THE Queensland government has approved a business case for the Cairns Shipping Development Project. The government said the port project would be a “$127m jobs bonanza”.

Ports North Chairman Russell Beer said he was proud of Ports North’s achievement in providing a workable, sensible compromise to the Cairns Shipping Development Project which has been six years in development.

“The positive impact it will have on the Cairns economy cannot be understated – from creating jobs through to boosting local business across multiple sectors, thousands of locals will reap the benefits of a transformed Cairns Port,” he said.

Tenders for the dredge contract are expected to close this week, on 19 December. The dredging is expected to occur over a 12-week period. The project, which also includes a wharf upgrade is expected to be complete in 2020.

Member for Cairns Michael Healy said the upgrade to the Port of Cairns would open major economic opportunities across the region.

“This project passed one of the most rigorous environmental reviews in Australia, and now we have looked at the numbers and they also stack up,” he said.

“By increasing the size and number of cruise ships and other vessels able to berth in Cairns, the project will provide an estimated $850m boost for Far North Queensland.

“Passenger spending on shore, port charges and associated supplies and servicing activity will all generate opportunities for the regional economy.”

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Queensland transport and main roads minister Mark Bailey said the project would accommodate an increase of about 103 cruise ships through the Port of Cairns annually by 2031.

“Based on the numbers in the business case, this project could support up to 800 new jobs during construction and up to 2700 direct and indirect jobs by 2031,” Mr Bailey said.

Mr Bailey said the upgraded channel would also enable future expansion of the HMAS Cairns Navy base, improve access and efficiency for bulk cargo and larger visiting Navy vessels and provide increased resilience for the Port against extreme weather events.

The Cairns Shipping Development Project involves dredging up to 1m cubic metres of sediment from the port’s existing navigation channel and placing the material on two land sites, as well as upgrades to the main wharves to continue servicing the larger cruise ships.

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