Tropical North Queensland is a vibrant, multi-dimensional region with a growing economy and a motivated and skilled workforce. We have a world class tourism industry, diverse agricultural sector, emergent manufacturing and construction sectors and a rapidly growing research and education portfolio.

Our expertise in sustainable design and construction, bio-security, tropical health and medicine and agriculture, combined with being home to two universities at the cutting edge of research and innovation, an international airport, shipping port and close proximity to our Asian neighbours, sees us perfectly positioned to attract new industry and investment.

Tourism growth over the past four years, as well as recent associated infrastructure spending, has created much-needed jobs – however this has not yet led to a broader based economic rebound, particularly in the rural and remote regions surrounding Cairns.

Through strategic State and Federal Government investment, diversification of the Tropical North Queensland economy can be accelerated and looking ahead, the decisions made in 2019-2020 will shape the agenda for many years to come.

Working with other key regional agencies including the Cairns Chamber of Commerce, Regional Development Australia and Tourism Tropical North Queensland, we have therefore identified a list of infrastructure and policy projects critical to the continued economic development of the Tropical North. These include:

  • $90 million to progress Stage 2 of the Cairns University Hospital Innovation Precinct; plus $60 million to fund 80 new beds in the existing hospital;
  • $365.5 million to upgrade the Western Arterial section of the Cairns Ring Road;
  • $21 million to undertake a Strategic Assessment of Service Requirements, Preliminary Evaluation and Business Case for Kuranda Range Road upgrades;
  • $854 million for 80% of cost of Nullinga Dam (Option 2A in detailed business case) with water users funding $215 million;
  • $25 million for Stage 2 upgrades of the Cairns Marine Precinct, followed by a Stage 3 investment of $100 million and $420 million to upgrade HMAS Cairns facilities by 2026; plus sustainment and maintenance contracts for up to six Offshore Patrol Vessels to be home based in Cairns;
  • $130 million for three tertiary education projects – Queensland’s first Comprehensive University High School, CQUniversity’s Cairns CBD campus and CQUniversity’s Asia Pacific Aviation Hub; plus recurrent funding of $26.7 million per year for 80 new medical student placements at James Cook University;
  • $62.6 million to deliver three arts, sport and culture projects – Cairns Gallery Precinct, Cairns Showground, Sporting and Community Precinct upgrades, and a sports tourism sector business case;
  • $136 million to seal remaining sections of Gulf Savannah Way in Queensland;
  • Revisions to the Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) Act 2012 to allow foreign superyacht vessels to charter in Australia;
  • Recurrent funding to enable Cairns Hospital to transition to a full tertiary referral facility known as Cairns University Hospital; plus $6 million to complete a detailed business case for implementing CHHHS’ new 20-year master plan;
  • Tripartite signing of a Statement of Intent to establish a City Deal for Cairns;
  • The establishment of an Office of the Pacific in Cairns;
  • $1.5 million to develop a Population and Migration Strategy for Cairns;
  • $100 million to secure four airline attraction support packages;
  • A framework for prioritised Strategic Agricultural Areas and the establishment of an Office of the Coordinator General in Cairns;
  • $1.5 million to support development of a TNQ Strategic Energy Sector Investment Framework.


Recent advocacy activity and outcomes

  • In October 2018, we hosted the Cairns TNQ Convoy to Canberra at Parliament House, launching the region’s federal election priorities for 2019-2020. Over two days, fifty business delegates attended 51 separate MP meetings, made $1.9 billion in funding requests, represented 11 industry sectors and presented 32 detailed written briefs. The result was unprecedented funding commitments being secured for the region.
  • The inclusion of key elements in the Northern Australia White Paper (Nullinga Dam, Hann Highway), the Agriculture Minister’s list of key water infrastructure and the Agriculture Competitiveness Paper (Nullinga Dam) are significant outcomes.
  • We commissioned studies to support the business case for the development of Nullinga Dam, and surveyed the market to identify development interest. This includes opportunities with the expansion of irrigated agriculture in the region.
  • The Prime Minister recently announced support to fund the completion of the sealing of the Hann Highway. We have urged the Government to bring forward planned Bruce Highway funding to support growth in Cairns’ southern corridor.
  • Health funding for the region will increase through the new Primary Health Care network arrangements.
  • We advocate for a Marine and Defence solution for our region securing ongoing funding commitments.
  • We have supported the development of our education sector, particularly with new and expanded courses as well as enabling infrastructure for our two universities.
  • We have supported the development of the Cairns Port, new aviation routes, reform to customs and immigration and passenger movement charges and Government support post natural disasters.