Cairns on edge of multi-billion prosperity
THE tropical north is poised to spring back to life with a fresh list of projects, investments and proposals adding up to more than $21.5 billion.

It comes as business confidence is buoyed by a bumper tourism season, new flights, record airport passenger numbers, a new wave of agricultural development and rise in property and construction markets.

The region also is a frontrunner for a $2 billion patrol boat replacement and service program with a decision due to be made before Christmas.

The Cairns Chamber of Commerce has compiled a new list which totals $21.543 billion – up by nearly $3 billion on the $18.3 billion first list published more than six months ago.

It’s headlined by the still-to-be-approved $8.15 billion Aquis mega-resort which is still locked in negotiations between proponents Justin and Tony Fung and the State Government.

Chamber chief executive Deb Hancock said the latest list “certainly reinforces this position with an ever-growing list of projects and investments adding to the growth potential of our region”.

“The Cairns chamber has access to vast amounts of information related to upcoming major projects and investments, and this information is of considerable value to the business community,” she said. 

Ms Hancock said the value of projects currently under construction or proposed totalled $21.543 billion but excluded others which remained under wraps due to a commercially sensitive and confidential nature.

She said the proposals were expected to create more than 15,790 jobs during construction and more than 37,000 jobs operationally, with some projects yet to determine job numbers.

“This suite of information is not to be considered exhaustive, but includes the major projects occurring across our region above $5 million in value.

The Cairns Chamber of Commerce confirmed details of projects with contributors and proponents directly,” Ms Hancock said.

Ms Hancock said the list was compiled with the help of project proponents and investors, as well as the Cairns Regional Council, Cook Shire Council, Mareeba Shire Council, Department of State Development Infrastructure and Planning, Regional Development Australia FNQTS, Warren Entsch’s office, the Urban Development Institute of Australia (Cairns), Advance Cairns and Cairns Airport.

“Key lead economic indicators continue to confirm the positive trend that we’ve seen for about 3.5 years now,” she said.

“Renewed confidence in the local economy is feeding growth in building approvals and other economic growth indicators across the region.

“Our region is an investment mecca because we have a 24-hour, seven-day, curfew-free international airport, an economy worth $12 billion, a regional population of nearly 245,000, an economy growing by 3 per cent a year, exports of $6.9 billion a year and more than 23,400 registered businesses employing 117,000 people. We have a lot to be proud of and this also makes our region a very attractive investment location.