Hanson in Yeppoon: How One Nation will guarantee GKI casino
ONE Nation leader Senator Pauline Hanson was on the move in Yeppoon this morning campaigning for an integrated casino licence for Great Keppel Island Resort.
The controversial Senator kicked off the day with a press conference on the Yeppoon foreshore before taking the time to speak to local business owners and residents about the issues that are most pressing for them. The Great Keppel Island Resort project was high on the list of topics of discussion.
Senator Hanson is adamant an integrated casino licence, equating to no more than 35 gaming tables, is vital in securing the funding required to begin work on the Tower Holding's Great Keppel Island Resort revitalisation project
"This licence has been blocked time and time again by the Labour government," Senator Hanson said at a foreshore press conference alongside Tower boss Terry Agnew.
"It's sheer bloody mindlessness, they obviously don't care about jobs for this region.
"The current state government were happy to set another 700 table licence for Cairns who already have an existing licence.
"Towers GKI Resort revitalisation project is an Aussie initiative that is shovel ready.
"This project will generate 1500 jobs for the region, this is the priority."
Senator Hanson said she met with Tower Holdings a few weeks ago to discuss the barriers the company have experienced.
"It took 8 years for them to get all their approvals in place only to be knocked back on having an integrated casino licence granted," she said.
"We aim to achieve the balance of power in Parliament at which time we will sit down and negotiate a set of provisos that will be vital to gain One Nations support.
"The integrated casino licence is one of the provisos, we have to back Aussies."
Coffee Club Owner Ravi Ramswarup was one of the local business people to speak to Senator Hanson.
He said he has been operating his business for the past 9 years and has waited patiently for the GKI project or any other similar project to get up and running to stimulate visitation to the Capricorn Coast region.
"GKI is our 'jewel in the crown' we need it. I don't want our children to be forced to leave town to get work," Mr Ramswarup said.
"I see it all the time, I employ a lot of university students and they no sooner complete their studies before setting of down south to secure employment.
"We need our young people to stay in the region and we can't make that happen if we don't have the industry to support them."
One Nation candidate for the seat of Keppel, Matt Loth said in all reality, he was not concerned that an integrated casino licence would be in any way detrimental to the region.
"People are not going to go to Great Keppel Island just to gamble, they are going to go there to enjoy the beautiful vistas and everything the island has to offer," Mr Loth said.
"This project will bring 1500 jobs to the region and create business for the island and mainland stimulating the local economy.
"We need those jobs here and I believe Tower Holding are in a position to proceed with this project if the licence is granted."
Keppel MP Brittany Lauga hit back this afternoon, saying One Nation, the LNP and now Tower Holding CEO Terry Agnew were trying to bluff the public.
"We lost 200,000 tourists every year when Tower shut down the resort on GKI, and the company has now been served a notice from the Minister as to why it should continue to hold onto the lease of one of the most beautiful islands along the Queensland coast,” Mrs Lauga said.
"Tower has been given every possible assistance to develop the island as per its initial proposals, without a casino, amid a fanfare many years ago.
"The Palaszczuk Government has become increasingly frustrated by the inactivity of Tower over the past eight years.
"Since then Tower has failed to complete any of its requirements according to the government lease.
"The Palaszczuk Government has committed $25 million towards consistent and reliable supplies of water and power from the mainland to GKI to make the island a far more potential place of investment.”
She said Tower did not have the support of any major gambling entity - Caesar's Palace, Crown or Echo - which was needed as one of the many criteria towards getting a casino.
She said this was criteria which One Nation was obviously ignorant of "because it could not just grant a casino licence per se”.
"This bleating for a casino licence is a furphy considering Tower has been trying to sell GKI for many years,” Mrs Lauga said.
"The Palaszczuk Government has opened every door in the Queensland Government to enable Tower Holding to make a start on its promised project.
"We have been trying to get Tower to build different levels of accommodation for years.”
The LNP's Keppel candidate Peter Blundell said his party was the only one with a clear way forward for GKI that "did not rely on negotiating back room deals”.
"As publicised for months now, Tower Holdings will be able to apply for one of two available integrated resort licenses within 100 days under an LNP government,” Mr Blundell said.
"Labor opened an EOI process for Cairns on October 31 this year, showing what little regard they have for tourism development in Central Queensland.
"That leaves Tower with the remaining license for Central or North Queensland and with no other shovel ready project, we will see GKI move forward by mid next year under the LNP.
"The alternatives to LNP policy are simply rhetoric and I don't think the people of the Capricorn Coast want another three years of uncertainty.”
Meanwhile, another figure who potentially could play a role in the forming of a minority government has also thrown her support behind a casino licence for GKI.
Margaret Strelow, who is running as an independent in the seat of Rockhampton, backed Ms Hanson's move.
Ms Strelow said while GKI wasn't in the electorate she was seeking to represent, the issue was one "that mattered for all of us”.
She said the development would bring jobs to Rockhampton and the wider CQ community.
"This would do a lot of good in regional Queensland,” Ms Strelow said.
"I can't imagine there would be too many One Nation policies I would back, but she (Pauline Hanson) is right on this one.”