Civic leaders say Aquis has been stuck in limbo for too long, city ready to move on without resort
CAIRNS is ready to move on from Aquis, according to several of the city’s leaders who say the project has simply been left in limbo for far too long

It comes as the Palaszczuk Government was this week forced
to reaffirm its support for the multi-billion-dollar development, after
virtually leaving it out of its Queensland Tourism Investment Guide.

It has been exactly three years since the formal proposal
for Aquis was submitted to the State Government by Hong Kong billionaire
developer Tony Fung. The project is still awaiting final approvals from the
Government before it can start construction at Yorkeys Knob.

Aquis says it still working with the Government on a range
of issues. Advance Cairns CEO Kevin Byrne said the approvals process had been
going on for far too long for many locals to still believe the development
would come to fruition. “I think the community is hopeful, but they’re not
relying on it anymore,” he said. “We’ve moved on as a community. “We want it
definitely. It’s a major project and we’d love to have it, but the fact is it’s
taking a long time and we have to be optimistic and keep moving forward. “If
Aquis happens, it’s going to be a wonderful shot in the arm, but if it doesn’t,
we’re going to keep moving forward anyway.”

Division 5 Councillor Richie Bates said Cairns could be
better off “spending that time and resources on other projects that have got a
lot more viability”. He pointed to the Cairns Aquarium, which was on track for
completion in April next year. “I can remember when people were talking early
on about ‘we don’t need an aquarium in the CBD because Aquis is going to build
an aquarium’,” Cr Bates said. “I thought ‘hang on a minute, these blokes who
are actually looking at the aquarium project in the CBD probably have a lot
more legs, they’re probably a lot further down the track, and in terms of
investment, this is a lot more viable than waiting for Aquis to come along and
build an aquarium as well’.

“This is a really good example why we shouldn’t be blinded
by Aquis.”

Cairns Chamber of Commerce CEO Deb Hancock said the length
of the approvals process continued to be a problem for all stakeholders. “It’s
a bureaucratic process that is inappropriate for the investment,” she said. “Far
more needs to be done to support investors through this process, who have other
countries that are wanting these projects and investment in their countries.”