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4CA - Queensland's Home for Fake News
4CA - Queensland's Home for Fake News Led by John "Cueball" Mackenzie

03 July 2012


While in Port Douglas for the "Longest Lunch" recently, we took a wander around the Sheraton Mirage with a hotelier friend.  We were sadly distressed at the accelerating slide into hotel-hell this property is enduring.  So bad is the situation that the hotel is trying to flog "Day Passes" for families to hang around their deteriorating swimming pool.  

In April of 2011, a family company JKD Holdings (JKD Properties, JKD Investments, etc) led by a former Melbourne theater promoter with a long trail of failed developments right up the Queensland coast purchased the deteriorating Sheraton Mirage, at a huge discount price.  Apparently with "Chinese Money", although disclosure about his partners is long overdue.

The development company, led by David Marriner, has been working their way up the Queensland coast, buying distressed properties with apparently Mainland Chinese investor money, and then further distressing the properties. 

Let's take Laguna Quays, a $250M+ investment in Australia originally by the Japanese, and after a few flips Mr. Marriner's company comes to own it for about $13M.  Years pass, the place deteriorates as Marriner fights stupidly to open his own international airport, so close to the Proserpine Airport that the aviation authorities deemed it a danger.  This got the Queensland government offside, along with other little issues like suing the local council and not paying the rates.  A good summary of the situation was published in Townsville last year.

While this battle was underway, seeing millions squandered, the Marriner companies doubled down in the Whitsundays by purchasing Whisper Bay in September 2010 for some $60M in OPM (other people's money).  This was another collapsed "big idea", the kind of real estate deal that makes Queensland the capital of dodgy deals.  

Laguna Quays, renamed Laguna Whitsundays, mercifully closed its doors in February, 2012 less than a year after the Marriner companies turned their attentions to Port Douglas and the Mirage.  Millions are said to be owed by the Marriner companies in the wake of these projects.

When the Marriner companies first purchased the Sheraton Mirage, they heralded their purchase with announcements of a "$120M refurbishment", clearly unfunded then, and unfunded today.  Spruiking his minimalist theatre credentials in Melbourne, he dangled a 500 seat theatre at the community.

And oh, by the way, please Mr. Minister if you don't mind kicking in $36M of taxpayer money ($18M from Queensland, and $18M from the feds).  Sitting beaming in the front row was Member for Leichhardt Warren "Don't Lock That Door, Mate" Entsch along with a clearly uncomfortable Federal Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey, who wisely refused to promise a penny to these people.  Missing from the sideshow were any members of the Queensland State Government.  Anna Bligh was known to be hostile to any more of the Marriner company "deals" after Queensland was victimised by them in the Whitsundays.  MP Jason O'Brien was ordered to keep clear.

So now here we are a year later, the Mirage is looking more and more dump-like and so strapped for cash they're turning it into a day-trip.  But here we are again with David Marriner beaming with pride and enthusiasm - the Queensland Labor government is gone, and his LNP mates are now holding the public purse.  Oh, for just a taste of that public money, Mr. Campbell Newman.  

Marriner is again spruiking the media like a showman, spouting figures about jobs, and tax base, and the importance of the Mirage to Port Douglas, yadda yadda yadda.  But when you get right down to it, the Marriner companies have a string of big ideas and bigger failures, and with over a year of talk and no action apparently even the Chinese investors have begun to wonder about this song-and-dance.  And on the sidelines, but no less worried, is Starwood/Sheraton who continue to field complaints about the hotel's promotion as a "5 Star Resort".   

Given the Newman government has stripped the Cairns area of some $138M since the election, it would be an insider deal indeed if this failure of a development company were given taxpayer money while Gavin "Don't Rape Me" King squawks "the sky is falling, the sky is falling" at every public meeting.  We're keeping a close eye out for the campaign disclosure forms when released. . .

Thanks to Jennifer Weinstein for her background material on David Marriner


T. Asquith said...

It's not just the Sheraton Mirage, it's pretty much the whole of Port Douglas that's shabby these days. Tacky trinket shops, rip-off café's and restaurants, most with a take-it-or leave-it attitude to quality and service. Visit once, never return

Dean said...

They'll appoint Marriner to some cushy tourism board job, if he made enough campaign contributions.

About time the Compost questioned old Bob about his new Theatre.

Tony Hillier said...

HBW once again does the job that the Cairns Post neglects (either through lack of expertise, nous or inclination — most probably a combination of the three).

Today the Post has regurgitated as its front page lead a two week-old HBW post on the sad CEP situation — information readily gleaned from the Council's website.

Time for a print version of this blog? I reckon the Hillbilly Times would be a winner — as indispensable as the Cane Toad Times was during the dark days of Bjelke-Petersen and Barfly during the Council dictatorship of Kevin Byrne.

Anonymous said...

It is in the Cairns Post today. The CEP won't be built this term and it will cost more than Val's design. It is not as if people weren't warned....Manning is exposed for the liar that he is !!!

Anonymous said...

It is in the Cairns Post today. The CEP won't be built this term and it will cost more than Val's design. It is not as if people weren't warned....Manning is exposed for the liar that he is !!!

Anonymous said...

It is in the Cairns Post today. The CEP won't be built this term and it will cost more than Val's design. It is not as if people weren't warned....Manning is exposed for the liar that he is !!!

Yes, a print version would be great. The hillbilly Barfly !!

Anonymous said...

In Entsch's latest glossy newsletter he says " it is imperative that we us these changes in local and state government to ensure that a wish list of projects in FNQ are actioned upon. We must maintain pressure on all levels on government in regards to issues such as Port Douglas waterfront and Sherton Mirage redevelopment .....". So people get started writing letters and ringing your local members cause Wazza has spoken. What a tosser, I thought I'd heard everything. This needs investigating.


Anonymous said...

Good ole boy "WAZZA" wanted the new performing arts theatre monies to go to Marriner, remember????

Anonymous said...

Port has lost its charm.

ruby said...

Manning never had any intention of building a new performing arts theatre. All he is going to do is to make plenty of noise, hire some consultants, then toss it to the next Council in 2016. As has already been pointed out in here, the incoming Council od 2016 will have the task of raising the finance for which they will be attacked by the usual set of self-serving rats who will use it as an issue to get into office in 2020.
So we go round and round and round and round, going nowhere in Cairns.

Doug Lassiter said...

Anonymous 12.55
Port has lost its charm? Maybe. There are many contributing factors but much of it, unfortunately, has come as a direct result of its forced amalgamation with "Charm City 4870"

Anonymous said...

" has come as a direct result of its forced amalgamation with "Charm City 4870"

Yep OK - but you can blame Beattie and Tom Pyne for that.
Tom was on the committee that set up the combined councils.
The amalgamation was all a set up to get rid of Kevin Byrne.
It worked!
But ... he's back.
Watch the new CEO appointment.

Anonymous said...

I disagree Doug Lassiter. Sheer naked unadulterated GREED wrecked Port Douglas.

jim-bob jnr. said...

Well well well. So you reckon Kev's gunna be the new CEO hey? If thats the case, then old Grandad Manning can then get back to his pjamas and armchair and not frazzle himself over his incontinence pads. Kev will run the entire show. And like Manning he wont be facing the voters next time either. Hes on his last three years before retirement too.

Anonymous said...

Cairns Suckers actually pay $1.10 for a Newspaper that has Jack shit in it, goes to show the that the term smart state dosn't apply to people in Cairns.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ 18.48 - What a load of Bull. Tom Pyne and Peter Beattie had nothing to do with the merger of the Douglas Shire. That was done principally by our then Treasurer Fraser. Mind you I got a shock to think that Caitrns and Douglas were being merged. However, I was not surprised that Douglas lost its Council because of the way it performed. It was a truly dis functional Council who should have been sacked by the Government like the Johnstone Shire was sacked. Simply the Douglas Shire Councillors were not doing their job. Now some idiots in Port Douglas want their Shire back. I think there has been a lot of good work done in Douglas for being part of the Cairns Regional Council that would not have happened if the Douglas Shire still existed. I must say that I was stunned by the calls from Wazza Stench to support the funding to renovate the Sheraton Port Douglas. I smelt a RAT and thanks to HBW for exposing it. Charlie.

Doug Lassiter said...

Dear Charlie - please just give us one example of the "lot of good work done in Douglas that would not have happened if the Douglas Shire still existed".

Jethro said...

See old Grandad Manning is still talking today about a "private/public" partnership for the new performing arts theatre. Wonder if it will be one of Capital Globe's companies he's got in mind? The one that was going to build the proposed Smithfield Shopping Centre?

Dean said...

Smart State doesn't apply to anyone in Queensland. It's long been an unskilled workforce with lower University attendance than other states by a long way.

My grandfather once told me that people that call themselves smart are usually the ones that aren't. Qld is that person.

As for Port, it's the major resorts that have ruined the town, they're like a graveyard as you drive into town. The rest of Port is quite quaint like most other seaside towns. Amalgamation and de-amalgamation have had probably zero percent influence over the Global Financial Crisis and other things which have cut Port Douglas down.

Do they really think changing the name to Douglas will make any difference whatsoever?

CRAG (Community Reformation Action Group) said...

Notice all the Chinese tourists ... the chinese have billions of worthless US dollars which they use to buy up hard assets, land-buildings ... they also fund projects knowing that if they fall over they will own them for cents in the dollar ... in this way they ravish the Western banksters in the same way they were ravished in the past ... its called KARMIC payback !
CRAG(Community Reformation Action Group)

Doug Lassiter said...

Er Dean hello? Don't know what parallel universe you're operating from but the de-amalgamation issue is not about a name change, it's about restoring self-determination to the people of the Douglas Shire- of which Port Douglas is a small, though not insignificant part.

Dean said...

Self determination to do what? What grand plans do the people of Port Douglas have that aren't being done? The waterfront masterplan which CRC has developed and submitted for funding? It sounds like they just want a local govt up there for the sake of having it. What are their actual real grievances that they hope to remedy? How are they different to the people of Gordonvale, Redlynch or Mooroobool in wanting more done in their area, though acknowledging there are budget constraints?

Doug Lassiter said...

Firstly Dean it's the people of the Douglas Shire (NOT just Port Douglas) who are seeking a return to self-determination. Secondly,you need to get your facts straight re the Waterfront Masterplan. This was developed -and was the initiative of - the former Douglas Shire Council. Cairns Regional Council has failed to secure any state or federal funding for it. Maybe you'd like to kick the tin? Finally, one of the principal differences between the people of the Douglas Shire and those of the other places you mentioned is that we are 70 kilometres away and Council has demonstrated over the past four years its inability to understand or address the many issues that affect this area. They raised the rates over 40% and in many cases far more, chucked chlorine in our state-of-the art water filtration system, cut down our coconut trees and pinched our street sweeper (replacing it with one bloke and a leaf blower). Oh and there's also the matter of the many millions of dollars that Douglas contributed to the CRC at the time of amalgamation and for which there has been no accounting. I'm sure if you were being represented by a Council so geographically removed and philosophically ambivalent to your interests you'd want out too. Our lone Councillor Julia Leu has done a extraordinary job under the circumstances given that Div 10 is bigger than all the other CRC Divisions put together.

Dean said...

The rate rises have bene consistent across the state, while they actually applied for the waterfront funding ahead of projects throughout the other 9 divisions, so if anything, div 10 was favoured in that decision.

None of the problems you've outlined above seem systemic, more like minor gripes. I suppose some of you would feel better if you had a mayor closer to you to gripe to.

It seems you just want to feel better represented, not actually get better services.

Anonymous said...

Not sure any government will allow Enscht money for his lunch mates.

Anonymous said...

HBW, Can we use this site to dob in any store/business that puts up prices massively and blames "the Carbon Tax"?? I see that Brumbies has been given a serve.

Doug Lassiter said...

As to be expected from your earlier posts Dean, you just don't get it. If the Waterfront Plan funding was "favoured" as you say ahead of other projects (like the Cairns CBD upgrade) well hey! that was because, unlike the other projects, it was actually "shovel ready"and not just pie-in-the-sky wishful-thinking by some Councillors such as Margaret Cochrane in a last minute and subsequently futile attempt to salvage some credibility for opportunities lost.

Russell from Port said...

The exchange between Doug Lassiter and Dean betrays precisely what we in Port Douglas feared would result from Amalgamation. De-amalgamation - which, incidentally was a majority outcome not an "empowered minority" manipulation - diminishes the prospect of people from Cairns proscribing "solutions" for issues "up there" in our region. Cairns people never have, never will exhibit any genuine interest in or affiliation with Port Douglas, so why would we embrace the negativity that swamps news commentaries and talk-back - or the earlier posts in this particular string!