The Australian state of Queensland has told a Chinese-led consortium to rethink its plans to construct a cruise ship terminal as part of a resort casino project. Earlier this year, the ASF Consortium received initial approval of its proposal to build its $7.5b Broadwater Marine resort casino and cruise ship terminal on state-owned land on the Gold Coast. But following public concern over the environmental impact of such a development, Premier Campbell Newman’s government has had a change of heart.
On Tuesday, Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney said a “very clear message” had been sent that the community “does not support the development of Doug Jennings Park” and wants the Southport Spit area “retained as a recreational area.” However, Seeney said ASF – an Aussie-listed firm that includes China Communications Construction Company subsidiary Guangzhou Dredging and the state-owned China State Construction Engineering Corp. – had updated its proposal to relocate the cruise terminal to nearby Wave Break Island, suggesting this fight is far from over.
Regardless of the nautical portion of ASF’s proposal, Seeney said ASF remained in good shape to win its casino license, just as developer Tony Fung‘s equally ambitious $8b Aquis resort-casino proposal appears a shoo-in to get the nod in Queensland’s Cairns region. But Seeney noted that ASF “has not engaged with the people of the Gold Coast to the extent that I would have liked to have seen.” ASF project director Allan Fife told The Australian that the consortium would “work closely with the state government and city of Gold Coast to deliver a solution that addresses community concerns.”
Cynics are noting the timing of the Newman government’s announcement, coming just one day after a Galaxy Poll found 78% of state residents considered Newman to be arrogant, while 62% thought he didn’t listen closely enough to community concerns. A state election is tentatively scheduled for June 2015.
ASF’s interest in the cruise ship portion of its bid is understandable, given a recent survey showed 79% of cruise ship passengers chose to gamble with onboard casinos when the option was available. The study of nearly 2,800 UK adults showed the average seafaring gambler blew £146 per voyage at the ship’s slots and gaming tables. And that’s before they dock at the real gaming joint…