Crikey has long-remarked that Kerry Packer treated his son poorly by
not paying him a salary for his efforts at PBL and Consolidated Press.
There he was, happy to splash tens of millions on all sorts of
indulgences, but the kid had to prove his worthiness by working for
nothing.

James Packer admitted as much in his interview with Sunday. When asked about his own views on gambling, he said: “I’ve never had the means to participate in it the way that dad did.”

In some respects it is surprising that KP didn’t occasionally sling his
son a few million and say, “have a flutter”. After all, they did
loads of things together, some a little controversial, above and beyond
business and polo.

Whilst control of the $7 billion fortune has now passed to James,
Crikey hears that he doesn’t have a completely free hand to spend it
how he
sees fit.
For instance, when KP heard his son had become entangled with
Scientology a few years ago, he was alarmed. He asked him about
Scientology – what is it, how does it work, what does it stand for, why
are you in it?

KP is said to have been so perturbed by the answers, that he asked a confidante
to conduct an inquiry into Scientology. He was alarmed to learn that converts became “slaves” of
the organisation and also handed over all their worldly goods to serve the
worldwide interests of the “church”.

KP then had another discussion with James expressing his
growing concern about the influence of Scientology. James held his ground and
said his involvement was helping to make him a stronger and better
person. Unfortunately for James, KP was told by all and sundry – Singo, Rusty, Ben Tilley and others
– that it was “a con”.

Given his son’s dedication to the Church of
Scientology, Packer apparently issued orders that at no time – now or
in the future – would Scientology get its hands on Packer money. We’re
not sure how this was done but the Packer inheritance is said to have
been fire-proofed against the Scientologists, although James still
remains very close to one of those other prominent believers, Tom
Cruise.

While James has been publicly elevated as the controller of the
family fortune, the KP will does leave a sort of executive committee in
place to help run the Packer empire within the limitations prescribed.

Finally, the decision to have two executors of the estate, Lloyd
Williams and David Gonski, perhaps reflects the failing health of the
Crown Casino founder who was too ill to be interviewed for the Channel
Nine documentary.

If it was just a case of handing over the keys and saying “good luck”,
why would KP have selected someone as smart as Gonski to guide the
inheritance given that he is the master of complex financial
structuring? Don’t be at all surprised if locking out the Scientologists is
just one of many restrictions placed on James into the future.

Peter Fray

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