SPOT­LIGHT ON CHI­NA­TOWN

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Sharon Small­wood

WHIT­SUN­DAY Chi­na­town In­vest­ments has un­til 4pm next Wed­nes­day, Fe­bru­ary 3, to set­tle on the land ear­marked for the de­vel­op­ment on Water­son Way or the con­tract will be ter­mi­nated.

At yes­ter­day’s Whit­sun­day Re­gional Coun­cil meet­ing in Bowen, deputy mayor An­drew Will­cox re­vealed WCI was in fact now in breach of the con­tract and said while he re­spected the con­fi­den­tial­ity in­volved, “there has not been a sin­gle con­trac­tu­ally agreed date that has been met – not one”.

None­the­less, Cr Will­cox said for the sake of one more week, and for a pro­ject of this size and this sig­nif­i­cance, he was pre­pared to “give it those few ex­tra days to see if we can get it over the line”.

Cr Jan Clifford agreed say­ing this was the “last gasp”.

“There’s no­body else stand­ing out there with $300 mil­lion, or even talk­ing about spend­ing it in town... so for the sake of a week un­til Fe­bru­ary 3, I think it’s worth the punt,” she said.

“Let them come for­ward with their bone fides and their money or I guess it’s ‘all over red rover’.”

Part of the prob­lem with the deal over Water­son Way has been the $1 mil­lion bank guar­an­tee still payable by WCI to coun­cil.

At yes­ter­day’s meet­ing, Cr Peter Ra­m­age said if this was an is­sue, “how are they go­ing to stump up $300 mil­lion for the (fi­nal) bill?”

“I think enough’s enough and let’s bring it to a halt,” he said.

How­ever, Cr Ra­m­age and Cr Dave Clark were the only ones to vote against the one­week ex­ten­sion, which was passed by four votes to two.

Mayor Jen­nifer Whit­ney was ab­sent from the de­ci­sion­mak­ing process due to her long de­clared “per­ceived” con­flict of in­ter­est aris­ing from var­i­ous trips to China.

Prior to Wed­nes­day’s meet­ing, the China Aus­tralia En­trepreneurs As­so­ci­a­tion Inc re­leased a state­ment on be­half of WCI rep­re­sen­ta­tive Peter “Ray­mond” Wang call­ing on coun­cil­lors and the com­mu­nity to “be mind­ful of the enor­mous po­ten­tial that this one de­vel­op­ment alone can bring to our re­gion, across all in­dus­tries” and promis­ing Mr Wang would build to what­ever heights were al­lowed on the site by the agreed town plan.

Pres­i­dent of the CAEAI’s Whit­sun­day branch, Mark Beale, said the com­mu­nity needed to re­mem­ber there had been “ex­tra­or­di­nary lengths” taken over the past three years to de­velop a strong work­ing re­la­tion­ship be­tween the Chi­nese and the com­mu­nity, so in­vest­ment could be re­alised.

On the re­sult of the meet­ing, he said he was re­lieved that at least in the in­terim, “com­mon sense has pre­vailed”.

LAST CHANCE: Peter “Ray­mond” Wang, stand­ing on the land he has one more week to ear­mark for an Air­lie Beach Chi­na­town.

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