Apparently James Packer got the news that he had won the second casino licence whilst holidaying on his massive luxury cruiser in French Polynesia. The news has been greeted with a mixed reaction and a cynicism that always arises when one of the big boys get their toy.
The toy in this case is the towering Dubai-style monstrosity that will dominate the Barangaroo skyline, housing Packer’s casino, luxury apartments and a six-star hotel, all of them financially well out of reach of the average Sydneysider. They will however, as the Premier assures us, attract the faceless men of world commerce, the mysterious international high rollers who jet in to chance their excess millions at the roulette wheel and the baccarat table.
How these so-called “whales” amassed their millions in the first place is obviously of no moral concern. They could of course be legitimate self-made millionaires. On the other hand they could also be drug or arms dealers, corporate fraudsters, members of the Russian mafia or manufacturing tycoons with a string of wretched sweat shops in China. Collectively they blow billions at casinos around the world and the Government has made it perfectly clear that we want a share of that action.
The decision to grant Crown the new licence and erect Sydney’s own Tower Of Babel comes as no surprise. Sydney is a city where the big boys invariably get their toys, regardless of any public opposition and it’s been that way for decades. Take the now defunct monorail for example. There was enormous public protest when it was first mooted but the project went ahead and despite the recent outpouring of nostalgia it can only be described as a folly.
Look elsewhere in the CBD and you will see numerous examples where heritage buildings have been demolished to build soulless glass and steel boxes. In the 70s and 80s this was endemic as developers rushed to tear down buildings such as the old Regent Theatre and the Anthony Horderns building, peppering the city with a moonscape of crater-like holes. Throw in the Toaster at the Quay, Fox Studios at Moore Park and the proposed redevelopment of Darling Harbour and it’s the same old story – the big boys, nearly always get their toys!
The Hit List: Peña Flamenca played a sellout show at the Basement a few weeks ago and are following up with two very special nights at La Sala (Level 1, 134A Victoria Rd, Rozelle) on Friday July 12th and Saturday 13th. The intimate theatre-style venue is the perfect place to catch the fiery flamenco fusion of this talented young ensemble. www.facebook.com/penaflamencasydney Also this weekend the Pinks unleash an all star cast with Continental Robert Susz, Reg Mombassa, Peter O’Doherty, Brendan Gallagher, Robbie Souter, Jonathan Zwartz and Doug Nairn when they play the blues at Blue Beat in Double Bay on Friday July 12.