Shaping the future of Cairns over the next few decades requires lateral thinking, and an openness to supporting big visionary projects that go beyond an election cycle.
Cairns and tropical North Queensland (TNQ) are ideal investment locations as they are made up of a diverse range of sectors. Think construction, aviation, agriculture, education, defence and marine, healthcare, tourism, sport, renewable energy and small business.
Having recently returned from Canberra where we hosted the Cairns TNQ Convoy to Canberra – the largest ever business delegation from Cairns to Parliament House – we’ve seen first-hand that confidence across each of these sectors is growing, and it’s time to start riding the wave of optimism emerging in the region.
Cairns is a city at the edge of revitalisation through public and private investment. As evidenced by James Cook University’s State of the Tropics report, tropical zones are coming into their own internationally and our aim is to capitalise on this while making sure the region grows in a sustainable and planned way.
Our immediate focus is on major infrastructure projects to enable and facilitate the growth we know is coming. Infrastructure underpins the economy, which is why we’re advocating strongly for the Cairns Convention Centre upgrade, Cairns Shipping Development Project (dredging of the Cairns Port), HMAS Cairns expansion, Nullinga Dam and the Cairns Ring Road among others.
In all of this, though, there is an elephant in the room, and that’s the need to grow our resident population to justify greater government spend.
TNQ is a highly liveable location, and this supports population growth in ways that may not seem obvious. Open spaces, ease of movement, land availability, transport links, recreation and leisure activities, all combine to create a destination that people want to live in. More people leads to more income flowing through the community, and this increases demand for essential and discretionary services.
Alongside this lies investment opportunities, and TNQ is currently wide open. Across the region, multiple industries are ripe for growth and this is reflected in the diverse investment projects already underway. Renewable energy, significant hotel construction, and pending significant upgrades in road infrastructure demonstrate the economy is starting to grow. The challenge is to manage this in a sustainable way and this is where Advance Cairns plays an important role. Through strong collaboration with the public sector and private enterprise, our aim is to map a sustainable, planned path for growth and development in the region.
As a city located in the emerging tropic region, we are on the point of transitioning from an expanding but remote regional centre to an important international hub in Australia’s north. We just need to be brave enough to believe in our vision for growth, to work with investors to identify and act on opportunities, and to stay true to our cause regardless of election cycles.