Foreign businessman stripped of island lease

Keira Jenkins |

A businessman has been stripped of an island lease for failing to reboot tourism.
A businessman has been stripped of an island lease for failing to reboot tourism.

Resort operators have been put on notice after a Hong Kong businessman was stripped of a Queensland island tourism lease for failing to restart a tourist facility.

Double Island, off the far north coast near Cairns, has been returned to the Queensland government after it claimed a legal win.

The island was home to a luxury resort which shut down six years ago.

Resources Minister Scott Stewart said after years of trying get leaseholder Benny Wu to rebuild the decrepit five-star facility and re-open the island, he took a case to Land Court.

It ruled in May the lease could be forfeited as its conditions – namely the operation of a tourist facility or resort on the island – had been breached.

After the deadline for Mr Wu’s legal team to file an appeal expired this week, Mr Stewart revoked the tourism lease.

Mr Wu’s Fortune Island Holdings Company paid $5.68 million for the lease in 2013.

Mr Stewart said Double Island was officially back in state hands.

He said the outcome put island resort operators on notice to comply with their leases or risk losing them.

“The community and the local members want to see Double Island open, thriving and available to use, as do I, which is why I took this action,” Mr Stewart said on Friday.

The news was welcomed by local MP Craig Crawford, who said the outcome was “bloody brilliant”. 

“It is now back in the hands of Queenslanders,” he said.

“This is the day we’ve all been waiting for after six long years.

“Many in the community did not think this day would come, but I knew if we stuck to our guns we would win.”

The government will now assess the island’s infrastructure and consider its future, in consultation with locals, in the coming months. 

“We want to see Double Island restored to its former glory and accessible to locals and visitors,” Tourism Minister Michael Healy said.

“Queensland’s island resorts are the jewels in the crown of our state’s tourism industry.” 

Opposition natural resources spokesman Dale Last said the LNP would preserve Double Island as an eco-tourism asset if it won the October state election. 

In the meantime, locals have been warned to steer clear of the island. 

“During this time, people should stay away from the former resort while action is taken to assess and address any hazards,” Mr Stewart said. 

“The resort hasn’t operated for many years and is in a state of disrepair and isn’t safe to the general public.”