Compared with the riveting 100-page tribute issue to Kerry Packer, this week’s edition of The Bulletin is a pedestrian 76-page effort with just eight pages of paid advertising.

With the old man now gone, you have to wonder if James Packer will be
prepared to continue taking the losses from publishing the magazine
which are estimated to be about $10 million a year.


The most interesting aspect of this week’s edition is the letters
pages, which certainly had a far more positive tone than what readers
of the Murdoch and Fairfax papers thought of Australia’s richest man. Try these for size:

I have it on good authority that Kerry’s not dead. He’s just gone into partnership with God – Chris Hayward

The topographic and topophilic equivalent of Kerry Packer dying is the removal of Ayers Rock from the Australian landscape – George Poulos

I love gambling, and I have always had this wonderful fantasy where one
day Kerry Packer and myself would be sitting on the same table playing
blackjack and we’d be swiping the pants off the dealer. I salute you
Kerry Packer – Carmela Bowles, California

I enjoyed reading your write-up about the great man and my mentor. I
follow cricket as a philosophy. Thanks to the late Kerry Packer we now
have a competitive and lively game of cricket for our grandkids. I
admired his creative business ideas, skills and vision – Ajith Amarasekera

At least they allowed one sledge of The Bulletin’s indulgent albeit fascinating coverage:

Whilst I agree that Kerry Packer has a place in the history
of our country, I cannot believe that your issue of January 4, 2006,
represents all that has happened of importance since your last issue of
December 5, 2005GN Robinson

Surprisingly, no letters got a run talking about the darker side of
Kerry, like his belief that paying $200,000 to shoot an elephant in
Botswana is good fun. And there was no mention of his extraordinary
generosity in transferring $10 million in assets to his mistress, Julie
Trethowan.

Interestingly, it appears Kate McClymont’s story about this generosity in The SMH
was first
presented two days after Packer’s death but there was quite a bit of nervousness on the newsdesk about running it.

The rumour in the newsroom was it was held up by strong
objections from one board member who wanted the story pulled and contributed to the nine-day delay
until Saturday, January 7. Now who could that have been? Surely not the
Fairfax board member pictured next to James Packer on page 32 of The Bulletin’s tribute issue.

Then again, this sounds a bit dubious because Fairfax board members
don’t normally know about stories before they appear and the editorial
bosses might simply have decided the story was in poor taste to run
straight after Packer’s death. And with lawyers involved, it probably
took Fairfax a few days to conclude that the “mistress” word would not
be used.