Being related to Rupert Murdoch has
never been easy given his controversial corporate and editorial
behaviour over the past 53 years but the extended family is not often
present when a major attack is launched.

Last Thursday night, I was one of four
speakers in front of 500 punters at an event called The Thinking Games at
RMIT’s Capitol Theatre opposite the Melbourne Town Hall. While Australian Conservation Foundation executive director Don
Henry covered the environment and Melbourne University’s Department of
Medicine chief, Professor Graham Brown, dealt with the issue of public health, my
designated topic was “the media and corporate governance”.

Thinking
it was a fairly left-leaning academic audience, there were no holds
barred and my designated ten-minute spot turned into the biggest public
spray I’ve ever given the Murdoch and Packer empires. The context was
the proposed relaxation of Australia’s media ownership laws and some of
the points included the following:

  • Australia’s two richest families have hurt Australia’s democracy
    and held us back as a nation and they both happily trade political
    endorsements for commercial gain, which is a form of high level
    corruption;
  • The Hawke Government let Murdoch take over the Herald & Weekly Times after The Herald‘s
    capital gains tax campaign. Ironically, it was the government-owned
    Commonwealth Bank which argued most strongly in favour of Rupert
    retaining the empire during the 1990-91 debt crisis;
  • Keating and Murdoch did a cosy Foxtel deal that ended up costing taxpayers billions;
  • Journalism is one of the most noble professions but neither the Murdoch nor Packer family is fit to be in charge of it;
  • Murdoch degraded British society with The Sun, degraded
    US journalism with Fox News and has blood on his hands over the Iraq
    war as he had the power to stop it from happening, particularly in the
    UK and Australia;
  • Rupert is running an outrageous gerrymander with News Corp’s
    two-tiered voting system and the poison pill is an absolute disgrace
    because it enshrines his control no matter how bad his performance;
  • Rupert’s outlets lecture people about democracy and fair
    elections but out of my 22 public company tilts, only News Corp
    completely censored the platform, refusing to even tell shareholders my
    age.

Even I was thinking the 15-minute rant was probably a bit
over the top so you can imagine the shock when one of the organisers
told me later that Rupert’s sister, Anne Kantor, was in the audience.
Oh dear!

Peter Fray

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