Feb 20, 2006

Kerry Packer’s lack of respect for women

Amid all the excessive hoopla about Kerry Packer since his death on Boxing Day, an on-going theme throughout has been the dominance of colourful men pontificating on his life and the

Amid all the excessive hoopla about Kerry Packer since his death on Boxing Day, an on-going theme throughout has been the dominance of colourful men pontificating on his life and the lack of any meaningful contribution from women. The guest list on Friday was very much a roll call of powerful blokes, accompanied by their partners.

Annette Sharp is one of the few women to have stepped up to take a shot. In yesterday's Sun-Herald Diary column, the former Channel Nine publicist went into some detail about the grief being suffered by Packer's long-time mistress of 23 years, Julie Trethowan, who is struggling along with about $15 million in donated assets for her troubles.

Such generosity might be explained by this nugget which Sharp yesterday added to the public record:
It is likely that she [Trethowan] is also aware of the lonely death of 1970s late-night Channel Nine movie hostess Karol Lopez. Lopez, a beautiful black Portugese American model and dancer, was rumoured to have been Kerry Packer's lady friend during the 1970s. In 1991 Lopez committed suicide in her Thyra Road, Palm Beach, bathtub, leaving an eight page suicide note detailing her relationship with Packer. At the time Mona Vale police said the note also made reference to recent financial hardship that had left her depressed.
A Crikey reader familiar with Sydney's northern beaches emailed through a similar story in January:
The current mistress Julie Trethowan was only one of a line, of course – though probably the longest stayer. I recall trying to pick up a gorgeous, apparently single, black girl at a party once in the late 1970s or early 1980s only to be told "my boyfriend wouldn't like it." When pressed she confided the boyfriend was Kerry Packer.
Some former Packer associates now in the Murdoch camp have dropped other revealing nuggets into the public arena in recent days. Richard Zachariah produced an interesting column in The Australian last week in which he noted that Maggie Tabberer, long-time fashion editor of The Australian Women's Weekly, was "one of the few women whom Packer respected."

Indeed, it is fair to say that not respecting women has long been a Packer family trait. Whilst Piers Akerman was wrong to describe KP as "Australia's principal p*rnographer" in a notorious 1997 column, he has made plenty of money over the years through soft-p*rn publications.

Phillip Adams also opened up in The AustralianMagazine on Saturday when he wrote the following:
He (KP) didn't like Paul Cox's Lonely Hearts either, preferring Kitty and the Bagman, a film about the Sydney madam Tilly Devine. His dad had been one of her regulars. Kerry roared with laughter at the memory of Sir Frank climbing over the galvo roofs during police raids, trying to pull his pants up.
The public record has noted that when it came to frequenting such establishments, it was a case of "like father, like son." Colleagues at The Daily Telegraph have told me of the time Rupert Murdoch regaled news conference with tales of Kerry's energetic indulgences in this field of endeavour.

Another journalist retails the story of Kerry turning to a friend of his at a dinner and saying, "So, son, do you like f*cking?" Is this really the sort of man we should be feting as a legend?

Where are Australia's feminists in this debate? You won't see them tackling the issue in any ACP publications but surely Fairfax and News Ltd columnists will have a crack once the dust has settled. And what about a female politician having the courage to get up and say something in one of our Parliaments? Too afraid of the backlash from a still awesomely powerful media empire, are we?

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