Cairns has been selected as one of two regional sites for a multimillion-dollar investment to boost jobs in Far North Queensland and enhance the region’s reputation as an agricultural export hot spot.
Premier and Minister for Trade Annastacia Palaszczuk announced today that Air Freight Handling Services (AFHS) had been selected to establish a Regional Trade Distribution Centre (RTDC) in Cairns, with Toowoomba selected as the site for a second Centre.
“This will supercharge rapid airfreight access for agricultural producers,” the Premier said.
“It means graziers and growers will have easier access to export markets and that means jobs.
“In 2017, we said we’d deliver an export hub for Queensland but following a very strong response we decided to deliver two.
“Now we’re delivering on our commitment and Cairns will reap the benefits.”
Minister for State Development Cameron Dick said the centre would boost access to markets in Asia, Europe and other global markets for Queensland’s primary producers.
“Jobs are the number one priority of our government and I’m delighted this centre will generate 70 new jobs during construction and when it is operating,” he said.
“As well as creating jobs, the centre will allow North Queensland’s fruit and seafood industries along with a range of other industries improved access to international markets which, in turn will have a flow-on benefit to regional communities,” he said.
“The Cairns export hub will mean even more of our world-class seafood and agricultural produce including fish and crustaceans, frozen prawns, avocadoes, melons, citrus, blueberries, mangoes and other tropics fruits will head overseas, boosting our economy and creating jobs.”
Member for Cairns Michael Healy said the outcome is extremely positive for the city and region.
“I have been working towards this since being elected into office. I would like to acknowledge all those other parties who have been working towards the same goal and I thank them for their efforts,” he said.
“This investment benefits our export agricultural and aquaculture industries.
“Today, we have also seen the inaugural Air Niugini Cairns – Hong Kong flight loaded with North Queensland pumpkins, rockmelons and live fish heading to those lucrative Asian markets.
“Our tourism industry is reliant on sustainable air-connectivity with our key markets. The expansion of this capacity will contribute to a greater economic return for airlines ensuring longer term commitments to our region.”
AFHS Managing Director, Ms Barb Ford welcomed the selection of Far North Queensland as the location for the Regional Trade Distribution Centre.
“This centre is about boosting access for Queensland’s producers to key overseas markets, which can only be good news in terms of job creation and investment.
“We’d like to thank the Queensland Government for the opportunity to now move forward with developing a Regional Trade Distribution Pilot Centre and look forward to joining with stakeholders from across Far North Queensland to make this happen.”
Cairns Airport’s chief executive officer Norris Carter said it was a great announcement for the region and the airport.
“We welcome the state government’s contribution and recognition of the importance of Cairns as the gateway to the Asia Pacific region for freight,” he said.
“This announcement also supports our vision for sustainable aviation growth and identifies the enormous export potential that exists for producers from across the Far North.
“One in every five dollars of Australia’s imports and exports travels via airports and Cairns Airport is well positioned to provide a direct gateway for freight from across the Far North.”
AFHS anticipates that construction of the state-of the-art 3400 square metre facility at Cairns International Airport will start in the second quarter of 2020 and will take about 13 months.
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