Business

Casino absolutely essential: developer

TOWER Holdings has dismissed claims made by Keppel MP Brittany Lauga that not getting a casino licence for Great Keppel Island could still mean future developments.

Mrs Lauga and Tower Holdings met in Sydney on Tuesday to discuss the project's progression and the company's financial position.

At a media event today, Mrs Lauga said Tower Holdings were looking at alternative options for the island that might not include a casino.

"It was interesting to hear Tower's own global investment consultant Ben Wong say that the casino isn't everything," Mrs Lauga said.

"He did say it would provide a major drawcard to investors but that it wouldn't be the end of the world if they didn't get one. That was a really important statement considering so many people in Central Queensland are putting time, money and effort into what they think is the crucial sticking point to this development not happening."

But GKI development manager Anthony Aiossa, who said Tuesday's meeting was the first time he was actually able to present the physical model of the proposed development to the government, couldn't stress enough the importance of a casino licence.

"It was explained in the meeting that obtaining funding still remained extremely difficult even with the revised-down stage," Mr Aiossa said.

"We made it very clear that without some form of a boutique gaming licence there would be no project finance. A casino licence is absolutely critical."

Mrs Lauga also said she spoke with Tower about the possibility of them applying for funding under the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) to assist in the infrastructure stages of the project.

The NAIF is a $5 billion fund which can be used as concessional finance to encourage private sector investment in economic infrastructure that otherwise wouldn't be built or would be postponed. The loans, if successful, will be able to be drawn down from July 2016.

Mrs Lauga said that building sewerage and water infrastructure on the island was one of Tower's most difficult obstacles in getting the project started.

WATCH: Lauga says Tower Holdings are looking at alternative options that may not include a casino on the island:

"They'd have to deliver power, sewerage and water by way of cables and pipes under the sea 12 kilometres to the mainland and that's been one of the major hurdles for them, sourcing investment," Mrs Lauga said.

"Preliminary investigations that I've undertaken provide evidence that they would actually be eligible and when we made that suggestion to them they were very interested in it.

"I'm happy to work with Capricornia MP Michelle Landry and the Minister for Northern Australia, Senator Matt Canavan to try our best for Tower to get a slice of that funding. They've (Landry and Canavan) spent a lot of time bagging out the State Government about this project but here's an opportunity to put their money where their mouth is and for us to work together."

Mr Aiossa said Tower would consider applying for the fund.

NAIF:

  • The Australian Government announced the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) in the 2015-16 Budget
  • The Government has already committed nearly $5 billion of its $50 billion nationwide investment in transport infrastructure to northern Australia
  • These investments include over $3 billion for northern sections of the Bruce Hwy, $208.4 million for the Cape York Region Package, $172.2 million for the North West Coastal Hwy and $90 million for the Northern Territory Regional Roads Productivity Package

Topics:  brittany lauga gki tower holdings



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