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Rupert Murdoch and Tony Abbott: is a post-election catch-up on the agenda?

October 17, 2013


Rupert Murdoch generally makes a point of meeting leading politicians while he is in the country. Photograph: Rick Wilking/Reuters

Rupert Murdoch generally makes a point of meeting leading politicians while he is in the country. Photograph: Rick Wilking/Reuters

It would be a normal state of affairs for an incoming government to meet one of the most influential players in the international and local media, particularly one who took a close personal interest in the outcome of Australia’s recent political contest.

But neither Tony Abbott nor his communications spokesman, Malcolm Turnbull, will say whether they plan to meet the News Corp chairman, Rupert Murdoch, while the media mogul is in Australia over the next couple of weeks.

The prime minister’s office declined to comment on Wednesday when asked by Guardian Australia if a post-election catch-up was on the agenda. A spokesman for Turnbull also declined to comment about whether a meeting had been scheduled.

Murdoch generally makes a point of meeting prime ministers and opposition leaders, politicians he regards as up and comers, and relevant portfolio ministers from Australia’s major political parties during his frequent visits to Australia, and when politicians travel to New York.

The News Corp chairman publicly backed Tony Abbott’s bid for the prime ministership in 2013 – and there was considerable political controversy during the campaign about coverage by the News Corp tabloids.

During the campaign Kevin Rudd declared that Murdoch was intent on achieving a change of government in Australia. Abbott advised Rudd to stop complaining about media coverage.

Abbott’s deputy, Julie Bishop, contended that Rudd had “lost the plot”. “I’m actually worried about Kevin Rudd’s state of mind. He seems to be descending into some dark world of conspiracies where everybody’s against him and it’s led by Rupert Murdoch,” she told the ABC.

In a piece for the online publication Inside Story on Wednesday, the University of Sydney media academic Rodney Tiffen remarked of the election campaign and transition to government, that Murdoch’s “Australian newspapers are celebrating the election of Tony Abbott, which some of them, notably Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, campaigned for with as much bias as Murdoch’s papers showed when they opposed Gough Whitlam’s government in 1975.

“But what they displayed more than anything during that campaign was how little sense they have of either a business or professional strategy to meet the challenges of shrinking circulations.” The Guardian.


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