Cairns Regional Council has announced it will work with a Papua New Guinean consortium to help progress a proposal for the inclusion of a PNG-based team in the National Rugby League (NRL) competition.
Yesterday, Council resolved to work collaboratively with NRL Bid 25 Ltd, which was established to progress an application for an NRL licence for a PNG based team.
Mayor, Terry James said the collaboration will involve working with other relevant stakeholders, including the Australian and PNG Governments, to assist with feasibility and analysis needed to progress the bid.
“We could also look to strengthen this relationship through the establishment of a Memorandum of Understanding between Council and NRL Bid 25,” he said.
The Prime Ministers of both PNG and Australia have previously expressed their support for the concept.
Mayor James said the collaboration reinforced the city’s well-established relationship with Australian’s closest international neighbour.
“As the closest Australian city to PNG, our region plays a significant role through strong business, community and government relationships with PNG.”
“Direct air connectivity, a large exp-pat PNG population and strong cultural and business ties mean we are well placed to play a supporting role in the establishment and operation of a PNG NRL team.
“This could include hosting certain elements of the proposed team’s operations in Cairns over the short to medium term, which would provide significant benefits to the communities of both PNG and Cairns.
“This is an exciting opportunity and today’s resolution means we’ll now be working collaboratively with the team at NRL Bid 25, their consultants and others to investigate what Cairns’ potential involvement and support might look like, and how that can deliver benefits for the community of Cairns as well as PNG.”
NRL Bid 25 chief executive officer, Andrew Hill, recently visited Cairns and provided Councillors, Council officers and local business and industry stakeholders with an overview of the PNG NRL proposal.
“The concept of working with both the Australian and PNG Governments on using rugby league as a vehicle to highlight the shared benefits and history between our two countries is an incredibly exciting and unique opportunity,” Mr Hill said.
“We have been working quietly in the background over the past 12 months to ensure we are in a position to present a professional, sustainable, viable and most importantly successful application to become the NRL 18th team in coming seasons.
“I welcome the announcement and invitation from the Cairns Regional Council to progress our discussions around making Cairns a base for our players and coaching staff.
“Cairns and the Far North Queensland region has long held a special bond with PNG and the opportunity to work with the Cairns council and community is incredibly exciting.”
The collaboration between Council and NRL Bid 25 is expected to include working together to explore, develop and advance PNG NRL Bid opportunities relevant to Cairns, collaborative engagement with other levels of government in both PNG and Australia; facilitating introductions and meetings with key stakeholders; and assistance with the preparation and feasibility of an NRL licence application.
“The collaboration also aligns with several Council strategies and initiatives including the Economic Development Strategy 2022-2026, which recognises international relations and trade as a key economic initiative.”
“It also complements the State Government-led Olympic Legacy facility upgrades planned for Barlow Park, as well as Council’s endorsed Major Events Precinct – Vision and Development Opportunities Report, which identified the development of a sporting asset and high-performance hub as a key opportunity,” said Mayor James.
Council says it will also apply for funding from the Australian Government’s $400 million regional Precincts and Partnerships Program to support development of a masterplan for the proposed Major Events Precinct.
The proposed masterplan will guide the strategic vision and long-term planning for the Major Events Precinct, which includes Barlow Park, the Cairns Showgrounds and surrounds.