Reports this week in The Australian quoting Justin Fung have confirmed what many of us have considered the worst kept secret in years, and that is that the AQUIS Cairns Casino project is officially shelved. Dead in the water as they say in the classics. So, at last the Cairns community can move on from this unfortunate episode, that has seen us ride a roller coaster of the highs and lows of unrealisable expectations for years. Make no mistake, if the project had gone ahead as planned, it would have been a controversial game changer for Cairns and the region, but that is now history, so time to move on.

We wish AQUIS well in their expansionist activities elsewhere in Australia and remind them that Cairns and the TNQ will always be open for business should they wish to return. The door is always open.

Talking of being open for business, Cairns and the region is the very model of a city that welcomes both domestic and foreign investment in equal measure. As a community we go that extra mile to support all investors and respect and appreciate the investment. I keep reminding myself not to forget that it was local investors that built the foundations of where we are today and you do not need to look far to see who they were. They are still with us, today although slightly greyer and a possibly little slower. In recent decades we started to see the arrival of foreign investment in developing our tourism and the agriculture sector and as our trade opportunities to the north and east take shape we will see more of it and we will welcome it. We of course will be looking for investors that follow through on the hype and we need to ensure that governments at each level deliver on the investment incentives and allow a process that encourages new investment to flourish. We need to support the fair dinkum investors and shun the carpet-baggers. My proposition is that we can do much, much more to grow and develop our part of the world and we need to do this with an increased level of foreign investment from those with a longer term commitment as well as pitching to our domestic investment marketplace and fund managers.

In the same breath as investment talk, we need to understand why investment occurs and for us in the Tropical North it is because our place is growing and provides opportunity in a stable and welcoming business environment, with a trained and competent workforce. We must rediscover our old “can do” mentality. Our current performance is sluggish, but sure to turn around. So, this all begs the question as to who do we want here and how many?

My proposition is clearly stated above – that we can do much, much more to grow and develop our part of the world and we need to do this with an increased level of foreign investment.