Has there been a more disgusting public spectacle in modern Australian life than the Packer memorial service? I was at the cricket on the day he died, and the ground announcer declared that a minute's silence would be observed in honour of Packer's "contributions" to cricket. My friends and I refused to stand, but everyone around us did, without a whimper of complaint, like those who are asked to march off and fight wars, and do.
So how did we come to the conclusion that a life spent turning an inherited fortune into an astronomically bigger one is a life well lived? We didn't. Rather, as Orwell showed in 1984, those who control the means of communication control the language itself, and can assert, and have a large enough number of people actually believe, that freedom is slavery, war is peace, or that a life spent gorging oneself, squandering amounts on blackjack tables that could help solve, say, the global malaria epidemic, avoiding one's civic duties and speaking to everybody with barely concealed contempt, is a life of generosity and grace.
Beazley and Hawke are both Rhodes scholars. It's more likely they know that their party now stands for nothing, and think it's better to be present at the memorial service of a devout enemy of working people (despite Packer's love of sport, pies and swear words), than risk offending the owners of a vast media conglomerate whose "opinions" hold more sway over elections than any well-formulated policy.
The memorial service was broadcast without advertisements. Thus viewers could experience, for once, what it is like to watch a program on Channel Nine for an hour without fools screaming at them for 15 minutes to buy things. The only people who protested against this disgraceful, taxpayer-funded event - four members of the noble Kerry Packer dis-memorial society - were arrested.Of course, Packer was a true-blue dinky-di Aussie, a great mate and a great Australian, and it would be shamefully un-Australian to say otherwise about the great man.
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