Gold Coast mayor suggests the Sultan of Brunei rid Surfers Paradise of his dormant building site

Jonathan ChancellorDecember 8, 2020

The new Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate wants to rid Surfers Paradise of its last few blackholes signalling out the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, whose investment company has sat on a prime vacant commercial holding for 16 years.

One of the world's richest men, the Sultan of Brunei paid $15 million in 1996 for the vacant land. It has a current $15.5 million land valuation.

The Gold Coast Bulletin suggested the Sultan had done nothing more with it than taking a quick look ath 3241 Gold Coast Highway when on his annual holiday.

Cr Tate has expressed concern the 7558 square metre site is still being used for nothing more than a council car park.

"I will put pen to paper and invite him to invest in this city," he said.

"I want to welcome him to start developing the land."

Cr Tate said he could understand why the Sultan and others had failed to develop land here in recent years.

"The city was not moving forward before but there are so many things happening here now," he said.

"There has been a change of government at local and state level and things like infrastructure charges will be lowered on developments.

"We have the Commonwealth Games coming and the light rail being built. All these ingredients are coming together."

Member for Moncrieff Steve Ciobo has suggested the site was ideal for a casino-resort development.

There are few opportunities left for major tourism projects with the Bulletin pinpointing the prime sites remaining in Surfers Paradise as the 1.18 hectare site owned by Thakral at Budds Beach, the Raptis Group's Iluka site, the central Surfers Paradise Boulevard Orix site and The Forum and Lido Arcade site.

The Sultan also bought a Brisbane property in 1996 paying $32.5 million for the iconic Royal on the Park hotel. Its latest land valuation sist at $50 million.

The properties are held through Dermajaya Properties (Southern Pacific) Sdn Bhd with directors including Hjh Hartini binti Haji Abdullah, who until last week was the acting managing director of The Brunei Investment Agency, which is the financial and investment arm of the oil-rich sultanate. Brunei Investment Agency is the main agency that holds and manages the Government of Brunei's General Reserve Fund and their external assets.

Last week The Brunei Times reported by command of His Majesty the Sultan that Hjh Hartini Hj Abdullah was being transferred to the Ministry of Finance (MoF) as senior special duties officer.

The local company's last reported annual profit was $236,000 after income tax. 

Lawyers for Dermajaya Properties have written August 13, 2012 to clarify information contained in a recent article concerning land at Gold Coast Highway, Surfers Paradise.

"The land in question has nothing to do with the Sultan of Brunei but is in fact owned by Dermajaya Properties (SP) Sdn Bhd, a Bruneian company which has various investments in Australia. The company is wholly-owned by the Brunei Investment Agency.

"The whole of the land is presently subject to a three-year lease to Gold Coast City Council to enable Council to operate a car park. Former Gold Coast Mayor Ron Clarke personally approached Dermajaya Properties (SP) Sdn Bhd in December 2011 and requested the company grant a lease to Council to provide parking for Surfers Paradise business patrons after Council's car park opposite the site was closed for use by Gold Coast Light Rail.

"Although the land is leased to Council until 2015 and despite property development being difficult considering current market conditions on the Gold Coast, the company is constantly reviewing opportunities for the land as part of good corporate governance.

"All necessary approvals were obtained in respect of the original purchase of the property by the company and have been complied with, including FIRB." the lawyers advised.






Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of Australia's most respected property journalists, having been at the top of the game since the early 1980s. Jonathan co-founded the property industry website Property Observer and has written for national and international publications.

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