Murdochs

Key dates in Packer-Costello saga


August 23, 2022

Here are some of the key dates in the battle between James Packer and Peter Costello, plus the history of Crown Resorts.

December 2005: Kerry Packer dies, delivering James Packer sole control of the family's PBL gaming and media empire.

July 2006:
Former Costello staffer Michael O'Brien wins preselection to replace Robert Doyle in state seat of Malvern after bitter factional fight between the Costello and Baillieu forces.

October 2006: PBL announces the sale of a 50% stake in its old media assets to CVC at a valuation of $5.6 billion, with Federal Treasurer Peter Costello providing FIRB approval.

November 24, 2007:
Howard Government defeated, Peter Costello declines to contest the leadership and Brendan Nelson defeats Malcolm Turnbull for the top job.

October 7, 2009: Peter Costello announces intention to resign from Federal Parliament shortly after Brendan Nelson departed the Parliament and Malcolm Turnbull took over as leader.

October 18, 2009: Costello resignation takes effect.

November 1, 2009: Rudd Government announces Costello appointment to Future Fund board, sparking a public rebuke from Paul Keating.

November 4, 2009: boutique corporate adviser BKK launched with Peter Costello unveiled as "managing director".

December 5, 2009: Higgins by-election.

November 2010: Brumby Government defeated with former Gaming Minister Daniel Andrews becoming Opposition leader and former Costello staffer Michael O'Brien becoming Gaming Minister.

February 13, 2011: James Packer, Peter Costello and new Victorian Gaming Minister Michael O'Brien had dinner at the Flower Drum.

May 2011: Karl Bitar quit as a national secretary of the ALP to become a lobbyist for Crown at a time when the gambling industry was battling the Wilkie-Gillard pokies agreement.

August 2011:
lobbying firm ECG (Epstein, Costello, Gazard) launched with Costello as non-executive chairman and one-third shareholder, the two other partners being his former staffers David Gazard and Jonathan Epstein.

August 25, 2011: Helen Coonan announced as a Crown Resorts director less than 2 months after retiring from the Senate.

September 2011: Packer payments of approximately $25,000 a month to Costello commence.

February 2012: Mark Arbib quits Federal Cabinet and the Senate and popped up working for James Packer's CPH 3 months later, a position he held for a decade.

March 2012: public brawl over chair succession at the Future Fund where the board recommended Peter Costello and the Gillard government installed David Gonski.

October 2012: Costello contract with CPH ends after 13 months and approximately $300,000 in payments.

March 2013: Ted Baillieu quits as Victorian Premier with Denis Napthine taking over and Michael O'Brien being promoted from Gaming Minister to Treasurer.

July 2013: Victorian Government appoints Costello's 26-year-old son Seb Costello to the board of ACMI.

December 2013: Victorian Treasurer and former Costello staffer Michael O'Brien unveils $60m tax slug on Crown Melbourne, infuriating James Packer.

2014: Packer offers Costello a new retainer to assist with a High Court matter but Costello claims he declined it.

February 4, 2014: Peter Costello succeeds David Gonski as chair of the Future Fund.

August 2014: Crown Melbourne and the Victorian Government settle their differences with a deal involving $500m of additional fixed payments and a 17 year licence extension through until 2050.

November 3, 2014: Lloyd Williams deliver his famous endorsement of Daniel Andrews saying James Packer is going to "kick every goal he can for you".

December 2014: Crown buys 50% of Queensbridge Square as part of plan to build Australia's tallest building across the road from Crown Melbourne.

Late 2015: James Packer makes disgraceful threats against private equity executive Ben Gray after a Crown privatisation proposal involving TPG fell over.

December 2015: James Packer resigns from Crown Resorts board after “transitioning overseas”, settling his family estate with sister Gretel and becoming comfortable with Ron Rankin as the new chair.

February 4, 2016: Costello replaces David Haslingden as chairman of Nine.

August 2016: Peta Credlin joins Packer's private company CPH as head of policy and business development, but only last about 6 months given her heavy News Corp media commitments.

February 9, 2017: Daniel Andrew rolls his Planning Minister to approve Crown building an enormous 323m skyscraper at Queensbridge Square.

March 6, 2017: 4 Corners broadcast "Crown Confidential" looking at the China arrests and high roller business.

August 2, 2017: a group of friends and former staff, including Michael O'Brien, threw a surprise 60th birthday party for Peter Costello at Bamboo House.

December 2018: Nine takeover of Fairfax completes with Costello remaining as chair.

February 2019: planning permit lapses for 323m Queensbridge Square skyscraper in Melbourne because construction didn't start within 2 years of the permit being granted.

July 26, 2019: Nick McKenzie launches his multi-platform attack on Crown via 60 Minutes and The Age/SMH.

August 8, 2019: NSW gambling regulator ILGA announces inquiry into Crown allegations, including the fitness of James Packer partially selling out to the Ho family.

January 2020: internal coup against Crown's executive chair John Alexander with Helen Coonan taking over as independent chair and Ken Barton becoming CEO.

November 2020: Costello re-elected as a Nine director with 99% in favour.

April 28, 2020: Lawrence Ho's Melco group sells 10% stake in Crown Resorts to Blackstone incurring $330 million loss.

February 9, 2021: Patricia Bergin releases final report for ILGA finding Crown Resorts not suitable to run its Sydney Casino.

May 31, 2021: 4 Corners broadcasts story looking at extraordinary deal making that delivered Crown's Barangaroo sky scraper.

October 25, 2021: Victorian Royal Commissioner Ray Finkelstein releases final report into Crown Melbourne.

March 25, 2022: 1000 page report arising from WA Royal Commission into Crown Perth released.

June 24, 2022: Blackstone takeover of Crown settles with Packer receiving $3.2 billion.

August 14, 2022: The Australian breaks story of Packer's $300,000 in payments to Peter Costello and email exchanges with various Nine heavies, including chairman Peter Costello who he wants to resign.

August 15, 2022: Crikey story detailing Peter Costello's conflicts of interest over the years.

August 16, 2022: The Australian reports more Packer claims, including that Costello called Michael O'Brien on his behalf in 2014.

August 19, 2022: Crikey story after email correspondence with James Packer and AFR piece wrapping all the issues.