The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'kerry packer'
The Sydney Morning Herald on what the recent lionisation of Kerry Packer as a "Great Australian" says about Australia today:
A decade ago we had a significant succession of truly inspirational governors-general; we looked to the ABC for excellence in broadcasting, to the universities to foster critical minds and to the CSIRO for scientific research of high integrity. If John Howard were a true conservative, he would have sustained those traditions. Instead, he has debauched them. Today we have an invisible governor-general, universities corrupted by their scrabbling for money, an underfunded ABC and a CSIRO where those who are genuinely concerned about global warming are expected to bite their tongues.
According to the latest polling, a majority of Australians accept that they are being governed by a divisive and mean-spirited leader, but apparently they no longer care. It's a "Whatever it takes" world we live in now. If it takes lies to stay in power or bribes to sell our wheat, no matter.
Packer in his lifetime was an icon for those who espoused the philosophy of whatever it takes. There was much to admire in his force of personality and in his exploits, but under no account should he be mistaken for a model citizen. He had utter contempt for politicians, for the arts, for idealism of any kind, for the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake and for those who did not share his world view. His ethics were defined simply as whatever the law allows.
It is truly appalling that our residual sense of sadness for his family should be channelled by the Packer interests and its claqueurs to raise him to the kind of heroic stature that his life doesn't justify. In some ways he unfortunately represents all that is wrong with contemporary Australia.
The Age ran a scathing commentary about the state funeral, and various other memorial services, held for deceased media baron Kerry Packer:
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.