POTL Chair Renita Garard, Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill, POTL CEO Ranee CrosbyThe Port of Townsville Limited (POTL) said in a statement it is welcoming today’s announcement by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk that the Government’s State Budget will allocate up to $75 million AUD in funding for the Townsville Channel Capacity Upgrade Project.

The $193 million Channel Capacity Upgrade, which is Stage 1 of the $1.64 billion Townsville Port Expansion Project, will widen the shipping channels to accommodate larger ships.

POTL Chief Executive Officer Ranee Crosby said that the project would future-proof the port by ensuring it remains competitive and viable for major shipping lines, as well as providing certainty for industry investment into the region.

“Being able to accommodate larger ships will have significant and far reaching benefits for Northern Australia; larger ships are more efficient, which means lower operating costs per unit, particularly for container and car ships," said Crosby.

"Townsville will also be able to attract larger cruise ships, providing a much needed boost to the local tourism industry.”

POTL Chair Renita Garard said that today’s announcement was a huge milestone for the project and future trade opportunities for the Port of Townsville.

The Channel Widening Project will return $580 million in benefits to Queensland, providing the safest, most cost effective and environmentally sustainable solution for meeting the freight requirements of North Queensland.

Dredging work for channel widening could commence in 2018, subject to environmental approvals and final funding, meaning the region would begin to see larger ships visiting Townsville within two years. The Channel Widening Project will take up to six years in total with completion in 2023.