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Tuesday, 06 August 2013 07:38

$4.2bn Casino to hit Australia’s North Coast

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News from our cousins Down Under – there's a massive casino heading your way.

A Hong Kong billionaire has revealed plans to build a $4.2bn tropical resort and casino in the north of Australia, in the state of Queensland. Described as a 'man-made wonder of the world', the resort will be a place for local retirees to rub shoulders with international billionaires and swim, play golf, watch shows and indulge in casino games.

Known as 'Aquis Resort at the Great Barrier Reef', the integrated resort will sit 13km north of Cairns in a town called Yorkeys Knob, and have 1,200 apartments and 135 villas, high-end retail shopping, theatres, a 13-hectare reef lagoon, 18-hole golf course, a convention and exhibition centre and a 25,000-seat sports stadium.

The project has been put forward to the Queensland Government by Tony Fung, who is a member of one of Hong Kong's best-known banking families. Fung said that Aquis would be designed to attract the mass middle-class market as well give Queensland an increase in high-spending Asian tourists.

It is expected to create 9,300 construction jobs and 10,000 on-going positions once operational in 2018. The Queensland government has confirmed that it has given the project 'co-ordinated project' status, meaning the approval process will be streamlined rather than separate.

But like most large-scale casino developments, Aquis is encountering opposition from locals who believe that the project will threaten local business and the environment. Spokesman and community-elected 'King of the Knob' Jim Cadman said, 'It just seems like no one's done any homework, we've got beach erosion concerns, we've got environmental fishery concerns, we've got flood mitigation concerns – I think nearly every hotel and golf course in Cairns would object to having five more hotels and a golf course... It will be a very significant challenge to do a development of that scale without having impacts on the reef.'

Tony Fung explained that 'We want to create a new jewel in the Australian tourism crown and provide a trigger for the emergence of Cairns as a globally recognised destination..The largely undeveloped nature of Yorkeys Knob and its proximity to the Cairns airport provides an incredible opportunity to create an integrated tourism facility that puts the city on the global stage..Aquis gives Queensland an opportunity to fend off its southern and regional competitors for the increasingly important Chinese tourism market.'