From the Chair

Full six-year medical degrees taught at James Cook University’s Cairns campus are set to become a reality next year in what is another huge step towards realising the region’s ambitions to elevate Cairns Hospital to university status.

Almost 1000 aspiring doctors listed their 1st preference to study medicine as JCU Cairns, with the university revealing this week the number of Commonwealth Supported Places for the course has been doubled from the 20 which gained bi-partisan support pre-election to 40.

With an acute GP shortage across regional Australia, JCU’s record stands alone in terms of its medicine students remaining in practice in regional areas long after they graduate.

This week we hosted the Minister for Transport and Main Roads, the Hon Mark Bailey MP, at a breakfast to discuss the plethora of major roads projects underway in our region already – and those in the years ahead. Federal and state investment in roads will total more than $2bn over a decade, unprecedented in this region.

Our new CEO Jacinta Reddan also joined the team direct from Hong Kong this week and is today in Brisbane at a meeting of all Trade and Investment Queensland commissioners from across the globe, providing a terrific opportunity for Advance Cairns to get insights into where the key investment opportunities awaiting foreign capital await.

With her 20+ years of experience in the Asia Pacific, Jacinta will be a valuable asset to the region in unlocking the many opportunities as Cairns reconnects with the world post COVID.


Nick Trompf
Advance Cairns

Annual General Meeting 2022

Our AGM comes as we near the end of a year highlighted by unprecedented advocacy success for the region, including $150m to build a new common user facility at the Cairns port and $107.5 matched funding towards Cairns water security.

All Advance Cairns members are invited to attend our Annual General Meeting for 2022, at which we will consider matters including elections for both Board of Directors and Advisory Council positions (if necessary).

When: 5:00pm-5:30pm Thursday, 27 October
Where: Cairns Convention Centre

Click here to register.

Breakfast with Mark Bailey MP

Energy and road projects were a major focus at Advance Cairns’ special members breakfast with Minister for Transport and Main Roads Mark Bailey on Thursday morning.

The minister reaffirmed his commitment to working with the Far North on crucial infrastructure projects for the region, including Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) treatments on Kuranda Range Road and ongoing maintenance along the National Land Transport Network.

Members also got a chance to hear from new CEO Jacinta Reddan at her first formal event with Advance Cairns.

Click here for a full list of major projects in the pipeline for FNQ.

Future Cairns – Towards 2050

Cairns Airport CEO Richard Barker joined keynote speaker and co-founder of The Demographics Group Simon Kuestenmacher at Cairns Post’s Future Cairns event last month to discuss how to achieve the most liveable city possible by 2050.

Mr Barker highlighted fuel-efficient, narrow-bodied aircraft as the key to opening new flight pathways into Asia, stating that 30% of the global population live within an eight hour narrow body flight.

He also outlined the airport’s plan to drastically reduce its environmental impact, with an aim to halve the amount of waste going to landfill and to become carbon neutral by 2025.

Mr Barker and Mr Kuestenmacher were also accompanied by Cairns Regional Council director of planning, growth and sustainability Ed Johnson and Urbis director Kate Meyrick as headline speakers at the event.

To view Mr Barker’s full presentation on Cairns Airport’s plans for the region, click here.

Pictured: Cairns Regional Council’s director of planning, growth & sustainability Ed Johnson, director and co-founder of The Demographics Group Simon Kuestenmacher and Cairns Airport CEO Richard Barker at the Cairns Post’s Future Cairns event. Photo: Brendan Radke

Queensland’s nation-leading visitor economy

Tropical North Queensland has enjoyed a record 24.3% increase in domestic tourism spend in the past financial year, hitting a whopping $3.12bn compared to less than $2.4bn in 2019.

Data from Tourism Research Australia showed the region’s figures were among the best in a widely successful year for the entire state, with Queensland receiving a nation-leading $19.6bn domestic visitor spend in the same period.

Minister for Tourism Stirling Hinchliffe said a big part of the record-breaking success was a 22% surge in holidaymaker spending, which shot up by an extra $1.9bn in the year to June.

“There was also a 66% increase in domestic visitor spending in Queensland during the June 2022 quarter,” said Mr Hinchliffe.

“Tourism Research Australia’s analysis indicates Queensland’s share of domestic tourism spend tops the nation at 28.5%, or three and 10% higher than NSW and Victoria, respectively.”

Click here to view the full report.

TAFE celebrates 140 years

TAFE Queensland has celebrated a monumental 140 years of education and training across the state.

Since its humble beginnings back in 1882 with a class of just 12 students held in an attic at the North Brisbane School of Arts, the organisation has grown significantly to offer more than 500 courses across more than 60 locations in Queensland, offering education and training to 125,000 students annually.

Celebrations were held on September 4, marking 140 years to the day of providing quality vocational education and training. To see more on this impressive milestone, click here.

Photos from TAFE Queensland’s Facebook page.

State Government commits to TI cost of living summit

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has promised to hold a summit addressing cost of living pressures on Thursday Island within the next three months, following Cabinet’s meeting in the Torres Strait earlier this month.

The Premier said living expenses in the Torres area were estimated to be three times the cost of living in South East Queensland.

The Queensland Government has also since held a roundtable to discuss the state’s housing crisis following its commitment to stage a Housing Summit next month.

The summit will address critical issues including unlocking land and housing supply, fast-tracking social housing, and the urgent need for collaboration on housing by all levels of government and the private sector.

You can find more information on the upcoming Housing Summit at

Pictured: The Premier met with members of the Thursday Island community earlier this month. Photos from Annastacia Palaszczuk MP’s Facebook page.

Flinders Shire sees record new business boom

Hughenden and Flinders Shire have enjoyed a record boom of new businesses in the area, with almost 100 new businesses opening in just two years.

Figures from the Australian Business Register showed 41 new businesses opened in 2020, while a further 50 opened in 2021 – a 47 percent increase on pre-pandemic numbers from 2019.

The new enterprises included a coffee van, a range of trade and mechanical services, and two new boutique shops.

There were 732 active businesses in the region as of 1 September, 2022.

Pictured: Jodie Coward is one of many new business owners with her new boutique store, Coward and Co. Photo from Flinders Shire Council.

Member Spotlight: Australian Defence Awards

Congratulations to the following Advance Cairns members who were named at the recent Australian Defence Industry Awards for 2022.


  • Ventia Australia –  Defence Innovator of the Year (Company)
  • Natasha Salisbury, Downer Defence – Rising Star of the Year


  • Austal Australia – Australian Industry Capability Champion of the Year
  • BESIX Watpac – Estate and Infrastructure Business of the Year
  • Downer Defence – Defence Innovator of the Year (Company)
  • Aurecon – Training and Mentorship Program of the Year
  • TAFE QLD/AIDN – Veteran Support Program of the Year

Click here for a full list of winners and nominees.

Member Spotlight: Queensland Training Awards

Advance Cairns would like to congratulate the CaPTA Group on being named Tropical North Queensland’s Large Employer of the Year at the recent Queensland Training Awards.

The long-term Advance Cairns member was recognised for the quality training it provides to over a quarter of its full-time and part-time employees through its Careers Training Centre.

Congratulations also extends to the many apprentices, trainees, and staff members at TAFE Queensland, Skill360, Experience Co, and MiHaven Training for their success at the awards night.

View the full list of winners from the Queensland Training Awards – Tropical North Queensland here.

Advance Cairns Platinum Members