$8.15bn Aquis project back on agenda for Cairns after Fung signs deal
AUSTRALIA’S largest tourism development – the $8.15 billion Aquis Great Barrier Reef Resort at Yorkeys Knob – is back on track.

Hong Kong developer Tony Fung has signed a
Process Deed with a State Development Department official to re-enter the
Integrated Resort Development (IRD) process after meeting State Treasurer
Curtis Pitt.
He withdrew from the IRD process in February following
stalled negotiations with the previous LNP Government.

In other moves:¦State
Government officials and the Aquis development team will meet in about two
weeks to finalise an IRD deadline timetable.
¦Detailed
design and planning of the mega-resort should begin next year.
¦Construction
most likely to start in 2017.
¦The first stage will be $3.5 billion,
involving one casino, five hotels of 4000 rooms, an artificial lake and island,
retail shopping, an aquarium, a theatre, a reef lagoon, an 18-hole golf course,
a convention and exhibition centre and a cultural heritage centre.

 Treasurer Pitt said he
welcomed Mr Fung’s renewed commitment as “a vote of confidence in
Queensland”. “Following the election, the Palaszczuk Government sought to
engage in positive discussions with Mr Fung and we welcome his company’s
commitment to re-entering the IRD process,” he said.
“The IRD process is a rigorous
way to protect the community’s interests and also evaluate Aquis’s credentials
and financial capacity to deliver this project.”

Mr Fung said Aquis was looking forward to
working with the Government.
“We remain committed to the Aquis Yorkeys Knob project as part of
our overall strategic investment plans for Australia,” he said.

Mr Pitt said the deal was timely after leading
a two-week international trade and investment roadshow in Asia, the UK and the
US.
“International investors consistently told me they were aware of
the fact that Queensland is forecast to have the strongest economic growth of
any state in Australia and that they’re interested in opportunities here,” he
said.

 Aquis project director Pat
Flanagan said both parties were pleased to be back in the process. “There were smiles all around.
Everyone is happy,” he said.
Mr Flanagan said that in the next two weeks the Aquis development
team would sit down with government officials to finalise a timetable to meet
criteria deadlines.
He said it was expected Aquis would start construction before
Echo’s Queens Wharf project in Brisbane, not scheduled until 2018.

Mr Flanagan said he believed with three casino
projects now under way in Queensland – including the AFS casino proposal on the
Gold Coast – the path to the end would be smoother.
“It is clearly evident that the
three projects are running in parallel and not in competition,” he said.
Mr Flanagan said Aquis was
opening a new market at a well known leisure destination while the Echo project
was proposed for an existing market in a state capital city. The first stage is
estimated to involve 3750 construction jobs and 11,000 operational roles.
The second stage will require
3500 construction workers and provide 9000 jobs.