From the CEO

From continuing to press for investment into Cairns’ hospital and health service to much-needed expansion of our General Aviation Precinct, we continue our follow-up actions in the wake of our delegation to Queensland Parliament.  Undertaken in partnership with Cairns Chamber and Tourism Tropical North Queensland, we look forward to updating you as our discussions with key decision makers continue.  This will become even more pertinent as we head towards the state election in late October.

And with our regional local government elections now behind us, we look forward to seeing the formal declaration of the results and working with our new local government representatives right across the region. Everyone who put themselves into the spotlight to stand for public office has my greatest respect.

More broadly, it’s not all about business and we know that a rich and vibrant arts and culture scene is what contributes to making the regional liveable.  I’m honoured to be stepping in the role as chair of the new committee to lead one of Queensland’s iconic events, the Cairns Amateurs Racing Carnival.  This draws upon my lifelong love of horse racing, particularly its role in the regions and in community building, and I am pleased to be supported by a strong and diverse committee with deputy chairs Rowan Giddens and Advance Cairns Chair (and former Amateurs committee member) Nick Trompf. 

And I was very pleased to be involved in the Tropical Writers Festival which drew some of the nation’s leading writers and thought leaders to the city during what is traditionally a quiet tourist period.  It was terrific to turn the tables on one of Australia’s most highly awarded journalists in The Australian’s Hedley Thomas author of the Teacher’s Pet and of the global podcast phenomenon. It was an outstanding program and demonstration of the rich diversity of this vibrant region that showcased local and international talent.

Our ability to attract people to move to the region rests with providing such diversity of experience, with jobs and skills forming a core part of our advocacy as we look to build a prosperous future for Far North Queensland.  You can read more about our strategic ten-year focus below.

Enjoy your Easter long weekend wherever you may be.

Jacinta Reddan
Chief Executive Officer
Advance Cairns

Month in review

TNQ Delegation to Queensland Parliament

The Tropical North Queensland delegation visited Brisbane for a week of intensive engagement with members of Queensland Parliament. About 25 senior business leaders held meetings with nearly 30 MPs over two days, along with various departmental leaders. These discussions were pivotal in furthering the objectives outlined in the 2024 TNQ Priorities: Brisbane Delegation publication.

Cairns Airports Flies High with Clean Energy Partnership

Cairns Airport will transition to 100% renewable energy by 2025 in a partnership between CleanCo and the North Queensland Airport Group, involving Cairns and Mackay Airports. This will see Cairns Airport powered by renewable energy sourced from the nearby Kaban Wind Farm, enhancing the Far North’s appeal to environmentally conscious travellers and underpins a substantial move towards sustainable tourism.

TNQ Economic Development Strategy (TEDS) 2024- 2029

Regional Development Australia (RDA) Tropical North has released a five-year strategic plan for the region to develop a dynamic economy, build resilience and increase liveability.

The Tropical North Queensland Economic Development Strategy 2024-2029 was delivered in collaboration with FNQ Regional Organisation of Councils (FNQROC) and draws from the work of key regional partners including Advance Cairns. 

Within this document, you’ll discover numerous initiatives by Advance Cairns that align closely with ongoing discussions and engagements. These efforts are integral to the development of our  ten-year strategic plan, The Roadmap 2034: A Framework to Strengthen FNQ, which sees collaborative involvement from both RDA and FNQROC.

Advocacy in action

Advocacy in action: Cruise Ship Surge

Many years of persistent advocacy in pursuit of greater government investment in this region are now bearing fruit. 

The region’s maritime tourism industry is experiencing a surge this month with a 37% increase in cruise ships compared to the same time last year. 

The Cairns Shipping Development Project at the Ports North Port of Cairns has helped facilitate this growth, resulting in more cruise ship visits and delivering a sustained boost to our regional economy.

Member spotlight

New Member: Cassowary Coast Council

Our newest member Cassowary Coast Regional Council has announced that construction will begin next month on the Mission Beach Town Centre Revitalisation Project. The project aims to transform the Mission Beach town centre through various infrastructure improvements including roads, drainage, landscaping and lighting.

In addition, the Cassowary Coast region is about to see a major boost in higher education accessibility thanks to funding for a new regional university study hub in Innisfail. This initiative, led by the community-driven organisation Vocational Partnerships Group (VPG), is another step towards achieving the actions outlines in the region’s economic development strategy.

Cairns Woman of the Year – Alana McKenna

Member Alana McKenna, Chief Executive Officer of Skytek, has been honoured as the 2024 Cairns Woman of the Year by Cairns Regional Council. Recognised for her leadership in aviation, Alana has inspired a new generation of professionals both in the region and in her national role. The accolade was presented to her at the annual International Women’s Day ceremony held at the Cairns Convention Centre.

Changes at Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health

Advance Cairns wishes Patron Clive Skarott all the best in his retirement from the Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service (CHHHS) board where he served as chair, leaving behind an extraordinary legacy.

His dedication and advocacy have paved the way for enhanced healthcare access and infrastructure, ensuring a brighter and healthier future for our community.

Clive’s expertise will remain instrumental in guiding our future advocacy efforts and, as patron of Advance Cairns, we hope to continue to see him actively engaged. Indeed, we can’t imagine Clive hanging up his boots entirely after decades of public service!

We extend our congratulations to Chris Boland on his recent appointment as the Board Chair at Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health.

Chris brings a wealth of senior executive experience to his new role, having served as the Chief Executive Officer of Far North Queensland Ports Corporation for the past 14 years. Additionally, his longstanding service of over 10 years as a Director on the Advance Cairns Board underscores his dedication to our region’s growth and development.

Queensland Innovation Precincts and Places Fund

Congratulations to our member Launch Y(E)P. The Cairns-based business is set to receive nearly $1.3m for two transformative projects through the Miles Government’s Queensland Innovation Precincts and Places Fund.  

As well, Far North Queensland Health & Innovation Precinct – Dugurrdja Precinct will receive $280,000 for a project that will focus on strategic advice and an action plan to position FNQHIP as a global innovation hub, enhancing research translation, commercialisation, and regional economic growth.

These investments will bolster technology innovation, boost productivity and stimulate competitiveness in Queensland’s innovation ecosystem.


International Partnerships in Critical Minerals | Australian Government | $40 million
$40 million in grant funding has been made available for early to mid-stage critical mineral projects that build end-to-end supply chains with Australia’s international partners.
Application: Open, non-competitive, closes 2026

Climate-Smart Agriculture Program – Partnerships and Innovation Grants | Closes: 8 April 2024
Sustainable agriculture and natural resource management innovations to be endorsed in the Federal Government’s Climate-Smart Agriculture Program to support more climate-smart, sustainable, productive and profitable agriculture, forestry, fishing and aquaculture industry sectors.
Environmental Sustainability Grant – Cassowary Coast Regional Council Area: Up to $5000 to support projects that enhance sustainability practices, biodiversity and community engagement in environmental or conservation activities. Apply by Sunday 7 April.
Gambling Community Benefit Fund | $100,000 | Closes 30 April
The Gambling Community Benefit Fund (GCBF) is Queensland’s largest one-off community grants program and distributes approximately $60 million each year to not-for-profit community groups. The GCBF funding helps these groups to provide services, leisure activities and opportunities for Queensland communities.
Disaster Recovery Support | Queensland Government (
Personal hardship financial assistance is available for Queensland communities impacted by Tropical Cyclone Jasper.

Emergency Hardship Assistance
Essential Services Hardship Assistance
Essential Household Contents Grant
Essential Services Safety and Reconnection
Structural Assistance Grant
Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment
Disaster Recovery Allowance
Extraordinary Disaster Assistance Recovery Grants (Small businesses with less than 20 full time employees)
Tourism Recovery Assistance Grant (Medium to large businesses with more than 20 full time employees)