After watching James Packer bear his soul to the world last night, he must be the bravest man in the country. He would be acutely aware that the tearful answers he gave to difficult questions wouldn't go down well with some. It's a rare sight to see a grown man cry in public, especially an Australian man.
To see this humble, likable man break down in tears as he spoke about the death of his father was hard to watch, and it's clear that the death-bed phone call is still very raw.
James didn't know his father was dying, he was out of the country. Knowing he had little time left, Kerry Packer rang his son and told him that he loved him and was proud of him. He also told him to live the life he wanted and not one that he, his father, would like him to live. Soon after, Kerry's doctor told James to jump on a plane and come home. Distraught by the memory, James broke down and said "Dad knew, and he didn't tell me." On Boxing Day 2005, Kerry Packer died of kidney failure, aged 68.
The younger generation don't understand just how hard it must have been for Kerry Packer to tell his son that he loved him. He was brought up in an age where men didn't speak of love and certainly wouldn't be seen crying in public.
In an old interview played last night, Kerry Packer admits that his father Sir Frank Packer was tough on him growing up and "gave him the belt" many times, yet couldn't remember getting a hiding he didn't deserve. James gave the impression that his father didn't practice such harsh discipline on his son. As time passes down the generations, kindness and understanding are at last being perceived as the best recipe for raising a child.
Kerry Packer was known not only for his wealth and power but for his filthy temper, he terrified almost everyone around him. He also had fierce arguments with the tax office and once said that anyone who paid more tax than they had to was an idiot.
Last night James was asked about his friendship with Tom Cruise. He said he met Tom at the worst time of his life, his first marriage had just broken down and his communications company One.Tel collapsed. "I felt like a failure" he said. "He believed in me when others didn't." James had nothing but praise for the man he obviously thinks of as a true friend.
James is now concentrating on his Barangaroo six-star $2 billion
casino resort to be built in Sydney. With the rise of the Chinese middle class, he hopes it will rival casinos in Singapore and Macau.
James had gastric bypass surgery in Los Angeles 12 months ago and is now trim and physically fit. He is also happily married with three small children and seems content. And after his brave gesture of allowing the public into his fiercely guarded private life, we wish him well.