By Stephen Mayne


Another day, another flurry of newspaper stories on Steve Vizard in what is shaping up to be the great media frenzy this winter.

Day 14 of the saga saw the Herald Sun
confirm in a page three lead that a police investigation into possible
perjury charges against Steve Vizard is under way. Fears of regulators
being stung into action appear true:

The Herald Sun believes Police Chief Commissioner
Christine Nixon has asked to be kept informed of the investigation’s
progress. Police are keen to be seen to be taking a strong stand on the
case after being criticised over failing to investigate properly claims
by Mr Vizard’s former bookkeeper, Roy Hilliard, that Mr Vizard evaded
tax.

It certainly hasn’t helped Vizard that the Herald Sun has this week launched an expanded business and The Age is trying to hit back at a time when there is little corporate news around. Terry McCrann lined up for another crack at Vizard in the Herald Sun over his airport statement, while The Age trumpeted its interview with ASIC chairman Jeffrey Lucy in a banner across the top of page one: “ASIC’s man on Vizard case.”

The story
led the business section and wasn’t that exciting as Lucy simply
defended the current arrangement with the Commonwealth DPP running its
court cases.

The AFR has a huge cartoon of Vizard
shedding a crocodile tear to accompany another savage Chanticleer
column from John Durie on the back page which was headlined: “Vizard’s
apology rings hollow.”

The Australian put its Vizard story – Steve the miser left out in the cold
– across the top of page one and openly suggests he was tight with his
own money as chairman of the National Gallery of Victoria, thereby
triggering the resignation of Rupert Myer, the gallery’s fundraising
chairman. The paper also claimed that Ron Walker and Eddie McGuire have
declined to be character referees in court on Thursday.

Walker must be feeling singed from the backlash against his initial
comments about Victoria needing ten Steve Vizards and Eddie was
probably instructed by the Packers not to damage his brand by
association, which is certainly sensible given the current mood of the
media. Besides, Eddie wouldn’t want to invite any more scrutiny of his
dealings with Vizard through Sportsview.

The SMH devoted more than half its business section to Vizard
yesterday and CBD columnist Christine Lacy is maintaining the focus
with a piece today
on the Bracks Government’s coup in securing the highly regarded
outgoing British Airways CEO as Vizard’s replacement as chairman of the
Melbourne Major Events Company.

All up, it’s an almighty feeding frenzy that will probably drag on for weeks.

Peter Fray

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