If John Howard wants some first-hand information about the political
power of media moguls as he considers whether to abolish the
cross-media laws, he should ask his trusted Liberal Party advisor
Lynton Crosby.

Last night in a speech organised by the Institute
of Public Affairs, the Australian Crosby, who advised the British
Conservatives during the recent UK election, talked about Rupert
Murdoch’s role in the re-election of Tony Blair’s Labour government.

According to Crosby, Murdoch’s mass-circulation Sun
had been very supportive of the issues raised by the Tories in the
two years leading up to the campaign. Issues like Tory leader Michael
Howard’s campaign to tighten immigration rules resonated with Sun
readers – and Crosby said he knew things were going well when a Becky
or a Sally or Sarah or a Jane, semi-naked and in a G-string on page
three of The Sun,
said in an accompanying thought bubble: “I think Michael Howard has a
point… about immigration” or “Yes, we do need tax reform.”

Unfortunately for the Tories, it didn’t last. ” I could see the campaign shift as these little bubble comments of the
page three girls shifted during the campaign,” Crosby said.

Towards the end of the campaign we had the likes of Mandy declaring that “Gordon Brown was good on the economy.”

In the end, The Sun sent the puffs of red smoke from its chimney
and editorialised for Blair’s re-election – a decision Crosby said was
a
reward by Rupert Murdoch for Blair’s support for the war in Iraq
despite the paper complaining for two years about all the other things the
Tories were running with.

Yes,
the same Rupert Murdoch who controls the biggest slice of Australia’s
daily newspapers, and the same Rupert Murdoch who would be able to get
even bigger and more powerful if the government abolishes the
cross-media rules in Australia.

Peter Fray

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