IS THIS THE $5B KICK WE NEED?

Written on the 3 April 2014 by Nick Nichols

IS THIS THE $5B KICK WE NEED? A $5 BILLION cruise-ship terminal and integrated casino resort planned for the Gold Coast Broadwater has been labelled by its proponents as the catalyst needed to shake the Gold Coast out of the post-GFC doldrums.

ASF Consortium, which is backed by two major Chinese corporations with expertise in development and marine infrastructure, predict the integrated resort development will create 470,000 extra annual visitor stays on the tourism strip and deliver a $14.6 billion economic benefit to the city.

The consortium, which briefed city councillors on its proposal this morning, is widely seen as the frontrunner to develop a cruise-ship terminal on the Gold Coast, although the project is still subject to community consultation and environmental and engineering challenges.

“Our proposal represents the next phase in the evolution of the Gold Coast, consistent with the council’s Economic Development Strategy,” says the ASF Consortium’s project director Allan Fife.

“It provides huge economic benefit to the region through the creation of jobs, sustainable investment and stimulation of the tourism industry,” he says.

Despite today’s announcement, which is designed to give Gold Coasters an insight into the scale of the project, ASF’s existing proposal is still in a state of flux.

The final design will rely heavily on further discussions with the state government and city council, as well as completion of the community consultation program over the next month to vet public views on the project.

Fife says he remains confident that ASF will be able to meet any technical and environmental problems head on as they arise.

Under the existing plan, ASF will develop an integrated resort on Wave Break Island and locate the cruise-ship terminal on The Spit with provisions for extensive public open spaces in both precincts, including a waterfront eco-park.

Fife says changes have already been discussed with the council, including changes in the density of development on The Spit and an alternative location for the cruise ship terminal which is currently earmarked to be built adjacent to Doug Jennings Park.

“We will exhaust all options,” says Fife, who has not ruled out Wave Break Island as the final location for the cruise-ship terminal.

Fife says the only issue that will stop ASF Group dead in its tracks from proceeding with the plan is if the consortium cannot provide the necessary security to the state government that it could deliver the project at no cost to the public purse.

ASF Consortium comprises the Australian listed investment company ASF Group (ASX: AFA), China State Construction Engineering Co Ltd, which is the world’s third largest construction company, and CCCC Guangzhou Dredging Co Ltd, a significant player in dredging and land reclamation for major projects.

Fife says both Chinese partners have extensive experience in projects of this scale.

He says through this plan the Gold Coast has the potential to become the premier cruise destination along the eastern seaboard.

He forecasts 75 ships will be visiting the city annually by 2020, bringing 170,000 passengers to the city.

ASF’s economic analysis of the project has focused on the below-par economic growth the Gold Coast has experienced since 2008, despite a rebound in the tourism market in recent years.

The Broadwater project is expected to create 30,000 jobs in total, leading to 12,300 jobs after completion, it says.

UDIA Queensland vice-president Steve Harrison has welcomed today’s announcement by  AFS Consortium.

“It’s another opportunity for the city to be transformed - and not only the city and south-east Queensland, but the state as a whole,” Harrison tells Gold Coast Business News.

“If an investor is willing to put $5 billion into the city we shouldn’t be knocking that back on a matter of principle. We should allow investigations to be undertaken, including community consultation.”

Author: Nick Nichols

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