From the CEO

From working to re-establish relationships with key Asian airline partners to doing a deep dive into the region’s renewable energy sector, to realising a major health advocacy initiative, August has been an incredibly productive month for Advance Cairns.

I was delighted to return to Hong Kong as part of a delegation of Cairns industry leaders and government officials as part of a push to re-establish strong relationships with key partners including Cathay Pacific.

The delegation included the Member for Cairns and Assistant Tourism Industry Minister Michael Healy, Cairns Airport CEO Richard Barker, Tourism Tropical North Queensland CEO Mark Olsen, Managing Director of the Regional Trade Distribution Centre Barbara Ford, and key tourism representatives.

We had a series of successful engagements aimed at building opportunities for the region into Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area, particularly in aviation and direct flights, tourism and trade partners post-Covid.   Re-establishing important direct services for the region’s premium produce to reach the 80 million-plus population of Greater Bay Area will remain a focus as we continue our engagement with Cathay Pacific over the longer-term.

We also met with Hong Kong industry tourism representatives, specialist media and potential investors.  It was wonderful to reconnect with Australia’s Consul-General to Hong Kong, Elizabeth Ward, and Senior Australian Trade and Investment Commissioner Shannon Powell and her team who were instrumental in supporting our delegation.

This was hot on the heels of Singapore Airline’s plans to introduce Airbus A350-900 widebody aircraft on the popular Cairns-Singapore route from March next year. This is a major win for the region, bringing freight capacity to South East Asia markets with high demand for region’s agricultural exporters to meet the growing demand for seafood and fresh produce. This aligns with Advance Cairns’ vision to double high value food exports from Cairns Airport by 2030.

This month also saw the region reach a milestone with work beginning on the important James Cook University’s Cairns Tropical Enterprise Centre (CTEC) at the growing Far North Queensland Health Innovation Precinct, part of our continued campaign towards securing university hospital status for Cairns.

This critical clinical and research facility received $60 million Federal Government funding following sustained lobbying by Advance Cairns (and I want to pay particular tribute to past chair Trent Twomey for his passion for this project) alongside other key stakeholders.

And from the skies to health to energy –  we were delighted to welcome the head of the Department of Energy and Public Works Paul Martyn who gave key stakeholders an exclusive insight into the Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan and the draft 2023 Queensland Renewable Energy Zone Roadmap.

There was plenty more in August (including our tour of Cairns Regional Council’s Material Recovery Facility in Portsmith – which forms a key part of the council’s circular economy strategy.  If you haven’t been there, we highly recommend it.) and lots to look forward to in September.

Importantly, I look forward to introducing you to our newest team member Namassana Holland-Beard who has joined as Marketing and Communications Manager, a key function as we step up our engagement with you, our members.


Best Regards,

Jacinta Reddan
Chief Executive Officer
Advance Cairns

Month in review

International flight connections a focus

The push is on to reconnect with key Asian markets with a focus on securing additional freight and passengers services. During the delegation to Hong Kong we also took the opportunity to engage with key Austrade officials, tourism industry experts and potential investors. We were pleased to meet with Australian Consul-General Elizabeth Ward and Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner Shannon Powell.

Holistic approach needed to re-energise the region

Workforce and housing challenges emerged as key issues during a private members briefing with the Director-General of the Department of Energy and Public Works (EWP) Paul Martyn. More specifically, the tension between preserving bio-diversity and environmental values while meeting the urgent need to transition to renewables also came to the fore.

The key for Advance Cairns is understanding what the Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan means for the Far North Queensland; how can we capitalise on multi-billion dollar investment in the energy transition given our geographic location at the end of the transmission super grid.

Opportunities include cementing our place on the world stage as a leading renewables region and ensuring that we capitalise on this decentralisation.  Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) offers a very real opportunity for the region drawing on our existing agricultural sector.

Have your say – submissions on the draft Roadmap can be made to until Friday 22 September 2023 and will be incorporated into the final Roadmap. Further information can be found on the Department of Energy and Public Works website: Department of Energy and Public Works (

It doesn’t get more glamorous than this!

Earlier this month the Advance Cairns team donned our gumboots and headed down to the Cairns Regional Council’s Material Recovery Facility (MRF). Our goal – to gain a deeper understanding of the Council’s approach to waste management and the region’s circular economy.

Did you know?

  • Cairns has the only running Bedminster in QLD that separates non-organic materials and composts the remaining organic materials which are then used on local farms
  • Recycled glass aggregate is used in civil construction and as bedding material for roads in FNQ region
  • The MRF can handle up to 30,000 tonnes of recycling each year with an average 81% recovery rate, a 26% increase over the former rate.

We’d like to congratulate Platinum member Cairns Regional Council on their outstanding commitment to reducing waste and keeping materials out of landfill.  This success relies heavily on each of us to pay particular attention to waste separation at home or at your business.

Advocacy wins

Far North Queensland Health and Innovation Precinct

It was great to see the advocacy efforts by Advance Cairns, and in particular past-Chair Trent Twomey, come to life at the sod turning for the new JCU: James Cook University, Australia (JCU) Cairns Tropical Enterprise Centre (CTEC) building.

In 2019 Advance Cairns worked closely with key stakeholders to successfully secure a $60 million bi-partisan commitment from the then Prime Minister and Opposition Leader. The funding was used to acquire the land and has enabled JCU to establish this critical research and clinical facility in the Far North Queensland Health Innovation Precinct.

Gimuy Walubara Yidinji Elder Henrietta Marrie presented the new name for the Precinct in a ceremony on site – the Dugurrdja Precinct, which has been bestowed by local Traditional Owners.

About 150 jobs will be created during the construction which is being led by Advance Cairns member BESIX Watpac.

Funding: $60 million Federal Government ($50 million CTEC, $10 million land acquisition)

Cairns Southern Access Corridor

Our strong advocacy efforts over the years came to fruition with FNQ’s biggest road infrastructure project Edmonton to Gordonvale (E2G) fully opening to the public at the end of August.

 A total transport solution was undertaken to provide long-term improvements to traffic flow and road safety through reducing congestion, highway travel time and upgrading road access.

Projects like this aren’t just about building safer roads – they’re also providing upskilling opportunities and job security. Since May 2020 more than 200 million hours of work have been undertaken and the project involved more than 300 local suppliers and contractors.

Funding: $535 million – ($428.01 million Federal Government + $106.99 million State Government)

Atherton Hospital

The Atherton Hospital’s new Clinical Services Building was completed in August as part of the massive $86.4 million redevelopment of the regional hospital.

The new building is now fully functioning and provides a modern healthcare facility that will improve clinical capacity, patient care, and comfort for the community.

Key features include an expanded purpose-built trauma and resuscitation bay in the Emergency Department, two new operating theaters, a variety of spacious birthing suites in the new maternity ward and, new medical imaging technology.

Advance Cairns and several key stakeholders have been strongly advocating for the Atherton Hospital Infrastructure Upgrade after the publication of our 2016 8+8 Advocacy in Action manifesto.

Funding: $86.4 million Queensland Government

Member spotlight

Regional aviation achieves outsized national

We were thrilled to hear that two of our members received awards during the premier national aviation awards. The Australian Aviation Awards is nationwide recognition program that showcases the outstanding individuals and businesses positively shaping the growth and development of Australia’s aviation industry.

2023 Airport of The Year
Cairns Airport

2023 Manufacturing/Maintenance Business of the Year

Innovate with nbn

Could this be you? Nbn is looking for digital businesses in regional and remote Australia that live and breathe technology. Entries are now open for the 2023 Innovate with nbn Grants Program.

Run in partnership with the Regional Australia Institute – there are $125,000 in grants available for innovative businesses in regional and remote Australia to help them bring their bright ideas to life.

Results are in

A new study commissioned by the Regional Australian Institute reveals 92% of metro tradies could be persuaded to move to the region as a result of soaring expenses and the rising cost of city. But what does that mean for our region?

Workforce shortage combined with lack of housing continues to have a major impact on industry and in particular on recruitment. A recent survey conducted by Conus Business Consultancy Services for MiHaven has discovered that 56.4% of Cairns businesses have suffered issues caused by the accommodation shortage. 

Upcoming events

Applications close – Boosting Business Innovation Masterclass | 15 September

Circularnation invite females in leadership roles to participate in a two-day workshop and Business Advisory Service designed to support and accelerate the growth potential of their FNQ business.

Apply now >>

AFL Cape York Housing Foundation Golf Day | 29 September, Cairns Golf Club

AFL Cape York House Foundation is holding the annual charity golf day – a fun afternoon with prizes, a charity auction, and the chance to play a round with an AFL celebrity player from the National League.

Submit team >>

80’s Rewind: Trinity Anglican School 2023 annual Gala Ball | 14 October, Cairns Convention Centre

Dust off those shoulder pads, buy that professional grade hair spray and rewind to 1983 for a not-to-be missed evening of fine food, entertainment, dancing and auctions. All proceeds go toward the Trinity Anglican School Principal’s Opportunity Scholarship Fund.

Buy ticket >>


Growing Future Tourism QLD | $1-4 million | Closes 11 September

Funding for event organisers in Queensland | $10,000 and $100,000 | Closes 5 October

Innovate with NBN |  7 x $15,000, 1 x $20, 00 | Closes 29 September