Casino Solution is Vital for GKI

International Celebrity Chefs at Beef Australia 2015 last week added their support to the thousands who support the granting of a Boutique Gaming License (BGL) for the Great Keppel Island (GKI) Resort.

Quite simply, the argument is that the license is required to secure international investment, which is needed to commence the development which will employ some 1500 people.

As the ground swell of community support is reflected in on-line petitions ( has nearly 2000 followers in under a week), road billboards, signs and letters to the Premier and her Ministers, it appears there is light at the end of the tunnel, as the decision makers are hearing our message loud and clear.

If History helps us learn the mistakes of the past and avoid them in the future, then it is important to outline some facts. 

The GKI Revitalisation plan was approved by the former LNP State government on Saturday 2nd March 2013 after seven years and millions dollars of consultant reports and legislative processes.

It was then approved by the former Labor Federal government on Tuesday 5th March 2013, followed by Local government approval by the former Rockhampton Regional Council on the 17th May 2013.

The development will include a marina, retail and 250 room hotel as the first stage, (750 villas, 300 apartments and an 18 hole Greg Norman designed golf course in later stages).  This is a scaled down version, with the buildings taking up less than 4% of the island footprint, of two earlier proposals rejected by the state Labor government in 2006 and by the Federal government in 2009.

Tower engaged Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) along with Great White Shark Enterprises (champion golfer Greg Norman) to spearhead the global campaign to attract investors. Investment bank, Moelis & Company were engaged as the lead financial advisor on the project.

On Monday 14 October 2013, an Expression of Interest (EOI) for an Integrated Resort Development (IRD) was released by the State government offering one casino license for Brisbane and two casino licenses for regional Queensland to act as a catalyst to start new tourism investment in the State.

So, of course Tower Holdings submitted their $100,000 non-refundable deposit and applied for one of the two regional casino licenses on offer, to help secure their international investors.

On 1st April 2014, Tower Holdings launched their campaign in Brisbane with JLL, Greg Norman, Queensland Tourism Industry Council’s CEO Daniel Gschwind, at which I attended.

On the 26th May 2014, the State government short-listed the two regional casino licenses to Aquis at Yorkeys Knob,Cairns to Hong Kong tycoon Tony Fung (subject to all environment, planning and gaming licencing approvals being met) and the proposed $7.5 billion Broadwater Marine Project on the Gold Coast (Wavebreak) which also had no approvals in place and no tenure.

When that news broke, international investment opportunities for GKI were immediately at a disadvantage.  Even though GKI Resort was the only fully approved development, the goal posts had changed and the ability to secure international investment against this competition screamed to a halt.

In December, 2014, the Proponents of the Aquis project in Cairns formally withdrew from the IRD process. Regardless of this, the current Government has agreed to meet with the Proponents and is now negotiating a casino license directly with the Proponent outside of the IRD process.

The current Government has also now rejected the proposed integrated resort concept on Wavebreak Island. However, the Government has indicated that it would be ‘suspending’ the casino license to give the Proponent to find an alternative site on the Gold Coast. Unfortunately, in regard to Great Keppel Island the Government will not agree to meet with Tower Holdings and will not respond to its correspondence.

The Government has shown that it is willing to think outside the square to support proposals in Cairns and the Gold Coast. If our current State Government has the will to support Great Keppel, it certainly will be able to develop a policy which would solve the current stalemate and be a win win for the Government, the Developer and most importantly our community!

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