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3 months ago
Defence industry offers Cairns opportunities to diversify after the steep reduction in tourism that the local economy has suffered during the pandemic.  

Shadow Minister for Defence Brendan O’Connor is in Cairns to visit several Australian businesses that provide maintenance and repair services for defence vessels and to lead an industry roundtable hosted by Advance Cairns. 

Joined by Queensland Senator Nita Green and Labor Candidate for Leichhardt Elida Faith, they discussed the increasing need for the local economy to diversify beyond tourism and the ways in which defence industry could help achieve that. 

“Tourism will always be an essential part of the Cairns, however, Labor wants to see the local economy afforded new ways to diversify and grow, and defence industry may offer an opportunity to do that,” Mr O’Connor said. 

“After six Defence Ministers in eight years, the Government should be focussing on enhancing Australia’s sovereign capabilities and ensuring our defence assets are optimally positioned.  

“With Cairns’ unique positioning in Australia’s north, it is clearly a strategic location for Australian defence assets.” 

Already there are Australian businesses in the Cairns Marine Precinct, adjacent to HMAS Cairns, that provide services to defence, such as Austal, Tropical Reef Shipyard, and Norship Marine that repair and maintain Australian Defence Force vessels. 

“Our shipbuilding and marine maintenance sector has weathered the COVID storm and continues to deliver good, secure jobs in our region,” Senator Green said. 

“Cairns is well positioned to grow its marine maintenance capability and it is terrific to see great collaboration happening locally to ensure we get a bigger slice of the defence maintenance pie. 

“Labor backs our manufacturers because we know how important it is to have good jobs in regional Queensland. 

“If we don’t invest in skills and apprenticeships now, we will miss out on the opportunities that the defence maintenance industry offers. 

“This is why Labor will establish the National Reconstruction Fund – to help create secure jobs for Australian workers, drive regional economic development, boost our sovereign capability and diversify our economy.” 

With the Australian Government spending $270 billion over the next 10 years on defence, Labor wants to see a focus on growing our sovereign defence industry. 

This will not only improve Australia’s capability and resilience, it offers economic benefits for Far North Queensland and our country as a whole.