- Spotlight on Far North Queensland
- Rebirth of the FNQ region post-COVID
- Celebrations at the FNQ Gala Cocktail Evening
Welcome to this Special Edition Newsletter - Spotlight on Far North Queensland (FNQ), the region lived in by close to 450 CA ANZ members. FNQ is the most northern of the nine CA ANZ Queensland member groups, stretching from the Torres Strait and Islands to the north, across to the Northern Territory border to the west and south to North Queensland, on or around the town of Cardwell. This equates to about ten times the geographic area of the UK, with a population of approximately 300,000. The main population centre is Cairns (pop 150,000), which acts as a main focal point for all government services across the region. Other regional centres include Innisfail, Atherton, Mareeba, Mossman, Cooktown, and Thursday Island. Outside of these main locations, the population is sparse, with agriculture, playing a major role in the use of the land.
When people first think of Far North Queensland, it’s usually about the Great Barrier Reef, a past holiday, or a future trip they are planning to this extraordinary region. Pre-COVID (to 30 June 2019), Cairns hosted 5.1-million domestic visitor nights, 5-million international visitor nights and 1.4-million domestic day trippers. COVID changed all that with passenger movements in April 2020 falling 95% from the previous year and international arrivals falling to effectively zero. This led to many of the local hotels having to close and the city went eerily quiet for several months.
The rebirth has been amazing to see and so welcome! The airport returned to 70% activity by 30 June 2021 and Far North Queensland has been attracting more domestic visitors than ever before. International flights are now returning from key Asian ports and especially welcome is Singapore Airlines, which offers fantastic connections across Asia and Europe. Although it will take several years for international flights to return to pre-COVID levels, this provides domestic tourists with the opportunity to experience this great location and takes away the risks and uncertainties of crossing the international border. The local tourism message is “See Great. Leave Greater” and we hope we can consistently make that happen.
There is so much more to FNQ than tourism, with all government services fully provided, with the largest employers in the region coming from the health and education sectors. Two prominent Queensland Universities have extensive campuses here (James Cook University and Central Queensland University), with plans to further expand into the Cairns CBD.
Agriculture covers many areas through fruit, vegetables, coffee, tea and dairy cattle on the Atherton Tablelands, to beef cattle further west, aquaculture farms growing Barramundi on the coast and crocodile farms providing meat and skins to various industries, including high-end fashion. Mining is spread far and wide across FNQ, either directly on actual mine sites or the region is home to many families where one of more people will be FIFO workers, that is, taking advantage of Cairns International Airport, to commute to and from the mine site. Prominent in FNQ is Rio-Tinto’s bauxite operation at Weipa, with the product being shipped to the Yarwun refinery at Gladstone for processing.
Finally, to our local members, who live and breathe this region every day and call it home. We recently hosted the annual CA Recognition and Gala Cocktail evening, where milestone members are celebrated, new members welcomed and merit winners from recent exams applauded. Two FNQ members achieved the 40-year (David Goodman) and 25-year (Adam Volcov) milestone awards respectively and their certificates were presented in person by the current CA ANZ President, Kate Boorer FCA and Mark Bushell FCA, QLD Council Chair. Well done to them and all of the milestone recipients, some of whom were unable to attend the event. With respect to the Merit Recipients, we applauded Shannon Newton, who was named Candidate of the Module (first place in case it needed to be said) in Management and Applied Finance Term 3. Shannon played it down by saying there were only 1300 people doing the exam worldwide.
It just shows that living and working in regional Queensland is no barrier to your success and the career you can develop and enjoy. If you put in the effort, you can reap great rewards and satisfaction from being part of this membership we know as Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand! Thank you to all the local members for your ongoing work across our region and especially to my fellow FNQ Committee members.
Andrew Cornes FCA
Regional Group Chair
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