Second Gold Coast casino up in the air

by Charlotte Lee Last Updated
Second Gold Coast casino up in the air

The Star Entertainment Group has showered almost half of Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s cabinet with sporting tickets and accommodation, with the group set to decide on the gaming giant’s calls to kill off a government proposal for a second casino on the Gold Coast.

The Australian reports that the premier, Deputy Premier Jackie Trade, Tourism Minister Kate Jones, Transport Minister Mark Bailey and Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath – who oversees gaming regulation and probity in Queensland – are among 10 ministers or MPs to have received gifts in the past 18 months.

Star, which has the only casinos in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast, has been pressuring the government to abandon its plans for a second casino – announced with a registration of interest earlier this year – for a second casino on the Glitter Strip.

Declarations made by MP’s show the Star gave the Premier and ministers top-shelf tickets for the Commonwealth Games last year, with some watching the gold medal events from the gaming giant’s corporate box and then staying overnight in its hotels.

Ms D’Ath received tickets to the athletics finals and closing ceremony of the Games, including seats in Star’s corporate box and a couple of nights’ stay in its hotels, while local Labor MP Meaghan Scanlon received State of Origin tickets.

Ms Palasczuk, who recently attended meetings in Switzerland regarding Quensland’s Olympics bid with Star chairman John O’Neill, received upgraded room accommodation for the Logies and for the opening of Star’s Darling Hotel.

Star’s group executive external affairs Alison Smith was, until June, among only a handful of people in Queensland registered as a “non-prohibited donor”, which enables her to make political donations despite working for a company involved in property development.

The state’s tourism minister has been under pressure from Star after reviving a proposal for a Global Tourism Hub project that attracted the interest of Las Vegas operator Caesars Palace, the Hard Rock International group and Asian gaming giant NagaCorp.

Star pledged last month to pour $2 billion into a revamp of its Gold Coast operations, including $100 million on the state owned convention centre it manages and an upgrade to the Sheraton Grand Mirage resort.

Mr O’Neill warned that the investment would be dependent on “certainty around maintaining the Gold Coast as a one-casino city.”

A spokesman for Ms Jones would not confirm whether cabinet would decide on Monday to abandon the second casino process or proceed to a call for more detailed plans from proponents.

Ms Jones announced in March she had resurrected plans for an integrated casino resort after it was abandoned before the 2017 state election amid public opposition.

MP declarations also show that Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington received tickets from Star to the closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games and to a polo game at Magic Millions on the Gold Coast.

Jobs boost if Cairns Global Tourism Hub goes ahead

A Global Tourism Hub in Cairns will create thousands of jobs, the Mirage News reported in July.

New economic modeling released on Wednesday shows that as many as 2,300 jobs will be created if the project goes ahead in tropical North Queensland.

Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones said Price Waterhouse Cooper’s Tropical North GTH economic impact analysis shows a hub in the under utilized Ports North precinct could attract between 50,000 and 500,000 extra tourists a year once it is fully operational.

Ms Jones said the report also showed between 150,000 to 300,000 visitors would likely stay longer in tropical North Queensland as a result of a Global Tourism Hub.

“New infrastructure that will attract thousands of extra tourists to Tropical North Queensland and is crucial when it comes to growing our tourism industry,” she said.

“This report draws on the experiences of Singapore, Macau, Melbourne and Perth in their developments attracting additional visitors and increasing visitor night numbers.

“It gives us a genuine indication of what’s on offer as we seek more tourists who stay longer and spend more money in Cairns.”

The 4.4 hectare Ports North site is in the heart of the Cairns tourism precinct – strategically located near major tourism drawcards – the cruise liner terminal, convention centre and marina.

The Trinity Inlet Wharf proposal incorporates premium hotels, residential accommodation, commercial and retail leases, convention facilities and a casino.

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