Cairns Marine Precinct

Advance Cairns calls on the Queensland Government to invest in key projects in the Cairns Marine Precinct as part of our continued push to diversify the economy and build a resilient future for the region. This submission marks the first phase of Advance Cairns’ advocacy ahead of the 2024-25 Queensland Budget.

The projects include a new Common User Facility and an expansion of the TAFE Queensland Great Barrier Reef Intrnational Marine College within the Cairns Marine Precinct.

The Cairns Marine Precinct (CMP) stands as a pivotal driver of the Far North Queensland economy, serving as a hub for maritime maintenance, repair, and overhaul services catering to national and international vessels.

Boasting a diverse marine sector that includes Defense and Border Force operations, a globally recognised tourism-reef fleet, commercial fishing and shipping enterprises, specialised boat builders, an active cruising yacht squadron, as well as hosting superyachts and cruise liners, the precinct’s significance is far-reaching.

Moreover, it facilitates education and training pathways through the TAFE Queensland Great Barrier Reef International Marine College, underpinning its crucial role in fostering regional growth and diversification.

Marine Common User Facility

The CMP faces soaring demand globally and locally for its maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) services, operating at full or near capacity.

To address this, both federal and state governments pledged $360m for a Common User Facility (CUF) to bolster CMP’s capabilities, crucial for future defense and maritime industry growth. Urgent collaboration is needed to expedite the CUF’s delivery, securing ample funding for the project.

This initiative gains significance amidst heightened geopolitical tensions, emphasising the Indo-Pacific engagement focus. Rapid action is imperative to capitalise on the CMP’s potential and meet the escalating market demand in the evolving global landscape.


To meet rapidly growing demand and realise full economic benefit, the Queensland Government works with the Australian Government to expedite delivery of the Cairns maritime Common User Facility and commit to having an operational ship lift by 2027.

TAFE Queensland Great Barrier Reef International Marine College

The TAFE Queensland Great Barrier Reef International Marine College continues to expand its range of industry-leading marine training capabilities, offering domestic and international students specialised maritime training, including the delivery of Defence’s Pacific Maritime Training Services.

The provision of mandatory training for mariners across commercial and defence vessels, a material maritime skills shortage and the anticipated training required to support Regional Maintenance Centre North East, combine to see the current campus unable to meet growing demand.

In the 2023-24 Queensland Budget, the government committed $16m to deliver an extra 2,675m² for a new workshop, additional classrooms, staff facilities and a boat shed as well as increased training opportunities.


The Queensland Government delivers on its $16m investment to expand the TAFE Great Barrier Reef International Marine College, with construction to commence at the start of 2024 and completion of the project by mid-2025.

HMAS Cairns Royal Australian Navy Base
– Undergoing $240m upgrade to accommodate at least four of the 12 Arafura-class Offshore Patrol Vessels
– Regional Maintenance Centre
– 900 Navy and civillian personnel
– Home port of seven Navy Vessels

Common User Facility
– 5,000 tonne shiplift
– Two blast and paint facilities
– Additional wet berth capacity
– 92m wharf
– Three hardstand areas for vessels up to 120m in length

TAFE Queensland Great Marrier Reef International Marine College
– 20m commercially registered vessel
– Engineering workshops
– Multi-purpose Emergency Response Training Simulator (MERTS)
– Sea survival training immersion pool
– Tug optimised bridge

Key stakeholders:
1.a/b HMAS Cairns Royal Australian Naval Base, 2.a/b Common User Facility, 3. Tropical Reef Shipyard, 4.a/b Austal, 5. Norsta Maritime, 6.a/b Sea Swift, 7.a/b Norship, 8. TAFE Great Barrier Reef International Marine College, 9. Ports North is a key stakeholder and major land holder

This submission marks the first phase of Advance Cairns’ advocacy ahead of the 2024-25 Queensland Budget.

Last updated: 17 November 2023

2024-25 Queensland Budget Submission

View the full list of projects and policies that feature in our 2024-25 Queensland Budget Submission.