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Centre’s delay has flow-on cost effect

DELAYS in getting the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre built could cost WA some of the $42 million expected to come from the 21 shows already booked for the venue.

The first show pencilled in for the new venue was due to open on February 25 2003, but the centre is not expected to be ready until January 2004.

The extended completion date has been blamed on the former WA Government’s tardiness in choosing a preferred tenderer.

It was initially thought work on the centre would start in March. However, preferred tenderer the Multiplex Consortium has until May 28 before it even has to show the Government how it intends to finance the project.

A confidential Perth Convention Bureau report revealed 21 shows, worth $42 million to WA’s economy, had been booked for the venue from February 2003 until September 2004.

The delay means 12 of those shows are at risk. Among them are four conferences that are expected to bring 5,600 delegates to WA. That could be worth $17.8 million to WA businesses in delegate spending alone.

The delay in the PCEC’s construction has meant the PCB has had to do some shuffling to try and avoid losing the business.

One conference has arranged to go into the Burswood International Resort Casino’s upgraded convention facility.

The Meetings Industry Association of Australia is asking the PCB to rebid for its national conference for 2004 and convenors of the 2,500 delegate Financial Planning Association national convention have agreed to come to Perth in 2004 instead of 2003.

Besides the conferences, eight exhibitions were booked to use the PCEC in 2003.

Exhibit managing director Peter Versluis said the impact of the PCEC’s delay on his company would depend on what happened to the Burswood Dome.

The company’s MIENEX and Every Woman Expo shows are among the first on the books for the centre.

“The reason we were so quick off the mark to book the convention centre was due to uncertainty over the Dome,” Mr Versluis said.

Perth Convention Bureau director sales and marketing Jill Henry said the bureau had asked Burswood to hold off on any plans to demolish its Dome until after the PCEC was built.

“So far they have given us a firm commitment that the Dome will not be demolished before July 2003,” Ms Henry said.

A Burswood spokeswoman said a final decision of the Dome’s fate would be made in three to five years.

Ms Henry said the problems had been caused by the long bidding times needed to secure international conferences.

The PCB has been touting for business for the centre since 1998 when the then WA Government announced it was putting $100 million towards the development of the centre.

“We’re working on some bids out to 2007-08,” Ms Henry said.

The PCB has a 77 per cent success rate on its bids.

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