Packer-backed casino bid promises $100m in Gold Coast traffic solutions

Latest artists’ impressions of a joint venture proposal for the Southport Spit between Crown Resorts and Chinese backed ASF Consortia, showing the proposed new Jubilee Bridge. Photo: ASF Consortia

The James Packer-backed ASF consortium hopes to win Palaszczuk government approval for a $3 billion casino and hotel complex on the Southport Spit by offering the Gold Coast transport solutions worth “more than $100 million dollars”.

ASF director Louis Chien hopes to win the support of the Gold Coast and south-east Queensland community before the Palaszczuk government consider more detailed plans for the project in 2017.

Mr Chien told Fairfax Media their proposed traffic infrastructure would cost “more than $100 million” and more details would be released by the traffic engineer early in 2017.

The proposed casino is tapping into the rising affluence of Asia’s middle class and increasing Asian tourist numbers to Australia and the Gold Coast.

ASF will make a contribution towards the future light rail spur along the Southport Spit, identified in Gold Coast City Council’s transport plan, a new tourist ferry, the new Jubilee Bridge and multiple roadworks along Seaworld Drive, Mr Chien told Fairfax Media.

Traffic is the major emerging problem on the Southport Spit, recognised by the Queensland’s Department of State Development and the council.

In an interview with Fairfax Media this week, ASF consortium director Louis Chien said ASF would fund all “core” transport infrastructure needed to prevent traffic problems on the Southport Spit.

That includes:

  • building a new Jubilee Bridge from Southport across to the Southport Spit;
  • contributing to the $200 million light rail spur line planned to run along Southport Spit;
  • roadworks to and from the ‘old Gold Coast Highway’ on to the Southport Spit;
  • roadworks along Seaworld Drive that runs along the Southport Spit;
  • implementing a tourist ferry from Southport across to the proposed resort on the Spit.

Mr Chien said ASF had offered to pay for all “core” traffic infrastructure needed so their development would not worsen traffic on the Spit.

These issues have been discussed with senior planners in the Department of State Development.

“At the current moment that is the (Jubilee) Bridge, the road upgrades to Seaworld Drive and the Gold Coast Highway that feeds into the development,” Mr Chien said.

Southport’s long-serving councillor Dawn Crichlow does not support re-building the Jubilee Bridge.

“This bridge is not a workable or necessary solution and I cannot see any reason at all to support it,” she told The Gold Coast Bulletin.

“They are only doing this because they want to build these high-rises and they are just kidding themselves,” Cr Crichlow said.

Mr Chien said ASF believed further transport infrastructure needed could be phased into the Southport Spit if their proposal received approval from the Palaszczuk government.

“Others that are possible are a ferry service – which is much more of a tourist ferry-type service from Surfers and from the light rail station at the end of Seaworld Drive,” he said.

“And then, potentially the light rail spur going into the Spit.”

A light rail extension is the preferred option of the council.

In September 2016 Fairfax Media reported the estimated cost of the Gold Coast spur line was $200 million.

It is unclear how much ASF may contribute to the light rail at this early stage.

Mr Chien said ASF had spoken since mid-2015 with the Department of State Development about traffic solutions along the Spit.

“I call it a network solution,” he said.

“And it is more than just one piece of infrastructure that solves everything.

“It’s looking at upgrades step by step as the need arises.

“We have been in discussions with state and council and everyone else.”

Mr Chien confirmed that James Packer’s Crown Resorts was ASF’s preferred operator of their planned casino and hotel complex.

Approving the ASF bid would put Crown Resorts in direct competition on the Gold Coast with their rival, the Star Entertainment Group, which has major expansions at Jupiters Casino.

“They are the preferred (resort) operator, if you want to look at it that way.”

ASF was in August 2015 given the right by the Palaszczuk government to put together a casino resort complex on Southport Spit after it ruled out their Wavebreak Island (inside the Broadwater) concept.

Mr Chein told Fairfax Media, both ASF and Crown now needed clarity from the Queensland government on planning processes on the Southport Spit.

A Queensland government spokesman repeated comments made previously.

“The Gold Coast City Council’s own planning framework currently provides clear development parameters,” the spokesman said.

This is continually disputed by the council, which deferred a development application from Sunland for twin 44-storey towers in September 2016, calling for a master plan on the Southport Spit.

However the government spokesman said State Development Minister Anthony Lynham was closely monitoring the application.

“The Premier has tasked State Development Minister Dr Anthony Lynham with working out how to rejuvenate the public areas on The Spit, north of the Council carpark,” the spokesman said.

“As well, Dr Lynham’s Department of State Development will be running independent public consultation on ASF’S proposal.