Critical demand on the region’s health services and an urgent bed shortage at Cairns Hospital headline vital requests in Advance Cairns’ State Budget submission released today.

The submission highlights ever-increasing pressure on the local health sector, with Cairns Hospital now at capacity across all bed types and facing a 300-bed shortfall in little more than a decade.

Advance Cairns Chairman Nick Trompf said the budget submission highlighted the need for immediate funding to bring to life the Cairns University Hospital, which will help ease existing capacity restraints.

“Year on year we’re seeing increased demand on our hospital – particularly the emergency department, where an average of 236 patients presented every single day in 2021,” said Mr Trompf.

“This relentless pressure is without the usual impact of up to 50,000 tourists a day visiting the region, and they are about to return with a vengeance as borders have reopened.

“The time is now for the State Government to commit fully funding its new building next to James Cook University’s site at North Cairns, as a first phase of investing in optimisation and innovation. The final cost is currently being defined by a State Government business case but is likely to be north of $150m.

“However, this only goes part way towards meeting the 300-bed shortfall expected by 2036 with a much larger investment needed to transform the hospital by building a new acute care clinical services building.

“We are now calling on the State Government to urgently commit $9m for a detailed business case for this critical new facility.”

The budget submission seeks further investment across Defence, education, water infrastructure, manufacturing, and tourism in Far North Queensland with a focus on diversification within the region in the aftermath of COVID-19.

“As we look towards the future of Tropical North Queensland, it is vital that we establish a renewed focus on creating jobs and maximising sustainability,” Mr Trompf said.

“Along with the hospital, the most important investment the State can make in driving diversification is committing its share towards the $300-$400 million common user facility at Cairns Marine Precinct.”

Advance Cairns CEO Paul Sparshott said the manifesto was the result of a fruitful collaboration amongst industry leaders and regional stakeholders.
“We would especially like to thank Tourism Tropical North Queensland, Cairns Chamber of Commerce, RDA Tropical North, and local government for working closely with us to ensure we are giving our region the best chance for prosperity now and into the future.”

Highlights of the State Budget submission include:

  • Health: Easing critical demand on Cairns Hospital by increasing bed capacity and committing funding to transition to Cairns University Hospital
  • Defence: Building sovereign Defence capability through joint $300-$400M funding for a new Common User Facility at the Cairns port
  • Water security: Ensuring urban water security and opportunity for agricultural growth through $250M+ investment, headlined by Cairns Water Security Stage 1
  • Growth and sustainability: $8M joint funding into a strategic plan for the future growth of the region, including the development of an Integrated Urban Development and Transport Plan


Download a copy of the submission: 
Advance Cairns State Budget Submission 2022-2023