NSW has laws to control casino industry but Premier O’Farrell wants to cut free

Today, New Matilda published another story in our series on James Packer casino deal. This one explains how casino regulation works in NSW and how O’Farrell’s plan to “get on with it” removes a lot of safeguards put in place to protect NSW against organised crime and corrupt influences which have a history targetting casinos.

I also look at the the Independent Gaming and Liquor Authority‘s ongoing investigation into whether Packer’s company Crown should be allowed to raise its shareholding from 10% to up to 25%.  There are lots of issues the inquiry could explore – but will they?

Red Tape cut for Packer 


Questions for an Australian Media Inquiry

There is debate about whether we should have an Australian inquiry into the media and in particular News Ltd which controls 70% of our print media and chunks of our sport and TV industries. I would have thought with arrests of News executives for criminal and corrupt activities and investigations into whether the company is ‘fit and proper’ to hold licenses, an inquiry would be on the agenda. Some journalists disagree, fearing that an inquiry could lead to state control. Those of us pushing for an inquiry need to be clear on the issues it should explore and what we hope to get out of it.

New Matilda published my list of suggested questions and invited discussions. There are some great suggestions and comments which follow.

No rules for Murdoch to break

Why does Australia have such a concentrated media and such a weak system of self-regulation for media owners? To help make sense of all this, I made a brief timeline of media regulation in Australia. You can find it here in New Matilda.
Back in the early seventies, Murdoch even opposed the foundation of an Australian Press Council ( APC) funded and controlled by the media organisations. He later joined by then withdrew after a finding of bias against one of his newspapers.  News Corporation later rejoinedfter the APC did not pubicly oppose his takeover of the Herald and Weekly Times. This was a crucial step which made him the dominant media boss in Australia. He was assisted by some political mates who were disgruntled with media company Fairfax’s investigative journalism.

Why News needs Regulation?

Today I published a piece on News Corporation, phone hacking and implications for Australia. I was surprised by how easily commentators and reporters in Australia were prepared to accept that the key issue for us is whether phone hacking actually happened at News Ltd  papers in Australia.

“There are lots of advantages of being part of a global “integrated media company” as News Corporation describes itself. You might not have been a London News of the World reader but if you bought the Daily Telegraph and other news tabloids, you could still catch News of the World scoops. James Blunt stepping out with Pussycat Dolls beauty Jessica Sutta, Jude Law’s threesomes, second hand gossip from sources about Kylie Minogue’s chemotherapy, Justin Timberlake’s cheating (later proved false): these were all easy pickings for Australian News tabloids. (Jude Law is now suing both The Sun and the News of the World over hacking allegations.)”

I also briefly discuss the different conceptions of free speech underlying the debate about media regulation – just about everyone support the idea of free speech. But are we talking about free speech for media owners or free speech for the community?

Read the article in New Matilda here.