‘Cruel hoax’ pulled on troubled theme parks
THE Morrison Government is being accused of a "cruel hoax" on Gold Coast theme parks after an offer of multimillion-dollar emergency loans to combat the impact of COVID-19 was "ripped away".
Theme park officials had been in negotiations for months with Export Finance Australia for funding to help the embattled Queensland parks reopen from this weekend.
The Federal Government terminated the talks "without warning" and is refusing to explain why. An angry Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate yesterday accused the Government of leading the theme parks "up the garden path". Coast-based Labor Senator Murray Watt said it was a "cruel hoax on the industry".
In a letter to federal Tourism and Trade Minister Simon Birmingham yesterday and obtained by The Courier-Mail, Senator Watt demanded an explanation for the "confusing" collapse of negotiations. He said Sea World and Movie World owners Village Roadshow and Dreamworld operators Ardent Leisure had each lost up to $15 million a month.
"Surely, if the intention of the $500 million business-saving loans was to provide crucial finance to avoid job losses, there could be few more eligible businesses than these," he said.
Senator Birmingham said the theme parks were receiving more than $80 million through JobKeeper and other support.
Originally published as 'Cruel hoax' pulled on troubled theme parks