Crown casino: Packer owns Sydney

Issue 
Artist's impression of the new casino at Barangaroo.

"The plan for James Packer's Crown Casino at Barangaroo to take over even more public space shows that Packer and his fellow billionaires control the NSW Coalition government and are taking over all our precious state-owned land and assets at a rate of knots," Peter Boyle, Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Sydney in the upcoming federal election, said on May 4.

Boyle was commenting on the plan for Packer's casino, the biggest building development in Sydney in decades, a 275-metre high casino, hotel and apartment tower at Barangaroo, to be built on public land just 30 metres from the harbour's edge.

The casino tower proposal is now in its final stage of approval, a Planning Assessment Commission hearing. At a day of public hearings on April 28, a Design Advisory Panel, consisting of three prominent urban architects, was highly critical of the way the tower would impinge on public space and narrow public walkways.

The panel's recommended changes have been largely brushed aside by the Department of Planning, which has recommended that the "iconic building" be approved.

Professor Peter Webber, a former government architect, commented: "How can a building housing a gambling venue and apartments be an icon?"

Australian Institute of Architects NSW president Shaun Carter stressed to the PAC, "You are the last check and balance for the people in this process. Now, it is up to you to protect the public's interest.

"I for one don't want to be remembered as the people that chose a private, exclusive casino over a harbour-side public park. A park that will live in perpetuity ... that will be a gift to this city, a gift for our children and our children's children," he said.

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