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AU Tony Fung's Aquis Great Barrier Reef Resort a step closer after Newman Government gives it a streamlined approval process

Property Here - Friday, August 02, 2013

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Mega resort and casino closer

An artist's impression of the $4.2 billion Aquis Resort casino project proposed for Cairns. Image: SuppliedSource: Supplied

A CHINESE billionaire has chalked up his first win in a bold plan to build a $4.2 billion mega-resort and casino in Cairns.

The Newman Government last night declared Tony Fung's Aquis Great Barrier Reef Resort a co-ordinated project which gives it a streamlined approval process.

The project would include nine luxury hotels, a sports stadium and high-end retail shopping.

"What North Queensland is missing is the man-made wonder of the world,'' said Mr Fung, in his submission to the Queensland Government.

The Aquis project would rival the great man-made structures in Macau, Dubai and Singapore and be "without peer in Australia'', he said.

Tony Fung says the project would rival man-made structures in Macau, Dubai and Singapore. Image: Supplied

Tony Fung says the project would rival man-made structures in Macau, Dubai and Singapore. Image: Supplied

The Hong Kong-based banking and property tycoon said the mega-complex would be built with no impact on the nearby Great Barrier Reef.

READ MORE: Billionaire Tony Fung jets into Cairns for talks about proposed resort/casino

It would be a magnet to draw international visitors to North Queensland's ailing tourist-dependent economy.

Latest figures show the 5.7 million overseas tourists who came to Australia were worth $19 billion, but of those just 691,000 headed north spending $877 million.

"Facilities of the like of Aquis don't only attract the Chinese mass market middle class, but also the big spending, high value, ever expanding Chinese upper class,'' Mr Fung said.

He said he asked for "no favours or financial input'' from the Queensland Government for its support. "I only seek investment certainty from an approval process.''

Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney's office last night confirmed the grand plan had been declared a co-ordinated project to be overseen by the Co-ordinator General's office.

The Courier-Mail can exclusively reveal the grand vision for the state's newest casino.

It includes nine luxury hotels, a sports stadium, and high-end retail shopping.

There are plans for 3750 hotels rooms, 1200 apartments and 135 villas.

It also proposes a Convention and Exhibition centre, 2,500-seat theatre, 18-hole golf course, 13ha reef lagoon and one of the biggest aquariums in the world

Under approvals, building on the 750-acre beachside site at Yorkeys Knob would start mid-2014 and be completed by 2018.

It would create 9300 jobs in construction and 10,000 full-time jobs when operational.

While Aquis is a "mega resort" project the proposed casino is only slightly bigger (in terms of tables and machines) than Crown Melbourne. Aquis is seeking approvals for about 750 tables and 1500 poker machines.

"It is accepted that the casino operator at Aquis must pass probity and all other licencing assessment processes, and that a licence will only be granted to a particular operator after a rigorous assessment process,'' the submission said.

The Cairns Reef Hotel Casino exclusivity deal on its casino licence expired several years ago. But the Aquis bid does not seek a monopoly or duopoly with state revenue from gaming predicted to increase dramatically.

Advance Cairns chief executive Mark Matthews said it would be a huge economic boon for the north.

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