What a few weeks it has been with the State’s spotlight firmly on Cairns, with the city hosting the historic regional sitting of Queensland Parliament. This was only the second time that Parliament has been here, offering an important opportunity for Advance Cairns and our members to engage with parliamentarians across the board right here on our home soil.
And there really was nothing quite like hosting 93 parliamentarians in our own region to bring into sharp focus the key initiatives which are important to ensure a thriving future for Cairns.
Advance Cairns was delighted to work with our partners at Tourism Tropical North Queensland and the Cairns Chamber of Commerce to hold an event for close to 400 business leaders and parliamentarians who heard the Premier and Deputy Premier outline the importance of the region to the broader economy and of the Government’s ambition for the region.
We were delighted with the investment by the State Government in fostering the marine precinct, with the Premier announcing $16 million to expand the TAFE Great Barrier Reef International Marine College. The college provides critical maritime skills training for both commercial and defence sectors as well as for the Pacific Patrol Boat crew. We also welcomed the announcement of $39 million to upgrade infrastructure in the precinct, including $12 million to upgrade (with funds to be matched by) the three shipyards.
In the week that saw the Queensland Parliament pass the Path to Treaty legislation with bipartisan support, we were particularly pleased to welcome the announcement of a business case for a First Nations Cultural Centre in Cairns.
We were delighted to hear the Premier agree to back the all-important aviation investment attraction fund, which will help us pursue additional services to more international centres. I am sure you are all looking forward to the direct flights from Cairns to Tokyo starting next month, with Cairns International Airport working around the clock to attract more services to more international ports.
We also saw the recent opening of the Regional Trade Distribution Centre at the Cairns International Airport, which enables our regional food and agricultural producers to access domestic and overseas markets for our sought-after high-value produce. We’re doing all we can at Advance Cairns to realise our ambition to double these exports by 2030. Watch this space.
I was honoured to be invited by the Premier to join a panel of women leaders to encourage others to make a contribution through board participation. This is such a critical focus because the research tells us that more diverse boards make better business decisions. Diversity in all its forms – gender, life experience, ethnicity, and culture – allows organisations to better reflect their staff, their customer base, and the target audience. I encourage more women to step forward and seize the opportunity to make a difference.
And from State to Federal politics, we were delighted to host Finance Minister Katy Gallagher to share with us a critical debrief on the Federal Budget. This was yet another sign of the importance of the region in both Canberra and Brisbane as the nation focuses on its north and our engagement with the Asia Pacific. A big thanks to one of the region’s most passionate advocates, Senator Nita Green, for making this happen.
Words by Jacinta Reddan