Gold Coast technology conference goes broke
 By RODNEY CHESTER
 3nov99  The Courier Mail

 THE biggest technological conference ever staged in Australia APEC Technomart
 III at the Gold Coast went broke last night before it had finished its five-day run.

 The conference, backed by the Queensland Government and assisted by the
 Federal Government, was aimed at boosting technological and business contacts
 between members of the Asian-Pacific Economic Forum.

 Premier Peter Beattie is due to open a venture capital seminar at the conference
 this morning.

 Mr Beattie said the State Government had agreed a year ago to be one of 12
 sponsors of the Technomart at a cost to taxpayers of $200,000.

 Last month Mr Beattie spent much of a five-day visit to Japan inviting businesses
 to send representatives to Technomart and his Government's associated venture
 capital conference.

 It is understood the venture capital conference will require a further contribution
 from Government coffers.

 He moved last night to hold his own conference at the Gold Coast today to attract
 venture capitalists to invest in Queensland and prevent his Government and the
 state suffering a blow to its international reputation.

 The conference had hoped to attract thousands of delegates, businessmen, visitors
 and scientific speakers.

 But speakers, who had expected to address up to 300 people at a time, have been
 faced with audiences of fewer than six.

 Some exhibitors, promised they could expect as many as 30,000 visitors over the
 five-day conference, have said they will ask for their money back because so few
 people have passed their exhibits.

 A spokesman for Peter Fisher, the chair of APEC Technomart and a director of the
 operating company, PacRim Technomart Inc, said last night a provisional liquidator
 would be appointed today.

 A spokesman for Deputy Premier Jim Elder said last night before the liquidation
 was announced: "We're a bit concerned about numbers, but see it as an
 opportunity to promote Queensland as the smart state."

 One exhibitor, who asked not to be named, said: "I've swiped 13 cards (for
 expressions of interest) in two days.

 "Maybe if they dropped the $30 entrance fee for visitors they'd get some people
 through the thing in the next three days."

 People wanting to attend seminars at the Royal Pines stream of the conference
 must pay $1295 for the week or $395 for the day.

 The exhibition halls at the 11 different venues at the Gold Coast have been almost
 deserted during the two days so far.

 A Technomart staffer said a total of about 3000 visitors, exhibitors and delegates
 had registered before Technomart started.

 She said prospective exhibitors had been told that 30,000 "visitations" by 5000
 visitors could be expected, but Technomart literature says "over 30,000 Australian
 and overseas visitors are expected to attend the combined events".

 The Courier-Mail is a sponsor of the event.


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