Just a week after
Kerry Packer’s live-to-air, celebrity-studded state memorial service,
at least one prominent former Packer insider isn’t feeling all warm and
fuzzy.

Richard Walsh – who ran the ACP magazine
business for KP for 12 years – has written a scathing critique of Packer’s newfound status as an Australian icon in today’s Sydney Morning Herald which includes this farewell to Kerry:

Here, at the conclusion of the first Howard
decade, we have been urged in the past six weeks, culminating in a
funereal extravaganza with its obligatory visiting overseas stars, to
glorify Packer as the ultimate Great Australian… That
is an insult to what little idealism remains in the hearts of ordinary
Australians…

There was much to admire in his force of
personality and in his exploits, but under no account should he be
mistaken for a model citizen… In some ways he unfortunately represents
all that is wrong with contemporary Australia.

So what prompted the Packer insider to break ranks and attack his former boss?

“Someone’s got to say it,” Walsh told Crikey this morning, “the whole thing is getting quite out of hand.” Walsh said
that while he had worked for Packer for 13 years – and was
saddened by his death – the memorial service was a cynical PR
exercise, used to push the Howard Government’s “not very noble” line on what it means to be Australian.

And is he worried about the repercussions of throwing stones
from inside the Packer tent? “I am aware that part of the Packer culture is
that you’re either with us or agin’ us,” said Walsh. “But I hope, at
least, that when you’re older you can tell the truth with less fear of the
consequences.”

And so far, says Walsh, the response had been reasonably positive,
with quite a few supportive emails hitting his inbox this morning.

Peter Fray

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