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Last Updated: Friday, 17 February 2006, 06:21 GMT
Australia remembers Kerry Packer
Australian pm John Howard speaks at the funeral
Packer's business empire included media and the gaming industry
Australian Prime Minister John Howard has led the tributes for flamboyant media mogul Kerry Packer at a state memorial service at Sydney Opera House.

Packer died in his Sydney home on 26 December, aged 68, after a long battle with cancer and kidney failure.

Some 1,800 guests gathered to commemorate Australia's richest man.

"He lived a full Australian life," said Mr Howard, adding that Packer had made a "remarkable contribution to the Australian nation".

"He was a larrikin [a rascal], but he was also a gentleman. That is a dual description that any Australian man would be proud to have."

Among the guests at the service were Hollywood stars Russell Crowe, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes.

Packer's son James, who has inherited the family's $11bn media and gaming company Publishing & Broadcasting Ltd, said his father was "acutely aware of his own good fortune, and equally aware of the obligations that went with it."

"My most precious memories are of course not about the legend, but about my dad," he added.

Six people were arrested outside the Opera House, for protesting against the memorial service because it was funded by taxpayers' money.

Gambling tycoon

Packer's business empire included Nine Network TV station and magazines like Australian Women's Weekly. He also owned ski resorts, diamond exploration and extensive land.

Last year Forbes magazine valued him at US$5bn (2.9bn).

A man holds an order of service for Kerry Packer's funeral
Kerry Packer had a well-known love of cricket

But Packer was also known as one of the world's biggest gamblers, reputedly winning and losing millions in casinos.

He is also widely considered as the person who transformed cricket on television.

He launched his World Series after being refused exclusive broadcasting rights for a Test series against the West Indies.

The series ran for two years and featured great players such as Dennis Lillee, Viv Richards, Michael Holding and Imran Khan. Tony Greig gave up the England captaincy to join.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Obituary: Kerry Packer



SEE ALSO:
In pictures: Packer memorial
17 Feb 06 |  In Pictures
Media magnate Kerry Packer dies
27 Dec 05 |  Business
Cricket leads tributes to Packer
27 Dec 05 |  Cricket
Tough times for Packer's TV arm
25 Aug 05 |  Business
Packer moves into Macau gambling
16 Nov 04 |  Business
'Lucky' tycoon hits paydirt
24 Jan 02 |  Business


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