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Wednesday, 24 November 1999
Page: 12593


Mr LATHAM —The biggest and fastest growing industry in the Blue Mountains is tourism. How sad it is to see the local member from that area arguing for tourist operators to be denied access to international and domestic tourists through the second airport in Sydney. He wants to hurt tourist operators in his own electorate—a shameful thing for a local member of parliament.

On another matter, the 60 Minutes program has once more shown itself to be unfit to broadcast current affairs in this country. It is unable to separate its editorial policy from the commercial interests of its owner. Its segment three Sundays ago concerning digital TV was a disgrace to the notion of journalistic independence. 60 Minutes failed to report the findings of the Productivity Commission, which are adverse of course to the Packer media group. It failed to show the very small difference in quality between high definition and standard definition TV. It failed to explain the prohibitive cost of high definition and the way in which it would deny Australian households fair access to other TV options, datacasting and the Internet. The Packers hate competition and, mark my words, high definition is a closed shop in TV.

Channel 9 is a shameless mouthpiece for the pecuniary views of the Packer organisation and, in particular, for its vendetta against Mr Paul Keating. This was evident once again early last month. On 4 October, James Packer said that Mr Keating should either sue the Packer family or put their feud aside. The next night on a loaded segment on the Nightline program, Paul Lyneham, as is his style, parroted the Packer view, arguing that Keating has not sued. It is absurd for Channel 9 to argue that Mr Keating needs to take the civil remedy of defamation to prove his point in this matter. This has never been a standard of proof the Packer family has applied to itself.

The next time James Packer and his parrot, Paul Lyneham, engage in such an argument, they might like to think of this: if defamation proceedings are needed to prove one's innocence, then by this standard Frank Packer would have been guilty of tax fraud in the matters raised in Newton's case in 1957; or, by such a standard, Clyde and Kerry Packer would have been guilty of break and enter in their notorious occupation of the Anglican Press building in June 1960; or, by such a standard, Kerry Packer would have been guilty of tax fraud numerous times in the 1980s—in the film scheme, the offshore auctions scheme, the Swiftsure Credit scheme, the Bishop and Sewell schemes, the Conpress Investments scheme and, most famously, the bottom-of-the-harbour tax scheme, in tandem with Brian Ray and Ian Beames. He has had more tax schemes than I have had hot lunches. But, then again, the Packers have never been keen on paying their fair share of tax, anymore than they have been keen on facing up to their fair share of market competition in the TV industry.