BULLET DODGED: Experts unleash on Aquis resort

CAIRNS dodged a bullet with Aquis, according to experts, who have used the defunct $8.15 billion resort proposal as an example of a project that was not sustainable for the Far North.

Several international and local speakers gathered at The Cairns Institute at James Cook University yesterday for a symposium to discuss the challenges in creating economic development in the tropics, that was sustainable and inclusive.

The speakers discussed Aquis Great Barrier Reef resort, which was initially proposed for land on the Barron River floodplain at Yorkeys Knob, about six years ago.

The project, which was being developed by the Hong Kong-based Fung family, was to include five hotels, casino, 18-hole golf course, convention and exhibition centre, aquarium and a theatre.

Aquis Australia, however, no longer listed the development among its current projects.

Cairns Institute director Professor Stewart Lockie told the symposium that the city had "dodged a bullet" with Aquis, suggesting the large-scale development was unsuitable for its proposed location on the Barron River floodplain.

He said there needed to be a focus on more inclusive projects that helped grow the Far North's population, such as those in the education sector.

"Sometimes we get these projects which are quite brilliant, and other times we have projects that are quite crazy," he said.

"I think, ultimately, in terms of this region, we need to be thinking in terms of growing our people.

"The way to attract the workforce of the future is to look at our kids in our schools.

"If we want to attract people with particular skills, let's look at educating people with these skills. I work with lots schools in Cairns, and there are lots of talented young people in Cairns, but they tend to leave."

THINKING AHEAD

DEVELOPERS need to also focus on the end of their project's life.

JCU Singapore Associate Professor Adrian Kuah said projects with limited lifespans such as wind farms needed more planning.

"Wind turbine blades are made of composite materials," he said.

"When they break down, often … they are left to rot on hilltops …. So this green energy, is no longer green."



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