When we learnt, via the Crown royal commission, that former Daniel Andrews adviser Chris Reilly had ordered the company's head of corporate affairs to threaten the Victorian gambling regulator with going over their head to the minister, we were given a glimpse of "old Crown", as it's now termed. The Crown that treated regulation as a voluntary exercise and the regulator as a minor inconvenience, and that wielded its political connections to prevent any impediments to its profit-making.
"Old Crown" is a thing of the past, the company, led by chair Helen Coonan, now insists. Indeed, according to the narrative offered to the royal commission yesterday by Coonan, it would have been even further in the past if she'd had her way, but she didn't have the numbers on the board to dump its former CEO Ken Barton, or cooperate more with the Bergin inquiry in NSW, or defy the advice of Crown's lawyers, who exercised a strange power over the board that, as counsel assisting suggested, seemed more akin to their being clients of Crown than the other way around.
But old Crown seems very much alive and well, and going to the minister over the head of the "regulator" remains a standard tactic, if yesterday's revelation of Coonan's letter to the Victorian gaming minister last week is anything to go by. We have only hints of what is contained in the letter, but Coonan used it to warn Gaming Minister Melissa Horne of the "catastrophic" consequences if Crown lost its licence, and that it was “not in the public interest for Crown to fail”.