The Art of the Australian Insult


The cardboard king
April 30, 2009, 3:25 pm
Filed under: Business | Tags: ,

The death of Australia’s so-called “Cardboard king”, Richard Pratt, has led to a variety of responses, both from commentators and members of the public. Opinion seems to be divided into two camps, those who think Pratt was an out-and-out thief, and those who feel that criticism directed at him is emblematic of Australia’s tall poppy syndrome in action.

“As Australians we know it is not appropriate to be upset by white-collar crime. It is simply the mark of a keen entrepreneurial mind, a little over-eager in the pursuit, by any means, of the wealth that is the sacred right of any true-blue Aussie,” snorts Moya Connors of Valla Beach.

Elizabeth Goodsall of Wahroonga argues:

“Can the rags of Richard Pratt’s tax-deductible philanthropy really cover the nakedness of his dishonesty? A self-confessed thief, he greatly enriched himself by stealing from every person in Australia. His status as a Companion in the Order of Australia should never be restored.”

Peter Wertheim, on the other hand, defends Pratt, arguing, “What a miserable lot some Herald readers are (Letters, April 30). They excoriate the late Richard Pratt for “ripping off the public over an extended period” and liken him to “a common criminal who made money by snatching old ladies’ handbags”. This is the tall poppy syndrome at its most graceless.”

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