Rupert Murdoch’s flagship The Australianeditorialised
after the death of Kerry Packer that he was a protected player who
prospered from government favours in an era that is coming to an end.
It included the following lines:

Technology is reshaping the way information and
entertainment are delivered. And it is increasingly hard for
governments to protect established providers from new competitors in
the way politicians of both political persuasions helped Packer over
many years. The idea that Australia’s choice of electronic media should
be restricted according to the interests of established providers is
economically outrageous, and technologically archaic now every
Australian with a broadband connection is able to access music, movies
and information on-line from anywhere in the world.

So
how ironic is it to have the Murdoch tabloids ripping into Tasmanian
Premier Paul Lennon this morning for accepting thousands of dollars’
worth of Packer perks and accommodation upgrades during a five night
stay in a luxury Crown Casino suite during the Spring racing carnival?

Lennon’s
sin is licensing UK betting exchange Betfair which is providing new
competition against existing incumbent monopoly totes owned by Tabcorp
and Unitab. Still, it does demonstrate the point that the Packers will
cuddle up to any government to win a lucrative licence. The Murdochs
are hardly lily white in this regard, being in bed with the Packers on
their Foxtel monopoly and also sharing the spoils of the lotteries
monopoly they got together with Robert Sangster from the Wran
government.

The Mercury
‘s former chief reporter, Ellen Whinnett, who won a Walkley for her very aggressive pursuit of former Tasmanian Governor Richard Butler, produced today’s splash for her old paper and her current employer, the Herald Sun.
It was a good get and Lennon is clearly as thick as two planks to think
it was appropriate to accept such gifts shortly before awarding the
controversial Betfair licence, which is half owned by PBL.

The
likes of Laurie Oakes and Trevor Sykes have publicly declared that
Kerry Packer never issued editorial instructions that suited his
commercial or political interests. Sometimes Packer employees just have
the good sense to know what to do.

When Paul Lennon’s press secretary Matt Rogers asked The Australian Women’s Weekly
to do a soft puff piece on the Premier’s newly renovated historic home at
Broadmarsh, editor Deborah Thomas didn’t have to be Einstein to know
that the boss would approve. In a similar vein, Jeff Kennett got two
soft runs on Burke’s Backyard
in the lead-up to the 1999 Victorian election when his sweetheart
dealings over Crown Casino had delivered Packer a profit of more than
$200 million at the time.

Given Lennon’s embarrassment about all his Crown largesse, the Weekly‘s
release on January 23 might just add to the suspicion that he’s used
his office to obtain assets and a lifestyle above and beyond what he
ought to enjoy. No ordinary Tasmanian racing fan would get such
first-class treatment from the Packers at Crown, that’s for sure.