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Ports North has acquired 2.8ha of land in Portsmith to support the planned expansion of the Cairns Marine Precinct, including two new wharves.

The project is expected to create 150 jobs in the construction phase.

Ports North Chairman Russell Beer said engineering, design and advisory company Aurecon had started work on the CMP’s early works and construction tender documents.

“This is an important project for our vital marine precinct which will build on the new wider and deeper shipping channel which was successfully completed last year,” Mr Beer said

“Aurecon demonstrated a strong understanding of the project requirements, having previously undertaken similar projects in the maritime sector.”

Mr Beer said a separate master planning process for the Port of Cairns, which is intended to facilitate forward planning out to 2050, is due to be completed within six months.

The land acquisition is a key step in the Palaszczuk Government’s election commitment to build two new wharves, which are to be located in Smith’s Creek and at Commercial Fisherman’s Base No. 2.

The State is investing:

  • $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.


Member for Cairns Michael Healy said the new wharves would expand the capacity to carry out in-water maintenance on vessels used by the Australian Defence Force and Australian Border Force.

“Building these wharves will create 150 construction jobs in the short-term, but the longer-term employment opportunities that come with expanding the Cairns Marine Precinct are really exciting,” Mr Healy said.

“We’re funding a business case to develop this precinct as a key centre for maintaining and repairing large defence vessels.

“That business case will investigate the manufacture of commercial vessels required for servicing the region that would bring more jobs to the city.

“There is an existing skilled work force, contractor base and infrastructure within the Cairns Marine Precinct to not only expand opportunities for more vessel maintenance, but to also to explore the possibility of building vessels here one day too.”

The initiative also aligns with the Palaszczuk Government’s Defence Industries 10-year Roadmap and Action Plan which focuses on growing employment capability in the state and supporting Queensland defence firms to access new opportunities and create new jobs.

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