Tourism industry welcomes Gina Rinehart’s decision to develop Great Keppel Island


Tourism organizations in central Queensland have welcomed the news that Australian mining magnate Gina Rinehart has struck a deal to potentially redevelop the resort on Great Keppel Island.

The once iconic resort off Queensland’s central coast closed in 2008 and has since seen several false starts from companies trying to bring it back to life.

In a statement over the weekend, Ms Rinehart’s company Hancock Prospecting said plans have started to acquire the development project from its current lessor, the Sydney-based developer Tower Holdings.

“We hope we can make it better than it has ever been, with a world-class beach club open all year round, sand bars, shops and more experiences around a marina inspired by the successful marinas like Puerto Banus, ”the statement read.

The agreement is still in its infancy and subject to local and state government approvals.

The former seaside resort of Great Keppel Island was demolished in August 2018 after 10 years of inactivity.(ABC Capricorn: Megan Hendry)

The enthusiastic tourism sector

Ross O’Reilly, president of the Great Keppel Island Progress Association, said it was good news, although details of the proposal were not yet known.

“I think there have been so many departures, and nothing has happened, that everyone is sort of sitting back and saying ‘we’ll believe it when we see it’,” Mr. O said. ‘Reilly.

“It’s a really big project and getting the funding these days to complete the project is huge, and she won’t be a problem.”

Capricorn Enterprise, the region’s leading tourism and development organization, echoed those sentiments.

CEO Mary Carroll said after months of speculation it was wonderful to hear the news confirmed.

Ms Carroll said that while the deal was at an early stage in the conditional contract process, she had “absolutely no doubt” that Hancock Prospecting could “achieve world-class tourism development”.

A small boat is placed on the sand.
Ms Rinehart’s company, Hancock Prospecting, said plans for the island include a beach club, bars, an underwater bar, shops and a marina.(ABC Capricorn: Blythe Moore)

Necessary environmental protections

Keppel member state Brittany Lauga agreed that the investment appeared to have the greatest chance of materializing compared to previous attempts over the past decade.

“I really want to see whoever does it make sure they are protecting the environment, using local contractors, using local workers and not excluding the local people on the island.” , said Ms Lauga.

She reiterated that the state government would review the project management experience and financial capacity of any applicant who wanted the lease transferred to them.

Ms Lauga said she knew Ms Rinehart had visited the island but had not met her and that she was concerned about the potential environmental impacts on the island.

“[But] I am also very confident in the approval processes of state, federal and local governments, ”said Ms. Lauga.

“As long as they stick to the approvals, they minimize that environmental impact, and as long as our region gets a fair share of it … but also Hancock works with the people of Woppaburra and the island operators as well, then I think we I’m with a good shot. “

The Resource Department said it had not yet received a lease transfer request.

It comes after the Resources Minister rejected developer Altum Property Group’s attempt to acquire the lease in June.

Tower Holdings declined to comment until a later date, when the deal will be confirmed.

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