THE GKI rent arrears saga may have ended yesterday with Tower Holdings making all $250,000 in outstanding payments, but now the company has a question for the State Government.
Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt told the Cairns Post on Thursday that Cairns' Aquis project would withdraw from the Integrated Resort Development process, which is necessary to get approval for a casino, in order to fast-track the development.
During State Parliament in March, Minister for State Development and Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Dr Anthony Lynham announced that if one or both of the current regional Integrated Resort Development proposals were not delivered, the government may go back to the market to seek expressions of interest.
Mr Pitt's announcement heightened the interest of Tower Holdings, and a company representative contacted Keppel MP Brittany Lauga's office on Thursday regarding the possibility to re-open the process and "give GKI another chance". A spokesperson from Tower yesterday indicated the company was confident they could address all areas of the criteria.
"They need to give us the opportunity to do it," they said.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk had already indicated this might be a possibility during her visit to Yeppoon for a Community Cabinet in May last year.
She said if a licence was returned to government a new process could be started.
"The former government said there would be three casino licences...we don't know if all three are going to get up," she said.
"If a licence was returned to government, we could start a new process.
"My suggestion is to go and build that project and there may be an opportunity to apply for that casino licence.
"We want to see jobs in this region; youth unemployment is too high." Ms Lauga has since echoed the statements from the premier and Dr Lynham, and she responded to Tower's inquiry on Thursday afternoon.
The MP said there was "nothing to exclude" Tower from submitting an application based on their GKI development in any possible future process, as long as they could demonstrate they meet the set conditions.
But she also noted the company did not satisfy the requirements under the previous process in 2014.
Statements from a spokesperson for Ms Lauga yesterday added there was nothing official to come through regarding Aquis' withdrawal from the process yet.
"Nothing is on the table at the moment... If and when that happens the government may take it back to the market place... There are no guarantees," the spokesperson said
"Any government decision on re-tendering will be made after carefully evaluating market conditions.
"If government does go to market then Tower is more than welcome to apply.
"Just like anybody else can apply."
Any new regional integrated resort proposal must:
- Include significant capital investment to create a development that attracts international tourists, where construction commences within 18 months of contractual close
- Be located within close proximity to a major population centre with a catchment of at least 150,000 people within a 70km radius of the regional centre
- Be near an operational international airport or an airport that is capable of being upgraded to international standards
- Have well-established transport networks and significant existing tourism infrastructure with identified growth potential.