This week saw a changing of the guard in the Australians for a Murdoch Royal Commission (AMRC) grassroots organisation.
Ex-prime minister Kevin Rudd wrote to the AMRC supporters, “As you may have heard, tomorrow I will be returning to the Australian Public Service to serve as the new Ambassador to the US. Sadly, this means today was also my last as chair of Australians for a Murdoch Royal Commission.”
This advice was quickly followed by communication from his joint successors as AMRC chair, ex-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and trade unionist Sharan Burrow, who together immediately wrote:
Revelations from the US court case against the Murdochs make our calls ever more urgent; a Royal Commission into media concentration is now needed to defend our democracy. This is not a left-right issue, we come from both sides of the political divide. Freedom of the press is sacred, but it can no longer be a shield of convenience for bad-faith actors who knowingly lie.
It is surely unlikely that there has ever, in the entirety of Australian history, been a bi-lateral call from both Liberal and Labor ex-prime ministers to investigate the actions of a dominant media empire, an empire whose chairman, Rupert Murdoch, US President Joe Biden has named “The most dangerous man in the world.”
Turnbull and Burrow went on, in a series of press releases and articles to highlight the revelations that Murdoch’s Fox News had continued to publish and promote known falsehoods which then led to the January 6th storming of the Washington capitol.
These events alone justify the rigorous inquiry that only a royal commission can bring. Just this week Australians have been reminded of how dependent we are on our American ally. This has serious consequences for Australia. Not only does our long-term economic and national security depend on the stability of our US ally, but the same corporate culture exists in Australia, where News Corp accounts for more than half the media industry. So, we can no longer avoid the question: could News Corp do the same thing here? If you’re paying close enough attention, you’ll see that it already is.
Why is this relevant to the ABC you ask?
The Murdoch media has relentlessly attempted to undermine the public’s confidence and trust in the ABC, and to some extent been successful, as recent research shows ABC trust dropping from its traditional 80+% to this year circa 75%.
Murdoch irrationally resents the ABC as a funded “competitor” and has focussed his attention on removing it from the marketplace, by hook or crook.
Murdoch’s support for anti-ABC commentary has also been an enabler, a partnership of kind, for the decade long conservative government attacks on ABC funding and independence. A commission enquiry into those media tactics would highlight the necessity for the public broadcaster; for impartiality, accuracy, education and entertainment that is Australian focused, not Murdoch interest focused.
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