It’s all going swimmingly for James Packer. He’s successfully lobbied the O’Farrell government to give him his way. What’s left of the NSW Labor Party — a byword for scandal and corruption during its latter years in government — has obediently fallen into line. The Australian Financial Review, supposedly the key financial media outlet in the country, is providing at best uncritical, and frequently cheerleading, coverage. Packer’s plan to bring a second casino to Sydney is full-steam ahead:

“This is more than just about money for me. I think — I am a great believer in Sydney, this country has been incredibly kind to my family, this city has been incredibly kind to my family. My dad was a larger than life figure and I think this is my chance to do something that’s, you know, that’s special.”

“Special”, indeed. Establishing a second casino in Sydney is a very special gift from a family that, in its time in the media industry, provided a play book on how to use political influence to constrain competition at immense cost to consumers and innovation.

Sydney doesn’t need another casino, whether for “high-rollers” or not. Its priorities lie elsewhere, in its poor infrastructure, years of public underinvestment and near-comatose housing construction sector.

The government may have changed, but the way business is done in NSW hasn’t.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey