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The Australian Federal Member for Leichhardt has pledged his support for the establishment of an Office of the Pacific in Cairns.
The plan is aimed at taking advantage of the strategic importance of the Pacific region amid growing tensions between the United States and China.
Warren Entsch has told Tropic Now the move is a natural fit.
"We are the largest global regional city in Australia and we are directly connected to the Pacific," he said.
"Already we are involved in so much work in the Pacific Islands and we have the largest resident population of resident Papua New Guineans in the country so it all fits perfectly.
"It would allow us to further capitalise on our geographic position, to capitalise on our aviation hub and to capitalise on the broad array of ancillary industries we have outside of tourism.
"Aircraft maintenance, shipping maintenance, the Convention Centre, education, health – all of these are world-class facilities and there’s absolutely no reason we couldn’t capitalise on them."
Advocacy group Advance Cairns is seeking $1.5 million from the Federal Government to make the city the Pacific capital of Australia.
Prompted by China's growing influence in the region, Cairns is already involved in several Pacific projects, including an agreement between the US and Australia to reinstate the Lombrum Naval base on Manus Island in PNG.
“It’s timely to undertake this review in light of rapidly changing trade and geo-political environments on our doorstep in the Asia-Pacific,” CEO Nick Trompf said.
Under its recommendations, the Office of the Pacific would drive the implementation of Australia’s Pacific Engagement Strategy which covers industries such as defence, education, construction, health and trade.
It also wants the Federal Government to reassign the contract for the Australian Pacific Training Coalition from TAFE Queensland in Brisbane, to the TAFE Cairns office.
Plus, it's calling on all three levels of Government and the Australian Olympic Committee to help secure Cairns as a host of the Pacific Games.
Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch says while he's failed in efforts to secure the Games in the past, the timing is now right.
"We've got the sporting infrastructure there now to be able to do it," he said.
"Geographically there is none better, we are part of the Pacific."
The entire initiative is among Advance Cairns' so-called '8+8' list of priorities for region, which features eight major infrastructure projects and eight key policy priority areas central to advocacy in the lead up to the 2020 Federal and State budgets and the Queensland election.
$2.5 billion (US$1.7 million) is sought from both levels of Government to fund the full list.
SOURCE: TROPIC NOW/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
Who & What is PINA?
International News Safety Institute (INSI)
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