Australia axes Asian-led mega-casino plan

SYDNEY • A Chinese-Australian investment consortium's plans to build a multibillion-dollar mega- casino on the Gold Coast were canned by the state government yesterday, following a local outcry over the size of the complex.

The ASF Consortium, comprising a Sydney-listed Chinese-Australian investment firm and two state-owned Chinese companies, had proposed a A$3 billion (S$3.25 billion) integrated resort in the tourist hot spot. The waterfront development on the Gold Coast Spit was to have included multiple hotels as well as retail, entertainment, residential and conference facilities.

Community and environmental groups were critical of the proposal, which came after ASF was chosen as the preferred tenderer in 2014, saying it would hurt local entertainment and gambling venues as well as impact local wildlife.

"Like many Queenslanders, I have enjoyed visiting the Spit for decades," Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said in a statement as her state government announced it had "terminated the proposed ASF development".

"We need to ensure that character is preserved for future generations... What the Spit really needs now is a master plan to revitalise it and increase its benefit to the Gold Coast as a community asset." She said the replacement - a community-led master plan for the area - did not rule out a future casino complex.

The state's Infrastructure and Planning Minister Jackie Trad added: "It also helps get the balance right between protecting environmental and community values and allowing appropriate commercial development."

A response from ASF was not immediately available.

The announcement is the second blow recently for the casino sector in Queensland. Hong Kong billionaire Tony Fung last year shelved the casino part of an A$8.15 billion Aquis project near Cairns.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 02, 2017, with the headline 'Australia axes Asian-led mega-casino plan'. Print Edition | Subscribe