Calls for a federal parliamentary inquiry into Melbourne’s Crown Casino are growing over accusations of fast-tracked visas and links to suspected organised crime figures in China. Centre Alliance MP Rebekha Sharkie is today expected to second a motion by Tasmanian independent MP Andrew Wilkie demanding an inquiry. Senator Jacqui Lambie has also expressed ire on Twitter over the revelations from the joint report by 60 Minutes, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. Last week, Wilkie referred Victoria Police and the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation to the state anti-corruption commission, over allegations by whistleblowers of turning a blind eye to money laundering, links to drug traffickers, and other illegal activity on Crown premises. Wilkie said Crown was “referred to as the Vatican by serving police officers” as “it's regarded as a city-state and a law unto itself”.
Australia has passed legislation approving a new treaty deal with Timor-Leste to share oil and gas deposits in the Greater Sunrise fields in the Timor Sea. The two nations signed a treaty in March last year, putting to rest an ongoing border dispute, and now the treaty has been approved by both governments. Gas piped from the area will be split 80-20 if processed in Australia or 70-30 if processed in Timor-Leste. The government of Timor-Leste is pouring $16 billion into infrastructure to facilitate the project. Experts warn that the massive infrastructure venture is doomed to fail similar to other development projects including the little-used $120 million airport and multi-million-dollar highway.
Labor has failed in its pursuit of setting up a senate inquiry into federal energy minister Angus Taylor and his conduct regarding a listing of endangered native grasslands and meetings with the Department of Environment in 2017. Taylor has denied any wrongdoing, telling parliament yesterday that the subsequent briefings he sought about the grassland listings were in response to constituent questions and not in connection to his family’s vested business interests. Labor and the Greens, while supported by the Centre Alliance, could not get the support needed from One Nation leader Pauline Hanson or independent senator Cory Bernardi.
The New South Wales government is being sued by owners of units in western Sydney’s Opal Tower for millions of dollars, following evacuations of the building on Christmas Eve last year due to safety. Resident and owner Terry Williamson is leading the open class action, which all residents are a part of unless they choose to opt out. Williamson claims that the tower is not built in accordance to the plans and specifications documented, making it in breach of the Home Building Act. The government-owned Sydney Olympic Park Authority is being sued because it is considered the “developer” under the Act.