A multi-million dollar plan to support hundreds of jobs and secure the economic future of Cairns has been launched today by Premier Anna Bligh.

“The Cairns Economic Future Plan will inject $116 million in new and accelerated funding into the region, supporting 760 additional jobs and 500 new training places,” Ms Bligh said.

“It will essentially provide a lifeline for the Cairns economy, creating jobs, boosting skills, improving infrastructure, and supporting local business.

“The plan builds on our government’s 2009-2010 commitment of $1.3 billion in capital works for the region supporting 9,000 jobs like the $11.2 million redevelopment of the Trinity Wharf cruise liner terminal.

“The Cairns Port precinct is an established gateway to the Cairns tourism industry, but its potential as a maintenance and training hub for the Pacific Rim is also becoming increasingly clear.

“The Cairns Economic Future Plan will foster this transformation, with construction to begin early next year on an $8 million Marine Training College at the precinct.

“The plan also commits new funding of $42.2 million to upgrade several sewage treatment and water purification works, including the Innisfail wastewater treatment plant – an essential step towards protecting the great barrier reef for future generations.

“$57 million will be spent on environmental health infrastructure projects in Aurukun, Mornington Island, Doomadgee and Hope Vale and $10 million for works associated with the Remote Indigenous Housing National Partnership Agreement.

“All these building projects mean work for local builders and contractors.”

Ms Bligh said several Indigenous initiatives are set to receive funding, including a $1.75 million grant to build the Wujal Wujal Art Centre and a further $1.2 million for the Indigenous Art Fair in 2010 and 2011.

“The plan includes a clear strategy to attract annual events to the region, which in turn will mean more jobs and more tourism revenue, however tourism alone is not enough to secure the region’s economic future.

“It is more critical than ever to diversify by developing new and traditional industries, so this plan will continue to build Cairns and the surrounding region as an aviation hub, a centre for marine training and a leader in the field of tropical expertise.

“The regional export market will also benefit, with the appointment of a special trade representative for Papua New Guinea (PNG) who will generate future business and increase exports to the nation – a market worth $575.7 million last financial year.”