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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 and investigate reshoring shipbuilding to Cairns.

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.

The $30 million investment by the Queensland Government will fund 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 will also go towards a business case to identify how to build on this initial investment and seek to get a return by doubling down on future opportunities to grow as a centre for large vessel repair work.

The project will ensure that the state maintains a robust marine capability and Cairns capitalises on emerging regional opportunities and affirms its position as the leading maritime maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) destination in Northern Australia. 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, develop land and undertake service upgrades to support increased in-water sustainment of naval and other vessels; and
  • $2 million to complete the CMP Business Case for the broader development of the precinct including consideration of specialist infrastructure accessible by all shipyards with sufficient detail to provide clarity on costings.

Jobs supported

  • estimated at 150

Benefits to the region

Pre COVID-19, the Cairns economy was in a relatively strong position. Gross Regional Product growth was above comparative Queensland and Australian levels and unemployment was below both the state and national level. However, a reliance on tourism and other export sectors means the economic impacts of COVID-19 on Cairns will be severe.

In order to recover from current job losses and mitigate against future economic shocks and diversify the Cairns economy, the CMP and broader marine industry needs to be supported to leverage ongoing defence and homeland security maritime operations, maintenance and upgrades.

Last updated: 21 Oct 2021