Melbourne-based MP Josh Frydenberg, who is also Minister for Resources and Energy, has toured Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville and now Cairns this week after being appointed to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s new-look Cabinet on September 20.
He will meet with the boards of Advance Cairns and Cairns Chamber of Commerce today before going on a whirlwind tour of the city.
Advance Cairns chairman Trent Twomey said the fact the Prime Minister had included a Northern Australia Minister in his new Cabinet make-up was a positive move.
He said the city’s business leaders would be looking for action on the raft of development plans outlined in the landmark Northern Australia White Paper, which was released almost six months ago.
“A lot of effort has gone into establishing that bipartisan White Paper,” Mr Twomey said. “We don’t need to have a conversation about who we are and what we need.
“What we need now is action.”
Mr Twomey said there had been a lack of detail coming from Canberra since former Prime Minister Tony Abbott launched the White Paper in Cairns in June.
Central to the document was a $5 billion concessional loans scheme to be shared across Northern Australia.
But Mr Twomey and Cairns Regional Council Mayor Bob Manning said there had been no further details about who would be eligible to access that money.
“Nobody has come out and said, ‘this is the process’,” Cr Manning said. “At the moment, no one knows what to do. There is no process yet.
“I think they’ve been caught a little bit flat-footed.”
Mr Twomey said Mr Frydenberg would also be well-acquainted with Cairns’ bid for the $2 billion Pacific patrol boat tender by the end of today’s visit.
“Not only is this Queensland’s only bid but it’s Northern Australia’s only bid,” he said.
Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch went as far as saying he hoped the minister would be an “advocate” for the Cairns bid.
“I will show him that we have the capacity to build the next generation of patrol boats,” Mr Entsch said.
“I want him to become an advocate for us because as Minister for Northern Australia this fits in perfectly.”