‘Force to be reckoned with’: Cairns lands $36m maritime jobs boost
CAIRNS has won a $36m naval training program to help expand its maritime sector capabilities and diversify the economy.
TAFE Queensland in Cairns and the Australian Defence Force signed a contract on Tuesday to deliver a five-year maritime programthat will train students from 12 Pacific Island nations to crew 21 guardian patrol boats.
The initiative forms part of the Federal Government's $2 billion Pacific Maritime Security Program to strengthen maritimecapability in the Pacific.
Twenty four jobs in maritime maintenance will also be delivered to Cairns as part of the initiative.
The contract was awarded to the education institution after it submitted a proposal last year.
Announcing the partnership at TAFE Cairns was Rear Admiral Wendy Malcolm, who flew in from Perth, and said the initiativewas "just the beginning of a number of plans that we have here in Cairns".
"We're going to be coming up later this year … we're going to be opening the first of our future regional maintenance centreshere.
"(It is) all about building the capability in Cairns to support our current maritime assets, our pacific assets and our newassets that are being built."
Ms Malcolm said Cairns was "very important to us as a navy home port".
"It's important for us that the pacific is safe, secure and prosperous. This part of the commitment that our government makesto ensuring that that continues," she said.
"This is not just about jobs. This is about the navy having the right capability and building that sovereign capability in Cairns."
Tim Cambell, general manager of TAFE Northern Region, said their proposal based on a hub and spoke model will involve havingcolleges across the pacific.
"We'll be using staff there to make sure that when the boats leave Cairns, we'll still have touchpoints with them. We'll deliversome training there," he said.
If the August start date goes ahead, Mr Campbell said they expected about 80 people will form part of the training in the first six months followed by 320 a year for the next four years.
"TAFE Queensland is extremely excited to play its part in this delivery," he said.
Leichhardt MP Warren Enstch said the partnership was "the sort of thing we're looking for when we talk about diversifyingour economy".
"We're going to be a force to be reckoned with, not just in our region … but we'll be getting interests from around the world," he said.
Mr Enstch congratulated TAFE and thanked Ms Malcolm for her support.
Advance Cairns' executive chairman Nick Trompf said this was a "really good example of how the federal government can bringto life a multibillion-dollar program (Pacific Maritime Security Program) to Cairns with this contract today".
"It has been one of the things we've been advocating for as part of an overall pacific engagement strategy," Mr Trompf said.
"We can't underestimate how important this is in bringing another dimension to marine maintenance and defence activities in the region, as well as diversification of the economy."
Qld Minister for Training and Skills Di Farmer the contract was "a great vote of confidence in TAFE Queensland and is a greatreward for the extra funding the Palaszczuk Government has invested in training".
Member for Cairns Michael Healy said the contract "shows we can mix it with the best in Australia"
The training and associated jobs were previously delivered in Tasmania.
Originally published as 'Force to be reckoned with': Cairns lands $36m maritime jobs boost