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24 April 2014
James Packer, a wealthy Australian businessman who owns a chain of casinos, has said that the Australian government should make it easier for Chinese visitors to get Australian tourist visas.
Mr Packer, Australia's second richest man according to BRW, a respected Australian business magazine, is the chairman of Crown Limited, a company which owns and part-owns 'integrated resorts' which include casinos in Australia, the Philippines and Macau.
Mr Packer says that his Australian resorts are in direct competition with casino resorts in other countries and the Australian government is making it harder for Australia to attract Chinese visitors because it insists that Chinese applicants should apply for visas in English and on paper forms rather than online.
'I don't think it makes sense that visa application forms in China should be filled out in English and I don't think it makes sense that they have to be done through the post. There's a new world out there'.
Mr Packer is a well-connected and wealthy man. His father, grandfather and great grandfather were all Australian media tycoons. His great-grandfather, Robert Packer, was a journalist who moved to Sydney and founded two profitable newspapers. By the time of his death, he had built up a sizeable holding in Australian Associated Newspapers.
Since taking over the family firm, James has focussed the family business almost exclusively on gambling. He accompanied Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on a recent trade mission to China to try to drum up interest in his Crown Casino chain.
Shortly after that visit, Australia's immigration minister Scott Morrison and trade minister Andrew Robb announced that Australia would issue three-year multiple entry visas for Chinese businesspeople.
Clearly, Mr Packer does not believe that Mr Robb has gone far enough. He told journalists 'Australia can't afford to be middle of the pack on visa processing'.
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