CASINO PLANS A STEP CLOSER

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Sharon Small­wood

A DEL­E­GA­TION from the China Aus­tralia En­trepreneurs As­so­ci­a­tion In­cor­po­rated (CAEAI) was in the Whit­sun­days last Thurs­day to an­nounce the lodge­ment of a $5bil­lion bid for one of the two re­gional casino li­censes cur­rently up for grabs.

CAEAI pres­i­dent Ray­mond Wang con­firmed the registry of in­ter­est was lodged with the Depart­ment of State De­vel­op­ment, In­fra­struc­ture and Plan­ning last Tues­day.

Mr Wang said, in part­ner­ship with Es­teem Cap­i­tal and the Ze­long Group, who hold six casino li­censes in Ma­cau, the CAEAI was propos­ing to build a Chi­na­town-style re­tail and commercial precinct and an in­ter­na­tional stan­dard gam­ing ho­tel in Air­lie Beach.

The CAEAI are also propos­ing to build a Mt Pu­tuo Bud­dhist tem­ple in Shute Har­bour and up­grade the Whit­sun­day Coast Air­port for in­ter­na­tional flights.

The city of Xi­a­men, be­tween Hong Kong and Shang­hai, was men­tioned as a pos­si­ble first link in the adop­tion of China to Whit­sun­day flights.

If the CAEAI is suc­cess­ful in its bid, the next stage will be to com­plete an ex­pres­sion of in­ter­est (EOI) in­clud­ing full due dili­gence, by March 31.

Whit­sun­days Mar­ket­ing and De­vel­op­ment Ltd (WMDL) chair­man Jim El­der, who has been work­ing with the CAEAI, said the or­gan­i­sa­tion was al­ready well on its way to hav­ing all the rel­e­vant doc­u­men­ta­tion pre­pared.

The registry of in­ter­est closed on Fri­day, Fe­bru­ary 28 and Deputy Pre­mier Jeff Seeney con­firmed 19 reg­is­tra­tions of in­ter­est were re­ceived.

Mr Seeney said 12 of these were look­ing at Bris­bane, with seven ex­press­ing in­ter­est in de­vel­op­ing an in­te­grated re­sort in re­gional Queens­land.

“The govern­ment has al­ways said that this would be an in­tensly com­pet­i­tive process and that the In­te­grated Re­sort De­vel­op­ments must deliver eco­nomic and com­mu­nity ben­e­fits,” he said.

“These re­sorts will not be stand-alone casi­nos like what has been built in the past in Queens­land.

“They will be a new gen­er­a­tion tourism prod­uct that will fea­ture six-star ho­tels, re­tail, restau­rant and en­ter­tain­ment zones and open space precincts of the cal­i­bre to at­tract tourists to Queens­land for gen­er­a­tions to come.”

Pro­po­nents that sub­mit a suc­cess­ful EOI will have un­til late 2014 to sub­mit a de­tailed pro­posal out­lin­ing their in­te­grated re­sort vi­sions.

A Pro­bity Code of Prac­tice has been es­tab­lished to over­see the process and for­mer Queens­land Au­di­tor Gen­eral Len Scan­lan has been ap­pointed pro­bity ad­viser. Pro­bity and commercial in con­fi­dence re­quire­ments pro­hibit the govern­ment from re­leas­ing the names of pro­po­nents who have reg­is­tered an in­ter­est.

Mean­while, Mr Wang de­scribed him­self as “quite re­laxed”.

“I am very con­fi­dent we will work very well with the lo­cal com­mu­nity and gov­ern­ments here,” he said, via an in­ter­preter last week.

Mr El­der said if the CAEAI was suc­cess­ful, “from the date they get all their ap­provals in place, he’ll start to build in­side of about three months”.

A del­e­ga­tion of about 20 Chi­nese busi­ness people are ex­pected to be back in the re­gion in the next three weeks to look at op­por­tu­ni­ties from tourism to agri­cul­ture and be­yond.

ALL SYS­TEMS GO: Chi­nese in­ter­preter David Ni with WMDL chair­man Jim El­der and CAEAI pres­i­dent Ray­mond Wang and as­so­ci­a­tion mem­ber Si­mon Phang, with artists’ im­pres­sions of a pro­posed Bud­dhist tem­ple and Chi­na­town re­tail com­plex for the Whit­sun­days.

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