A Queensland council has made history after signing a landmark partnership with AUKUS Forum.

The partnership between Banana Shire Council and AUKUS Forum marks the first ever membership agreement between a local government body and the Forum.

The collaboration is set to spotlight Queensland’s regional manufacturing and industrial capabilities on the global stage, reaching AUKUS partners across the country, in the United States and United Kingdom, to drive innovation, investment, and economic growth in the region.

The contract signing in late January signifies a groundbreaking commitment, with Banana Shire Council’s Mayor, Cr Nev Ferrier, emphasising the substantial benefits the partnership holds, including job creation, investment attraction, economic growth and diversification.

“We are at the beginning of a new chapter of innovation and economic growth for our community and the Banana Shire is well placed to make the most out of this new partnership.”

Mayor Ferrier said that local small, medium and large industries within the Shire will benefit from the partnership with the aim of attracting investment and creating more skilled jobs within the region.

“This shows our dedication to being the Shire of Opportunity, and AUKUS Forum is the ideal partner to help us reach our full potential,” Mayor Ferrier said. 

AUKUS Forum founder, Michael Sharpe, commended the Council’s initiative, saying it aligned seamlessly with the Forum’s mission to leverage the AUKUS agreement and the opportunities it brings.

“Banana Shire’s vision mirrors our mission: harnessing AUKUS to benefit all Australians, especially in rural and regional areas,” Mr Sharpe said.

“This partnership will facilitate regional companies, particularly Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), in tapping into adjacent markets and empower local businesses by connecting them with international players hungry for Australian collaboration.”

Mr Sharpe said that through the partnership, local SMEs across manufacturing, engineering, mining, defence and more will gain direct access to AUKUS partners and members across Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom.

“We’ve seen firsthand how this collaboration and knowledge sharing can open doors to lucrative contracts, technology knowledge transfer, and open burgeoning new markets.”

Banana Shire Council’s decision to partner with AUKUS Forum stems from a strategic agenda to attract contracts, diversify into the defence space, and position the region as a first mover in this exclusive collaboration. The Council’s foresight in choosing AUKUS Forum as the ideal partner underscores its commitment to fostering economic growth and innovation.

As part of this collaboration, an upcoming event in the region alongside Banana Shire Council is scheduled in July 2024, which aims to foster connection and collaboration across industries and provide a platform for local businesses to explore new opportunities.

Former Australian Defence Minister, Joel Fitzgibbon, and Former Australian Ambassador, Arthur Sinodinos, Co-Chairs of AUKUS Forum, expressed their support for the partnership, saying Banana Shire Council was taking a forward-thinking approach.

“Rural and regional communities often hold untapped talent eager to contribute. This agreement will put Banana Shire businesses in direct contact with major national and international companies seeking Australian industry partners, ensuring the benefits of AUKUS flow to all regions, not just capital cities,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

Mr Sinodinos congratulated Banana Shire Council for paving the way to fuel regional innovation and growth.

“This collaboration represents a significant step in bringing cutting-edge defence and technology projects to regional Queensland,” Mr Sinodinos said.

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