FEARS GOLD COAST INVESTMENT IMAGE WILL BE DAMAGED
13 February 2015, Written by Jenna Rathbone & Nick Nichols
FEARS are mounting that a scrapping of the cruise ship terminal by an incoming Labor government could signal the Gold Coast is closed for business and hit the fragile recovery of business confidence within the city.
The Chinese-backed proponent of the $6.5 billion casino-resort development, ASF Consortium, has suggested Queensland's reputation with foreign investors could be damaged if Labor sticks to its guns and bins the project.
This view was backed by Gold Coast Central Chamber of Commerce president Peter Yared who says a cruelling of the project could make major investors nervous.
A spokesperson for Labor leader Anastacia Palaszczuk says a Labor government is "unlikely" to revisit the proposed cruise ship terminal project and will stick to its pre-election promise of putting a stop to the development.
The statement comes despite the cruise terminal issue failing to unseat a single LNP member on the Gold Coast. The LNP even had a rare gain with the seat of Gaven after deposing independent MP Alex Douglas who made a pointed stand against the cruise ship terminal in his campaign.
"If the Labor government scraps the cruise ship terminal it will send a message to all investors that the Gold Coast, and indeed Queensland, is closed for business," says Yared.
"We have worked so hard over the last three years to get foreign investment on the Gold Coast and this will only serve as a clear message that it is too hard to do business on the Gold Coast."
Mayor Tom Tate (pictured right) tells Gold Coast Business News that the "political will at the local level is very strong to make this happen" and that the strategy in place should be allowed to run its course.
"The City of Gold Coast returned 10 out of 10 LNP members and the mandate and wish of the city should be respected," says Tate.
"I'm not saying we must approve what's on the table, but we should continue the process so that we can analyse what is the best outcome for the city and give the opportunity for the city council to make the final decision.
"At all times through this process, LNP and Labor have said it is a City of Gold Coast project. If it is truly a City of Gold Coast project then we should continue on with the process and let us decide.
ASF Consortium says the development has the potential to bring over 15,000 permanent jobs to the Gold Coast upon completion, 5000 construction jobs sustained during the 10 years of construction, $21 billion in economic impact and more than seven times the current rate of annual Queensland tourism revenue.
It says if an incoming Labor government discontinues the current assessment process under way, not only will these benefits be lost, but it will create high levels of uncertainty for foreign investors who see Queensland and Australia as politically and economically stable.
"We see this as an opportunity to deliver a sustainable, transformational investment and employment project for the Gold Coast and we hope that the proposal evaluation continues on its merits to ensure the reputation of Queensland as a good place to do business is maintained," says local project director Tim Poole.
"In Australia, we simply don't have the local investment money available to build tourism infrastructure of this scale like cruise ship terminals and integrated resorts, so foreign investment is critical to any large-scale project being viable.
"Both sides of politics say that they want to create jobs in Queensland, so this project cannot be overlooked outright because it's too important to assist in delivering on this election promise."
Lawrence Springborg's office says "the caretaker LNP Government will continue to facilitate any assessment as requested by the Gold Coast City Council".
Labor has affirmed its commitment to create a world surfing reserve between the NSW border and Burleigh "to help protect and expand the region's $1.4 billion (surfing) industry supporting 20,000 jobs".
The Save Our Spit Alliance has welcomed the election results and says now is the time for leaders to invest in the right kind of development and growth for the city.
"It's a great relief to know that my children and their children will be able to dive the seaway, surf the other side and otherwise immerse themselves in what is our veritable central park our clean and free marine park that belongs to all Queenslanders," says Save Our Spit Vice President Luke Sorensen.
"We have so many unrealised opportunities for investment and sustainable projects in the city, we'd love nothing more than to see the city's focus and energy now applied to ventures and industries such as public transport, appropriate eco-tourism, local manufacturing, IT and technology, education, health and ultimately private developments that actually benefit the whole community placed on suitable private land."
Author: Jenna Rathbone & Nick Nichols