Packer and the Government

Part of the ABC Four Corners programme 7/4/1997 transcript

Packer has solid support among the powerful Victorian Liberals establishment. His partners in the Melbourne casino are the federal treasurer of Liberal Party Ron Walker and his colleague Lloyd Williams, both good friends of Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett.

Jeff Kennett (Victorian Premier) 20 February 1997: "The only thing that I get embarrassed about, is this patheticness (sic) of The Age and the ABC."

Mr Kennett is all for Fairfax changing hands. He despises the Melbourne Age. He has told friends that on the day Packer takes over, he will be at The Age handing out pink dismissal slips to journalists.

Packer is now paying the Liberalsí former Victorian President Michael Kroger to lobby colleagues like Peter Costello and Communications Minister Richard Alston on his behalf.

A former senior figure in the Liberal Party has told Four Corners that he was approached last year by someone representing Communications Minister Richard Alston. He said they wanted advice on who should be appointed to run the Governmentís inquiry. Our source, himself a former Minister, said Senator Alstonís advisers told him they needed people with good credentials in the media industry who would be sympathetic to Kerry Packer.

A spokesman for Senator Alston says this claim is absolutely untrue. The Governmentís promise of an public inquiry into media rules was abandoned last year in favour of an internal review by Senator Alstonís Department. It is due out in the next few weeks.

If it goes Packerís way, his vast media empire may soon include Australiaís finest newspapers.

Unidentified journalist to Kerry Packer: "There has been a bit of criticism of the 42 minutes show on Sunday nights, would youÖ"

Kerry Packer: "Who has it been by, you?"

Journalist: "Itís me amongÖ"

Kerry Packer: "Well, when you get a television station weíll take notice of what you say."

Itís almost as though Packer just canít lose. The winning streak that won him the Sydney Casino and a windfall from the ANI deal shows no sign of ending as the next context looms. If the odds stay with him, then Australian politicians will once again find a way to reconcile self-interest, the publicís interest and the interests of Kerry Packer.

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