Stephen Mayne writes:

The Latham Diaries
are littered with references to the subservient positions that Labor
has taken over the years with Australia’s two richest and most powerful
families, the Murdochs and Packers. Here are just two to consider as
John Howard attempts to change the media ownership laws to benefit the
big boys who backed him so strongly at the last election:

Tuesday, 6 June, 1995
The Super League controversy has broken
out and Steve Martin organises a meeting in his office to sort out a
Labor position with Michael Lee. Footy fans Paul Elliott, Gary Punch,
Michael Forshaw, Arch Bevis and I also attend. Basically, Lee is as
weak as water.

The anti-siphon laws were supposed to provide an
assurance of free-to-air rubgy league, but Lee reckons they are
vulnerable to court challenge, putting the blame on their author,
Graham Richardson. Lee’s goal is to “Keep the number of communications
laws to a minimum – the Government loses a minister for every piece of
communications legislation in the Senate.”

He is too weak to
take on the big media players, saying that, “In the lead-up to an
election, we would be mad to touch Murdoch or Packer.” So Murdoch can
screw over the great working-class game of rugby league and there is
nothing a Labor Government will do to stop it. Lee is afraid of putting
a foot forward for fear of putting a foot wrong. Throughout the meeting
he looks like a rabbit in the headlights.

Monday, 1 November, 2003
Arbib
reckons that Oakes was consistently against us during the campaign: “He
was the worst every night, so you must have a problem with Packer. You
need to go and see the big media people every now and then and kiss
their a*ses. Carr does it all the time, it works wonders.” Yes, if you
don’t mind having sh*t on your lips.

Peter Fray

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