THE QUEENSLAND government is launching a $21 million grants program to stimulate investment in the state’s maritime industry.

The Backing Queensland Maritime Jobs program aims to see government, workers and industry work together to target new coastal shipping services, maritime employment and training opportunities.

Transport and Main Roads minister Mark Bailey said the goal is to create more maritime jobs and improve the state’s coastal shipping industry and maritime skills base.

“As an island nation we are more reliant on shipping and the people it employs than most of us realise,” Mr Bailey said.

“What I want to see is more local workers and local crews doing the heavy lifting at Queensland ports, and a real a revitalisation of the Queensland coastal shipping industry.”

“The pandemic has shown that our long-term success will depend on our ability to build local capacity in our state’s economy.”

Mr Bailey said the $21 million in funding is intended to help industry create start-up projects or build on existing businesses to regenerate Queensland’s “maritime expertise”.

“That is an economically and strategically important objective,” he said.

Maritime Union of Australia Queensland secretary Jason Miners said the program will strengthen the state’s future maritime industrty.

Mr Miners has been advocating and providing ideas for the grants program, according to Mr Bailey.

“This is fantastic news for the coastal shipping industry in Queensland and provides us with a great chance to strengthen our local workforce,” Mr Miners said.

“We’ve been working hard on behalf of our members to boost training and skills for our local workforce and deliver Australian crews for Queensland coastal shipping.

“This is something we’ve advocated strongly for, and I’d like to acknowledge the Palaszczuk government for delivering this program.”

Mr Bailey said funding was offered in three streams, with businesses invited to apply for grants under a coastal shipping program, a maritime employment program or a maritime training program.

“Supporting maritime jobs to strengthen our local supply chain capacity means Queensland is more resilient and less likely to be affected if international supply chains experience a major disruption, like we saw through the pandemic,” he said.

“The coastal shipping program provides one-off funding to establish or strengthen operations along the Queensland coast and deliver the government’s commitment to create viable and sustainable maritime jobs.

Mr Bailey said the maritime employment program and maritime training grants are offered in multiple intakes over two years.

“They include port cadetships and are about providing both experienced and new mariners with jobs and training opportunities, he said.

“We’ve kept Queensland’s ports in public hands to grow domestic and international trade to support the state’s economy.

“Now we’re focusing on increasing domestic shipping along 7000 kilometres of Queensland coastline to create new regional jobs that can support our economic recovery.”

Mr Bailey pointed maritime businesses to the Maritime Safety Queensland website to apply for grants.