THE Shaolin Temple at Falls Creek is “dead in the water”, according to Shoalhaven councillor and one of the orchestrators of the project, Greg Watson.
Cr Watson, although not wanting to comment on revelations Abbot Shi Yongxin is under investigation by China’s religious administration following allegations of multiple sexual relations and embezzlement, said as soon as the consent was given by the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) the project became unviable.
The PAC granted approval for the $380 million Shaolin tourism complex at Comberton Grange but with strict conditions.
PAC approved the concept plan but excluded the golf course and residential precincts of the proposal and has advised that the hotel precinct should also be moved.
Cr Watson prefaced his comments, saying he had had “no involvement with Shaolin since 2007”.
“My own personal view was the project was dead in the water ever since the PAC consent was issued,” he said.
“The consent wasn’t viable even without the current scandals.
“Unless it [the project] could introduce some income stream, which was with a limited number of residential dwellings, there was no way you can fund it.
“That is the bottom line and has always been the case.
“How could you put in a 500 room hotel, primarily aiming at the Asian market, without a golf course?
“They all want to play golf.”
Cr Watson said PAC’s decision was an “absolute disgrace”.
“The decision PAC made, they might as well just refused it outright,” he said.
“The approval they gave made the project unviable.
“It’s an absolute disgrace the state government allowed it to happen.”
His views differ from those of Shoalhaven Mayor Joanna Gash, who despite all the controversy facing the abbot earlier this week, said she was confident the project would still go ahead.
“People need to understand the abbot is the abbot and the Shaolin Temple Foundation is the Shaolin Temple Foundation, they are separate entities,” she said.
“As far as I’m concerned it changes nothing. It is not a Shaolin Foundation issue. It is a private issue for the abbot and those who are investigating it.”