NSW Chapter President Joe Agius letter to the editor in response to SMH article ‘Keating gives blessing to Packer’s big plans’

Dear Editor

I write in response to the article published in The Sydney Morning Herald today (4 May 2013)
‘Keating gives blessing to Packer’s big plans’ by Sean Nicholls on page 7.

The latest episode in the Barangaroo saga reveals yet another assault on the public interest.
In addition to the financial assessment of the competing Crown and Echo Entertainment
unsolicited casino hotel proposals, the government must undertake an assessment of the public
benefits (or otherwise) of these proposals on what is left of the public domain at Barangaroo.
What will be the impact of such a monumental building on the low-scale and people-friendly
community facilities proposed for the harbour side of Barangaroo Central?

The government is charged with the responsibility of protecting the public interest on this
important piece of public land.

Rather than protecting the public interest, successive governments have allowed private
interests to gain primacy in determining the re-configuration of this major site.

This is occurring again: encroachment on areas previously public, renegotiation of heights,
questionable uses, disregard for previous masterplans, no public consultation, and proposals so
unconscious of their context they may as well be in Dubai.

Mr Packer’s misguided comparison of his designs with the Sydney Opera House – a public
cultural building that is highly responsive to its context – is both ludicrous and offensive.

Joe Agius
NSW Chapter President
Australian Institute of Architects