Media Release – Sea Swift and Enterprise North set out Cairns Port vision




11 July 2018

Sea Swift and Enterprise North set out Cairns Port vision

Sea Swift and Enterprise North today jointly launched a suggested strategic blueprint for an extensive phased redevelopment of the Cairns Port to position the Port of Cairns as Australia’s northern logistics hub.

Sea Swift Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Mr Fred White said the blueprint is an innovative but common-sense concept designed to double port capacity but importantly to provide for a multiple of uses to position Cairns as a major regional logistics hub.

“The hub incorporates a railhead, major road access realignment, laydown areas, and to remove the current constraints limiting existing port operations,” Mr White said.

“Importantly, this concept provides certainty and optimism for current and prospective operators and users and will encourage private sector investment.

“There are too many constraints in the current port land use configurations, which impact on efficiencies and increased costs.

“Additionally, the inability of operators to plan and invest with certainty is impacting on their growth planning, and increasingly our operators are under commercial pressure from the expansion of operations and investment in Darwin.

“We need to reinvest in Cairns and start treating this issue seriously as one of strategic importance to keep our operators here and to attract new ones.”

Enterprise North Executive Manager Kevin Byrne said it was now time with the imminent commencement of the port dredging program to put these concepts on the table and bring Ports North, Cairns Regional Council, and the State Government to the table.

“We need to include the concept into the integrating planning framework for the City of Cairns, as the Cairns port will play a decisive role in the economic fortunes of the region in the decades ahead, as well as positioning the city as a key driver of the Northern Australia growth agenda,” said Mr Byrne.

“These are important issues requiring some agile thinking and innovative funding solutions between all levels of government.

“Marine-based activities will play a decisive role in our future economic fortunes, providing for employment and domestic and international trading opportunities.

“We have oodles of land, deep water off Admiralty Island, and we are at the end of northern rail line and the Pacific Highway.

“These are important strategic advantages and we need to capitalise on them.”

Both Mr White and Mr Byrne said that the concept has previously been informally presented and discussed with the Mayor of Cairns, Ports North representatives, Federal and State representatives, and some marine operators prior to the release with varying degrees of enthusiasm.

Mr Byrne said the next steps would be to work through the detail and have some general agreement as to progressing the various components of the plan.

“This is a classic economic infrastructure project with enormous upside in driving trade and economic growth, and we have the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) here available to support these sorts of projects provided that there is the agreement between Federal and State governments,” Mr Byrne said.

“This should be a win, win situation for everyone involved and very exciting.

“We create an additional industrial land bank, we relocate the fuel tanks farm to a new and more appropriate location on Admiralty Island, and free up and value add land within the city in close proximity to the CBD.

“We can look at the growth of HMAS Cairns through a new set of eyes and provide some real impetus behind the mooted Cairns Marine Maintenance Precinct.

“What a wonderful opportunity now to do this,” he added.

About Sea Swift
Marine transport provider Sea Swift is one of the largest employers in Northern Australia with more than 400 staff and 30 vessels and makes a significant contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across the region.

For more information on Sea Swift, visit

About Enterprise North

Working in collaboration with other like groups, Enterprise North is an economic infrastructure and policy advocacy group driving a fresh agenda to grow the city and region within the Northern Australia growth framework. Our agenda is double the city and region population numbers in the next 30 years.


Media contact: Kevin Byrne 0447 280 923

Download “Cairns Port – future strategy” PDF by clicking here or flip through below

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