Tabloid TV has always been in bed with Gerry Harvey, the affable billionaire who can self-interestedly rattle off at length on that staple of current affairs television — furniture, whitegoods and consumer electronics at low, low prices.

Last week he jumped into bed with A Current Affair. Literally. Helping “road test” bedding bargains in his own stores: “$2,000 off! What a deal,” he exclaims. Almost as good a deal as having a free three-and-a-half minute ad for your business run on prime-time television dressed up as ‘current affairs’.

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And there was more to come. This week, “Australia’s retail king” switched networks to appear on Today Tonight to sell some more loot at crazy prices, out of the goodness of his own heart. As host Matthew White told us: “Gerry Harvey wants to help — and he’s going undercover to get it done.”

Yes, there’s Gerry having a new face plastered on to shop in disguise and test his own staff’s customer service …

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A day later, there he is on Today Tonight again, “under fire” for the stunt. Another chance to talk up his retail empire:

“This is good for us. We’re going to up our service, we’re more conscious now, and it’ll be a good thing.”


So when Gerry Harvey says Kevin Rudd isn’t particularly good at selling his message on the mining tax, he should know. As he told an Australian National Retailers Association function yesterday:

“Probably it [the resource super profits tax] does make some sense. But you know, with how they presented it, the timing, you just think these blokes are bloody amateurs. You would expect them to put a bit more thought into it because it has just blown up in their face. They might have the right story but they just haven’t told us the right way.”

Harvey is certainly no amateur. Rudd can only wish he was as shameless a salesman as Gerry, a Wankley-winning campaign if  ever we saw one.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey