China crisis for RCC

April 16, 2018

The seriousness of the Royal Croquet Club’s financial crisis has been revealed in emailed pleas for help to Adelaide Lord Mayor Martin Haese in which directors warned Chinese Government “heavies” were threatening them over mounting debts.

Australian Conservatives’ founder Cory Bernardi recently warned of the illusion of free trade in his Weekly Dose of Common Sense blog, saying: “Many of those who support free trade also know that there isn’t a level playing field. Behind the visible first line of trade defence are the second, boggy lines of many hidden barriers imposed by nation-states.”

The Advertiser reports it obtained emails former Royal Croquet Club director Tom Skipper sent from the Qingdao International Beer Festival, where the RCC had set up the rebranded “Royal Adelaide Club”.

They contacted Mr Haese and councillor David Slama in August 2016 seeking “urgent” help to clear $1 million in debts owed to Chinese suppliers and companies.

“DPR (presumably a reference to the Democratic People’s Republic of China) have engaged heavies to threaten us which are now on site daily — including right now as we speak.”

He said they were “drastically short” of money with the RAC having only about $41,000 in the bank and $262,000 in assets that could be sold.

He said it was “clear” that the RAC had been sold a “false promise” by Chinese officials.

Last year The Advertiser reported: 

The big sell sounded good. The RCC was being rebadged and taken to China as the Royale Adelaide Club and would take part in the Qingdao Beer Festival. The numbers touted were enormous. As many as four million would attend. One million of them would visit the Royale Adelaide Club and enjoy the best of the state’s produce and beverages.

Then Premier Jay Weatherill was excited. And he backed up his excitement with a $600,000 sponsorship over two years.

“It is a chance for more than one million people to learn more about the ­tourism and studying opportunities we can provide,” the Premier claimed.

Likewise, Adelaide City Council Mayor Martin Haese was similarly captivated.

There was only one problem: the figures provided by the Qingdao Government were wrong. And not by a little.

“We budgeted for about 7000 and realistically got about 700 a day. You could draw the conclusion that it was an absolute disaster,’’ Skipper told FIVEaa.

The venture was not helped by clashes with Chinese authorities regarding duties payable on imported goods.

To read Michael McGuire's 2017 article, click here.

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