From the CEO

Well, the date has finally passed when the lock out of our southern markets has ended. Our region is to be congratulated on the high vaccination rate that has allowed our region to finally open up to domestic travellers. We will now be entering the phase of learning to live with COVID-19. Providing we continue to open up, there should be real cause for optimism in the tourism sector, especially when our international airport opens up. Of course, new aviation routes will need to be rebuilt. The game changer would be a possible new direct route to Europe, but this is still in its early days of development.

We are expecting our region to grow considerably. We are already seeing this with our rental vacancy rates sitting at less than 1%. The Federal Government has been stimulating the economy and the results are highly visible in our booming housing markets.
Our population should soar again with the future arrival of 30 to 40K daily visitors, and this will place further stress on our infrastructure, our roads, and our hospital services. We will need to deal with our growth challenges both in the short and long term.

Beyond our housing boom, there is lots more growth to come.
Our Marine Port is still one of the biggest gigs in town, and it’s likely only going to get bigger due to a strategic repositioning underway in the Pacific. As a consequence, we’re also likely to see increased defence spending.

We’ll see more boats being based in Cairns, a larger HMAS Cairns, more sustainment and maintenance, and possibly shipbuilding.

Cairns University Hospital is another game changer. Master planning is well underway to carry out another step in the growth of our city.

The upgrade, along with quality education and research, will enable us to attract the best specialists and health professionals, and to provide improved healthcare outcomes. JCU is heavily involved in the planning and an agreement is now in place for Queensland Health to purchase the land for the Cairns Health and Innovation Centre.

With all this potential growth, we must ensure we have the capability to deliver, including developing and retaining highly skilled workers. It is critical to not only provide the skills and capacity needed to support growing and emerging industries, but also that we stem the drift of our region’s youth to the cities. 

We are lucky to have two excellent universities (JCU and CQU) in our region that are leading the way with TAFE in addressing the skills gap we are currently facing. It was also great to see Labor being the first party to support the new $50 million CQU Campus.

Last Friday night, I was keynote speaker for the Engineers Australia Annual Gala Ball at the Pullman. I spoke about Cairns’ future growth and what that might look like including the growth challenges we are facing.

I believe it is high time we start pushing for really good quality transport. Whilst I love roads and we have been good at advocating for road improvements ($659 million on Cairns Ring Road to be spent), I believe it is time to consider pushing for something like a Brisbane Metro. These rubber-tyred, battery-operated vehicles could be ideally suited for a linear city like Cairns and can run on existing roads.

For the team at Advance Cairns, next year will be a really busy time with a Federal Election due possibly March to May next year. Expect to see many politicians making their way up north. We will of course be asking for some big dollars to be spent up this way from both sides of parliament.

On behalf of the Board of Directors and myself at Advance Cairns I also want to extend a big thank you to our members. Without you there is no Advance Cairns. Even with our COVID challenges, our membership has been stable and we are well positioned to continue our fight and advocate for Cairns and our region. However, Advance Cairns would also like to continue to grow so we can better serve the region. Please encourage your fellow businesspeople who are not already members to join Advance Cairns, and if you would like to upgrade your membership just give me a call.
In closing, I wish you a very Merry Christmas and best wishes for the new year.


Dr Paul Sparshott
Chief Executive Officer
Advance Cairns

Staffing update

In our November newsletter we announced two staffing changes, with Taylor’s promotion to Government Relations Manager and the addition of Sheridan Ireland as the new Marketing and Communications Manager. 

We are pleased to announce another new addition to the team, with Trish Travers joining as our new Executive Assistant – Business Operations. Trish comes to us from the Cairns Post and has a sterling reputation across the region for her strong work ethic and approachable attitude.

We are thrilled to have Trish on board and look forward to even more growth in the future.

Cairns University Hospital

A historic agreement has been signed between Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service (CHHHS) and James Cook University locking in the purchase of land to be the first physical stage of the new Cairns University Hospital.

The parcel of land, located on the corner of Charles and Digger Streets in Cairns North, is the first step toward the delivery of the Cairns Health Innovation Centre (CHIC) as part of the University Hospital.

Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Yvette D’Ath said that this was an important milestone to bring Cairns University Hospital one step closer to completion.

“This is a key step forward to delivering even stronger healthcare for the Far North,” said Minister D’Ath.

“CHHHS will relocate some of its research, education and training services to the new Cairns Health Innovation Centre, which will allow an expansion of the current hospital, including adding more beds to relieve pressure.

“Importantly, construction will also support local jobs, which is a vital part of our economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

CHHHS Chief Executive Tina Chinery said that a component of the CHIC would be space for a dedicated Clinical Trials Unit, and a dry laboratory for research, including pharmacy facilities.

“We have an outstanding reputation for our clinical research on the world stage, so having more space to expand on what we are already doing, will help us attract more of this high calibre research,” she said.

“This, in turn, will help us increase our advanced clinical services, infrastructure, expand our education and further our research.”

“The CHIC will complement what we are master-planning to not only increase our bed footprint but create clinical centres of excellence to allow us to further collaborate on research, education and innovation.”

Virtual Convoy to Canberra

Advance Cairns held our 2021 Virtual Convoy to Canberra last month in collaboration with TTNQ, Cairns Chamber of Commerce, and RDA Tropical North.

Thirty delegates across the region got together and connected with Canberra via Zoom thanks to Media HQ, where we presented our Forging a Brighter Future manifesto to almost two dozen senior Members of Parliament, including Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Dr Jim Chalmers MP, and the Hon Bob Katter MP.

We had very good conversations with all MPs and overall the event was a great success. A special thanks to Taylor for all her hard work in putting it together. 

We also intend to make the journey south to Canberra to further impress the importance of our priorities when border restrictions lift in the new year.

The full list of appointments included:
Hon Scott Morrison MP
Dr Jim Chalmers MP
Hon Bob Katter MP
Hon Barnaby Joyce MP
Hon Josh Frydenberg MP
Hon Michael Sukkar MP
Senator the Hon Don Farrell
Hon Brendan O’Connor MP
Hon David Littleproud MP
Hon Keith Pitt MP
Hon Dan Tehan MP
Hon Melissa Price MP
Hon Tanya Plibersek MP
Hon Catherine King MP
Hon Stuart Robert MP
Ms Terri Butler MP
Hon Jason Clare MP
Mr Pat Conroy MP
Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie
Hon Scott Buchholz MP
Senator Katy Gallagher
Senator the Hon Matthew Canavan
Mr Chris Ketter (Hon Richard Marles MP)
Mr Tom Skladzien (Hon Mark Butler MP)

Google reviews

As part of our expansion here at Advance Cairns, we are also seeking to upgrade our digital footprint. While a new website that will update and modernise our online face is currently in the works, we are also hoping to improve our SEO score.

There are a couple of old Google reviews that are unfortunately still having a negative impact on our overall rating. In the spirit of our new and improved web presence, we would appreciate if each of our members could post a positive review and/or star rating for the organisation. We understand not all of you post online reviews, but for those of you who are willing, it makes a massive difference to our overall standing and to the way we are perceived by the community.

If this is something you are happy to help with, you can post a review here.

Patrol boat moves to Cairns

The Department of Defence’s Pacific Patrol Boat Systems Program Office (PPB SPO) has relocated to Cairns from Canberra so it can better support the Pacific Maritime Security Program (PMSP). 

Under the PMSP, Australia has committed $2.1 billion to deliver and support 21 Guardian-class patrol boats to 12 Pacific Island nations and Timor-Lesté between 2018 and 2023.

PPB SPO oversees the delivery and management of the Guardian-class patrol boat program.

Assistant Secretary Specialist Ships John Toohey said the move was made following a review aimed at evolving Defence’s training, maintenance, material, and sustainment support to the Pacific.

“The relocation of PPB SPO to Cairns means vessel maintenance, crew training and program management all occur in the same location allowing for greater collaboration and efficiency,” Mr Toohey said.

As part of the move, the PPB SPO will be integrated with other support teams in north-east  Australia in accordance with Plan Galileo, Defence’s national approach to sustaining the Royal Australian Navy’s existing and future capabilities. 

Eight positions in the PPB SPO have moved to Cairns in the past five months. 

To read the full press release, click here: Patrol boat office moves to Cairns | Defence News

Forging a Brighter Future breakfast

Advance Cairns launched our 8 + 8 Priorities at the Forging a Brighter Future breakfast in November. 

Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers was in attendance to announce ALP’s commitment to the $50m proposed CQU campus, while Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch joined via video chat to further reaffirm his own long-standing support.

We also welcomed new members Sea SwiftThe Chambers, and Queensland X-Ray.

The breakfast was a great success and a good chance to catch up with our members.

New member welcome | PVW Partners


PVW Partners is the largest locally owned accounting and advisory firm in North Queensland.

Established in Townsville in 1918, they are also one of regional Queensland’s longest running  firms.

PVW Partners has offices in Cairns, Townsville, and Innisfail and serves more than 550 individual and family clients across regional Queensland.

Offering taxation, accounting, and other advisory services, they say one of their secrets to success is “locals supporting locals” and live by their motto of “Regional Australians Growing Regional Australia”.

Welcome PVW Partners.

Advance Cairns Platinum Members