For anyone who can remember the 1990s crony capitalism saga behind James Packer finishing up in control of one of the world’s biggest casinos in the Melbourne CBD, developments this week in Sydney are deeply troubling. And just as concerning is the performance of the mainstream media which has turned into a Packer cheer squad as the NSW Parliament collapses in the face of a powerful rent-seeking casino developer.
The Australian Financial Review, our independent national financial paper of record, should be all over the dubious process which has seen the widely-owned Echo Entertainment Group ambushed by a competitor which openly colludes with political parties, makes direct political donations and employs well-connected former politicians to advance its interests.
Yet there is James Packer pictured on page pme today appearing in "The AFR's Conversation Series". The story is headlined "Packer slams O’Neill in casino war" and there further back in the book is a picture of Packer standing with the paper's companies editor Nabila Ahmed, along with media writer James Chessell and CEO Brett Clegg.