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Gold Coast Mayor received flights, accommodation for ‘private’ China trip

The Gold Coast Mayor received international flights and accommodation from a development business linked to a $1.3-billion Chinese high-rise project in Surfers Paradise.

Key points:

  • Cr Tate spoke at Chinese launch of luxury Gold Coast tower during private visit to Beijing
  • The Spirit Tower is being built by a Chinese developer and being promoted by Tony Hickey, a friend of Cr Tate
  • Mayor has amended official register of interests to include gift from Hickey Management of "return flight and accommodation to China"

In September, the ABC's Four Corners program revealed Tom Tate had travelled to Beijing, where he spoke at the launch of the 88-storey luxury tower being built by China's Forise Holdings.

At the time, the Mayor's office told the program his visit was "private".

Forise is represented on the Gold Coast by Councillor Tate's friend Tony Hickey, whose company Hickey Management works with "prominent business leaders in Beijing, Hong Kong, Germany, Switzerland and Australia".

The company's website says Mr Hickey has become "the Australian connection for a select group of offshore investors", with Hickey Management "currently managing a portfolio in excess of $1 billion worth of projects".

In September, Four Corners reported it had asked the Mayor's office if any person, company or organisation had funded Cr Tate's trip to China.

"Regarding my recent private trip to China, it was private," it responded.

But after the program revealed the mayor had spoken at the Forise Holdings launch in Beijing, Cr Tate amended his official register of interests to include a gift from Hickey Management of "return flight and accommodation to China".

While they are listed in a section marked "gifts over $500", it does not say the exact worth of the flights and accommodation. The detail is not required on the registry.

Asked about amendment to his register of interest, the Mayor's office replied "no comment".

Mr Hickey's son Jordan is listed as a director of Hickey Management along with his father.

Chinese media reports on the Forise Holdings Beijing launch say Jordan Hickey attended the event along with Cr Tate and Australian real estate representatives.

The company's 285-metre Surfers Paradise tower is called "Spirit", and will house 470 luxury units when it's opened in 2020.

Reports say the tower's penthouse will fetch about $30 million.

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