There are two upcoming power battles in Australia. One pits Kevin Rudd against Tony Abbott. The second positions Rupert Murdoch and his newspapers against our democracy. The outcome of the first battle may depend on the second, yet we only get to vote in one of them.

That Murdoch wants a change of government in Australia is evident. He has said so himself, tweeting that the Australian public are “totally disgusted with the Labor Party wrecking the country with its sordid intrigues. Now for a quick election”.

Of course, the octogenarian, New York-based global media magnate is perfectly entitled to his opinion and is well within his rights to express it so openly.  But one’s opinions carry a lot more weight when they are magnified by a virtual monopoly newspaper business that amplifies his views through ‘news’ coverage that makes no pretension at being even-handed.

Take for example the News Corp papers’ treatment of the Rudd government’s proposal for a modest levy on banks to pay for insurance for depositors in the event of a bank failure. Predictably, Rudd and his treasurer were photo-shopped as bank robbers raiding the savings of battlers. “Rudd plans to pinch Aussies’ savings” was the headline in the trashy Daily Tele.

Not mentioned was the fact that until recently Australia and New Zealand were the only industrialised countries not to operate deposit insurance schemes for authorised deposit taking institutions. Under the Howard Government in 2005, the Council of Financial Regulators recommended a limited mechanism to provide depositors and general insurance policyholders with access to their funds on a timely basis during a crisis. The rationale was to avoid hardship for ordinary people. (For a detailed history of our move toward international standards, see this paper from the RBA here PDF).

The idea – as supported by APRA, ASIC, the RBA and the generally very conservative people who administer our financial system – is that it makes sense for deposit taking institutions themselves to pay a levy to insure that people’s savings are protected. This is consistent with what happens in many other developed economies, including the US, the UK, Canada and Norway.

Just how this sensible, moderate and prudential policy idea could be twisted into Rudd Raids Battlers’ Bank Accounts’ is testament to the utter corruption of the Murdoch media and the preparedness of its editors to  distort news coverage to advance the commercial and ideological agenda of their expatriate boss.

The Murdoch apologists, of course, will defend his papers with the line that they are pursuing the sort of vigorous, take-no-prisoners tabloid journalism that holds governments to account. That’s fine, but journalism that twists facts, omits key information and manipulates public emotion to achieve ideological ends for powerful interests is not journalism at all. Even the most conservative public commentators now recognise how calculated Murdoch’s agenda of propaganda has become.

None of this would matter so much if the Murdoch footprint in our media was not so overwhelming and if his papers did not so routinely set the agenda for talkback radio, commercial television and the ABC, which has given up any pretence of being anything other than a News Corp echo chamber. On this score, John Pilger got it right – Australia is the world’s first Murdochracy.

What does this mean in the coming election? It means that Rudd’s ALP, the Greens and the cause of progressive politics in this country are up against two foes – Abbott’s populist, hidden agenda conservatism on one hand and, on the other, a Murdoch press willing to lie, misinform, twist and smear to get its way.

If Abbott wins, the Murdochracy will be complete.

See also: Rupert Murdoch and his influence on Australian political life | David McKnight

(Image courtesy of Driftglass – licensed under Creative Commons)


Ange Kenos · August 4, 2013 at 9:55 am

There are very serious issues here, far worse than in Citizen Kane, with this megalomaniac multi billionaire seeking to have HIS way guaranteed, regardless on the negative effect on the nation. he hates the NBN so much that he would happily have us the most technology backward nation in the 'developed' world, and that means electing Abbott. His media are acting dishonestly and I wonder if the Press Council or other media watchdog can take action against this foreigner.

Anonymous · August 4, 2013 at 11:02 pm

Excellent article Mr D., succinct and exact.


Anonymous · August 5, 2013 at 12:27 am

HOW we let a man who has not been an Australian citizen for nearly 30 years have so much power in our local politics is incredible.

He became a US citizen so he could buy their TV stations, and it's the profit motive (protect his FoxTel) that drives him to oppose the Labor NBN.

What if Silvio Berlusconi bought out News Corp Aust (the newspaper/foxtel arm) and then told us how to vote? Would we still be happy with that?

Kevin Michael · August 5, 2013 at 3:16 am

Money is power. Well written article. As the other anonymous commentator said, succinct and to the point. Thanks Mike Webb for referring me here.
Kevin Lee

Anonymous · August 5, 2013 at 12:02 pm

one consolation is that this election could be a good one to lose.the economy is going down and unemployment is rising due to government failure to spend because of this surplus lnp. government will cut and sack because that is what they do, and this will cause a recession that they will own lock stock and barrel and destroy their “superior economic manager” fairy story will be tough on some but if they vote for these political zombies so be it.

Rolly Christian · August 5, 2013 at 11:45 pm

As much as I dislike media monopolies and their silencing affect on free and open debate PM Krudd has so far done his very best to lose this election.
He didn't need to add a levy on bank savings, didn't need to pull down the pacific solution and then make his own (worst) Mark II “the PNG people dumping solution”.
He didn't need to remove / rename his ALP carbon tax to insure local manufacturing disadvantage.
These are his government legacies. He builds an ALP policy then tears it down.
He has given the press and the LNP too much material to use for critical examination.

Australian Government's lose elections and Oppositions don't normally win them (there are exceptions). Not even the fear of the Evil Murdoch leading an already debased and evil MSM will turn the Krudd ship hopes around.

Murdoch and MSM are both devils we know and are living with. By the ALP's hand Australia will likely toss Krudd and brand ALP now harder and further away than brand LNP and TAbbott. Three strikes and three misses Krudd is going out.

Anonymous · August 6, 2013 at 3:50 am

When did the ALP become progressive?

Anonymous · August 6, 2013 at 7:28 am

Well according to the ABC Vote Compass the ALP is 'economically left and socially small 'l' liberal.
Yeah right.
I remember the Political Compass, the adult version of this one, had the ALP well into hard right territory based on their 2010 election policies and the COALition even harder and further to the right.
Looks like the Overton window is being squeezed to the right even more.


JonL · August 12, 2013 at 4:11 am

A strange thing the Vote Compass, fred. Political Compass put me somewhere to the left of Ghandi, but the ABC's put me just to the left of the ALP! Iknow boundaries are changing, but these are ridiculous….

Daniel Efosa Uyi · August 29, 2013 at 11:50 am

nice post Mr D, I love your style of blogging 🙂
you see, there are 2 blogs that i've found so far to be very helpful and have something interesting for me whenever i visit, this one and
Keep it up. I will be visiting again.

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