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Chinatown given ‘one more week’

By Mark Beale

Whitsunday Chinatown Investments has until 4pm next Wednesday, February 3, to settle on the land earmarked for the development on Waterson Way or the contract will be terminated.

At yesterday’s Whitsunday Regional Council meeting in Bowen, deputy mayor Andrew Willcox revealed WCI was in fact now in breach of the contract and said while he respected the confidentiality involved, “there has not been a single contractually agreed date that has been met – not one”.

Nonetheless, Cr Willcox said for the sake of one more week, and for a project of this size and this significance, he was prepared to “give it those few extra days to see if we can get it over the line”.

Cr Jan Clifford agreed saying this was the “last gasp”.

“There’s nobody else standing out there with $300 million, or even talking about spending it in town… so for the sake of a week until February 3, I think it’s worth the punt,” she said.

“Let them come forward with their bone fides and their money or I guess it’s ‘all over red rover’.”

Part of the problem with the deal over Waterson Way has been the $1 million bank guarantee still payable by WCI to council.

At yesterday’s meeting, Cr Peter Ramage said if this was an issue, “how are they going to stump up $300 million for the (final) bill?”

“I think enough’s enough and let’s bring it to a halt,” he said.

However, Cr Ramage and Cr Dave Clark were the only ones to vote against the one-week extension, which was passed by four votes to two.

Mayor Jennifer Whitney was absent from the decision-making process due to her long declared “perceived” conflict of interest arising from various trips to China.

Prior to Wednesday’s meeting, the China Australia Entrepreneurs Association Inc released a statement on behalf of WCI representative Peter “Raymond” Wang calling on councillors and the community to “be mindful of the enormous potential that this one development alone can bring to our region, across all industries” and promising Mr Wang would build to whatever heights were allowed on the site by the agreed town plan.

President of the CAEAI’s Whitsunday branch, Mark Beale, said the community needed to remember there had been “extraordinary lengths” taken over the past three years to develop a strong working relationship between the Chinese and the community, so investment could be realised.

On the result of the meeting, he said he was relieved that at least in the interim, “common sense has prevailed”.

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