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    $4.2bn mega-resort and casino proposed near Cairns

    Lisa Rapley

    Chinese developers have been given the go-ahead to buy land for a planned $4.2billion mega-resort and casino in far north Queensland.

    Aquis’ application to purchase 340 hectares of land at Yorkeys Knob, near Cairns, has been approved by the Foreign Investment Review Board.

    The development – The Aquis Great Barrier Reef Resort – will include nine luxury hotels, an 18-hole golf course, a 25,000-seat stadium and a cultural heritage centre.

    Aquis will take full ownership of the land once plans for the project are approved and a casino licence is secured, Aquis CEO Justin Fung says.

    Last week, Aquis signed a $269 million takeover bid for the Reef Casino Trust, which owns the Reef Hotel Casino in Cairns. Aquis hopes to extend the Reef Casino licence to include the resort.

    This proposed development is being seen by some as a “shining beacon in times of economic uncertainty”, Cairns Lifestyle says.

    However, at the same time, the development is also being questioned by Cairns residents, particularly around the impact that the resort will have on the economy, environment, lifestyle and infrastructure.

    Additionally, the lack of ‘architectural harmony’ is of concern.

    Cairns Lifestyle says, “When you throw the word ‘mega’ into any sentence, it almost never implies subtlety and Aquis is no exception. Although labelled ‘innovative’, ‘modern’ and even ‘breathtaking’ by some, many now, after seeing the plans, refer to the resort as ‘intrusive’, ‘unnecessary’ and ‘excessive’.”

    Contrary to Cairns’ typical architectural style, Aquis is hoping to wow the community and tourists with superiority through magnitude.

    “Some areas of the development spanning over 80m high, Aquis will undoubtedly disturb what were spectacular mountain views from the ground, looming over Cairns residents. The sheer height implies the blatant ignorance of the developers as to why Cairns is such a popular tourist destination, suggesting they have no consideration at all in maintaining what is a universally harmonious and beautiful landscape,” Cairns Lifestyle says.

    To see the full Initial Advice Statement, click here.

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