Southport Spit casino developers planned billion dollar lawsuit

Queensland casino lawsuit
Artists impression of Queensland Southport Spit casino.

Tax payers may have faced a $1.2 billion legal action if the Queensland state government had not approved the Southport Spit casino.

Insiders have claimed a billion-dollar lawsuit would have ensued by the casinos main component, China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC), if the development had not been permitted for Gold Coast five-hectare site.

The $3 billion project launched by the ASX-listed ASF Group, was initially planned for Wave Break Island, but in 2015 the Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszcuk banned the planned casino development.

The Queensland government later revealed the project would still occur at a new site between Sea World and Palazzo Versace.

Gold Coast town planner, Ross Heatley, revealed CSCEC senior executives told him about the legal action over as they discussed another potential multi-billion-dollar Queensland project.

“We were in discussions over another matter and she said that when the rug was pulled on Wave Break Island they received legal advice they had an action against the state government for $1.2 billion,” Mr Heatley said.

State Development Minister, Anthony Lynham, has been quite vocal about the benefits of the casino, including high employment rates, but hasn’t commented since the allegations were revealed. His department has stated it did not know about any CSCEC legal threat.

Many media outlets are questioning the motives behind the Queensland government allowing a Chinese company to develop the casino, especially given the recent anti-gambling crackdown in China which resulted in the arrests of 18 Crown staff.

Crown Resorts has also been identified as the casino operator of the new Queensland casino, but it is not yet guaranteed.

Media outlets initially reported ASF Group had lost $92 million of the $102 million raised from investors which prompted concerns about completion of the casino project.

But a media release by the ASF Consortium clarified the differences between the “Group” and the “Consortia”.

“We emphasise that the Gold Coast Integrated Resort project will be delivered by ASF Consortium, not ASF Group,” the statement read.

Reports are now including that the CSCEC has a far-fetching balance sheet.

Mr Heatley commented on the lack of transparency regarding the casino project, noting there will be a “consultation period” for the public but the information would be vague. He also noted the government has not provided any details about contracts with the ASF Group.

“The issue is, did the [previous] Newman government fail to put in the standard government clause voiding liability for costs incurred by private enterprise when bidding on government projects?” Mr Heatley questioned.

“It’s been impossible to get any briefs or any documents.”

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