“Murdoch is a cancer on democracy” former PM Kevin Rudd discusses disinformation and print media in Hawke Centre conversation

Pictured: Quentin Dempster (left) and Kevin Rudd (right) during their zoom call on Thursday 10 June for The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre and ABC Friends SA/NT presentation on disinformation. (Image source: UniSA)

By Rylee Cooper | @RyleeCooper5

Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd furthers his accusation on News Corp founder Rupert Murdoch during a conversation with journalist Quentin Dempster at the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre Thursday, June 10.

During an interview with Dempster, Mr Rudd says that Murdoch has intentionally been spreading disinformation and misinformation in order to polarise Australian society and further a “insidious” agenda.

“He’s been directly interfering and intervening with Australian national politics and British national politics…for a very long time,” Mr Rudd says, “It’s only, however, just got worse.”

Mr Rudd states that Murdoch’s reach over Australian media is a “cancer to democracy”.

He asks, “How is it justifiable in a modern-day democracy for a single news organisation to have 70% of the print readership of the print democracy?”

In 2016, an international study found that News Corp accounted for 65 per cent of circulated papers in the ten major daily papers, excluding the Northern Territory and Tasmania.

Mr Rudd says that News Corp use this “domination” of the printed media to further a “deeply far-right agenda”.

“Murdoch seeks…to create balkanised communities of political extreme opinion…to render this democracy as ungovernable as the American democracy has in many respects now become.”

However, attempts to regulate this extreme opinion have been suggested in the past.

In 2012, a report into the media and media regulation – called the Finkelstein Inquiry – suggested that a statutory News Media Council be created that set journalistic standards for news media and consultation to be adhered to.

The Finkelstein Inquiry also says the council would hold the news media more accountable and would handle inquiries and complaints into published material. 

The Council would have effectively ensured that there was some “process of regulation to get fact-based news media” Journalist and interviewer, Quentin Dempster says.

However, Mr Rudd says that while the recommendations made by the inquiry were “sound”, they were never taken up by the Abbott Government “because the liberal party has become an unholy subsidiary of Murdoch land”.

Mr Rudd also states that the current Australian Press Council is “not worth the paper it is written on”.

“This institution takes forever to answer a basic request from anybody seeking a correction or a reprimand of a media organisation for basic factual errors, let alone any challenge to questions of opinion,” he says.

“A media council needs to have…greater response to complaints, [be] appropriately staffed to deal with them, robust in taking on media organisations who get facts wrong.”

At present, Mr Rudd says, the current council does not meet any of those standards.

“The current model in Australia has failed and is dead.”

The entire discussion titled, “Disinformation: A Toxic Mix of Media, Politics and Vested Interests” can be viewed via UniSA’s HawkeCentre YouTube channel here.

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