It's inevitable that in the first few days after his death, Packer will be deified and viewed through the rose-coloured glasses which seem to be standard issue in TV, radio and newspaper news rooms. A little down the track, though, hopefully a more truthful and sober reflection on Packer will be aired. From various accounts of those who worked for him, Packer was a thuggish boss who used his power and wealth to intimidate his staff. Whilst he had great business acumen, he seemed to lack the personal skills that make for an admired boss.
Paul Barry quite literally wrote the book on Kerry Packer (The Rise and Rise of Kerry Packer), and this is one I am yet to read. One I have read, though, is Barry's book on the One.Tel disaster Rich Kids, which contains a few tales on Packer, which may or may not also appear in TRaRoKP). This one in particular is revealing:
Meetings with Kerry could be gruelling at the best of times, but this was probably one of the worse. According to Jodee (Rich) and others, Packer's habit was to invite people for 10:00am and still be going strong at lunchtime. At this point, he liked to ring the buzzer underneath his desk and order his secretary, Carol, to bring in some rare roast beef sandwiches. These were so rare that there were only enough for him. For the next ten minutes he would sit there chomping away, while his hungry audience watched in awe. Sometimes, he would ring the buzzer a second time and bark out to Carol that he wanted some more.
Even Jode, it seems wasn't game to challenge this display of raw power, but he was not alone in that. There was an unwritten rule that no one left one of Kerry's meeting until hbe said it was over, and even James dared not argue with this. One executive tells how he absolutely had to get away by 2:30pm from an audience with Kerry that started at midday. He told James this when they went in, and James said it would be fine. It got close to 2:30pm and the man gestured to James that he had to leave. James looked nervous and shook his head. Finally, the man stood up to leave, saying, 'Kerry, I really have to go now'. Kerry roared, 'What do you mean, you have to fucking go?'. By this time, James had apparently turned white.
What a bastard.
One final note. Apparently mourners at Packer's funeral have been told not to dress in the traditional black. Packer thought this was too old fashioned and wouldn't look good on TV.
Instead, mourners should come dressed like this: