Sydney's sins are tarnishing Australia's image

The public brawl between James Packer and David Gyngell is another blight on the harbour city, which has been tainted by corruption scandals. It's a serious blow to Australia's global reputation.

For Sydney, New South Wales and Australia, the public brawl between two of our most prominent business leaders could not have come at a worse time.

Internationally and locally, James Packer is one of the best-known and most influential of Australian business people and David Gyngell heads one of our largest media organisations.

Sydney, as the nation’s financial capital, has already had its image damaged by the corruption discoveries and allegations. 

The allegations started with the ALP but have now moved to the Coalition. As every week goes by, another well-known personality seems to become embroiled. We are facing a deep-seated NSW problem.  

Australia has promoted itself internationally as a destination where you will get a fair go and where corruption is at a minimum. 

Then to have two leaders in our financial capital embroiled in physical fights (albeit over personal matters) and others involved in corruption allegations does not boost the nation.

In addition, our international reputation hasn’t been helped by the controversies over the way another very prominent Sydney family, the Lowys, have handled their corporate reorganisation.

Whether Westfield’s proposals were fair or not fair is not the issue; a lot of institutions are not happy that the unhappiness has become well-known internationally.

Yesterday, the Lowy family made a concession to the opposition. The combination of these totally separate Sydney situations is not pretty for the nation.

Sydney needs to get its act together for the sake of Australia, particularly as it is embracing a high-risk strategy of investing very large sums in a second airport instead of spending all its resources of making the city work better -- the strategy being adopted by Melbourne.

Two airports will handle expected Sydney growth in the longer term but in the medium term they will create nightmares for many in transit. Ask New Yorkers.

At the moment Australia, led by Sydney and Melbourne, is one of the favourite havens of Chinese real estate investment. And this investment is helping to create a buoyant housing market despite the reluctance of first home buyers to take on very large mortgages. 

I don’t think the vision of a brawl between James Packer and David Gyngell and the corruption cases in Sydney will divert investment by the Chinese to other countries or cause others to turn away, but we wouldn’t want a lot more scandal in any state because we have run down our reputational capital.