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Cairns Marine Precinct

Project Overview

To deliver infrastructure investment in the Cairns Marine Precinct (CMP) to capitalise on emerging defence and other marine industry opportunities.

The CMP and the marine industry more broadly are of major economic importance to Cairns and Far North Queensland.  The growth of the sector is key to the diversification of the region and will be influenced by the maintenance and sustainment opportunities from the Royal Australian Navy.

A $30 million investment by the Queensland Government as part of the Unite and Recover – Economic Recovery Plan funded new infrastructure, including two wharves and the costs of the connection of services including power and water to the new wharves.

The construction of these wharves in Cairns will expand its capacity to carry out in-water maintenance on vessels used by the Australian Defence Force and Australian Border Force.

The funding also supported a business case which recommended the construction of a Common User Facility (CUF), to be used by all Cairns marine maintenance, repair and overhaul service providers.

The Queensland Government and Australian Government each initially contributed $180 million towards this project.

In May 2023, the Queensland Government also committed a further $39 million for projects in the Cairns Marine Precinct.

Improved infrastructure and Port upgrades are particularly important in the current context of an increasing focus on the geo-political environment in the Indo-Pacific region.


  • $28 million to increase common user wharfage, purchase strategic port land and undertake service upgrades to support increased in-water sustainment of naval and other vessels
  • $2 million to develop the Cairns Marine Precinct Infrastructure Investment detailed business case (DBC) ( 5.4 MB) – completed in December 2021
  • $387 million for a new marine common user facility in a move to capture more large defence and maritime contracts. This will include a 5000-tonne shiplift, three hardstand areas, as well as two facilities for blasting and painting vessels and more capacity for wet berths. The Queensland Government and Australian Government are working together to progress this project
  • $12 million fund for Cairns shipyards to upgrade existing facilities, to be administered through the Industry Partnership Program.

For more information contact our Far North Queensland Regional Office.

Jobs supported

More than 4,600 local jobs will be supported through these projects in the marine industry and related supply chains, with many new, ongoing jobs to be created in coming years.

Over 400 construction jobs will initially be created through the construction of the new wharves, road and service upgrades and common user facility, with over 1,000 jobs created through flow-on effects throughout the local economy.

Benefits to the region

These projects are expected to generate a range of benefits for the marine, Defence and manufacturing industries, with benefits to flow more broadly through other industries throughout Cairns and Far North Queensland, including:

  • enhance capabilities and competitiveness of the CMP to remain a leading maritime centre in Northern Australia
  • strengthen and diversify the Far North Queensland economy
  • reduce economic fluctuations of a regional economy which is currently underpinned by tourism
  • attract domestic and international investment and re-investment in downstream industries in the region
  • support the current and future Defence capability plans to enable the Department of Defence to meet its national security obligations to Government
  • advance the Queensland Defence Industries 10-year roadmap
  • advance the Queensland Superyacht Strategy 2018-2028
  • leverage focus on Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games to increase superyacht visitation
  • increased tourism spend in Cairns from increased length of stay for superyacht crew
  • increase skilled job attraction and retention
  • increase student interest in undertaking maritime and related trade qualifications
  • enhance STEM education opportunities
  • increased capacity and capability for developing the shipbuilding industry in Cairns
  • provide potential efficiencies for cross-over with other industries, such as aerospace.

Last updated: 14 Jun 2024