Australia should make it easier for Chinese to get visas, says Casino boss

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.

Should be as easy for Chinese as for Americans to get visas

During an interview on Melbourne radio station 3AW693 News Talk, Mr Packer said 'Why would it be any harder for a Chinese citizen to get a visa to visit Australia than it would be for an American citizen to get a visa to visit Australia?

'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.

Family business

Robert died young and his son, Frank Packer, built the family business yet further. He was the founder of various Australian television stations. He was knighted and became Sir Frank. Sir Frank's son, Kerry, expanded the family business into the gambling industry by purchasing the Crown Casino in Melbourne.

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.

Opportunities to do business with China

Mr Robb said that the new visas would 'support the government's ambitious trade and investment agenda and increase the opportunities to do business with China'.

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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