Sir Frank Packer and the leadership of the Liberal Party, 1967-71

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Abstract

This article considers the role of Sir Frank Packer and his media outlets in the demise of Sir John Gorton in 1971 and the elevation of Sir William McMahon to the leadership of the Liberal Party and the Prime Ministership of Australia. It identifies Packer's long association with McMahon and traces the part played by Australian Consolidated Press in the intra-party struggle of the late 1960s and the early 1970s. The article argues that while Packer and some of his employees, particularly the Daily Telegraph's political correspondent Alan Reid, helped to destabilise Gorton's leadership, it is much too simplistic to suggest, as many observers have, that a 'Packer plot' was executed in 1971. The article, which examines what is represented as a key instance of a media proprietor exercising undue influence in the political process, serves as a historical case study of the relationship between the news media and political parties in Australia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)499-513
Number of pages15
JournalAustralian Journal of Political Science
Volume36
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2001

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