Tory Packer Dad: Bush Minister and media tycoon Kerry Francis Bullmore Packer AC was an Australian media magnate who was widely regarded as one of the country’s most powerful media proprietors of the twentieth century.
Publishing and Broadcasting Limited was formed after the Packer family company acquired a controlling interest in both the Nine television network and leading Australian publishing company Australian Consolidated Press, which were later merged to form Publishing and Broadcasting Limited (PBL).
Packer was best known outside of Australia for his role in the establishment of World Series Cricket. At the time of his death, Packer was the wealthiest and most powerful man in Australia, as well as one of the world’s most powerful men. Packer’s net worth was estimated to be A$6.5 billion by the Business Review Weekly magazine in the year 2004.
In his memories of his “wonderful” upbringing growing up in the midst of one of Australia’s most powerful and long-lasting families, Francis Packer fondles the silver ring he received as a child. “There was a garden path that connected our house to my grandfather’s house, where I spent a lot of time playing. Frank Packer, the Frank Packer I knew, was a kind man who adored me. My grandmother had passed away before I was born, but her influence on the rest of the family was still felt strongly. “For a long time, it was made abundantly clear that I was the heir apparent… I was the Packer prince’s illegitimate child,” says the author.
His grandfather’s hopes for the youngster were dashed, however, when Clyde and Sir Frank fell out, with the former angrily quitting the family business and moving to America after years of bitter disagreement with the elder. By default, the family chalice was passed to Kerry and then James, leaving Francis as an unknown quantity in the Australasian community after the death of his parents.
As an openly gay man described by friends as “a sensitive intellectual,” he acknowledges that even within the Packer family, he is likely to be perceived as a “black sheep.” He is also a man of the arts who would prefer to spend his money in a gallery rather than a casino, and his time digging in the garden rather than carving up a boardroom.
The Packer family has a long history of involvement in the media. In addition, Kerry Packer’s grandfather, Robert Clyde Packer, owned two Sydney newspapers while his father, Sir Frank Packer, established PBL as one of the country’s first media conglomerates. Kerry Packer’s son, James, served as executive chairman of PBL until he stepped down in 2008.
Packer started in the loading dock of the Sydney newspaper The Telegraph, loading papers because Sir Frank wanted Kerry to get a firsthand understanding of what it was like to work in the newspaper industry from the beginning.
The role was not intended for him initially, but in the early 1970s Kerry took over for his older brother Clyde, who had been designated as the successor after a falling out with their father resulted in Clyde leaving PBL and migrating to America. Following his father’s death in 1974, Kerry assumed control of the PBL and has been in charge ever since.