Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

No strategy and a beige suit

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 29 August 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 29 August 2014

Read more

ENCORE!

Alain Choquette: A Hilarious Magician in Paris

Read more

FOCUS

France welcomes Iraqi Christian refugees

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Emmanuel Macron: A new economy minister with a pro-business agenda

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

More of this year's best Observers stories

Read more

#TECH 24

Changing the world, one video game at a time

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Socialist Party summer conference kicks off in explosive atmosphere

Read more

  • EU leaders choose Tusk and Mogherini for top jobs, discuss Russia sanctions

    Read more

  • Dozens of UN peacekeepers still held by Syrian jihadists

    Read more

  • Opposition protesters clash with Pakistani police outside PM's house

    Read more

  • Austerity row overshadows French Socialist’s annual rally

    Read more

  • Egypt sentences Brotherhood leader Badie to life

    Read more

  • Ceasfire allows Gaza families to relax on the beach

    Read more

  • S. Africa condemns 'military coup' in Lesotho

    Read more

  • Kerry calls for 'coalition of nations' to battle IS militants

    Read more

  • Ukrainian plane with seven on board crashes in Algeria

    Read more

  • Exclusive: Fabius warns Russia of more sanctions

    Read more

  • IMF backs Lagarde amid French corruption probe

    Read more

  • Ebola drug ‘ZMapp’ heals all monkeys in study

    Read more

  • British killer escapes from French psychiatric hospital

    Read more

  • Police hunt for British boy with brain tumour taken to France

    Read more

  • Ukraine to relaunch NATO membership bid

    Read more

  • Suriname leader’s son pleads guilty to courting Hezbollah

    Read more

  • Mapping Ukraine: Canada and Russia in ‘tweet for tat’ row

    Read more

Asia-pacific

Rudd takes on Murdoch as Australian election heats up

© AFP

Text by Sam Ball

Latest update : 2013-08-08

Australian PM Kevin Rudd has accused Rupert Murdoch of using his vast media empire to scupper the Labor Party’s election campaign in order to protect his own commercial interests.

Last Sunday saw Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd call a September 7 general election that pitches the head of the Labor Party against opposition leader Tony Abbott with the latter the favourite to come out on top.

But some argue that whatever promises or policy pledges the two men make during the election campaign, the real power in determining the outcome lies with a third man – Rupert Murdoch.

Despite recent scandals over the behaviour of his UK news organisations, Rupert Murdoch still wields substantial power through his media empire, not least in Australia, the country of his birth.

Just a day after the election was called, Murdoch’s News Corp Australia, the country’s biggest media group, nailed its colours firmly to the mast when one of its papers, the Daily Telegraph, began its election coverage with a picture of Rudd and the banner headline: “Now you finally have a chance to kick this mob out.”

Rudd, whose minority government trails the conservative opposition 48 percent to 52 percent in the latest opinion polls, told reporters on Tuesday there was no doubt Murdoch was attempting to engineer election defeat for Labor.

"I think he's made it fairly clear ... that he doesn't really like us, and would like to give us the old heave-ho," he said.

Commercial interests behind anti-Labor campaign?

Murdoch’s reasons for backing Abbot in the upcoming election are more to do with his commercial interests than his political beliefs, Rudd says.

Rudd claimed that Murdoch viewed Labor’s multi-billion dollar plan for a National Broadband Network (NBN) as a threat to the media magnate's part-owned Foxtel cable TV company.

“What is underneath all this?” Rudd said on ABC news on Wednesday. "Is it to do with the National Broadband Network representing a commercial threat to Foxtel?

The NBN project's faster internet speeds would reportedly make it easier for Australians to download movies and TV shows instead of paying for a Foxtel subscription

Rudd suggested that Abbott’s conservative coalition had used News Corp-owned Fox Studios in Sydney to launch their own proposals for a high-speed broadband network to imply Abbott and Murdoch were colluding.

"I would like to hear some answers as to what discussions Mr Abbott may have had with Mr Murdoch on the future of Australia's National Broadband Network,” he said.

Despite Rudd’s allegations, or perhaps because of them, Murdoch’s media empire shows no sign of letting up on its attacks on the Labor Party.

On Thursday, the Telegraph once again took aim at Rudd, depicting him as Colonel Klink from the popular 1960s comedy Hogan's Heroes, wearing a Nazi uniform and a monocle, under the headline “I Know Nuthink”.

Rudd ‘acting like a jilted lover’

The opposition has also weighed in on the row as the election campaign turns into an increasingly toxic war of words.

Opposition broadband spokesman Malcolm Turnbull said that the Australian PM is acting "more and more like a jilted lover".

"Once the darling of the [Murdoch's] tabloids.... Now his years of sycophancy and duchessing editors with juicy leaks about his colleagues count for nothing. No wonder he's bitter," he told reporters.

Abbot, meanwhile, has denied that he has ever spoken to Murdoch about NBN and suggested Rudd was being oversensitive to stories in the press.

“We have a prime minister with a glass jaw and a thin skin,” he said.

Whatever the case, Rupert Murdoch is sure to play a pivotal role in deciding this election.

News Corp Australia owns around 146 different publications in the country, as well as numerous media websites.

A 2011 government report on the media industry found that publications owned by Murdoch accounted for 58 percent of the circulation of all daily newspapers in Australia, rising to 65 percent for national and metropolitan dailies.

Date created : 2013-08-08

  • AUSTRALIA

    Australia's Rudd calls general election for Sept 7

    Read more

  • AUSTRALIA

    Rudd sworn in as Australian PM after toppling Gillard

    Read more

  • UK

    Tony Blair's 'unhealthy' relationship with Murdoch

    Read more

COMMENT(S)