A room at The Pavilion facility

The rehabilitation of James Packer has begun …” with news that the billionaire has checked himself into “The Pavilion”, the $5000-a-night annex to McLean Hospital in Boston. McLean has an excellent record, though past patients have included Sylvia Plath, so, well, interesting choice, James.

Packer’s check-in — accompanied by his elderly mother and a business consigliere — is the latest in the long-running saga of Packer’s mental and spiritual health, elements of which have been dropping into the media at greater frequency for the past six months now.

That coincides with some vicissitudes in Packer’s life: being named in the Netanyahu scandals, which are currently ripping apart Israeli politics, and accusations of machine-tampering at Crown Casino in Melbourne, made by Andrew Wilkie in federal parliament last year, with video evidence of such tabled.

The latter has prompted the Victorian Liquor and Gaming Commission to announce an investigation, which could eventually lead Crown Resorts to lose its gaming licence in Victoria. That was announced on March 5. Packer resigned as director of Crown Resorts a fortnight later.

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That sort of investigation would be pretty depressing if you were already feeling low. Were the two events interconnected? We won’t know because Jamie Packer is checked into a $5000-a-night mental health facility. What sort of animal would ask an unwell man about his potential involvement in the corruption of Israeli politics (and isn’t that a high bar to get over)?

Given that Packer has announced he was stepping back from all responsibilities, what sort of insensitive jerk would ask him about anything? Let’s instead call someone from Beyondblue to ask about the scourge of depression, and worry as to whether the paparazzi have been mean to James’ family.

Funny old world, isn’t it? I’ve got a close, older, relative who also had a problem with depression until she started going to Crown Casino and playing the pokies. Then she had a problem with gambling. Now she too has government inquiries to answer: about why she hasn’t paid her car rego, declared pitiful amounts of excess income, is behind in her public housing rent. Maybe she should check into a $5000-a-night facility.

The rehabilitation of James Packer has begun? It sure has.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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