Gerry Harvey Rips Into AFR Journo, Accounts Issues “100% Lies”
Gerry Harvey, Executive Chairman of Harvey Norman, has launched a brash attack on The Australian Financial Review’s (AFR) ‘Rear Window’ journalist, Joe Aston, for his reporting of issues contained in the retailer’s accounts.
Mr Aston’s reports have raised questions about the quality of the retailer’s recent earnings report – boasting a record breaking profit of $449 million – whilst reflecting on the treatment of debts accrued by franchisees.
Mr Harvey has called for the journalist’s termination following the reports:
“The Fin Review is supposed to be this wonderful paper with quality journalists and instead of that they have this gossip writer telling lies. He should be sacked tomorrow. He’s an absolute disgrace”.
Michael Stutchbury, the Financial Review’s Editor-In-Chief, has referred to Harvey’s brutal language as “regrettable”. He notes that whilst Mr Harvey has built “a great Australian company”, the publication did have a “responsibility to scrutinise the unusual issues involved in Harvey Norman’s accounts and relationships with its franchisees”, inclusive of those reviewed by ASIC.
Gerry Harvey went on to state that had Aston been working for other media owners, his reports would have been blocked:
“In the old days when Rupert Murdoch runs it, or Kerry Packer runs it, those sort of bullshit things don’t happen. Because they pull them in and they tell them ‘it’s not on”.
In response, Mr Stutchbury has praised Fairfax Media’s senior management for not “censoring legitimate journalistic coverage”.
Stutchbury states Mr Harvey has cancelled a planned meeting at Harvey’s headquarters in March to talk about these issues.
The Australian Financial Review has announced it will stand by its reports on the retailer, however, it is interested in receiving Mr Harvey’s comments and is willing to amend any specific errors he can verify.
Shares of Harvey Norman remained steady on Thursday, however, its has experienced a 26% drop since mid-February of this year.