While his brother was the star of the show, it was noticeable that no
current or former business associate of Steve Vizard was prepared to
give character evidence today. The two others who appeared were:
Dr Gerard Vaughan: the director of the National Gallery of
Victoria has known Vizard since the end of 1998. Vaughan talked about
Vizard’s “significant contribution” to the arts in general and to the
Gallery in particular. He said Vizard had been crucial to the Gallery
in the areas of branding, marketing, communicating and organising the
various building projects. He also singled out Vizard’s support of a
program to return art looted by the Nazis that wrongly finished up in
Margaret Manion: Melbourne University Professor Emeritus has known Vizard for over 20
years, since her student days. Manion said she went to Vizard when she
was at La Trobe and looking for help from the outside community to keep
the university’s fine arts department going. During this time, she
found Vizard to have a “personal interest in youth, young academics and
the arts,” and that he was a “passionate strong family man.”
Both were pretty general and Dr Vaughan certainly didn’t say Vizard had
been a generous benefactor which is traditionally the role taken by
someone who was president of the trustees for six years.
The other character referees were restricted to statements and included:
Tony Bennison: Neil Mitchell’s manager was positive about the Vizard Foundation and said he was “respected in the community.”
John Fitzgerald: Alan Bond’s long-time spin doctor who handled
the America’s Cup triumph. Once ran the Melbourne office of IPR, which
Vizard’s current spinner Mike Smith also used to run before the
American parent company closed it down and Smith established Inside PR,
with the backing of Vizard and his closest associate Shaun Levin. All
John Bertrand: associated with Fitzgerald through IPR. The yachtie also talked up Vizard’s charitable work.
Donald McDonald: a Wodonga resident who benefited from the Vizard Foundation.
Brad Wolffield: stayed in the Vizard house and said he was “loved” in the community.
Donna Snob: President of the Brittle Bones Association.
Dr John Larsen: director of the McKinnon project who lauded Vizard’s farming work.
Colin Hacking: another farming supporter.
Walter Mikac: the most famous grieving relative of the Port
Arthur massacre was mentioned at the outset, although his statement
wasn’t detailed to the court before lunch.
All of this was rattled through quite quickly and ASIC’s counsel then
held court for 75 minutes before the lunch and will continue at 2pm.
At one point Justice Finkelstein asked whether Vizard’s paper profits
should be taken into account and Neil Young QC said to ignore this and
only consider the size of the transaction and use of the information.