David
Gonski has emerged as the second executor of Kerry Packer’s estate,
which confirms his status as one of the best-connected men in
Australia. He’s also arguably the most over-committed man in Australia.
How’s this for a line-up up responsibilities at the moment:

Chairman, Coca Cola Amatil
Chairman, Australia Council
Chairman, NIDA
President, NSW Art Gallery
Chancellor, University of NSW
Director, ANZ
Director, Investec
Director, ING Group
Director, Westfield
Co-executor, Estate of Kerry Francis Bullmore Packer

Gonski was also Packer’s best mate on the Fairfax board until he
resigned last year and it was the Gonski-led Westfield faction on the
Fairfax board who pushed
for Fred Hilmer’s appointment as chief executive of the publisher in
1998.

He’s certainly loyal to his mates, because when Gonski
was elected chancellor of the University of NSW in May 2005 he continued to look after Hilmer with his recent appointment as vice-chancellor of UNSW, effective from June this year.

There was only a three month gap between Gonski taking the reins at
UNSW and the Hilmer appointment, but the university insists it came
“after an extensive search and selection process”.

There are some interesting parallels between Gonski and ACCC chairman
Graeme Samuel, who have both had to deal with conflict of interest
claims over the years. Both made a fortune as well-connected lawyers
and then investment bankers in the 1980s and early 1990s who then
became professional directors and dedicated themselves to public
service. Both are Jewish, incredibly bright and closely associated
with the Liberal cause.

Gonski is very cosy with the two richest blokes in Sydney and his
executor role on the Packer estate demonstrates this point. However,
don’t expect Graeme Samuel to be executor of the biggest estate in
Melbourne, Dick Pratt, given that the ACCC is throwing the book at the
packaging billionaire over cartel allegations.