MP on Queensland fact-finding mission in bid to boost Australia’s superyacht industry

Michael Healy MP, ALP Member for Cairns, Australia, and a staunch advocate of the superyacht industry was in the south-east of yesterday, visiting superyacht refit and service yards on a fact-finding mission for the Queensland government.

Mr Healy’s first stop was the Brisbane yards, BSE, The Yard and then Rivergate, where he discussed key issues with General Manager, Andrew Cannon, Director Tom Hill, International Business Manager, Steve Fisher and industry proponents, among them Dr Thomas Wechselberger, of the Qld Government’s Department of State Development, Cameron Bray Northrop & Johnson, Justin Parer Director at BSE, Kate Purdie General Manager at Abell Point Marina, David Good CEO at AIMEX-Superyacht Australia and Barry Jenkins Chairman of Superyacht Australia.

Mr Healy was appointed by Cameron Dick MP, the Queensland Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure & Planning to “understand and report to government on the challenges of the superyacht industry and how the government can assist”.

“I am here for ‘data collection’, essentially,” he said during his site inspection of Rivergate Marina & Shipyard.

“We are aware of the growing potential of the superyacht industry, and my commitment is, regardless of the electorate, to ensure the industry flourishes.

“Many of the issues raised so far are Federal issues. But from my perspective, we aim to ensure all the appropriate channels are open for the industry to grow. We want to know your individual issues, the regional issues, your state issues and then ask ‘what do you need to overcome those obstacles and achieve your objectives?’”

Andrew Cannon, Rivergate General Manager said demand for superyacht services is growing almost faster than the industry can handle. “Without changes to legislation and government assistance, growth is happening. With changes to legislation, we forecast business could treble in five years and we need to be prepared.”

Mr Cannon explained that, despite the Federal Government’s assistance with such initiatives as the Export Marketing Development Grant, yards and allied marine businesses were largely self-funded when it comes to attracting superyachts to our shores.

“Rivergate’s role is as a facilitator, project manager for our tenants and the 250 to 300 contractors we have on site. We promote the collective skills and facilities, which are considered world-class, directly with Captains and their referrals, traveling the international yacht show circuit and going after business, wherever that may be.

“If there are superyachts in Tahiti or Fiji, or we receive an enquiry from Fort Lauderdale, we jump on a plane to meet the Captain and pitch our credentials.”

With his background in tourism and marketing, as a past Director of Tourism & Events Queensland, and an elected member of Tourism Tropical North Queensland and Port Douglas Daintree Tourism, Mr Healy said he was impressed with that kind of “positive, can do approach and passion”.

“People who go out and chase business need the support from government,” he added.

Barry Jenkins, Chairman of Superyacht Australia said “It’s commendable that Mr Healy has come down to inspect the thriving industry in the south east. Superyacht Australia, Superyacht Queensland and the broader industry are looking forward to working collaboratively with him within the framework of the Queensland superyacht strategy to enhance and grow the industry.”

Mr Healy emphasised his commitment to taking the Queensland superyacht industry’s message to government, enumerating the benefits of investing in infrastructure and fostering alliances with bodies such as Tourism Australia.

From Brisbane, Mr Healy headed to the Gold Coast to visit Gold Coast City Marina at Coomera, before inspecting facilities at Southport Yacht Club.