The NSW government’s decision to allow James Packer to proceed with a second Sydney casino, in a decision waved through by a panel headed by right-wing business figure David Murray, is reminiscent of the worst decisions of the rotten ALP government that preceded Premier Barry O’Farrell.
We shouldn’t single out the Coalition. Two of Packer’s key henchmen in this project have been former ALP powerbrokers Mark Arbib and Karl Bitar, men synonymous with everything wrong with NSW Labor.
And where have the media been in subjecting this scandal to forensic scrutiny? The Australian Financial Review, once a paper about business but now a paper by business, has confined its coverage almost exclusively to cheerleading, including via laughably soft “exclusive” interviews with Packer.
Nor has News Limited offered any scrutiny: Packer is in business with Lachlan Murdoch, the man identified by father Rupert, in secret recordings, as one of the heirs apparent to the now-separated newspaper rump of News Corporation. Today’s Daily Telegraph ran what was effectively a Packer press release on the casino decision. Even The Sydney Morning Herald, which has hitherto made for a marked contrast with stablemate The AFR in its coverage, appeared soft.
So, one of Australia’s richest men can purchase the compliance of both sides of politics, have a major project waved through in a critical location in Sydney, and the media that insists it is a watchdog on the powerful sits silent or applauds.
When it comes to Packer, something’s very, very broken in our polity.
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