THE AUSTRALIAN government is to contribute $150 million towards the $300-million expansion of the Cairns Marine Precinct.

The investment is to be delivered in a 50/50 partnership with the Queensland government

The expansion will enable the maintenance, repair and overhaul of more and bigger ships.

A new common user facility at the precinct will include a 5000-tonne ship-lift, enabling ships up to 120 metres long to be repaired and maintained on hardstand areas.

The $150 million commitment will be included in this month’s federal budget.

Minister for infrastructure, transport, regional development and local government Catherine King said delivering the Cairns Marine Precinct Common User Facility is an investment aimed at cementing the region’s status as a world leader for maintenance, repair and overhaul for defence and recreational vessels, including superyachts.

“This region is a strategic and economic centre for northern Australia and the Common User Facility is at the heart of that critical role,” she said.

In an interview with ABC Radio Far North, Ms King said the investment is about diversifying the Cairns economy.

“Tourism is incredibly important here. But we’ve got to grow jobs in other sectors as well, if we’re going to sustain the Cairns economy,” she said.

“And for me, this project absolutely allows new marine jobs, it allows the opportunity for people to be trained here in marine engineering, it provides really good skilled quality jobs in this region.”