Former Channel Nine star Kerri-Anne Kennerley has called out a “boy’s club” culture at the network that protected the likes of Don Burke, who has been accused of being a serial harasser and abuser of women.
Kennerley’s revelations come after a string of women have come forward to allege abuse at the hands of Burke when he was one of Nine’s stars in the 90s and early 2000s. Read more about that here.
The problem has become such a problematic one for Nine that its CEO, Hugh Marks, yesterday sent a company-wide email to staff (sent to B&T and published in full at the bottom of this article) that said network management would take steps to ensure former employees “perhaps with old grievances” are supported, while counselling and a phone line would be created to allow staff to report bad behaviour.
“As much as we might like to, sometimes we, unfortunately, cannot rewrite history,” Marks said in the email.
Yesterday, Kennerley – who is promoting her new autobiography – told Triple M Adelaide’s Roo and Ditts show that she knew Burke well during her time with Nine and he was part of a “boy’s club” culture at the network.
“There wasn’t any question his (Burke’s) language was appalling. I’m not a shrinking violet … but to me he always was just that little bit worse,” Kennerly revealed.
“It was the language school of Kerry Packer and it went downhill from that. All of his executives spoke the same way and they were all colourful. But Don, sometimes, was just a little bit more.
“A lot of us knew but in those days there were a lot of men who did push the envelope. Boys will be boys. But many of us in that era drew a line in the sand and said: ‘Watch my lips. Do that again and I will hit you!’
“The simple answer was, that was an era. It was all going on for young and old. There are a whole bunch of people involved, but that said, it was part of an era.
“I’m not trying to justify it,” Kennerley said. “It has to be dragged out now because no young woman should ever have to put up with that.”
The problem for Nine is that two former CEOs of the business, David Leckie and Sam Chisolm, and even Kerry Packer himself, were aware of Burke’s predatory behaviour but did nothing to stop it. There have been reports that staff that fell victim to Burke’s abuse could sue the network for failing to provide a safe workplace.
Yesterday, Nine announced the establishment a phone line to provide an independent counselling service (to staff past and present) to report instances of past behaviour they would like addressed.
Here is Hugh Marks ’email to staff in full:
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