NOT since the early days of the white-shoe brigade in Queensland — when developers waltzed in and out of the top offices of the Bjelke-Petersen government — has the talk been so big, the stakes so high.
At least The Australian is capable of a balanced approach unlike the advertorial spin from their News Ltd comrades at the Cairns Post. Although am unsure on the description of a current Yorkeys Knob high-rise?
Easily the most expensive non-resources project in Australia, the 340ha complex is proposed to be built on cane fields in the sleepy seaside suburb where a timber shack with a garage underneath is considered to be high-rise. It seems Tony Fung — a Hong Kong businessman who last year burst out of nowhere with his plans for the mega-casino resort — has got almost everyone on side. Politicians are talking it up, businesses are making plans to expand and families are designing extensions to their homes to rent to the 9000 construction workers and 10,000 permanent staff if the casino gets the go-ahead. It has sparked a frenzy of support in Cairns, where a multitude of ills — severe acute respiratory syndrome, the global financial crisis, cyclones and lack of new investment — has depressed the local economy to the extent that it has the highest youth jobless rate (21.6 per cent) in Australia.
The high-rise description appears incongruous with such as the beachside unit of Warren Entsch, member for Leichhardt, however. The report then includes critical commentary from Professor Jon Nott on the location; Pam Bigelow from the Yorkeys Residents Association is also opposed; and Justin Fung was interviewed from Hong Kong.
I can't recall it being previously reported that the Fung family was actively funding some community groups which support the development? Mind you there is also other news reported from inside the circus tent and disappointment expressed with the Newman Government.
With the resort set back from the beachfront, and sealed off from the neighbouring waterways, Tony Fung had hoped to avoid a drawn-out approval process.
Labelled “the bad boy of the stockmarket’’ by the HK Economic Times, he has had a simple message for the Newman government since announcing his plans last year: approve the resort quickly, or he will go somewhere else.
One senior official, involved in the assessment of the project, said that pressure to approve the resort quickly was intense, especially as the state government approaches an election, due early next year.
“It is a frenzy up here — people are desperate to get this thing happening, ‘’ he said.
“And it is not just Fung either; the locals are pushing hard, and anyone who raises questions or concerns is shouted down or lined-up.’’
Mr Fung has repeatedly warned that he will go to Japan, The Philippines or South Korea — where casino licences are soon to go onto the open market — if he is made to wait too long.
"The window of opportunity that is available to us is limited … there are a lot of people going after a piece of the action and the competition for me is not Mr (James) Packer or Echo (Entertainment) but from other countries,’’ he said last year.
Should he choose Japan then Mr Fung will indeed run into competition from Packer who is reported today to have plans for a $5 billion proposal. Japan is similarly opening up to casino developments via a competitive process and Sheldon Adelson from Las Vegas Sands has also previously said he will spend whatever it takes there. Unlike the still absent Tony Fung the latest Forbes billionaire reports list Sheldon at US$ 40.8 billion.
The decision last year to call for a competitive process is understood to have enraged Mr Fung, not least of all that it delayed the project’s earliest date that it can begin building by at least a year, to next May.
He sacked his local lobbyists — including former conservative premier Rob Borbidge — before rehiring him in the new year.
But he is unlikely to make good with his threat and pull up the surveyor’s pegs on the project anytime soon.
The Aquis Casino FB page has reposted The Australian report in full with a typical commentary response from the bogantariat:
Tanya Knepper please don't give up by going to Japan, The Philippines or South Korea, there is so much more here that will attract visitors to this picturesque place, where the rainforest meets the reef, at least make them say no to your license first, and if they do, those responsible wont get my vote in upcoming elections.
Tanya actually seems to live in San Francisco and her FB preferences display a keen interest in the paranormal!
Meanwhile good mate Nick Dalton at the Cairns Post has assured everyone that everything will always be OK environmentally and stuff because the consultant says the proponents have enough cash to solve any problem! How would the planning and environmental consultant know that? I think there should be a hefty security lodgement on this one actually similar to what is required of any mining development?
Nick has based his most recent report on recently lodged documents at the Fed Environmental department.
Aquis Resort at The Great Barrier Reef Pty Ltd/Commercial development/Yorkeys Knob Rd, approximately 13kms north of Cairns/QLD/Aquis Resort and Casino at The Great Barrier Reef