Federal funding deal falls apart for Gold Coast theme parks

Gold Coast theme park owners Village Roadshow and Ardent Leisure were taken by surprise by the sudden pullout from the Federal Government. Photo: Creative Commons.

A deal between the owners of major Gold Coast theme parks and the Federal Government for millions of funding support has collapsed, frustrating the park owners and Queensland Government.

A week ago, theme park owners Village Roadshow (Sea World, Movie World & Wet’n’Wild) & Ardent Leisure (Dreamworld) were expecting eight-figure loans from the Federal Government.

Today, the Courier Mail has reported that Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham pulled out of the deal, pointing to the millions the parks have received through the JobKeeper scheme.

The decision has been met with backlash from both the park’s owners and the Queensland State Government.

Village Roadshow CEO, Clark Kirby told said the deal’s collapse was unexpected and unwelcome.

“For months we’ve been negotiating with Export Finance Australia to contribute funding to Village’s reopening plans [and] without warning, we were told last week that those negotiations were over. It’s disappointing to say the least,” Mr Kirby told the Courier Mail.

Dreamworld CEO, John Osborne said the Federal Government’s pullout came as a shock.

“We were extremely disappointed. We had been working with them for three months and had every indication it was going to be successful,” Mr Osborne said.

Queensland Tourism Minister Kate Jones said the Federal Government’s move was a “kick in the guts.”

But Birmingham has defended his decision, claiming the two companies have already received $80 million through the JobKeeper scheme and said the Queensland Government should open the border to help the parks.

“With these attractions starting to reopen, the best way to support them would be to see some interstate visitors flowing through their gates.”

Village Roadshow’s Sea World will reopen to the public on Friday 26 June, with Wet’n’Wild and Movie World to open their gates in July.