IT’S taken plenty of time and had a few stop starts, but it appears the massive $8 billion Aquis Great Barrier Reef casino resort has received a huge boost.
The Australian has reported that tycoon Tony Fung has secured the financial and developmental backing of two Chinese giants.
Chinese Developer Tandellen and CCCC International Holding, a Chinese state-owned body, have reportedly entered into an agreement with Fung to help bring the dream at Yorkeys Knob to life.
The paper reports a formal announcement about the unison is set to come in the next month.
The news doesn’t come without controversy, with the State-owned backer coming under heavy fire for its links to the Chinese ruling party, as well as allegations of corruption.
The group was de-barred in 2011 from participating in World Bank-financed projects after an investigation into a road project in the Philippines that was worked on between 2000 and 2007.
It found that subsidiaries China Road and Bridge Corporation were involved.
It entered the Australian market through John Holland, making a $1 billion purchase of the giant’s Leighton Holdings subsidiary, in a bid to diversify its plans for residential and hotel investments and grow construction and engineering interests.
Fung has been busy with the two corporations, purchasing a $40 million site on the Gold Coast and he owns plenty of prime real estate in the city.
The massive plans for Aquis have been slowly coming to fruition, with the final development scaled back to meet State Government demands. It already has environmental approval from the Federal Government and now needs the State Government to tick it off.
The resort’s website touts it as a 340-hectare site comprising of 11 freehold titles.
“The resort is expected to attract up to one million guests a year – 74 per cent from overseas – with an average stay of four nights, while the entertainment facilities will attract an additional 500,000 visitors annually.”
The two stage project features a resort and recreation precinct, the former sitting on a 40 hectare artificial island surrounded by a 33 hectare lake with 7500 hotel rooms, a massive convention and exhibition centre, casino, two theatres and aquarium.
The sports and recreation precinct will feature and 18 hole golf course, tennis centre and equestrian riding trails.
The project will involve huge upgrades to surrounding infrastructure, something locals have been awaiting with bated breath.
Protest group Aquis Aware Coalition of Concerned Citizens told the Cairns Post it wants Fung to “put up or shut up”.
Spokesman Denis Walls told the paper: “The Cairns community are getting rightly annoyed by this endless ‘will he, won’t he’ scenario that has been playing out in Cairns since the middle of 2014 and has been stifling genuine, substantive progress for our city.”
“The cargo cult of Aquis is not the way forward for our city and our region and the sooner a few Cairns business leaders and the Cairns Post realise this fact, the better for our town.
“It is truly time for Mr Fung to put up or shut up.”
“It appears that both Deb Hancock of the Chamber of Commerce and Trent Twomey from Advance Cairns want the State Government to ignore the required procedure for properly assessing and approving the $8.15b Aquis development.
“How can pushing the Aquis proposal through without the casino licence probity checks required by the State regulators be good for Cairns, the region and the nation?”
It remains to be seen how and when the development is completed, but it is slated to begin in 2017.