The Questions O'Farrell Won't Answer


New Matilda submitted a list of questions to Barry O’Farrell about James Packer’s casino plans.

We received a disappointing reply from Mark Tobin, previously a senior reporter at the ABC.

"Please quote a spokesman for Premier Barry O’Farrell. "The Premier has spoken extensively about this topic and will not be adding to his statements that are on the public record."

New Matilda reviewed the questions to see whether the Premier had already answered them in previous comments. We could not find the answers, so we sent a slightly shorter list through again.

Dear Mark,

Since receiving your response I have further searched available material and cannot find answers to my questions. Indeed I can find no reports of extensive statements by Premier O’Farrell on this matter containing relevant answers. If these do exist, I would appreciate it if you could forward links to these or give me appropriate information so I can locate them.

I have slightly reduced the questions as I appreciate that the Premier and his staff are busy. I am however persisting in my attempt to get answers to these questions. I have a new deadline of this Thursday September 20 at 5 pm.

Along with another reporter Lawrence Bull, I intend to publish one or more articles in New Matilda on the subject of Packer’s proposed casino. This subject is in the public interest and answers to these questions will enable my readers to more fully understand the issues.

Here, again, are the questions addressed to the Premier. The wording is slightly adjusted and in some cases reduced.

1. How and when did you first become aware of James Packer’s proposal to operate a casino in NSW either through the Echo license or separately? From whom did you receive this information?

2. Were you aware of these plans before you took government? In what circumstances did you receive this information?

3. In February this year, you said that every time you met Mr Packer, he mentioned the casino to you. When did this first occur? At which events did these occur? ( if it is not possible to list all these events, could you please provide information about some of them.)

4. In February this year at the time of the announcement of Packers’s NSW casino plans, you were quoted as saying that James Packer had requested a meeting with you about the casino plan. Who attended that meeting? Have you had any further conversations with any representatives of Crown about the proposals? When and in what situations did these occur?

5. Has Lendlease had any meetings with you or any other Minister at which the matter of the casino was discussed? If so, when and who was in attendance?

6. Have you, any member of your department or any other Minister seen the Allen Consulting report on which Mr Packer depends for his claims about the financial boost of $300 to $440 that his hotel/casino would bring to the economy of NSW? Have you or any member of your government requested this? Have you or any other Minister requested or received independent advice on this claim? When and in what form did that occur?

Thank you for your assistance. I would appreciate receiving answers to these questions by the deadline indicated above.


Wendy Bacon.

We received this response from Mark Tobin:

We have nothing to add to our previous statement.

Read the first installment of Wendy Bacon and Lawrence Bull’s investigation into how Packer has made a Sydney casino licence for Crown look like a fait accompli here.

Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.