November 2021 Newsletter

From the Chairman

This week Advance Cairns launched our updated list of regional advocacy priorities – and we were immediately given a huge shot in the arm with a $50m pre-election commitment to build a new university campus in the city.

Advance Cairns has been advocating for the proposed CQUniversity Campus for several years. It is among the top infrastructure priorities in our Forging a Brighter Future manifesto released on Wednesday.

Federal Shadow Treasurer Dr Jim Chalmers MP announced at the Advance Cairns breakfast launch the Labor Party’s first major pre-election infrastructure announcement in regional Queensland when he confirmed the $50m would be forthcoming for CQU should the ALP win the election.

Incumbent Leichhardt MP, Warren Entsch, has also long been an advocate for the campus (which he, too, reinforced at yesterday’s launch) while Cairns Regional Council has provided the preferred site opposite the Cairns Convention Centre for a ‘peppercorn’ rent. Mr Entsch is confident he can secure bi-partisan support for the facility, which would see CQUniversity double its enrolments to more than 4000 students.

Highlights of Forging a Brighter Future include:

  • $80m to revitalise Cairns International Airport and position it to capitalise on fast-emerging maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) work for aircraft
  • $40m to aid international tourism recovery
  • Hundreds of millions to transform the Cairns port and expand HMAS Cairns
  • Policy support to revive specialist ship and boat building in Cairns
  • $200m+ to bring to life Cairns University Hospital through state and federal infrastructure as well as critical tertiary places for medical students at James Cook University 
  • $50m for the CQUniversity campus to address acute skills shortages and help revive an ailing CBD
  • A strategic recommendation to extend the National Highway A1 from Cairns’ northern suburbs up to the Atherton Tablelands
  • Delivery of commitments of $659m for the Cairns Ring Road
  • $250m+ towards water infrastructure to provide security for agricultural and urban growth

We look forward to working with all parties to secure bi-partisan commitments to as many of our priorities as possible between now and the federal election (due by May next year).


Nick Trompf
Advance Cairns

Convoy to Canberra – via cyberspace

The Forging a Brighter Future manifesto will be the centrepiece of advocacy later this month when Advance Cairns, TTNQ, Cairns Chamber of Commerce and RDA Tropical North combine to lead a ‘virtual’ convoy to Canberra.
Thirty delegates across a range of industry sectors will gather in Cairns and beam via Zoom into Parliament House in Canberra.

More than 40 appointments are being pursued with the most senior members of Government, the Opposition and cross-benches.

The virtual event is being undertaken as an alternative to a physical delegation due to COVID travel restrictions.

Given the election is most likely set for March or May next year, it is critical the key agenda items to drive growth in the region are pitched to Canberra before the Christmas break.

Annual General Meeting highlights

The recent AGM saw a number of highlights including the awarding of just the third Honorary Life Membership to Advance Cairns.
Former Treasurer, corporate leader and foundation chairman of Advance Cairns, Keith DeLacy, was bestowed the honour and joins Richard Ireland and Russell Beer as Honorary Life Members.
Also at the AGM, Jodie Duignan-George was re-elected to the Advance Cairns Board of Directors while Andrew Wagner, James Mort and Eva Grabner were also appointed to the Advisory Council.

Staffing update

Advance Cairns is positioning for growth and as such we are pleased to announce the appointment of Sheridan Ireland as our new Marketing and Communications Manager. Sheridan comes to us from Adllins Media where she was editor of the magazine Connect Cairns.
As part of our plans for growth, Taylor Moy will be promoted into the role of Manager – Government Relations. Two further new positions will be announced soon in the areas of industry development and investment, and business operations.


Diversifying the local economy

In October, Advance Cairns hosted an industry round table and welcomed Senator the Hon. Penny Wong to the region to discuss the importance of our ports as well as the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 on our local tourism industry and the wider community. Far North Queensland has been hit very hard by the total loss of international tourism and lockouts from our domestic interstate markets, and we have seen how exposed and fragile our tourist-based economy can be. It was our focus to impress the critical impacts of this upon Senator Wong and to convey the importance of our region’s need for a diversified economy.

In relation to our marine port, we have seen our most northern east coast naval base already attracting significant marine investment due to Cairns’ strategic location and existing facilities. Our aim is to advocate for further investments in defence to create more jobs, particularly more highly skilled jobs, so we can better prepare for future global shocks. Further regarding our Marine port, Advance Cairns is advocating in four main areas:

  1. Additional investment in HMAS Cairns for a bigger base with additional Cairns-based vessels;
  2. Additional investment in infrastructure to support a bigger base;
  3. Commitment to long-term continuous maintenance programs;
  4. The reestablishment of Cairns as the place for specialist boat and shipbuilding.

Cairns Airport pop-up vaccination clinics

With the roadmap now in place for Queensland, Cairns Airport has opened a pop-up vaccination clinic at the domestic terminal.

The vaccination clinic is a great opportunity for travellers, locals and our aviation community to get vaccinated in time for the state’s opening on December 17.  
The Airport pop-up vaccination clinic will be open Friday – Monday from 5:00am – 1:30pm with free car parking for one hour in the T2 Domestic Car Park for anyone going out to use the clinic.  The clinic is walk-in and located between check-in and security screening (you don’t need to go through screening, but please remember to take a mask.). More information on the Airport Clinic can be found here.
We all need to work together as a community to get vaccinated. Hitting 80 per cent will protect the health of the vulnerable in our community and protect jobs in our region. We need to hit 90% before we can welcome back vaccinated international visitors to our region. For our community to really get back on our feet, we need to hit these targets.

$111.9M to boost northern Australia businesses

Cairns and Far North Queensland businesses looking to expand, diversify or grow a new industry in Northern Australia can now apply for a share of $111.9 million worth of grants under the Northern Australia Development Program

The first stream will target small to medium corporations with business expansion and diversification grants of between $50,000 and $2 million. The second stream will offer corporations between $3 million and $10 million to establish a new industry or grow an existing industry.

The first assessment round closes on December 10, 2021 with successful grants to be awarded from February, 2022.

Federal Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch said the program will provide a welcome boost for Cairns and Far North Queensland businesses.

Read the full media release here: $111.9 million worth of opportunity awaits Cairns and FNQ business
For eligibility and to apply: Scale up and diversify your business in Northern Australia |

New member welcome | Sea Swift

Sea Swift is Northern Australia’s largest shipping company, and has provided essential services and project freight in the region since 1987.

Sea Swift operates throughout Northern Australia’s remote coastal and island communities, with an extensive distribution network across Far North Queensland and the Northern Territory. Sea Swift continues to grow as a company and forge new markets, including the recently-launched international shipping service between Singapore and Western Australia.

Sea Swift is ideally positioned to support, assist and deliver to customers, from individuals to large national and international corporations.
Welcome Sea Swift.

New member welcome | The Chambers

The initial concept of The Chambers was born from The Wilson family, who fell in love with the building and had a vision to create a dining precinct unlike any in Cairns, and was designed to bring people together over great food, drinks and above all a fantastic atmosphere.

The Wilson family have a diversified group of companies including LCS. LCS is a Papua New Guinea owned and operated company with excess of 30 years operating within the PNG regions, working in mining, oil & gas, petrochemical, power and port services.

Welcome The Chambers.

Advance Cairns Platinum Members