From the CEO

Well, it seems like we have been in election mode forever, but it will soon be time for everyone to have their say. We have been working hard to make sure there are plenty of big campaign promises coming our way from both sides of politics. There has been great progress so far, although we are always seeking more funding and policy commitments to bolster our great region.

While we have already received promising funding commitments toward our key road and marine precinct priorities, we are also seeking Commonwealth Supported Places (CSPs) for our medical students to further support the Cairns University Hospital, as well as bipartisan support for a CQUniversity CBD campus. These commitments will help ease critical pressures on our local health and skills shortages.

So, we say to all those politicians, there is still time to make many more promises.

On a lighter note, hasn’t it been great to see all the tourists back and the place starting to hum again. Demand has now probably eased a bit recently, but we are expecting things to pick up again soon. 

Paul Sparshott
Chief Executive Officer
Advance Cairns

Major marine port commitments

The past couple of weeks have seen some big announcements regarding the Cairns Marine Precinct from both major parties.

Labor kicked it off with a big post-ANZAC Day commitment, promising $150M for major port infrastructure upgrades including a new ship-lift facility at the CMP. The announcement follows a visit north from Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese in mid-April.  

The LNP then followed with a pledge of their own for $24M to be invested across the city’s three shipyards, Austal, Tropical Reef Shipyards, and Norship. The funding will be put towards new naval-certified hardstand areas, all-weather vessel servicing capabilities, new docks, and improved workshop facilities. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison also announced $3M to be spent on a new hangar at Skytek during his visit to Cairns at the end of April.

It’s great to see positive outcomes for our local businesses and active Advance Cairns members. We will continue to advocate for State Government backing to ensure confirmation of this critical project.

Leichhardt candidates luncheon

More than 150 Leichhardt residents and stakeholders attended the joint Advance Cairns, Cairns Chamber of Commerce, and TTNQ luncheon last Wednesday to hear from some of the candidates vying for one of the country’s true bellwether seats.

Housing and skills shortages were major topics of the debate, although the only subject to receive consensus across the board was funding for a new CQUniversity campus in the Cairns CBD.

Labor is currently the only party to have committed $50M to the project, although all five candidates confirmed their backing with LNP incumbent Warren Entsch hinting bipartisan support could be on the way.

The new campus is expected to inject $500M into the Far North economy and would double the university’s student tally from 2000 to 4000.

Thanks to everyone who attended the luncheon and took part in the Q&A to help give residents more insight into their candidates ahead of the Federal Election on May 21.

Grant webinar for Australian exporters

Eligible businesses interested in learning more about the government’s Export Market Development Grant (EMDG) program are invited to attend a webinar held by Grant Thornton on Thursday, 19 May.

The EMDG program for 2023 is reopening soon for Australian businesses with a turnover of less than $20M. The funding will allow businesses to plan in advance with more certainty, to optimise offshore marketing, and to understand what expenditures they can claim.

Webinar attendees will receive information on program eligibility plus the pitfalls and opportunities provided by the grant.

Follow the link below to register:
Accessing EMDG funding for Australian exporters | Grant Thornton Australia

Member Spotlight: Celebrate 25 years with FNQHF

Put on your dancing shoes and celebrate 25 years of hard work and fundraising achievements by the Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation next month.

The black tie event will take place at the Pullman International Hotel on June 4, featuring live music, a three-course dinner and beverage package, live auctions, and more.

The night will celebrate the incredible achievements of the organisation’s volunteers, donors, and supporters, who together have raised more than $25M in specialist medical equipment, support facilities, and support for research and education throughout FNQ since its inception in 1997.

Go to for more information on tickets and prize donations.

Have your say on local tourism

Tourism Tropical North Queensland and Tourism Australia are seeking feedback from residents, stakeholders and business operators on the impact of tourism on the local environment, community and culture. 

The Responsible Tourism Project aims to tailor communications to travellers in specific regions to educate and encourage responsible and respectful travel and to ensure a positive tourism experience for travellers and locals alike.

The survey takes less than 10 minutes to complete and will help to ensure a positive and sustainable future in tourism for TNQ. To take part and provide your feedback, follow the link below. 

Responsible Tourism Research Survey (

Member Spotlight: CQU and JCU awarded social enterprise grants

CQUniversity and James Cook University are two of just eight organisations across the state that will share in almost $1M in grants to ensure the development and growth of Queensland’s emerging social enterprise sector.

CQU’s iActivate program has been awarded $194,200 to work with enterprises in Cairns, Bundaberg, Toowoomba and Rockhampton to ensure they have a viable social enterprise business model, while JCU will receive $163,500 for a project that aims to increase the number of social enterprises across the Far North and Cape York regions.

Minister for Employment and Small Business Di Farmer said the grants would help organisations deliver projects that contribute to the inclusive growth and sustainability of Queensland’s social enterprise sector.

Advance Cairns Platinum Members