THE QUEENSLAND government has committed $39 million to upgrade shipyard facilities and infrastructure at the Cairns Marine Precinct.

From that investment, $27 million has been allocated to a road upgrade and bridge to give the local Norship and Austal shipyards access to the marine precinct.

It covers a 1.2 kilometre road upgrade with increased load capacity and a 30 metre bridge allowing the two shipyards, and potentially others, to lift vessels out of their facilities and access the common user facility using existing travel lifts.

The government said vessels of up to 57 metres would be able access the common user facility via the designated route.

The remaining $12 million has been earmarked for local the shipyards to upgrade their existing facilities.

The funding will be administered through the Industry Partnership Program.

The government intends for the upgrades to help industry meet growing demand in ship maintenance work while the $300-million common user facility is built over the coming years.

A spokesperson for Norship, Tropical Reef Shipyards and Austal Queensland welcomed the announcement.

“This latest investment by the Queensland government in the Cairns Marine Precinct, including the upgrade of waterfront facilities operated by local shipyards, will enable even greater engagement and collaboration in the local ship repair and maintenance industry, and achieve greater efficiencies in the delivery of support services to our commercial maritime and defence customers.

“The new infrastructure, including two wharves and a common user facility, will further enhance our proven capabilities and offer additional career opportunities, while firmly establishing Cairns as one of the leading maritime ports in the South Pacific.”

Member for Cairns Michael Healy described the Cairns Marine Precinct as northern Australia’s home of maritime maintenance.

“We are committed to ensuring the common user facility is viable and supports the local maritime industry to grow,” Mr Healy said.

“That’s why we’re allocating an additional $12 million to work with local shipyards on projects that will help to strengthen their businesses while the common user facility is being constructed.

“The economic benefits from bolstering the local maritime industry will flow to the community, delivering more secure, highly skilled jobs for locals.

“We’re on board for Cairns to continue its journey as a global leader in the repair, maintenance and overhaul of naval, border force, commercial and superyacht vessels.”

Deputy premier Steven Miles said the expansion and common user facility would help Cairns capture bigger maritime and defence contracts.

“The Palaszczuk government’s investment in enabling infrastructure and upgrades is critical to ensure local shipyards can capitalise on emerging maintenance work from the Royal Australian Navy, Border Force and the private sector, strengthening the Cairns marine sector and the 4600 jobs it supports.”

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said Cairns is the main destination for maintenance, defence and maritime repair in Far North Queensland.

“That’s why this $39 million boost is so important, kick starting a chain of game changing improvements for the Marine Precinct and sending a signal to people right around the country that there are good, secure jobs in Regional Queensland,” she said.

The common user facility, once complete, will feature ship lift facilities designed to lift vessels of up to 120 metres and 5000 tonnes.

It will also include three hardstand areas and two paint and blast sheds,

The facility is expected to be finished in 2027-28, subject to matched funding from the Australian government.