By Crikey reporter Lucy Morieson

Friday, Crikey revealed that as a backbencher in 1997 Education
Minister Brendan Nelson had a lot of aggressive things to say about the
dangers of the concentration of media ownership – including the
observation that “the average Australian feels uncomfortable with the
concentration of media ownership.” A full list of similar statements
can be found on the Xmedia website.

asked Dr Nelson’s spokesman about this on Friday, and after hassling
his office again today the spokesman confirmed that our “research is correct.”

OK, we asked, so what is the minister’s current view? Does
he still believe the average Australian feels uncomfortable with the
concentration of media ownership, and does he therefore oppose the
federal government’s plans to hand even more power to media moguls like
Kerry Packer and Rupert Murdoch by abolishing the cross-media rules?

Er, um, gee, well … yes, they were Dr Nelson’s previous comments, his spokesman confirmed today.

We think he’s trying to say this: “I feel embarrassed by those comments
I made as a backbencher. If I repeat them now my ministerial career
trajectory will hit a brick wall because the two big media owners will
wipe me. So don’t ask me again. Please.”

Peter Fray

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