CAIRNS IS EXHIBIT #1
Even prior to the Aquis announcement, the Cairns tourism industry was experiencing huge interest in businesses (tourism and otherwise) by Mainland Chinese. Most of the Cairns tourist coach operators have been replaced by Chinese owners in the last few years, for example.
The interest now has turned into a flood of property sales as Cairns business owners succumb to the Chinese proffers. Some of the most iconic businesses have been sold, or are in the process of being sold, by investors in Cairns who apparently see prefer fast bucks to Australian ownership.
We now know that the only way the Sheraton Mirage rehab could get underway is under full Chinese ownership. Convicted criminal David Marriner is out.
In the last few weeks the Palm Cove Novotel has been sold to the Chinese.
Sean Howard, who (along with partner MP Malcolm Turnbull) sold Ozemail for over $500M, purchased both Double Island and the Kewarra Beach Resort almost seven years ago, professing his "love for Cairns", has sold both assets to the Chinese, an investor that Mayor Bob "Sleepy" Manning has taken great pride in courting, Benny Wu. Actually, Benny Wu is a front man for a man named Huang Ping (Owen Huang), who claims to have been a post-graduate business student at Deakin University in an online CV that goes back only 18 months.
He along with his "investor-friends" group own all these Sean Howard assets, along with the Acacia Court Hotel on the Esplanade and Whitfield House (sold off by Dr. Henry Glennie).
One has to wonder why Mr. Huang needs to have a "shill" (Benny Wu) claim ownership to the media - and if Mayor Manning and Gavin "Don't Rape Me" King are aware that the man they've been spruiking is really just a front-man for someone else?
Insiders indicate that the Huang group's recent purchase of the Kewarra Beach Resort hinges on promises made by the Mayor to ensure occupancy can be increased from the current 44 rooms to a rumoured 250. This plan is said to reduce the size of the approved retirement community that stretches from the resort to the Cook Highway, the start of which Howard has consistently stalled. The Kewarra Retirement Village website has lied "head office has been working out new designs which are now being costed". The long list of anxious potential residents is now SOL, as will be Kewarra Beach residents if the hotel is blown out to 250 rooms!
Now let's look at the CBD.
The Acacia Court hotel was mentioned earlier. Word is deals are about to be announced for the Cairns Hilton and the Holiday Inn, both owned by Darwinite Lloyd Berger's BG Investment Holdings P/L. The Novotel Cairns Oasis and Rydges Plaza are also in play.
In the next few months we're likely to see fully 1/2 of the Cairns hotel rooms in Chinese hands (this of course excludes "holiday letting" apartments, which the Chinese tourists shun. Who wants to cook on a holiday?)
On the tourist business front we understand that the Chapman family has been considering a Chinese offer for Skyrail, and staff at the Cairns office of Queensland Rail routinely explain to Chinese callers that the Kuranda rail line is not for sale (although with the LNP running Queensland, who can tell?)
Shops have been changing hands in the CBD from Australian to Chinese ownership. This includes one newsagent and several fast food operations, including two on the Esplanade "golden block".
Gavin King, who continually spruiks the "Buy Locally" mantra, keeps claiming Cairns is now in a period of "positive contagion". Don't come running to us when everything is owned by the Chinese. It's our fellow Australians that are selling us out.