Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Kerry's gone "Packing"
OORB wants to extends its condolences to the entire Packer family and his friends.
RIP- big man- it surely seems that you had lived life to the fullest.
These three articles and photograph, are from the Adelaide Advertiser.
DEATH OF AN AUSSIE GIANT
By ANNA PATTY
CRADLED in the arms of his wife and with his children at his side, Australia's richest man died on Monday night after simply "running out of petrol".
Kerry Packer, a hard-living larrikin who built a media fortune worth $6.9 billion, passed away peacefully in the bedroom of his Sydney home in the company of wife Ros, daughter Gretel, 39, and son James, 37, who had flown back from the Maldives to be with him.
His cardiologist of eight years, Dr Ian Bailey, from Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, said Mr Packer, 68, knew he was dying late last week and had decided to "go with dignity". Suffering kidney and heart failure and faced with the decision of whether to prolong his life and suffer more dialysis and drug intervention, he decided it was time to stop fighting.
Describing Mr Packer as "the bravest patient I have ever known", Dr Bailey said: "He knew his body better than the doctors did and made his own decisions about treatment.
"He was going into organ failure last week and he was suffering. He was ready to die. There were no more rabbits to pull out of the hat." Dr Bailey said he was overwhelmed seeing Mr Packer die because his patient had seemed "immortal".
As news of the media magnate's death was announced yesterday by Richard Wilkins on the Today show on Channel 9, the television network he owned, tributes began flowing in from politicians, sporting greats and community leaders.
Prime Minister John Howard described Mr Packer as "a generous, very philanthropic person" who was "always concerned about what was right for Australia".
News Corporation chairman and chief executive Rupert Murdoch said Mr Packer was "a life-long friend, fierce competitor and the most successful businessman of our generation".
Cricketer Shane Warne hailed him as "a wonderful character, a close friend".
Throughout the day, friends and family began arriving at the Packer mansion. A heavily pregnant Gretel was seen briefly on a balcony talking on a mobile phone, while James walked the property's gardens.
At the Channel 9 studios in Sydney, flags flew at half mast.
Having beaten polio as a child, Mr Packer had beaten the odds many times before.
He survived his first heart attack on a Sydney polo field in 1990 despite being clinically dead for eight minutes.
A heavy smoker for many years, he suffered from angina and underwent a quintuple heart bypass later in 1990 and flew to the U.S. for another heart operation in 1998. In 2000, he received a kidney transplant.
Many had expected that Mr Packer's heart might finally kill him, but it was the failing kidney, donated by his friend and helicopter pilot Nick Ross, that finally contributed to cutting his life short.
From 'my idiot son' to six billion dollar man
By GEORGE LEKAKIS
KERRY Packer, Australia's richest man for the past four decades, was not his father's first choice to take over the family-owned media empire.
From the mid-1950s, Sir Frank Packer had wanted Kerry's elder brother, Clyde, to succeed him at the helm of Consolidated Press Holdings and the family's television stations in Melbourne and Sydney.
But by the mid-1960s, Sir Frank's plan for succession began to flake after Clyde embarked on a career in the NSW Parliament as a Liberal Upper House member.
Clyde's desire for the top job evaporated in August, 1972, after Sir Frank blocked a Mike Willesee interview with then ACTU President Bob Hawke from going to air.
He left the family business.
When Sir Frank died in May, 1974, Kerry, then deputy chairman of Consolidated Press and the TV businesses, took formal control. It was an amazing rise for a man who had dyslexia and was often introduced by his father as "my idiot son".
Mr Packer's importance as a corporate leader was soon apparent. While media are still a core part of the group his son, James, 38, now controls, the overall business diversified.
Assets such as Crown casino and the Burswood casino in Perth have generated much higher returns than foundation assets such as Women's Weekly. Mr Packer used the bare-knuckled business style of Sir Frank, who established the market dominance of his TV stations and magazines by blending ruthlessness with rewarding loyal staff.
But he added a strategic genius exemplified by his transactions with Alan Bond in 1987.
The deals resulted in Bond handing over $800 million cash and $255 million in preference shares for control of the Nine Network. Less than three years later, Mr Packer reacquired the business for $200 million. The acquisition of Crown casino in the late 1990s was done in similar circumstances.
In both cases, Mr Packer negotiated to buy high-profile assets that were suffering financial stress and mismanagement.
In May, 1977, World Series Cricket extended Mr Packer's profile beyond Sydney and the legacy of his father.
Mr Packer shocked the world cricket establishment by signing up 35 of the world's best players.
International stars such as Greg Chappell, Viv Richards and Tony Greig agreed to play in cricket games to compete against official Test matches the following summer in Australia.
Mr Packer had made several unsuccessful bids to win broadcasting rights for Test matches.
On December 2, 1977, former Australian Test captain Ian Chappell led a rebel team on to VFL Park for the first World Series supertest against Clive Lloyd's star-studded West Indians. Channel 9's cameras caught all the action with support from advertisers such as McDonald's and Coca Cola.
That day, Test legend Bob Simpson returned to lead an official Test team at the Gabba for the first of a five-match series against India. ABC TV covered the official action.
Mr Packer's heavy promotion and innovations drew fans. By May, 1979, the war with the Australian Cricket Board was over. Mr Packer secured long-term broadcast rights to Tests.
His gambling was legendary. Perhaps his most stunning plunge was at Flemington in 1997 when he and former Crown boss Lloyd Williams won more than $6 million on Melbourne Cup winner Might and Power.
Gambling also brought him heartache. He was said to have lost $28.2 million on blackjack at a London den in 2000. That was eclipsed later in the year when he blew $33.3 million at Bellagio casino in Las Vegas.
Mr Packer was not outspoken on politics and matters of public interest. But several Channel 9 journalists and program planners were on the receiving end of blasts from The Boss, when stories he did not like went to air. His most theatrical foray into public debate came in November, 1991, when he reluctantly appeared before a parliamentary committee into the newspaper industry.
Each of the 11 MPs on the committee, including now Treasurer Peter Costello, was blasted off the TV stage by the mogul.
"Of course I'm minimising tax. If anybody in this country does not minimise tax they want their head read because, as a Government, I can tell you, you are not spending it that well that we should be donating extra," he told the committee.
His anger often was stirred by the role of the media. His feelings stemmed partly from what he saw as gratuitous reporting of allegations made against him in the 1984 Costigan Royal Commission. The "goanna" allegations said he was involved in illegal drug running, unlawful tax schemes and other unsavoury activities. None was proven and, in 1985, John Fairfax & Sons, proprietor of the National Times, which published the most serious claims, apologised.
Midas touch made sport the winner
By BEN DORRIES
KERRY Packer's grasp on the Australian sporting landscape extended far beyond the coloured clothes and bright lights of the World Series Cricket revolution.
From the nation's finest golf courses and its manicured horse-racing tracks to suburban rugby league grounds, there were very few places his influence did not reach.
At about the time he put the wheels in motion for World Series Cricket in the mid-1970s, Packer arguably saved another summer sport when he pumped bucket-loads of cash into resuscitating the flagging Australian golf tour.
Never a man to do things by halves, Packer flew in loads of U.S. Tour players to take on the Australian course in Sydney, which he had redesigned by Jack Nicklaus.
The big names, including Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, jumped on a chartered jet in Los Angeles and arrived on a course with artificial hills for spectators and kilometres of underground cables for television coverage. The Australian Open went from outhouse to penthouse.
The affectionate term for horse racing - the sport of kings - could very well have been coined for Packer. With Melbourne casino boss Lloyd Williams, he owned 1993 Victoria Derby winner Mahogany and 1996 Golden Slipper winner Merlene.
In the Flemington enclosure prior to Mahogany's win, former champion jockey Greg Hall confidently told Packer to double his bet. Packer left for the betting ring, plonked on another $1 million and Mahogany duly saluted.
Packer's biggest contribution to racing was through his television interests, which first broadcast Sydney racing. Through Sky Channel telecasts, Packer oversaw a revolution bringing live racing to clubs, pubs and homes.
For Australia's No. 1 punter - who once staked $55 million during the Sydney Autumn Carnival and dropped $19 million in a single night at the roulette tables in London - his biggest gamble was to come.
Packer had plenty to lose when he backed the Australian Rugby League against the Rupert Murdoch-funded Super League in two bitter years before a joint competition was agreed in 1998.
The rival AFL code has recently reaped millions from Packer's involvement, through Channel Nine. Just three days before his death, the AFL accepted a $780 million five-year offer from Nine to broadcast matches beyond 2006. A rival bid by the Seven and Ten networks has until January 5 to match the Nine offer.
"Larrikinism is the name given to the Australian folk tradition of irreverence, mockery of authority and disregard for rigid norms of propriety. Larrikinism often, but not always, includes elements of self-deprecating humour. The Australian English word "larrikin", of uncertain etymology, arose to describe an individual who possesses these characteristics or behavioural traits, but is essentially derived from the "larrikins", gang members in Sydney in the late-19th and early-20th centuries, noted for their antisocial behaviour and gang-specific dress codes. (See: Rocks Push)
Many commentators have noted the larrikin streak in Australian culture, and have theorised about its origins. Some say that larrikinism arose as a reaction to corrupt, arbitrary authority during Australia's days as a penal colony, or as a reaction to norms of propriety imposed by officials from Britain on the young country.
Larrikinism is a significant element in Australian culture, and has emerged repeatedly, informing Australian contemporary art, popular and youth culture and political debate. Evidence of the larrikin influence includes traditions of free, rule-defying experimentalism in Australian art and underground music (various renowned experimental ensembles that emerged from the post punk movement are examples).
It can be argued that the larrikin tradition of disdain for authority, propriety and the often conservative norms of bourgeois Australia (as evident, for example, in the country's history of censorship and the nation's receptiveness to paternalistic leaders) are two sides of a self-reinforcing dynamic; the social conservatism of the mainstream fuels the undercurrent of larrikinism and rebellion, which, in turn, is seen as demonstrating that a firm hand is needed. This is sometimes referred to as the "larrikin-wowser nexus", "wowser" being an Australian colloquial term for a person of puritanical mores."
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