I appeared on Four Corners in 1997 in a story that caused Kerry Packer to sue the ABC. My husband and I sold our public company, Palmer Tube Mills, to ANI in 1994. It was a media war for a long time, with the board of ANI winning on pushing Ross off the board. Unlike some directors, he was asking all the right questions.This story actually has an interesting place in the history of Crikey. I remember watching Sally Neighbour's Four Corners report and thinking how outrageous it was that Packer had got away with seemingly using his board numbers to dump a huge mess on ANI, as is explained here in an analysis by a Sydney University academic.
My main point on the program was that Australians lived in such fear of Kerry Packer that he could do just about anything he wanted. He paid for it. He wielded his power for it. And, he got it.
Now that he has passed away, there are people coming out and saying what is really their opinion about KP. That, in itself, proves my point on the program that people did not want to “mess” with KP.
At this time, there is still an independent inquiry done in the late 1990s that would have either confirmed or denied any corporate misdemeanours that went on with KP, his CPH, and ANI. This also includes his then CEO Al "chainsaw" Dunlap, who is now a disgraced business figure in the US.
James Packer and Al Dunlap (not as directors) were at the 1991 ANI board meeting which voted for ANI to purchase one of KP's very ill companies that was losing money and which subsequently contributed to a $400 million disaster for ANI. After ANI bought the bleeding company, Kerry Packer sold all his interests in ANI two weeks later, crystallising a profit of about $200 million.
The inquiry was done on a public company. However, due to Packer's unbelievable power, that document was only given to ANI and the corporate regulator. ASIC, then headed by Alan Cameron, didn't even have the nerve to release the document.
Till this day, it sits under wraps. It was done by Bob Ellicott, QC, and is known as the Ellicott Report. My husband and family suffered greatly due to this deal and our shareholders in our company suffered losses also. It was a great burden. I think it's time the document was made public to clear the air once and for all.
It was at this point that I called Sally and offered to do a whistleblower job on Jeff Kennett as I was still outraged that Jeff's press secretary, Steve Murphy, had told me that Packer had given Kennett a secret $400,000 defamation settlement which had funded a $300,000 renovation of his family home.
The Packer family had made about $100 million out of Victoria's monopoly casino licence at this point through its direct investments in both Crown Ltd and Hudson Conway, partly thanks to a series of generous regulatory favours agreed to by the Kennett Government.
Sally Neighbour's Four Corners story, Kennett's Culture, ran in September 1997 and when Jeff survived the subsequent public debate, I scurried off to Sydney convinced that a web campaign and running in his seat of Burwood at the 1999 state election was the only remaining option. And the rest, as they say, is history, but it might not have happened without Sue Palmer and the saga of ANI.