Kerry Packer’s greatest benevolence almost certainly revolved around
what he gave to Sydney hospitals and emails to Crikey continue to shed more light on what happened over the years.

Naturally, every time KP had an operation, he got a bill and the first
time he had an operation at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH), he said to the
“How much will this f*cking cost me?”

The anaesthetist, somewhat stunned, stammered “I charge the AMA
rate”, to which KP replied “I didn’t mean your f*cking bill. Last
time I had to pay the Sisters of Mercy $1 million.”

Interestingly, Kerry Packer changed hospitals part way through his treatment for renal
failure in around 1999. He had long been a St Vincent’s patient, which is run by the Sisters of Mercy.

For the last seven years he went to RPAH and the exact reasons for the
change are the subject of much rumour, but he was clearly unhappy.
There’s talk that the Sisters made an excessive grab for money or
alternatively that KP was angry that St Vincent’s had pushed aside
Sister Bernice Elphick, a personal favourite of the Packer family as
this SMH story explains.

Of course, KP may well have been telling the truth when he implied that
he thought the RPAH nephrologists were better doctors.

KP is known to have funded the purchase of defibrillators for
ambulances, famously, after his own cardiac arrest. He gave money to St
Vincent’s in the first half of the 1990s, and was patron of the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute.

He started giving significantly to the RPAH in the late 1990s and the
“Kerry Packer Education Centre” at RPAH was completed in 2003-04.
Similarly, he obviously donated to the “Kerry Packer Institute for
Child Health Research” at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, which
completed in 2005.

An educated guess is that he would have put up about $10 million for
each, but we’re still a long way short of the Alan Jones claim that,
when it comes to his Sydney hospital donations, “we’re talking hundreds
of millions”.

It is also thought quite likely that he would have given a few bob to
health services around Scone, as KP was something akin to a feudal lord
in the upper Hunter Valley, but surely, if there really had been other significant contributions, we’d know by now.

As one cynical subscriber observed by email, “Rich robber barons have always bought immortality this way. He was no
more venal, destructive, greedy, or arrogant than Carnegie, Mellon,
or JP Morgan.”

Keep the Packer stories coming to [email protected]