Smithfield campus, supSalt, who visited Cairns in April, forecast the porting the work of about 50 researchers, all city to have a population edging towards focused on solving problems of importance to 300,000 by 2030. the tropical world, and leading to improveMr Salt’s analysis of Cairns’ population ments in health systems and healthcare delivdata showed healthcare and social assistance ery, improved biosecurity, and enhanced had experienced the largest increase in the re- health outcomes for Australians and neighgion’s job market during the past 18 years, bour tropical nations. generating nearly 10,000 local positions. Current research being undertaken at the Currently, Cairns Hospital supports an es- AITHM includes developing a vaccine for timated resident population of 278,000, and malaria, and commercialising therapeutic regularly provides acute medical services for goods developed from proteins obtained from residents as far north as Torres Strait and hookworms, which have been shown to treat Papua New Guinea. inflammatory disIn 2018-19, there eases such as coeliac was 74,667 presendisease. tations to Cairns CQUniversity, Hospital’s emerwhich has a campus gency department in Cairns’ CBD, is — a 24 per cent inhome to the Centre crease over the prefor Indigenous ceding five years — Health Equity Reand 82,727 patients search, which conwere admitted to ducts high-impact the hospital during applied research to this period. ensure indigenous This is clearly nations gain full and why both sides of equal access to opfederal politics, durportunities that ening the 2019 elecable them to lead tion earlier this healthy lives. year, pledged $60 The university million towards also provides study helping Cairns Hosand training for the If the State Government is projecting this pital reach tertiary next generation of number of extra people, then the State status. paramedics. Government needs to deliver primary schools The Cairns UniIn addition to the and secondary schools, and sufficient roads, versity Hospital Cairns’ research and and sufficient hospitals to accommodate it. project, which is education capabilibeing developed by ties, the city also has – Bernard Salt public health bosses Cairns Private Hospialongside James Cook University and civic tal, owned and operated by Ramsay Health leaders, would not only allow the hospital to Care. The hospital recently celebrated 20 obtain more state and federal funding, but also years of providing crucial cardiac services to allow it to expand its current services. the community through its cardiac catheteriIt would also allow for JCU to establish a sation laboratory. Research, Education and Innovation Centre, Almost 20,000 patients have used the serplanned within the Cairns health precinct in vice since the lab opened in September 1999, the city’s centre. after a campaign led by cardiologist, Dr Chin The university — one of two that call Lim, to bring more cardiac services to the reCairns home, alongside CQUniversity — is gion.



Works in pipeline for Cairns Hospital THE head of the Far North’s public hospital says the role of the health service in the region should not be underestimated. Clare Douglas, the chief executive of the Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service, says the service is not only providing health care for many communities, but it is the region’s major employer, with more than 51,000 full-time equivalent staff, and a record budget this financial year of $1 billion — $63.6 million more than the previous financial year. And there’s plenty more to come, Ms Douglas said. “We are currently investing more than $200 million in upgrading and renewing our infrastructure across the region over the next four years,” she said. “In the past 12 months we have completed work on several significant infrastructure projects, including Queensland’s first Youth Step Up Step Down mental health facility in Manoora, new staff accommodation at the Mareeba Hospital and two new Cardiac Catheterisation Laboratories at the Cairns Hospital.” She said the health service was also progressing well on several important infrastructure projects, including a new $70 million mental health precinct for inpatient and community mental health services at Cairns Hospital. She said construction was also underway on the new Cairns Southern Corridor Health Precinct, and the refurbishment of emergency departments at Mossman and Tully hospitals. “The board and executive are working strategically towards becoming a university hospital, which in turn will provide our community with improved access to the latest developments in health care and attract high-calibre staff,” she said. “We continue to strive to provide excellence in health care, wellbeing, research and education in Far North Queensland.” Clare Douglas




What we are rallying for From Nullinga Dam to a CBD gallery precinct, these are the big-ticket items the city’s leaders are gunning for, writes Chris Calcino


HE ink will soon settle on a new City Advance Cairns is pushing for $130 million Deal for Cairns – a shared vision of investment across three tertiary education growth between three levels of gov- precincts, as well as $26.7m a year in recurrent ernment and the investors and busi- funding to enable students to complete a full ness leaders that compel the city towards its university degree in medicine for the first time future. in Cairns. The exact composition of that lucrative acThose projects feed into the long-term vicord remains to be seen as final negotiations sion of Cairns becoming an international are hashed out, but to a degree it does not powerhouse in the education sector – a jourmatter. ney that has already started with major exCairns knows what it wants and needs – pansion of both James Cook University and and it knows how to get it. CQUniversity. Advance Cairns CEO Nick Trompf reFar North Queensland leaders have rallied cently issued the organisation’s own infra- as one to force action on the long-awaited structure and policy priority list, with a suite of construction of Nullinga Dam on the Athernew projects making the cut. ton Tablelands. “It’s timely to undertake this review in light It is a costly exercise but the benefits are of rapidly changing only too clear, and its trade and geo-polirealisation will be tical environments crucial to both agrion our doorstep in cultural and poputhe Asia-Pacific,” he lation expansion said. across the region. “There is strong The council is commitment across campaigning for the business and indusstate and federal govtry to pursue governments to chip in ernment and their respective oneopposition support third shares to build a for these catalytic $40 million gallery initiatives, from precinct in the CBD. both Brisbane and More than $360 Canberra, as we million in funding to head into 2020. duplicate the Cairns “We will be Western Arterial Rd, working closely $500 million-plus to There is strong commitment across with our local state upgrade the HMAS business and industry to pursue government Cairns naval base – MPs to secure the and opposition support for these catalytic backing sought in the list goes on. initiatives, from both Brisbane and Canberra, the next state budNot all of the city’s as we head into 2020. get, just as we did prospects rely on inwith the Member frastructure alone. – Nick Trompf for Leichhardt WarA proposal to esren Entsch before the last federal budget tablish an Office of the Pacific in Cairns to when we were successful in securing unpre- help co-ordinate the Federal Government’s cedented infrastructure investment.” “step up” in the Pacific region makes sense The region is batting for $60 million to and is gaining traction in Canberra. bring an extra 80 beds to the Cairns Hospital, Similarly, a push to change Queensland as well as $90m for upgrades to bring the facil- legislation to allow councils to impose a modity up to a tertiary hospital standard. est tourism levy is a hot topic of discussion in Advocacy groups are pushing hard for $21 Brisbane. million towards a study to once-and-for-all If it gets over the line, it has the immediate pave the way for the major upgrade or dupli- potential to triple Tourism Tropical North cation of the Kuranda Range Road – a project Queensland’s annual budget from about $8 talked about for decades that has so far never million to $26 million, not taking into account materialised. the private co-investment it would attract.

$21 million

Duplicating and upgrade the Cairns Western Arterial road

$365.5 million

to undertake a strategic assessment of service requirements and associated business case to upgrade Kuranda Range Rd

$136 million

to complete the sealing of the Gulf Savannah Way to the Queensland border

$60 million for 80 additional beds at Cairns Hospital

Upgrading facilities towards creating Cairns University Hospital and increased recurrent funding to enable tertiary referral (or Level 6) status to be achieved


$1.5 million

to develop a framework for more affordable and reliable energy as well transitioning increasingly to renewables


million million From government towards the cost of a stand-alone Nullinga Dam

$854 million

Create a comprehensive strategy to accelerate population and migration into the region

for three tertiary education precincts

A broader dams and water security focus, adding three other bulk water storage projects as well as the top priority in Nullinga Dam

$100 million

to secure four airline attraction support packages

$1.5 million

$62.2 Million

for three arts, sport and culture projects

Investment for marine maintenance facilities and expanding Queensland’s sole operational navy base, HMAS Cairns

$545 million

As individuals, we can make an impact Demographer Bernard Salt shared his valuable pearls of wisdom with the region when he visited Cairns in April: I think the single most important thing that Cairns needs to do – and this is something that every Cairns resident can do – is have an individual vision of the future, and to work out what you can do, almost on a daily basis, to make Cairns a stronger, more unified, more galvanised and progressed along a common path to a better future,� he said. Meet the entrepreneurs and the innovators who are helping the region to reach new heights, along with a look at how small business can survive and thrive in an at-times tough northern market.




Jacob Percy

Kristy Plum

Shaun Thambayah

Sam Byrd

Sarah Mort

James Mort

Meet the entrepreneurs These are the people who have taken the exciting and daunting step of doing things their way, and making it work, writes Alicia Nally

FERMENTED KITCHEN Kristy Plum and Jacob Percy The owners and directors of kombucha and sauerkraut maker The Fermented Kitchen produce about 400 litres of kombucha and hundreds of litres of sauerkraut each week from their headquarters at Portsmith. The pair wants to educate people on the importance of eating good food, balancing gut health and improving overall wellbeing with a range of tasty, mouthwatering fermented foods and drinks, all hand made and bottled in Cairns. NOA/Hopscotch Sam Byrd Indisputably the best place to eat in Cairns

suburbs, NOA was opened in 2014 by Sam and his father Buddy. The Edge Hill restaurant services breakfast options for all tastes and appetites, lunch, dinner and cocktails, and you’d be hard pressed to find a day of the week at any hour when the place is empty. The menu draws on local ingredients and uses seasonal produce together with care and attention. Late last year, Mr Byrd teamed up with Mama Coco’s Davy O’Rourke to create Hopscotch, in the new Barr St Markets precinct. The new restaurant has become synonymous with Friday night after-work hangouts, family gatherings, pizza lovers, pasta connoisseurs, steak aficionados and lovers of cocktails. The southside of Cairns has been quick to adopt Hopscotch, just like Edge Hill owns NOA and Westcourt has Mama Coco.

MIHAVEN James and Sarah Mort This power couple is transforming the suburbs of Cairns one modern, sleek building at a time. Construction, design and training company Mihaven is also a registered training organisation and the business makes sure it is part of the future of Cairns by taking on apprentices for the construction industry. In 1995, Sarah Mort became the first female project manager for construction giant Multiplex. After meeting husband, James, in 2004, the pair settled at Mission Beach and the couple’s fledgling property development business took a battering from two of the region’s biggest cyclones — Larry in 2006 and Yasi in 2011. But the couple’s resilience paid off when Mi-


Barbara Ford

Mark Fry

Haven won the 2011 Tropical Business Innovation Award for its concept of cycloneresistant homes. Combining clever construction with social enterprise, the Morts are designing homes to meet individual needs, reduce energy consumption and suit the tropics. Partnerships with indigenous communities are also creating affordable housing for remote locations. AIR FREIGHT HANDLING SERVICES Barbara Ford The managing director of Air Freight Handling Services has been in the business for 25 years, starting in Townsville, then moving to Canberra and West Australia, working for the former Australian Air Express. More than a decade ago she established her business looking after airfreight operations for North Queensland in Cairns and Townsville. But when Star Track Express took over a big slice of her business, Ms Ford had to diversify into urgent courier work. CRYSTALBROOK COLLECTION Ghassan Aboud Billionaire Syrian developer Ghassan Aboud is changing the skyline of Cairns and the way the Far North hospitality industry provides customer service. Married with five children, Mr Aboud studied journalism before moving to the United Arab Emirates in 1992. The Ghassan Aboud Group is engaged in a wide range of businesses in the Middle East from cars and related trading to TV news channels and radio. But it’s his Crystalbrook Collection business, which has added three hotels to the Cairns CBD — Riley opened late last year, Baily is set to open in November and Flynn in 2020 — and numerous cattle stations around the region. The beef is used in the hotel restaurants and is exported overseas.

Ghassan Aboud

Mark Kamsler

PROPERTY DEVELOPERS Paul and Mark Kamsler Paul and Mark Kamsler are part of Cairns CBD’s 2019 revitalisation. The brothers are in the process of rebuilding the old Sejumi Institute building next to the historic Courthouse Hotel on Abbott St. The three-storey project, which features a cafe and retail space downstairs, will have commercial tenancies on the upper floors. The Kamslers’ investment firm Coral K Partners, currently in interim offices above the Commonwealth Bank on Lake St, will also shift into the new building. In 2015 the family sold the 4.5-star Pacific Hotel which they had held since they snapped up Ansett Australia’s half share in the Spence St lodging when the group was disposing of assets in 1998. NQEA Fry Family Started by Dick Fry and carried on by son Don and now grandson Mark, NQEA is a Cairns-based engineering firm which has stood the test of time serving the local market. Responsible for constructing equipment for use in the sugar industry, the firm also designed and built the ocean-going passenger liner, Oceanic Discoverer. Oceanic Discoverer incorporates innovative design including a hull design which leads to operational cost savings for the client and performance greatly exceeding specified requirements. It incorporates a high level of environmental consideration and control. COMPETESHARK Shaun Thambayah In Cairns now as part of the State Govern-

Paul Kamsler



Jodie Mlikota

ment’s Hot DesQ program, which brings tech start-up leaders to the region to work, Shaun Thambayah is one of the city’s most innovative minds. His web app CompeteShark visually tracks content changes on websites in real time. The tool also aggregates data to provide users, primarily digital marketers and brand managers, with insights on their customers and competitors. Co-founders Kiran Kumar and Mr Thambyah previously worked together on digital projects at Suncorp before developing their own startups. CompeteShark exposes the competitive movements in a market’s landscape to allow marketers to make better decisions around growth and strategy while saving them time and money on the analytical process. GATHAR Jodie Mlikota JODIE Mlikota is passionate, hard working and making waves in the social innovation space. She is the creator of Gathar, which is an innovative peer-to-peer platform connecting people who love to cook with people who love to entertain but hate the hard work. She is also a student, entrepreneur and CQUniversity Cairns senior development officer. Through her volunteer work and study in the social innovation space with CQU Cairns and federally funded Young Entrepreneurs Project, Ms Mlikota successfully snagged a grant through Advance Queensland’s Young Starters Fund to run an innovation weekend in April called Big Fish Cairns. The event was aimed at students aged 15-24 who wanted to learn about entrepreneurship and innovation. Her involvement in Big Fish Cairns also resulted in her being selected earlier this year to represent Australia at the Global Startup Weekend Women’s event in Paris.




Industry innovation Cutting-edge technology is being applied right here in Far North Queensland, as development in aviation and industry reaches new heights, writes Peter Carruthers


AIRNS is fast developing as a onestop aviation hub as innovation in school-based training and aircraft maintenance supply chain management achieve new heights. And cutting-edge robotics projects are breaking new ground in the marine, fabrication and timber joinery industry. New pathway programs developed by Aviation Australia and new aircraft maintenance contracts worth more than $4 million awarded to Hawker Pacific has launched the Cairns aviation industry on a major growth trajectory. Aviation Australia business manager Chris Pigott said growth was expected to continue as the industry took advantage of airspace restrictions and air traffic congestion in Asia. “It’s running out of space and has air restrictions where they can’t do pilot training because there is so much traffic. So they are looking to move into the Australian region,” he said. Mr Piggot said recent upgrades to the Mar-

So the region has everything. We have got big jets down in Cairns and the smaller aircraft and training aircraft in Mareeba and we have now got CQUniversity courses. – Chris Pigott

eeba Airport had increased the scope of pilot training available to Cairns-based aviation students. “So the region has everything. We have got big jets down in Cairns and the smaller aircraft and training aircraft in Mareeba and we have now got CQUniversity courses,” he said. Students can now train to be professional airline pilots through the new CQUniversity Bachelor of Aviation degree. The region’s manufacturers will soon gain more access to robotics technologies at the Cairns Manufacturing Hub based at the Queensland TAFE Cairns campus. A Department of Manufacturing spokeswoman said the hub was already delivering services to help local manufacturers adopt new robotic technologies and take advantage of emerging opportunities from the Internet of Things and Industry 4.0 (digital manufacturing). “This hub will also work with the government’s Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Hub, being delivered in partnership with QUT

and Queensland-based manufacturer UAP,” she said. Going out on their own, Cairns business Tooley Waterblasting is leading the way in innovative robot technology in the marine field. Business owner Laurie Tooley in a Cairnsfirst has modified water-blasting robots, which can now strip the hull of a ship in a tenth of time. “I ended up buying concrete demolition robots and I adapted stuff from (a shipyard robot) to suit and now I have got people in Singapore ringing me asking me how I did it,” he said. “We have been doing a lot of work for Norship and it used to take 10-12 weeks to do some of these boats and we have it down to seven days.” Mr Tooley said a man operating a water blasting gun to clean ship hulls did about 5 sqm an hour and the robot on the same surface covered 25 sqm an hour. “It’s heaps faster, they don’t have a day off or need to stop for a smoke and don’t have a girlfriend they have to worry about,” he said.

Cutting-edge tech CSF Industries Developing a robotic steel fabrication system and advanced welding system. Norship Marine Working on installation of state-of-the-art robotic technology for metal cutting. Homefab Implementing integrated IT systems, lean manufacturing and implementation of software for light gauge steel framing production. Ravenshoe Timbers Installing of a state-of-the-art finger jointing line.


Some people care too much about profit. Sometimes the owners, particularly, don’t know how to work too hard – they think they’ve got a business, now they’re rich – Graham Meldrum



Buzz grows in avionics Alicia Nally

Put the passion into business With a growing region, the focus increasingly turns to health services and how they can accommodate residents, writes Daniel Bateman


EAVILY reliant on tourism and at the mercy of when and how much the heavens unleash on the region during the wet, Cairns’ economy has thrived despite the challenges. At the heart of the city’s success are myriad small businesses whose owners give colour and flair and a memorable customer experience to locals and tourists alike. But what does it take to survive and thrive in the tough FNQ market? Graham Meldrum has an idea. The owner of Meldrum’s Pies in Paradise has been rising before the sun for more than 40 years and turning out delicious creations snapped up by hungry customers at his Grafton St shop. For him, the secret to longevity was to forget about profit and focus on that other pword – passion. “Some people care too much about profit. Sometimes the owners, particularly, don’t know how to work too hard – they think they’ve got a business, now they’re rich,” Mr Meldrum said. “Some owners don’t spend a lot of time in the business, they don’t have a passion. I don’t

cost any of my products, I just test it and change it if it’s not working. If it needs more meat, I’ll put more in it. “If you’re passionate the rest just comes. It really does. And, if you want customers to come back you have to feed them.” And feed them he does. When Mr Meldrum started out as an apprentice pastry chef, the only flavoured pies you could get were mince, beef or steak and kidney. Today, he makes 40 varieties and can attract up to 600 customers a day to his Grafton St cafe, half of them from Japan where he is something of a TV celebrity. Hard work has also been the hallmark of Mr Meldrum’s success. The energetic 68-year-old did two apprenticeships so his savoury pies and sausage rolls sit alongside baked custard tarts, cream eclairs, chocolate mud cakes, rum balls and vegan blackberry pies. With wife Dania by his side the pair have also owned bakeries in Penrith and the Blue Mountains in NSW. Earlier this year, Meldrum’s Pies in Paradise came in at number four in the Cairns Post’s list of FNQ’s best pies. Tasty treats made with gluten-free flour have also appeared on the shop’s shelves as the Meldrums continue to keep up with customers’ demands. With plans to retire soon, Mr Meldrum has listed the business for sale and already has some interest from those keen to keep a Far North institution alive. Whoever buys the business will get all the secret ingredients and recipes which have gone into the city’s tastiest pies, sausage rolls, cakes and tarts.

JASON Burzacott has a simple ethos which has propelled him from an electronics technical officer trainee to the leadership team of one of Australia’s biggest players in the aviation maintenance and repair industry. The vice president of Hawker Pacific Australia’s maintenance, repairs and operations division has overseen the expansion of the company’s general aviation hangar at Cairns Airport and has recently won a contract to service Alliance Airline’s aircraft at their facility. “Alliance operates the Fokker 70 and 100 and are the largest operator of that type in the world. These heavy maintenance jobs are critical in every aspect – the aircraft is completely stripped apart and inspected,” Mr Burzacott said. “With up to 8000 man hours to be expended in a very short time frame, defects to be addressed and a quality product to be delivered, the trust and opportunity Alliance has granted us in giving Hawker Pacific Cairns our first Fokker heavy maintenance check can’t be understated. “Currently on the third aircraft, the Hawker Pacific team has delivered a world-class product so far and this will help immensely in our attempts to capture more of these aircraft back into the country.” Under Mr Burzacott’s steady hand, the largest commercial avionics facility in the southern hemisphere was developed here in Cairns, Hawker Pacific won medium employer of the year in 2016 and 2018 at the Queensland Regional Training Awards and the business has gained the highest level international airworthiness accreditations and was the first to be approved under the latest Australian CASA regulations PART145 maintenance approval. “...Queensland as a whole and Cairns in particular have benefited from the State Government’s focus on aviation.” Jason Burzacott

Futureproofing our children From the jobs of the future to the most popular university courses, education has become a growing focus in Far North Queensland. Demographer Bernard Salt put stock in the importance of education when he visited Cairns in April. I think there needs to be more investment in education in Cairns, because the future belongs to skills, and the skilled – so more courses and technical training, I think is important,� he said.




Conus Cairns Major Industry Sectors Trend Employment in the past 10 years (to Feb. 2019) (15,100)








Education & Training







Public Admin








The opportunities are endless, from technology to healthcare, the Far North’s children and visiting students could have the world at their feet, and all from this region, writes Jack Lawrie

N the face of growing concerns about the health of the Great Barrier Reef, declining construction jobs and closing business in the CBD, what will the jobs of the future look like in Cairns? Conus’ Pete Faulkner said many of Cairns’ major industries would depend on the success of the tourism sector. “The food and accommodation sector is down from a decade ago but up 19 per cent in the past six years,” he said. “Assuming continued reasonable growth I would expect to see growth in this sector to continue.” Mr Faulkner said Information Media and Technology was a small industry at the moment, with just 2000 employed, but had the potential to become a major player in the next decade. “It’s up 34 per cent in the past 10 years. With a focus on start-ups the Cairns region could have a real possibility of being seen as a ‘tech-hub’ with excellent links into Asia,” he said. He didn’t expect the boost in new CBD building projects would lead to long-term growth for construction jobs in Cairns. “There is a pipeline of works to come and this will help shore up the sector but we need to see residential house building improving and, at the moment, building approvals data doesn’t suggest we are going to see that happening in the near future,” he said. “Longer term as Cairns’ population grows we will obviously require more houses and units but this may not be at as fast a pace as some like to hope. “Healthcare has been, and will continue to be, a fast-growing sector. “An ageing population, more complex medical procedures and the possibility of an upgrade to the status of Cairns Hospital are all going to keep this sector growing rapidly. “Education is a sector that has grown in importance but still has potential for faster growth into the future. Increasing foreign students attracted to FNQ, and our excellent links to Asia, could see this sector witness good growth in coming years.” CQUni Cairns is hoping to ensure schoolchildren will be skilled up for the future job market with their $35 million plan to create Queensland’s first Comprehensive University High School, with Cairns State High School. CQUniversity Australia Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Nick Klomp said the university high school model sought to lift the post-schooling educational participation rates of local students, particularly those from traditionally under-represented groups. “With the provision of access to higher qualifications and technical skills for FNQ residents, we have so much potential to strengthen the community, avoid skills shortages in the region and boost economic prosperity,” he said.

Accommodation & Food

Jobs of the future





There is also enormous untapped growth because Cairns, like many other regional cities, is yet to catch up with metropolitan rates for the proportion of residents engaged in tertiary studies.

“We want to make sure students are comfortable in a university environment, and also able to undertake close-by placements.”

– Nick Klomp

– Sandra Harding

The rise of the universities James Cook University and CQUni have heavily invested in Far North Queensland based on a vision of huge growth, writes Jack Lawrie


AIRNS’ two big university campuses, James Cook University and CQUniversity, believe the Far North region is an untapped market for higher education. Since 2009, JCU has invested more than $200m in the Cairns campus, delivering major infrastructure, with more to follow. The university is planning to spend $60m on the new Cairns Tropical Enterprise Centre, a multidisciplinary building focused in the application of Internet of Things technology in areas such as health, agriculture, tourism, the environment and the arts. JCU Vice Chancellor Sandra Harding said the university was set up to grow the professional class, and with it the underpinnings of economic prosperity in the region. “We know that the level of attainment isn’t as high as metro areas in the Cairns region,” she said. “To catch up, we need to offer programs needed for our local economy because our prosperity demands it.” JCU currently has a Memorandum of Understanding with Cairns Catholic Education Services to plan a new secondary college on the Smithfield Campus. Professor Harding said it was a natural move to build up the link between secondary school and university. “We have a great relationship with Smithfield State High and Trinity Beach Primary

located near the campus,” she said. “We want to make sure students are comfortable in a university environment, and also able to undertake close-by placements.” CQUni Cairns campus is approaching an enrolment figure of 2000 students this year and should push past that mark in 2020. CQUniversity Australia Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Nick Klomp, said population growth in Cairns, combined with growing efforts to attract international students, would ensure a bright future for higher education in the region. “There is also enormous untapped growth because Cairns, like many other regional cities, is yet to catch up with metropolitan rates for the proportion of residents engaged in tertiary studies,” he said. “Almost half of our capital city residents have tertiary qualifications, but this rate is only around a quarter in the regions. “To this end, we have announced an ambitious $35 million plan to create Queensland’s first Comprehensive University High School, in concert with Cairns State High School.” CQUniversity has invested $4.8 million to establish Stage 1 of the Asia Pacific Aviation Hub at the Cairns Airport and are seeking funding for Stage 2. Next year will be the milestone graduation of the first cohort of engineering students who have been studying on campus in Cairns.






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Halpin Partners director Shaun Donaldson

So much more than a tourist town Tourism is vitally important to Far North Queensland, but an exciting new direction for the region is also starting to bloom


T’S not surprising that many visitors see Cairns as a tourist town. Many years of successful marketing has cemented Cairns as the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and the rainforest. While tourism is an important industry for the region, Cairns has always been more than just a tourist town. We have thriving marine, agriculture, education and health sectors that are all set to experience growth thanks to favourable economic and market conditions and new infrastructure. With some local knowledge, businesses and investors can step beyond tourism to see other opportunities in the region. Not far from the Cairns Reef Terminal, where just less than one million tourists per year start their adventure to explore the Great Barrier Reef, is the Cairns Commercial Marine Precinct and HMAS Cairns. Despite subdued growth over the past decade, the marine industry in Cairns is expected to experience strong growth in the short-tomedium-term future and will be driven by three important factors. • The recently completed $120 million Cairns Shipping Development that involved dredging the harbour and allowing the Cairns Port to accommodate larger ships. • A planned $600 million expansion of HMAS Cairns over the next decade. The first phase being a $300 million expansion will place Cairns as the home port for four new Arafura-class offshore patrol boats. • Proposed changes to taxation laws making it more attractive for super yachts to visit Australia. Already, investment in the sector has begun with local ship builders BSE Slipways recently investing $20 million in a 1120-tonne mobile ship hoist. An hour west of Cairns is the Atherton Tablelands, home to one of the country’s highest-value agricultural precincts. The Tablelands agricultural industry is underpinned by the same fundamentals that

Proposed changes to taxation laws will make ports, especially Cairns, an attractive place for visiting superyachts. Picture: BRENDAN RADKE

make up all great agricultural precincts. • Water: Tinaroo Falls Dam with a 438,000-megalitre capacity and the MareebaDimbulah Irrigation scheme, along with reliable wet season falls, provide the region with reliable water. • Weather: The Tablelands climate is ideal for growing many higher-value crops with the climate often providing earlier fruiting than southern markets, allowing growers to take advantage of higher prices. • Infrastructure: Being only an hour west of Cairns and relatively compact, the region is able to take advantage of strong logistics, with Cairns Airport and Cairns and Townsville ports all close by. Road and rail connectivity is also strong. The Tablelands has benefited in recent years from the switch to higher-value crops, such as avocados. This trend is continuing with farmers experimenting with different crops and farming techniques. Education and health in Cairns have experienced strong growth and investment, and have also benefited from an increased focus on tropical living.

With 40 per cent of the world’s population living in the tropics, which is expected to grow to 50 per cent by 2030, a focus on tropical diseases, medicines, building methods and more is becoming more important. Health and education sectors are expected to continue to grow and be driven by the same macro-economic factors that have driven both of these industries nationally. I do expect, however, that each sector will get an extra boost through additional planning. • The planned upgrade of the Cairns Hospital through the establishment of a Research, Education and Innovation (REI) Centre. Federal funding has already been committed to this project which will transition the Cairns Hospital to university hospital status. • The planned expansion of Central Queensland University and James Cook University city campuses and the establishment of an aviation training hub. Like a rising tide, growth in the defence, marine services, agriculture, health and education sectors should provide a boost for the Cairns economy overall. While the region is yet to experience strong growth in property prices, there has been strong employment growth with a 13.3 per cent increase in employment in the past 12 months, driving unemployment down to 5.4 per cent. I expect this forecast growth will present opportunities for businesses and individuals who are looking to invest in Cairns. Cairns has welcomed many southerners to the city over the years who have experienced great success and helped make Cairns the great place it is today. The team at Halpin Partners is looking forward to helping many more people take advantage of the region’s opportunities into the future as Cairns establishes itself as Australia’s most global, regional city. Halpin Partners 101 Sheridan St, Cairns City (07) 4052 0800 ||




Proud sponsor

JCU Cairns Campus director David Craig

Building a stronger community Far beyond students earning their degrees, James Cook University has evolved and is investing heavily in the growth of this region


AMES Cook University has invested more than $200 million in Cairns since 2009, including the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine (AITHM), which has laboratory, teaching and research facilities in Cairns and Thursday Island. The university will soon open its Cairns Innovation Centre (CIC), a jointly funded project by the state and federal governments and the university. The CIC will be the future home for JCU Connect and our Internet of Things Engineering program. The Innovation Centre presents as an opportunity for the university, industry and the community to connect and collaborate. The university is continuing its investment in Cairns with the $60 million Cairns Tropical Enterprise Centre (CTEC). The CTEC will house a multidisciplinary centre for applied technology and enterprise, and is an important part of the transition of Cairns Hospital to Cairns University Hospital. The activities of CTEC will serve the needs of Far North Queensland and tropical populations throughout the world, underwritten by an emphasis on the application of Internet of Things (IOT) technologies. The power in the idea of CTEC is to capitalise circumstances in FNQ that will enable Cairns to transition from a large regional centre to an important tropical city on the world stage. CTEC is to be multi-disciplinary. Fields of application include health technology, tropical urbanism, tourism, arts, the environment and agriculture. At JCU, however, investment does not only mean money. The university is investing in and growing human capital, and supporting research and teaching for healthier people and stronger communities in our region. This year, JCU was rated first in the world in the Times Higher Education University Impact Rating in the category of working towards achievement of the United Nations’ sustainable development goals — reducing in-

Students are engaging in real-world studies to support the region they live in.

equalities — which aims to eliminate economic imbalances. These 17 UN sustainable development goals set out the conditions needed for individuals and communities to thrive and grow equitably and sustainably, and cover everything from personal health and hygiene to environmentally-sound urban growth and development. JCU’s work in sustainable development is as broad as the goals themselves. We have experts researching and teaching students and the community about urban design for healthier communities, stormwater remediation using low-impact development techniques, global citizenship, the preservation of languages in Papua New Guinea, and health and medicine. Health and medicine is a significant focus of JCU’s work in Cairns to build knowledge and capacity, and share expertise with our near neighbours. The tropics as a region will be home to 50 per cent of the world’s people by 2050 and 66 per cent of its children. The diversity of cultures and people is

matched by a diversity of challenges in the region, and disease and health is one of the most significant challenges. Our tropical health focus is embedded in our flagship research institute Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine (AITHM). The Institute focuses its efforts on the most pressing health issues facing both tropical Australia and the Indo-Pacific. AITHM undertakes research that leads advancements in understanding, diagnosing and preventing infectious diseases, strengthening health systems and building capacity towards improving health outcomes for all people in our region. All of this activity in service of health and wellbeing contributes to economic development through commercialisation of research outcomes, improvements in efficiency of service delivery, education and training of future professionals, and strengthening of the communities in our region. James Cook University (07) 4232 1111 ||

Make Life Matter

CRICOS Provider Code 00117J

JCU: Be ready today for tomorrow

JCU ranks in the top 2% of universities worldwide1, as well as in the top 40 of modern universities2. Independently awarded five stars for full-time employment, skills development and learner engagement3, JCU students develop the skills and knowledge to make a difference. The impact of JCU’s graduates within the Cairns region promotes growth, economic activity, and wellbeing. JCU Cairns is a major economic driving force of the region, contributing $183.3 million to the economy4. 1 4

Academic Ranking of World Universities, 2017. 2 Times Higher Education University Rankings, 2019. 3 2020 The Good Universities Guide. Western Research Institute, 2018 Impact Report for James Cook University.




Proud sponsor


Holding Redlich

Bold, new direction Holding Redlich embraces new modern look for work space at Cairns Corporate Towers


BOLD new look for Holding Redlich’s expanded Cairns office features an industrial-inspired design. Holding Redlich is delighted to have officially opened the doors of its newly expanded office in Cairns. The move to the new premises has seen a doubling in size for the Cairns office as it positions itself for future growth. The expansion, a significant investment, is also indicative of the confidence Holding Redlich holds for the Far North Queensland region. Located in the Cairns Corporate Tower, the 400 sqm office space features 20 work stations, all with electronic sit-to-stand desks and stylish, contemporary furnishings. Exposed ceilings means pipework and other fittings and fixtures are visible and painted black. Drop-down streamlined lighting highlights the contemporary design and a strong black

and bronze colour scheme adds to the semiindustrial warehouse look. Holding Redlich partner Vanessa Maruna said the Cairns office was able to offer tailored expertise based on local know-how, mixed with the extensive resources of a national law firm. “Our growing office now includes a team of 12 locals,” Ms Maruna said. “This means we offer a unique combination of local expertise and knowledge that is backed up by the resources and support of a large, national firm.” Partner Ranjit Singh said it was an exciting time for the firm’s Cairns office. “Our new office is a fresher, bigger space — very industrial and very modern,” Mr Singh said. The new premises also features a dedicated meeting space that can hold seminars for up to 60 people, or a boardroom lunch for up to 30.

“To have this space in a non-hotel setting is unique in Cairns,” Mr Singh said. “As well as our own seminars and meetings, this space will be available for clients and contacts to use as well.” The opening of the larger Cairns office follows the expansion of the firm’s Brisbane office, opening up a half floor of similarly designed, industrial-style office space. “The Cairns office expansion was an opportunity to implement the firm’s new approach to office design that we first rolled out in Brisbane a year ago,” Mr Singh said. Holding Redlich is a national law firm comprising 65 partners and 400 employees across all key corporate and commercial practice areas. HOLDING REDLICH Level 1, Cairns Corporate Tower (07) 4230 0400 ||

At Holding Redlich, great law is our starting point Our team in Cairns combines years of local experience and knowledge with the resources and expertises of a leading national law firm. We provide solutions tailored to our clients’ needs, underpinned by the very best legal thinking and expert industry knowledge. Ranjit Singh Partner Property & Real Estate

Vanessa Maruna Partner Planning, Environment & Sustainability

James Harding Senior Associate Property & Real Estate

Rebecca Macmillan Registered Migration Agent Immigration Law

For more information or to meet the team, please visit or call us on 07 4230 0400 CAIRNS | BRISBANE | SYDNEY | MELBOURNE




Proud sponsor

Jeffery Schrale, ANZ regional executive Far North Queensland

Optimism about a bright future

Picture: ISTOCK

With a well-supported Great Barrier Reef, a growing diversity of sectors and a population on the rise, the future of Far North Queensland is looking very bright


AIRNS isn’t just a regional city, but now a well-recognised brand in Australia and around the world. Many tourists who have visited the region have very fond memories of experiencing the word-class tourism our region has to offer. The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most significant natural wonders of the world and we are lucky to have it on our doorstep. There is no doubt it has been through some very big challenges in the past five years. What isn’t as widely acknowledged is that it is the best managed reef in the world and that, like any living thing, it is constantly adapting and changing. The experience a tourist has today visiting the Reef is different to what they may have had in the past, but it is no less impressive. The Reef needs to be protected and we can’t ignore the challenges it is facing, but equally we can’t allow a story to be told that isn’t true. Cairns still has so much more potential

outside of a world-class tourism destination. According to the Cairns Regional Council, Cairns’ population growth at 3.3 per cent is better than the Australian average and is stronger than countries such as Switzerland, Canada and New Zealand. This growth is reflective of a liveable city that provides a range of job opportunities and an affordable cost of living. The sectors that continue to drive employment include tourism, education, health, agriculture and the shipping industry. The March TTNQ national visitor survey this year has total international and domestic visitors combined reaching 2.85 million annually. Therefore it’s no surprise that other opportunities are emerging as people discover all the region has to offer. More recently there has been a large amount of investment in agriculture on the adjoining Tablelands. Many national and international investors are buying into a unique climate window and

a reliable irrigation system. This brings increased scale, new agricultural products and the opportunity for highvalue freight to be exported through the Cairns International Airport. As a regional leader for ANZ Bank and a board member of TTNQ I want to see the region prosper. I have never been more optimistic about the future of the city and the surrounding region. The major opportunity, as I see it, for our region to accelerate its growth is more direct international flights to remove domestic service bottlenecks. This has the largest potential economic impact as it supports all sectors of the economy. There are also real synergies for agriculture and tourism as freight can further the case for wide-bodied aircraft to fly direct to our market which then benefits the whole FNQ region. ANZ 13 13 14 ||


IS EASY ANZ has provided banking services to customers in regional Australia for more than 180 years. With access to industry specialists and an extensive range of products and services, our ANZ Managers can tailor solutions to suit the unique needs of your business. To find out how we can help, call us today.


Health Relationship Manager T. 07 4241 0602 M. 0411 023 844 E.


MLR Relationship Manager T. 07 4241 0607 M. 0401 141 276 E. Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited (ANZ) ABN 11 005 357 522. Item No. 95545 10.2018 W600922


Business & Private Banking Relationship Manager T. 07 4241 0609 M. 0411 023 855 E.


Business & Private Banking Relationship Manager T. 07 4241 0622 M. 0477 760 069 E.




Proud sponsor

Colliers International managing director Stacey Quaid

A city tipped for growth A lower Australian dollar, great weather and more first-rate hotels in the city are in the Far North’s favour for a boost in visitor numbers


AIRNS is a city of opportunity, poised for its next stage of growth. It is Queensland’s fifth most populated city with the region experiencing an average annual growth of 2.3 per cent over the past 10 years. Two thirds of Tropical North Queensland is accommodated within the Cairns region, providing a growing base and creating the economies of scale, which will be important for the next phase of growth. For the past five years we’ve seen a consistent trend towards the market of old with infill developments the first to transact, followed by development fringe sites and now finally, greenfield sites are back into focus. While the Cairns region’s industries are highly diversified with substantial domestic markets for its horticultural products, as well as minerals and fisheries, we remain largely aligned to the strength of tourism in our region. With the lower Australian dollar making Cairns an even greater value destination, we are expecting to see an uplift in visitor numbers coming from the Americas and Europe in the coming year. We’ll also see continued growth out of the Asian markets, which will have a follow-on effect in our property markets. This year was impacted with a long, wet season, which slowed the tourism sector and impacted on trade, particularly in the CBD. However, with a positive winter we witnessed occupancies rising and Cairns back into the tourism focus, particularly from the domestic market, with our southern cousins taking advantage of our perfect weather to provide a respite from the cold. On the tourism front, many in the market eagerly anticipate the added room capacity provided by the completion of the Crystalbrook Collection developments, which is hoped to add to the visitor mix, especially if they can attract additional visitors and differing markets that were mooted on inception. Across the retail market a number of prime

Clockwise from back left: Stacey Quaid, Jay Beattie, Charlie Torrise, Tom Quaid, Ted Baczkowski, Patsy Bucknor and Ralph Westera of Colliers International Cairns.

positions have opened up with sites such as Katies Centre being transformed back to its former glory and adding to the retail patchwork linking the Esplanade to the mall and through to Cairns Central. Ground floor retail rates have held with rates ranging from $400 to $800 per metre, per annum. Second floor offices remain around $250 per metre, per annum with rates closer to $400-plus for A grade spaces. The bulky goods and industrial sectors have also held, with rates remaining around $200 per metre, per annum, for bulky goods sites and around $115 per metre, per annum for industrial. With a market defined as still being at the start of recovery, according to national valuers Herron Todd White, 2020 should be the year we see some significant market change. Both owners and occupiers are recognising

that with a stronger market will come the inevitable stronger competition. Colliers International is a leader in global real estate services, defined by our spirit of enterprise. Through a culture of service excellence and collaboration, we integrate the resources of real estate specialists worldwide to accelerate the success of our partners. We represent property investors, developers and occupiers in local and global markets. Our expertise spans all property sectors — office, industrial, retail, residential, rural and agribusiness, healthcare and retirement living and hotels and leisure. Colliers International is Australia’s own global real estate success story. The Colliers International Cairns office is independently owned. Colliers International Cairns 35 Lake St, Cairns City (07) 4031 3443 ||

Accelerating Success.

Reach more people - better results faster.

Welcome to Cairns and Greater North Queensland Reach more people and achieve better results, faster.

The leadership team at Colliers International in Cairns are recognised specialists in the North Queensland property market with wide-ranging experience across Tourism, Commercial, Industrial, Agribusiness, Prestige Residential and Project sales and Asset Management. We represent locals, corporations, private investors and financial institutions and possess in-depth market knowledge that will deliver creative solutions catered to your specific real estate needs. If you are selling, buying or leasing property in the Cairns region, let Colliers International help to accelerate your success.




Proud sponsor

Cairns Airport CEO Norris Carter

Sky is the limit Cairns Airport is flying into the future, with a multi-million dollar precinct of aviation excellence planned, runway works and so much more


KEY service directly related to the growth of Cairns is Cairns Airport and its vital role keeping the Far North humming. There is plenty of change in store for the airport itself. Here is a rundown. T2 DOMESTIC TERMINAL UPGRADE Cairns Airport is nearly halfway through our T2 Domestic Terminal upgrade. Traffic through Cairns Airport Domestic Terminal is expected to grow by 40 per cent to six million passengers a year by 2027, giving us “#sixmilllionreasons” reasons to invest in making it even better. The airport has invested $55 million into the project that is generating 350 jobs during the construction phase and another 150 permanent jobs on completion. The redevelopment consists of an additional 2000sqm of high-quality shopping and dining, with 21 new retailers and 14 new food and beverage outlets. RESURFACING THE RUNWAY Cairns Airport is investing $18 million to resurface the runway, to keep it in shape for safe operations. It has outperformed most Australian runway surfaces, which are typically replaced every 10-15 years. The runway has been overlayed with three separate projects over a four-year period to account for the differing sections’ surface age and condition. By extending the life of the current surface, we have been able to combine these surface replacements into one project. This will also reduce the operational impact on airline flight schedules. Australia is in a period of unprecedented aircraft pavement development with five new runways being constructed between 2018 and 2025, and a number of overlays to existing runways planned for 2020. The works will require the set-up of a dedicated asphalt production plant on the airport site to service the construction.

Picture: ISTOCK

We have planned the works to start at the end of April next year – one of the quieter times for passenger movement – and go through until August. Work windows have been developed to minimise the impact to the current flight schedule. PRECINCT OF AVIATION EXCELLENCE — GA MASTERPLAN Commercial jet deliveries in Asia-Pacific are expected to reach more than 17,390 or 39 per cent of global deliveries by 2038. A general aviation masterplan has been developed at Cairns Airport to accommodate the growth in MRO (maintenance repair overhaul) and aviation services demands, attract world-class aviation organisations and position Cairns as a centre of aviation excellence. This will allow the continued growth of existing airport operators, who service the tourist, remote community and corporate sectors. Additionally the strong growth projections in the Asia Pacific region for commercial jet deliveries mean a large opportunity to attract large MRO operators to Cairns is available.

There has been a big development in the local pipeline of skilled people entering the industry, with CQUniversity’s Asia Pacific Aviation Hub and the Cairns Aviation Skills Centre both in place to produce a skilled workforce. The development project is a large investment with a significant positive impact on the local economy with the creation of hundreds of high-value jobs, which promotes sustainable population growth. Cairns Airport will seek a combination of private and public funding to support the growth of the aviation precinct. The total land development is 554,000sqm and the aviation precinct is on 123ha of land on the western side of the Cairns International Airport. Over the past 10 years, the General Aviation precinct at Cairns Airport has grown by 41 per cent in operations. In 2018, GA aircraft movements totalled about 62,100, including 33 per cent helicopter usage and 67 per cent fixed-wing operations. HELIPORT PRECINCT Cairns Airport has developed a conceptual design to relocate helicopter operators in the southern GA to a purpose-built, world-class helicopter facility on the eastern side of the runway. Currently in detailed design phase, the project will ensure the capacity for helicopter flights is increased, while reducing the costs for the operators in taxiing fuel burn time. The project promises to add a world-class tourism product to the Cairns region, at the same time as promoting innovation and growth in the rotary aircraft industry. The total land development area is 138,000sqm. Cairns Airport Airport Ave, Cairns City (07) 4080 6703 ||


Traffic through Cairns Airport is expected to grow by 40 percent to six million passengers a year by 2027. The airport is investing $55 million in the T2 Domestic Terminal upgrade, building a world-class facility, for each and every one of the six million passengers the airport expects to welcome by 2027.




Proud sponsor

My Pathway CEO Paul Synnott

Defining future communities Award-winning experts in social and economic development, My Pathway is expert in remote workforce development with the Far North a hub of regional trade


USTRALIA’S only international border that meets with Papua New Guinea, and beyond to Pacific Islands and Asia, Far North Queensland is a unique mix of indigenous, islander and global cultures. Based in Cairns, My Pathway’s backyard from magical Mission Beach in the region’s south to the Torres Strait islands north of Cape York, stretches to PNG. Covering 16 per cent of the Queensland state, our region of 300,000 residents is home to a range of industries from ecotourism, agriculture, mining, maritime and fisheries to education and skills training for local and international needs. Operating in the Far North for more than a decade, with a national workforce of 900 culturally diverse staff, My Pathway’s core business of workforce development helps communities and business thrive with solutions to gaps and barriers. A proven track record of positive social and economic impact in our communities, our operations are benchmarked against government and industry-wide standards. Partnering with local communities, government and corporate sectors is core with a jobs and enterprise focus — place-based, shared value, developing cluster economies through leadership, knowledge and networks tailored to industry and local needs. Working with government and local jointventure partners to grow economies and a skilled workforce across Cape York and the Torres Strait, for example, My Pathway was a proud winner at the 2019 National Employment Services Association (NESA) awards for excellence for innovation and collaboration in indigenous employment. My Pathway’s vocational training expertise, indigenous enterprise mentoring and joint-venture partnership models build capacity in vital employment skills and opportunities as a baseline to growth in

My Pathway, a winner for innovation and collaboration in indigenous employment.

infrastructure, and other sectors essential to regional success. Our range of high-quality service offerings are tailored to the needs of regional and remote areas, which are: • Vocational and accredited skills training • Recruitment • Labour hire • Enterprise development • Information technology • Facilities services • Projects and infrastructure management • Partner and collaborative advisory My Pathway’s strength of cultural awareness is achieved by deep experience working in complex cultures and communities, and an understanding of unique needs. People-to-people relations are key to the

success of My Pathway’s operations in 32 locations across the Far North, from remote western Queensland to the 16 island communities of Torres Strait, with Cairns city as the regional gateway and cultural hub. My Pathway’s additional Queensland offices in Townsville, Mackay, Rockhampton, Bundaberg, Brisbane, and beyond to Darwin and Tasmania, strengthens the reach of our networks and partnerships. Opportunities abound for investors to develop, connect and grow their visions in this resource-rich region of Far North Queensland. My Pathway 84-88 Cook St, Cairns City (07) 4033 3400 ||



Providing Investment Solutions • • • •

Enterprise Development Recruitment & Labour Hire Training Workforce Development

07 4033 3400

• • • •

Facility Services Information Technology (IT) Project Management Advisory

The North is on the move The development, housing and construction industry is a big player in the Far North Queensland economy and despite a slowing in new houses being built, things are still humming along nicely, with multiple big-ticket developments on the cards. According to Cairns real estate veteran, Tony Williamson, the Cairns market has a property for all investors. Interest rates are so low you can actually positive gear a property in Cairns. It’s very rare and in the capital cities you’ve got no chance where it’s all negative gearing,” he said. Perfect winter weather, the appeal of a laidback lifestyle, the convenience of everything being within a 30-minute drive or less and the stunning scenery makes Far North Queensland one of the best places in the wor to visit and to call home.




An artist impression of the Cairns Convention Centre. Supplied: CAIRNS CONVENTION CENTRE

Centre’s economy boost Cairns Convention Centre is about to be taken to a whole new level and that means big things for the Cairns economy, writes Roz Pulley


T’S the quiet kid on the block, sitting on the fringes, beavering away without the hoopla of the tourism industry, cruise ships, resorts and multi-tower developments. But the Cairns Convention Centre has been the steady hand on the tiller in the Far North for more than two decades, tipping $80 million last year into an economy heavily dependent on the topsy-turvy world of tourism. For locals, it’s where we go to watch the Taipans, catch the PBR action or see our students glam up for formals and graduations. But gatherings of cardiologists, urologists and oncologists don’t usually make the headlines, so we often miss the stream of wellheeled delegates who pass between the convention centre and the 7000-plus hotel rooms within a stone’s throw of their plenary sessions. Sometimes, it takes 10-15 years to get them here as we compete with different cities, countries and continents all vying for the lucrative convention market. But it’s worth it when we do, says Cairns Convention Centre’s general manager Janet Hamilton. While the backpacker down the road is spending $15 a night for a bunk, the average convention delegate and their plus one spends $3500-$3800 during their stay. And there’ll soon be more of them with the Queensland Government about to embark on a $176m refresh and expansion of the convention centre, so it can hold two or three conferences at one time. “We average $80m in delegate spend annually to the Cairns economy, but the project

is expected to return between $30-$50m in additional spend from delegates per year,” Ms Hamilton says. “That’s delegates on the ground — spending in hotels, in restaurants. “Business events delegates are the highest yield visitor, predominantly. “It varies, but three to four days is an average conference and we really work with the organisers to get them to come early or stay later. It’s even better if they can do that.” One of the city’s most impressive architectural works when it opened in 1996 on the site of a former tank farm, then expanded in 1998-99 to include a stadium, the convention centre will make even more of a statement next year. During the construction phase from June to November 2020, the southern face of the building will be transformed to include a new tropical entrance, a third floor, three meeting rooms, 30 exhibitor booths, a flat floor space for 500 people, rooftop banqueting for 450 guests and a sky terrace offering stunning views over Trinity Inlet and beyond. The centre will close for six months while 570 workers prepare it for an already busy 2021 with six conferences delivering 5100 delegates to Cairns. “When we open again in November, we will host two large conferences of 1000 delegates. Having this expansion means we’ll be able to do two events at once — one large conference or two or three conferences at once. That’s where the economic benefit is. “We’ve not been able to do that before and we’re very excited about that,” Ms Hamilton says.

It will be a neat fit for the Queensland Government’s billion dollar Global Tourism Hub, proposed for 4.4ha of waterfront land in Wharf St. Set aside for a casino-resort development, the hub is projected to create around 600 construction jobs, add hundreds of hotel rooms, residential apartments, commercial office space and attract up to 500,000 more tourists a year, many of whom will want to spend more and stay longer. Tapping into the rising Asian middle class, the hub is expected to generate between $540m and $2b over 30 years. The convention centre is also looking to the future. Janet Hamilton says the redevelopment will reach beyond next year’s six-month closure. “Expansion works will continue throughout 2021 and we expect the whole project to be completed by early 2022. “We have an extensive business development plan in place and will be looking to increase our international and national conferences. We will also continue to work with promoters for touring acts, but our main focus is trying to win conventions to bring people here. “Business event delegates are one of the highest yield visitors and the centre is an important economic driver,” she says. “We are selling conferences up to 2026. It can take three to five years to win a national conference and 10-15 years to win an international conference. “That’s why long-term strategy’s really important.”




Housing trends The construction industry is a powerhouse contributor to the economy, despite a slowing in demand for new houses, writes Arun Singh Mann

Building is a good option for first-home buyers, who can access a grant to get them started.


HE construction industry remains one of Cairns’ highest economic contributors, despite the demand for new houses taking a hit in the region in the last financial year. The Cairns region has a long-term average housing development of 742 dwelling approvals per year. For the 2018-19 financial year, 581 homes achieved building approval, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Despite the reduction in new homes, the construction industry was the region’s fourth largest employer with almost 8200 workers. Master Builders Queensland regional manager Sharon Vella estimated residential building approvals to be worth $659 million in the past financial year. Ms Vella said builders in the Cairns region were facing changes from both buyers and the government. “The industry currently faces compliance with a tranche of new regulatory requirements,” Ms Vella said. She said Master Builders was pushing the government to adopt a “back to basics” approach to ease the process of building new



million the estimated value of building approvals in the Far North economy

homes. The industry body has about 700 surance scheme.” Urban Development Institute of Austrabuilding members in the Far North region and their recent awards event revealed which fea- lia’s Cairns branch president Ranjit Singh agreed new homes were tures in homes were bebetter suited to the Far coming popular. Northern climate Butler pantries, mud through their energy efrooms, lifts, electric car ficiency ratings. charging stations and He said they were black and white colour more likely to be future schemes were trending. proofed with universal “The judges noted access for abled members other trends to be a strong of the community. continuation of the Mr Singh said Cairns’ Hamptons-styled homes slow population growth from 2018, including airy, was a factor in the dewhite interiors with shutcrease of new house apters and neutral colour provals but there was still schemes. a demand for a particular “Another trend was a group of homes. throwback to the ’90s in “The market is hungry family homes where parfor options that are beents allowed their childtween a detached house ren to choose the colour and a high rise,” Mr Singh for a feature wall in their said. bedroom.” “We call this the ‘missLow median prices of A new home can be tailored to ing middle’ product and it houses in Cairns as well as meet your needs and first encompasses housing interest rates had drawn homeowners will get access to the types such as townhousbuyers towards used first homeowner’s grant. es, terraces and duplexes. homes in the past year, – Sharon Vella Mr Singh said smaller however, Ms Vella said backyards were becomthere were still reasons to ing more common due to both increasing land build a new home. “A new home can be tailored to meet your prices and the needs of homebuyers. “Our consumer sentiment research reneeds and first homeowners will get access to vealed that 56 per cent of people place more the first homeowner’s grant. “You’ll get a home built to a six-star energy value on the lifestyle and recreational ameniefficiency rating which reduces energy con- ties that exist nearby than the size of their sumption and lowers your utility costs. You’ll backyard.” He said a key theme among consumers’ get peace of mind knowing your home is covered for structural defects for six years and six demands was the incorporation of more green months by the QBCC’s home warranty in- space into their builds.




Investment hotspot If you’re thinking of investing in the Far North Queensland property market, the time is ripe to take the plunge, with a dream combination of low interest rates and low median house prices, writes Arun Singh Mann


OW property prices, high rental yields and predicted future capital growth. These are all the reasons to invest in Far Northern real estate. A recent QBE Housing Outlook report predicted median house prices in Cairns to rise by 8 per cent over the next three years. The Reserve Bank’s low cash rates this year paired with a low median price for Cairns homes is ensuring the city becomes a hotspot for buying property to live and invest in. CoreLogic’s latest report showed the median price across Cairns was $415,000 at June this year, at the same time the cash rate was 1.25 per cent and this has continued to fall late into the year. Real Estate Institute of Queensland’s latest Market Monitor report stated that volume of house sales had reduced 12.7 per cent in the past year, however, the number of listings had increased by 1.8 per cent. With the prices, predictions and rates all in favour of buyers, former RE/MAX Real Estate Services principal Tony Williamson said the Cairns market offered properties for all investors. “Interest rates are so low you can actually positive gear a property in Cairns,” Mr Williamson said. “It’s very rare and in the capital cities you’ve got no chance where it’s all negative gearing. “Then the plus side is that when the market comes good — you get that capital growth. “There’s a cycle where it goes from a buyer’s market to a seller’s market — where the prices go up and down. Right now we’re at the bottom of the cycle. “That means if you buy today, we believe

So you’re buying something for say $230,000, you’ve got a rental income of $320 a week … it stacks up very well if you’re looking for something that’s potentially cashflow positive straight away. – Tom Quaid

you’ll get capital growth in the future. “We’re seeing houses sell today in Cairns, back at 2004 prices.” He said the supply for affordable homes far outnumbered the demand in Cairns and was surprised there had not been more interest shown from investors. The CoreLogic report showed that rental yields in Cairns were 5.4 per cent for houses and 7.3 per cent for apartments. These high returns matched with a tight

residential vacancy of 2.3 per cent have made the city one of the most profitable for rental investment. In September, two Cairns suburbs — Woree and Manunda were recognised as the third and fourth best out of 100 Australian suburbs for best rental yields. Quaid Real Estate Services sales manager Tom Quaid said Cairns inner-city suburbs were the hot spots for investors as they provided convenient travel times to the CBD and were predicted to boom in capital growth as the population grew. He said Manunda, Manoora and Mooroobool were fantastic from an investment point of view because their reputations had driven house prices down, but rents could only go so low. “To get a house virtually anywhere, even if it’s small and in rough condition, you’re going to struggle to get something for less than $300 (in rent) a week. “So you’re buying something for say $230,000, you’ve got a rental income of $320 a week … it stacks up very well if you’re looking for something that’s potentially cashflow positive straight away.” He said apartments were also viable investment options within those suburbs. “You can get quite a good unit for $150,000 to $220,000, that’ll be two bedrooms, one or two bathrooms; it’ll be 15 to 20 years old and in reasonable condition, in a decent complex, and you’d be getting rent in the high ($200 to mid-$300 range). “So you’ve got a cheaper point of entry, you’ve got a product that is going to rent well, you’ve got less maintenance costs and you’re depreciation is still going to be pretty good.”



the medium house price in Far North Queensland as of June Three homes on Macnamara St, Manunda, are selling for less than $1 million.




Great northern land T

HE Far North’s agricultural landscape is evolving as the region slowly shifts its focus from biosecurity to water security, automation of the industry and developing key infrastructure to minimise operational costs. The agriculture, forestry and fisheries sector contributes about $2.8 billion or 9.6 per cent to the Far North Queensland economy annually and is the second biggest contributor to gross regional products behind tourism. In the past 20 years the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector has lost nearly 6000 jobs due to automation and international competition. FNQ Growers chairman Joe Moro said this was evidence of the changes the industry faced, which he believed would continue to evolve. “I think you’re going to see a corporatisation of the industry,” he said. “There’s still going to be family farms, but a lot more larger players, like what is currently happening in the region — on the Tablelands in particular and parts of Lakeland, and the Innisfail and Tully areas. “You’ll see valued-added product, fresh cuts, frozen product, prepackaged and processed products and more ready-to-eat products than we have now.”

We’ve got the space, the perfect climate and fertile soil, now growers are turning to the future of farming in Far North Queensland, writes Arun Singh Mann

Advanced Cairns CEO Nick Trompf said produce farmers were starting to move away from more traditional crops. He said sugarcane had been impacted through a global reduction in sugar consumption and lower prices from millers. “This flows into the wider community as workforce numbers have been reduced in response and producers have less income to invest in new technology or equipment on their farms,” he said. “Avocadoes have been the fastest-growing crop on the Atherton Tablelands for the past five years, even though the (FNQ) region is

2.8 billion


the impact of the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors on the local economy

firmly established as the banana capital of the nation. “The Atherton Tablelands region now produces more than half of all the avocados in Queensland and one-third nationally. Production is predicted to double again in the next few years. Diversification into high-value crops will accelerate in line with demand.” Mr Trompf said while the demand for Far Northern produce already existed, more needed to be done to help growers access international markets. “One area we’re investigating right now is supply chain barriers — particularly in regard to increasing air exports. We’re working alongside KPMG and key industry stakeholders to identify supply chain gaps across the region. “Upgrading the Kuranda Range Road is vital to link the Atherton Tablelands to the main distribution hub of Cairns; road access is critical to accessing export markets as efficient freight roads underpin the commercial viability of primary industry, producers and exporters in the region.” He said a strategic transport plan needed to be developed for the Bruce Highway between Cairns and Townsville to improve flood immunity and reduce travel times. “This would deliver a more efficient freight route for producers shipping to southern domestic ports and markets,” Mr Trompf said. Water security is one the most important factors for agriculture and Mr Trompf said Far Northern growers were being hindered by low water supplies. He said the cost of buying water from the Mareeba Dimbulah Water Supply Scheme, one of the few available supplies, had more than tripled in the past eight years. “Water from the MDWSS is 100 per cent allocated and 80 per cent used. “Investment in new dams and associated water infrastructure is critical to ensuring opportunities for exports and we are seeking $871.2 million from government for new water infrastructure.”

There’s still going to be family farms, but a lot more larger players, like what is currently happening in the region — on the Tablelands in particular and parts of Lakeland, and the Innisfail and Tully areas. – Joe Moro

Mulgrave Central Mill at Gordonvale, owned by MSF Sugar.




Broken Nose Vanilla owners Fiona George and Matthew Allen are on to a fragrant thing, writes Arun Singh Mann


ROKEN Nose Vanilla may be a glimpse into the future of familyfarming in the Far North. The cost of production has continued to rise for the region’s larger farms, including fertiliser and chemical prices, as well as costs associated with machinery. Popular Far Northern produce such as bananas and sugar cane require significant amounts of expenditure and often need to be grown on a large scale to remain economically sustainable. Broken Nose Vanilla owners Matthew Allen and Fiona George have implemented a horticulture model that provides reasonable profits with limited expenses. Their Woopen Creek farm near Mirriwinni has been growing about half a hectare of bourbon vanilla since 2006, which produces up to three tonnes of green beans per year. Green beans go through a month-long drying and curing phase and 1kg of green beans yield about 150g of usable vanilla. A grade vanilla then sells for about $1000 per kilogram and B grade for about half. About 80 per cent of the world’s vanilla is grown in Madagascar but Mr Allen said Far Northern growers had significant advantages to remain competitive on a smaller scale. Vanilla plants in Madagascar can take al-

most four years to produce a crop after plantation. Broken Nose Vanilla picks its beans in less than three years after planting the vines. “Every vanilla flower has to be pollinated by hand,” Mr Allen said. “One vanilla flower opens only once and it opens only in the morning. So it opens from about 6am to about midday. “So when you have a lot of flowers you have to be quite fast in pollinating. “The bean size is established within about four weeks (after pollination) — then they stay on the vine for another eight months after that to ripen.” Mr Allen said his farm was completely organic and labour was their biggest expense. “Vanilla has a couple of overwhelming advantages; to start you don’t need a lot of land so the footprint is very small. “Environmentally we operate on a zero waste policy, so there is nothing we throw away. “We have established markets. The production costs aren’t very high, the main cost is labour.” Broken Nose Vanilla diversifies its income by selling vanilla-based products, some of which include vanilla tea, coffee, sugar and honey. Mr Allen said the high demand for vanilla in Australia meant small farms could produce profitable amounts of beans with limited capital. He said there were about 14 vanilla growers in the Far North but hoped more would join the paddock to ease the national demand and unlock international export opportunities.




Environmentally we operate on a zero waste policy, so there is nothing we throw away. – Matthew Allen

The finished product.


“We think it can even work pretty well for backyard growers. “So if you’ve got half an acre, you’ve got quite a lot of space to put vanilla in.” Broken Nose Vanilla has been negotiating an export agreement with food suppliers in Japan. “Vanilla doesn’t have any biosecurity issues. It’s basically sold across borders without any restriction. It’s a dried and cured product so it has no pathogens,” he said.




A cultural centre belongs here

Respected indigenous elder Henrietta Marrie of the Yidinji people says Cairns is the more logical place for a First Nations Cultural Centre. Picture: BRENDAN RADKE

T As home to two indigenous cultures and with the growing success of the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair, the case has been made that a First Nations Cultural Centre belongs up north, writes Jack Lawrie

This is a chance for Queensland to promote its traditional culture – something which the Northern Territory has claimed in recent decades. Our time to shine is now. – Janina Harding

HE success of the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair on its 10-year anniversary represents the Far North’s growing commitment to waving the flag for indigenous tourism – and the growing need for the southeast to reassess its investigation of a cultural centre for the big smoke. The State Government announced in June this year that it would allocate $2 million to assess options for a First Nations Cultural Centre in Brisbane. “Establishing a centre for First Nations Cultures would help tell important stories and share knowledge that has been passed down through thousands of generations,” Minister for the Arts Leeanne Enoch said at the time. The announcement sent ripples through the Far North indigenous arts community, which has spent years lobbying for such a centre in Cairns. Indigenous rights advocate Henrietta Marrie told the Cairns Post that Cairns made more logical sense as a cultural stepping stone to Cape York and the Torres Strait islands. The Far North is home to prominent cultural tourism institutions such as Mossman Gorge, Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park and the Pamagirri Aboriginal Experience. A growing success story for the region has been the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year. CIAF artistic director Janina Harding said the event, which has generated $7.6 million in art sales over its 10-year history, represented

Cairns’ importance to indigenous cultural growth. “Cairns is the gateway to Queensland’s two indigenous cultures – Aboriginal and Torres Strait – a stepping-off point not just for Reef and rainforest but indigenous communities in the Cape and Torres Strait,” she said. “It is the perfect setting for a First Nations Cultural Centre because of this and the benefits to the region would be vast, directing a focus away from the metropolitan areas to a regional city best placed to showcase these two distinct cultures. “This is a chance for Queensland to promote its traditional culture – something which the Northern Territory has claimed in recent decades. Our time to shine is now.” CIAF general manager Vanessa Gillen said she viewed the event as an educational platform for providing visitors to Cairns with an understanding and appreciation of indigenous culture. “CIAF is an annual meeting or coming together of community who generously share their stories and culture with visitors from both at home and overseas,” she said. “The beauty of CIAF is its timing, held during the school holidays, and accessibility to everyone. “It is not just one thing that defines CIAF but a series of events which together provide a rich and diverse showcase of culture spanning visual and performing arts along with markets, workshops, fashion, food and more.”




P&O cruise ship Pacific Aria arrives at Cairns.



million Ports North’s predicted economic value of the Trinity Inlet dredging project

Smooth sailing ahead The dredging of the Trinity Inlet has opened up a world of opportunity for a thriving cruise ship industry, writes Arun Singh Mann


Investment in the shipping channel will allow us to continue to welcome new vessels as the size of the global cruise fleet continues to grow. – Mark Olsen

OURISM is a vital part of the city’s economic fabric, employing about 25,000 people and contributing about $2.8 billion to the region, according to professional services firm PwC’s economic analysis. Cruise ships play a significant role in contributing to the region’s tourism industry through the passengers they bring to Cairns. The number of passengers entering through the port of Cairns is set to grow after the recent completion of the Trinity Inlet dredging project, which now allows larger cruise ships up to 300m to dock at the port. They bring with them thousands of additional passengers and their cash, ready to be spent in the region, supporting the creation and maintenance of local jobs. The widening of the navigation channel was a $127 million project that was completed in mid-September and Ports North estimated the economic value of the project to be about $850 million. An estimated 150 ships are expected to now berth at Cairns port annually. Tourism Tropical North Queensland chief

executive officer Mark Olsen said the cruise market continued to play a vital role in bringing international and domestic visitors to the region. “Investment in the shipping channel will allow us to continue to welcome new vessels as the size of the global cruise fleet continues to grow,” he said. “We expect to see a 7 per cent growth in cruise passenger numbers in 2020 based on the forward bookings to Cairns, which is great news for local businesses. “I encourage businesses interested in making the most of the cruise ship visits to be familiar with the cruise ship schedule published by Ports North so they are ready to welcome passengers who come off the ship to explore the city.” The project itself created more than 800 direct and indirect jobs but Member for Barron River Craig Crawford said the future was even brighter. “This project is about unlocking a new cruise ship industry for our city and 2700 local jobs by 2031,” Mr Crawford said. Queensland assistant treasurer Glenn Butcher said the project would benefit the region outside of tourism as well. “Not only will there be a significant increase in the size and number of cruise ships and other vessels that can berth in Cairns, the shipping channel and other port upgrades open up opportunities for the naval presence in Far North Queensland as well,” Mr Butcher said. “What this means on the ground is more visitors to Cairns, more demand for tourism experiences in this beautiful region and more jobs across a range of businesses.” The final phase of the project has begun with work underway on the $20 million wharf upgrade. Existing wharves one to six were heritage listed structures built more than 100 years ago. The wharves will be upgraded to accommodate the larger cruise ships that are expected to berth at the Port of Cairns. The total wharf upgrade phase is scheduled to be completed by April next year.