Which pollies didn’t turn up? Did anyone else notice the row of
14 empty seats at the Kerry Packer memorial service which appeared to
be where most of the politicians were congregated? Sure, the taxpayer
funding of such an event was always controversial, but were there
really a number of political figures who decided it was better to stay
away? There was still five incumbent premiers, the Howards, Beazleys,
Hawkes, Kennetts, Wrans, Greiners, Carrs, Costellos, Turnbulls and
several others, but the empty seats would suggest it does appear that
some others chose not to front. If KP was still alive, it is unlikely
that invited political figures would stay away from a special Packer
event as they would have been too afraid of his reaction. NSW Premier
made a point of not offering a state funeral, which is when John Howard
quickly leapt forward to fill the void. James Packer’s comment that his
father never forgot a favour means that the PM’s generosity with our
money has no doubt accumulated more brownie points for electoral
endorsement in the future.
Where was Rupert? The other
really obvious name missing from the action on Friday was Rupert
Murdoch. He’s met Kerry in countless hotel rooms, on yachts, at formal
occasions and informal meetings. He even hired a couple of bouncers to
beat Kerry up in the 1960s. For all the sparring, wheeling and dealing
over the years, surely Rupert could have made the trip. He’s been back
for two funerals over the past seven years – his first wife and his
oldest sister. Sure, Rupert’s veteran Australian bag carrier Ken Cowley
was there, but sending Lachlan Murdoch seemed rather odd given that it
was only three months back that Lachlan stuck a dagger into James
Packer’s heart with those revelations about sooking in his kitchen
after One-tel collapsed.
Dick Pratt, Graeme Samueland David Flint.
The Packer family has long prided itself on managing governments and
regulators to their advantage, so it was no surprise to see ACCC
chairman Graeme Samuel, an important man in any future media merger
deliberations, strolling into the Opera House on Friday. But it’s
unlikely Samuel would have exchanged pleasantries with fellow attendee
Dick Pratt, who is facing cartel allegations in the Federal Court.
However, former regulators do quickly find themselves falling off the
Packer VIP list. Then Australian Broadcasting Authority chairman David
Flint was on the smaller 800-strong guest list for the $10 million
wedding of James Packer and Jodie Meares in 1999, but he was nowhere to
be seen on Friday.
Meanwhile, Crikey subscribers have noted three significant absences: Don Burke, John Singleton and John Laws. Was
Singo too morose and worried about mortality to turn up? And why did
Caroline, but not John Laws, attend? Was Laws unwilling to attend an
event featuring his rival Alan Jones? And where was Don Burke?