The ASF Consortium, whose $2.4 billion plan for a casino resort on the Gold Coast was knocked back by the Queensland Government in August, has expressed, for the first time, a willingness to sue the government unless a more amenable solution can be found.
The consortium said in its annual earnings report on Tuesday that it had lost $12.1 million in development costs on the project in the last financial year alone.
“Over the coming months, ASF is undertaking appropriate next steps in seeking a suitable and equitable conclusion to the matter and is in discussion with the Queensland State Government,” it said in an official statement.
But ASF president Louis Chien spoke more bluntly to the Australian Associated Press on Tuesday.
“If negotiations do not progress in a timely and fair manner, ASF will be left with no alternative than to commence legal action,” he warned.
The Queensland government initially solicited bids for an “iconic integrated resort development” on the Gold Coast to put the area “on the world stage as an international tourism destination” and to “lift the Queensland economy.”
In early 2014, it conferred “preferred proponent” status on ASF, which began working closely with the government on a series of community consultations and engagement for a proposed development on the Spit Peninsula.
All consultations suggested that a majority of local residents supported the project.
But, with little warning, the government pulled the rug from beneath ASF on August 1 and trashed the project.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said her reasons for jettisoning the resort came down to conservation concerns and a desire not to have local residents shoulder the tax burden of the investment in infrastructure that would be needed to support the casino.
But writing an op-ed in the Gold Coast Bulletin last month, Chien had a different interpretation.
“It is clear to all the decision to cast aside the project wasn’t triggered by anything we did,” he wrote. “ASF Consortium has been a model proponent. It was purely political motivation to win the favour of a few. We’ve been misled throughout this lengthy process.
“The public outcry of heartfelt support towards the project after the announcement has absolutely floored us. Queenslanders who have watched this unfold are shaking their collective heads in disbelief and dismay at this government.”
ASF claimed the development would create 13,000 temporary and permanent jobs in the area, while offering “widespread economic benefits.”