John Laws has been docked $100,000 from his $86,500 a week salary for taking a week off work with pneumonia.

But the veteran radio personality says if Southern Cross Broadcasting management were trying to send him a message: “I didn’t get it. They’ll have to try again.”

Laws, the King of Radio for almost 15 years, is broadcast on 63 stations, but is suffering against Sydney competitor Ray Hadley on rival network Macquarie Radio, The Bulletin magazine reports.

His wealth is estimated at $100 million, including a $30m harbourside apartment, substantial property holdings in the city’s eastern suburbs and several vintage cars - as well as a salary of $4.5m a year.

The 71-year-old also is on a watertight contract that keeps him as Australia’s highest-paid broadcaster until 2010, with provisions allowing him to quit whenever he wants but preventing Southern Cross from axing him.

“A good contract,” Laws jokes in an interview with The Bulletin, to be published on Wednesday.

“Thought it up all by myself.”

The radio network last December took an unprecedented move against the star, docking him $100,000 for six days sick leave, the magazine said.

While Laws said he did not think “too many people get over pneumonia in six days”, he did not hold it against Southern Cross.

“It’s a public company you know and they’ve got to explain every expenditure,” Laws said.

If management was trying to send him a message Laws said he “didn’t get it”.

However, the veteran talkback host admits he should have retired 10 years ago, “because I would have been firmly at the top.”

His professional landscape changed five years ago with the defection of fellow announcer Alan Jones to Macquarie Radio.

“Alan going to 2GB had a huge effect, obviously, and the change of ownership of the radio station … in a way it was probably disruptive,” Laws said.

Laws paid measured tribute to his former colleague for his success.

“He caters to the prejudice of the masses and it’s a very clever thing to do, it’s a good way to get on,” he said.

Central to Laws’ philosophy on life is a sense of being needed, a theme also fundamental to his attitude to retiring from the airwaves.

“If you’ve got … in particular a staff that loves you or a partner that loves you, that feeling of not having somebody else belonging to you but you belonging to somebody else,” Laws said.

“It would be terrible to wake up in the morning and not feel that you were wanted or needed - to wake up with no reason.

“Everybody’s got to have a reason.”