The Cairns Mayor says the Coalition should look at expanding the far north Queensland city's naval base if it is interested in boosting the region's population.

A leaked Coalition discussion paper raised the prospect of using tax incentives to entice people to move north.

Mayor Bob Manning says developing HMAS Cairns would boost the population and diversify the economy.

"Further development of defence assets here not only fulfils a strategic purpose but it also fulfils a regional development and regional assurance purpose," he said.

"We already have a far more significant asset base in terms of infrastructure than most cities would dream of, you know on a pro-rata basis.

"We are one of the few areas that is capable of taking on some population pressure.

"We will certainly push hard for the creation of a more significant naval base at Cairns.

"Cairns has a current naval establishment of about 1,000 sailors, we'd see that increasing to 2,000 or 3,000 sailors.

"We think that Cairns as a port offers of a wonderful opportunity for the basing of more significant fleet units."


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