From the Executive Chair

Strategic growth opportunities across defence, food exports, education and health were front and centre when Advance Cairns last week hosted senior diplomats from seven Asian countries.

Senior representatives such as Ambassadors, High Commissioners and Consul-Generals from Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, India and the Philippines joined us over breakfast to discuss food exports, including hearing from highly successful Cairns-born mango and avocado producer Marie Piccone – who has built a massive export and domestic business during the past 15 years.

The group was also given a progress update on the $10m export distribution centre being built by Airfreight Handling Services at Cairns airport. This State-funded facility was secured after considerable advocacy by Advance Cairns and will facilitate significant growth in exports through Cairns airport, with freight an important part of revitalising international air connections for tourism.

Pictured: (1) Senior diplomats outside the Cairns Marine Precinct, and (2) Marie Piccone speaks to the group at Friday’s breakfast.

Following the breakfast, the delegates were taken on a tour of Cairns’ three shipyards and then took part in an Advance Cairns defence-focused round table at the TAFE-run Great Barrier Reef International Marine College.

All of the senior diplomats – who are based in Canberra or Sydney – are eager to build much greater ties across trade and broader international relations between Cairns and their countries.

Their visit follows a highly positive economic outlook breakfast we staged on Tuesday in partnership with ANZ and Conus Business Consultancy Services, while on the political front it’s also been another big week with the full Federal Shadow Ministry being announced (details below).

Nick Trompf
Executive Chair
Advance Cairns

Dutton Shadow Ministry announced

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton’s shadow ministry has been named, with Townsville-based Senator Susan McDonald taking on two new titles as Shadow Minister for Resources and Northern Australia.

Other appointments of significance included the Hon Angus Taylor MP opposite Jim Chalmers as Shadow Treasurer, the Hon Sussan Ley MP as Shadow Minister for Industry, Skills and Training and Small and Family Business, and the Hon Andrew Hastie MP claiming the Defence portfolio.

Six Nationals MPs have been appointed key positions, including party leader David Littleproud MP as Shadow Minister for Agriculture, the Hon Michael McCormack MP as Shadow Minister for International Development and the Pacific, and Bridget McKenzie MP named Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development.

The full list will soon be available in the attachment at the link below.

Breakfast with economic experts

Construction, domestic tourism and economic diversification will keep the local economy buoyant for years to come, according to ANZ senior economist Catherine Birch and local economic expert Pete Faulkner.

The pair provided economic insight at a macro and local level at last week’s Advance Cairns Economic Breakfast, with the event being described as interesting and highly informative.

Pete (Conus Business Consultancy Services) highlighted strong correlations between economic diversification in the region and a strong Tropical North Queensland economy, attributing the region’s resilience through the COVID-19 pandemic in part to its position as one of the most diversified regions in the state. 

On a national level, Catherine warned that potential geopolitical threats may see a diversion of spending away from areas such as health and education and towards defence spending, but said that despite several hurdles coming our way, the economic future is looking rosy for TNQ.

To view Pete and Catherine’s presentations, go to

Invitation to IBECC 2022

Sustainability is fast becoming one of the most important issues facing investors and businesses today and sustainable practices are now imperative.

Cairns Airport are thrilled to launch their inaugural International Business, Environment & Climate Conference (IBECC) from 31 August to 2 September 2022 which will be held at the Cairns Convention Centre.  Attending IBECC, you will learn from global leaders and presenters as they provide an in-depth analysis into the complexities of ESG reporting and how to drive sustainable business growth, whilst connecting with business leaders, financiers, and investors from around the world.  The three-day conference will also provide the opportunity to experience firsthand the effects Climate Change is having on the World Heritage Listed Great Barrier Reef and what innovative restoration projects are in place to protect and manage coral reefs.

As a member of Advance Cairns, Cairns Airport would like to extend a special registration offer for our local community at a total price of $350 per delegate.  Simply enter ADVANCEC when prompted for a discount code upon clicking on a Full Conference Delegate Fee.  This special offer will only be valid until 30 June 2022.

To find out more or to register visit:

Defence Industry Workshop

With Defence spending $270b over the course of this decade, it’s important for you to find out how you can capitalise on growing opportunities and position your business to be a part of this essential industry. 

Industry specialist Tim Walmsley will lead an Introduction to Defence and Defence Industry workshop to demystify the complexities around defence and defence opportunities to help you know where to look, who to talk to and how to present your business value.

Topics include:

  • Introduction to a Defence Prime – Serco Australia
  • The Defence Environment
  • Capability Procurement
  • Non-Material Procurement
  • Maritime Snapshot in Cairns
  • Dealing with Prime Contractors

The workshop will run from 8:30am-12pm on Thursday, 16 June.

For more information or to purchase a ticket click here.

Tropical Innovation Festival

Investors, innovators and entrepreneurs are encouraged to spark new ideas and connections at this year’s Tropical Innovation Festival, running from June 20 to 24.

The action-packed event will host more than 100 world-class speakers and activities, including masterclasses, workshops, networking sessions and pitching opportunities.

Speakers include returning guests Tim Fung, Glen Richards, Dan Gavel and Peter Laurie, along with local business owners Donna Patane (Dripl) and Jodie Mlikota (Gathar).

For more information or to secure your ticket to this exciting event, go to

Member Spotlight: TAS among country’s best

Trinity Anglican School has been recognised as one of the country’s top performing schools in the Australian Education Awards 2022.

The White Rock campus was named one of eight National Excellence awardees for Australian Primary School of the Year (Non-Government), while the school’s Outdoor Education program was named among nine National Excellence awardees in the Cocurricular Program of the Year.

TAS Principal Paul Sjogren congratulated the parents, staff and school community for the achievements.

“It is indicative of the continual improvement processes embedded in the school, the wonderful families, a positive culture of learning, and truly outstanding staff,” he said.

“We may be small, and a long way from a capital city, but we pack a mighty punch.”

Member Spotlight: FNQHF

A whopping $150,000 was raised for the Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation at its 25th anniversary ball on June 4.

More than 300 guests attended the sold-out event to celebrate a quarter of a century of fundraising from the region’s most successful local charity.

FNQHF CEO Gina Hogan acknowledged the life-changing achievements of the charity over the past 25 years and thanked the community for their ongoing support.

“Nothing is more important than health and having access to quality healthcare close to home,” she said.

“Thanks to the generosity of our community, in 25 years we have raised more than $25 million and been able to provide much-needed funding for state-of-the-art equipment, facilities, education, training and research.

“While the quality of health care in the region has improved, there is still work to do. We are looking forward to continuing to be a part of the advancement of health care in FNQ in the years ahead.”

Member Spotlight: WGC Lawyers celebrate 50 years

Advance Cairns would like to wish foundation member WGC Lawyers a huge congratulations for celebrating their 50th anniversary in business. 

WGC  have been Corporate Members of Advance Cairns since inception of the membership model in 2012 and we thank them for their ongoing support.

Member Spotlight: 10 years of recruitment from Elite Executive

Eva Grabner and the team at Elite Executive are celebrating 10 years of recruitment excellence across the country.

Founder and Managing Director Eva started the company in 2012 with the vision to source candidates that not only have the skills an organisation requires, but that fit within the culture of that organisation. 

Since then, she has led executive recruitment in industries including health, resources, aviation, state and local government, not for profit, tourism and education across Australia.

Congratulations to the team on a wonderful milestone!

Advance Cairns Platinum Members