Vale John Motion, a publishing mentor. In 1989 I was 23 and in my first management role when I met the man who would become my first career sponsor. John Motion was general manager of Kerry Packer's Australian Consolidated Press when I was appointed editor of Dolly. John passed away this week from cruel and incurable liver cancer. I was informed of the terribly sad news by former That's Life editor Bev Hadgraft. We worked together for John in the late 1990s when he was CEO of Pacific Publications and I was publishing director there, a role to which he appointed me.
The story behind Pacific's move from its head office in Melbourne, once famously run by publishing icon Dulcie Boling, is perhaps the one that best defines John Motion's contribution to Australian publishing. He left ACP following a restructure and was quickly in discussions with PMP chief executive Ken Catlow to join the enemy. The problem was that John wanted to remain in Sydney and the Sydney office at the time was purely a sales office. So he was given the challenge of finding a magazine business that Pacific could purchase and he would run. That business was Attic Futura, a tiny, cash-poor publisher of teen titles that included Girlfriend, TV Hits and Hot Metal. The purchase would make multimillionaires of owners Deke Miskin and Steve Bush. Deke Miskin would later buy the Point Piper waterfront mansion Altona from Fiona Handbury, the former wife of Rupert Murdoch's nephew Matt Handbury, while Steve Bush would invest in art and businesses in Coffs Harbour.