House debates

Tuesday, 20 October 2020


Crown Resorts

12:17 pm

Photo of Andrew WilkieAndrew Wilkie (Clark, Independent) Share this | Hansard source

Thank you, Speaker. There is an urgent need to suspend standing orders to deal with this motion because the misconduct at Crown has reached such staggering proportions that it can be no longer ignored by this place. We now have such a long list of allegations—it probably does go through the alphabet, Speaker—serious allegations of organised crime; illegal offshore activities, in particular in China, resulting in the arrest of numerous Crown employees; insider trading, with the revelations that the company has given James Packer access to privileged information which he's not entitled to; money laundering; illegal modification of gambling devices; domestic violence; and drug dealing and trafficking. There is an urgent need to suspend standing orders and to deal with this because we cannot rely on the existing inquiries.

Currently—in fact, just today—the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority is continuing with its inquiry into whether Crown is fit and proper to hold the licence for Barangaroo. What remarkable work that inquiry is doing and what remarkable revelations have emerged, including, as recently as this morning, the chairwoman's admitting that money laundering is going on at Crown casino and being unable to explain the evidence presented by me last year of young people walking into gambling rooms at Crown casino with Aldi bags containing millions of dollars in cash which was being swapped for chips and then almost straightaway being cashed in so the money was effectively washed—money laundered.

The problem with the New South Wales inquiry is its terms of reference are simply too narrow to go to all of the matters we need to consider, including the conduct of governments and politicians and political parties. The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation, the VCGLR, is currently doing an inquiry, but that agency has shown itself to be worse than useless in recent years. In fact, its so-called inquiry at the moment is simple a show-cause asking Crown if it has been up to no good and accepting that Crown said, 'There's nothing to see here.'

Just yesterday it was revealed that the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, AUSTRAC, is finally on the job and is investigating allegations of money laundering at Crown, but, again, the remit of that organisation is just too narrow. It will only be looking at the money-laundering allegations. I regret to say that, as pleased as I am that AUSTRAC is now on the job, I don't have huge confidence in that organisation. Remember that the first allegations of money laundering were made over three years ago, but it was only yesterday that we learnt that AUSTRAC is actually conducting an investigation into Crown. I would add, when talking about AUSTRAC, let's not forget that last year I provided hard evidence in this place that between 90 and 95 per cent of club poker machine venues in New South Wales are not compliant with money-laundering and terrorism-financing allegations. When I reported that to AUSTRAC last year my concerns were batted away.

The Attorney-General said last year, when I called for a royal commission into the casino industry, that all was well and that the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity was on the beat and would look into it. Of course, ACLEI didn't find anything, and it didn't result in any action taken against Crown casino, despite all of the evidence then and all of the evidence since. So I regret to say that the ACLEI inquiry launched by the Attorney-General last year and which was supposed to hose down this whole issue with Crown was at best incompetent and at worst a whitewash.

What is needed is a royal commission, so there's an urgent need to suspend standing orders for everyone in this place to debate the merits or otherwise of having a royal commission to look specifically at Crown casino. There are no existing inquiries that will do the job, and neither can we have faith in the existing regulatory framework to clean up Crown or the casino industry more broadly.

Of course, one of the problems here and one of the challenges I have in convincing honourable members to support my motion is that the political class have been running a protection racket for Crown Resorts for years. How else to explain the fact that, about one year ago, when I called for a royal commission into the casino industry, with all of the evidence that was available at that time, neither the government nor the opposition supported that motion? But I suppose that's understandable when you consider the money that sloshes around in this matter. In fact, when I pull up the financials for financial year 2018-19, which, of course, is the 11½ months leading up to the 2019 federal election, I see that Crown Resorts donated $179,642 across 20 donations, all focused on the three states where it has casino licences. What a fabulous investment that was for Jamie Packer and his mates at Crown! For less than $200,000, they paid another one of their insurance policy instalments to ensure that the political class would continue to protect them. If my honourable colleagues in this place want to refute that allegation, if my honourable colleagues in this place want to show—


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