Over 30 regional communities and businesses have registered interest in hosting a $10 million produce export distribution centre pilot project since registrations opened in May.
Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick welcomed the high number of initial inquiries from potential proponents and said the export centre will seek to supercharge rapid access of agricultural produce to key international markets and grow jobs in surrounding regional areas.
"It’s great to see so many registrations of interest in the project and we’re now moving to the next stage by calling for expressions of interest (EOI) from potential proponents capable of developing and operating a commercial export distribution centre in a regional Queensland location,” Mr Dick said.
“The Palaszczuk Government made an election commitment to provide up to $10 million from the Jobs and Regional Growth Fund to help fund this pilot project," Mr Dick said.
“The export centre will create regional jobs and enhance productivity, capitalising on our global reputation as a leader in the production and processing of quality agricultural produce.
Minister for Agriculture, Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said the earlier registration of interest (ROI) attracted strong interest from across regional Queensland and Australia, with over 30 registrations received.
“Potential locations proposed by respondents stretched across the state and included Bundaberg, Townsville, Toowoomba, Rockhampton, Cairns, Mackay and the Whitsundays,” Mr Furner said.
“Regional agricultural produce proposed to be exported from the centre ranged from beef, fresh fruit and vegetables, seafood through to dairy products and even bush tucker.”
Mr Dick said feedback from potential proponents during the ROI phase was used to refine eligibility criteria for the EOI process.
“It’s vital to ensure all interested parties can pursue the opportunity via this EOI, to maximise benefits for regional Queensland,” he said.
“Accordingly, this opportunity is open to all regional Queensland locations that have a connection with, or planned pathway to connect with, a regionally based airport with international export capacity.
“Our number one priority is to attract proponents capable of developing and operating a commercially viable export centre at a regional Queensland location”.
Mr Dick said the centre will include processing capacity, export biosecurity capabilities, cold storage and handling facilities to support predominantly agricultural exports.
"Potential proponents across the agricultural supply chain, from farmers, cooperatives, agricultural processors and distributors, freight and logistics companies through to airport owners/operators and local government entities are invited to lodge an expression of interest.”
Mr Dick said the Palaszczuk Government remained committed to boosting the export potential for Queensland’s agricultural producers.
“During 2016-2017, agricultural exports contributed close to $10 billion to Queensland’s economy, despite a debilitating record drought and natural disasters,” Mr Dick said.
"By increasing our export capacity, we can help bolster the resilience and profitability of Queensland agricultural producers, while growing regional jobs.
"Our farmers already support more than 300,000 jobs, and we will continue to grow this sector to create even more jobs for regional Queensland."
Proponents have until 5 pm 24 September 2018 to lodge an EOI. Access to the regional export distribution centre invitation for Expressions of Interest is available via www.dsdmip.qld.gov.au/export.
Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning
The Honourable Cameron Dick