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Rupert Murdoch takes to the stage -

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LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: The power and influence of media mogul Rupert Murdoch has been hotly debated throughout this election campaign.

The Murdoch press accounts for around two-thirds of all daily newspapers sold in Australia and the organisation has firmly thrown its weight behind the Coalition.

Rupert Murdoch's own life and career have inspired acres of print over the decades, some glowing, some not so much, and now another writer is having a go, Australia's best-known playwright, David Williamson.

Lisa Whitehead reports.

LISA WHITEHEAD, REPORTER: Some people are so popular, so rich or so powerful, they come to be known the world over simply by their first name. Rupert Murdoch is one of them.

DAVID WILLIAMSON, PLAYRWRIGHT: I think Rupert is a pretty fearsome character. I mean, he wields enormous power and he inspires a certain amount of fear - not a certain amount, quite lot of fear. Our politicians for many years just did exactly what he told them.

LISA WHITEHEAD: The man the English dubbed "The Dirty Digger" is now 82. For 50 years he's dominated and shaped the media and political landscape.

DAVID WILLIAMSON: Time erases some of the deeds he's done. We forget them. And we forget that to some extent this election is a rerun of the '75 Whitlam election when he absolutely had five anti-Whitlam articles on the front page of The Australian every day and every photograph of Whitlam - as I say in the play - made him look like an axe murderer. But this time it's just gone up another level. I mean, there are usually 10 anti-Labor articles on the front page.

LISA WHITEHEAD: It's no secret playwright David Williamson opposes what he sees as Rupert Murdoch's free market fundamentalism, but he says he had to push that aside if he was to make the character of Rupert live on stage.

DAVID WILLIAMSON: It's no good doing a lefty playwright act and coming in and skewering Rupert on stage and bashing him round the head and telling the audience they've got to hate this man, so we thought the best way is to let Rupert have his head and present the case to the audience that he's one of the greatest human beings and benefactors of humankind that's ever lived.

LISA WHITEHEAD: It also puts Rupert, the son, the father and the husband to Wendi Deng and Anna Murdoch, under the spotlight.

DAVID WILLIAMSON: Anna was extraordinary. She was enormously loyal to him in public, but the evidence is that she really disapproved of some of the gutter journalism that he was doing.

LISA WHITEHEAD: Dame Elisabeth was a bit more forthright. She used to take her son to task quite often. She certainly made no bones about the fact that his Australian papers were sullying the family name.

At 71, David Williamson is Australia's most successful playwright. He says he's survived the wrath of critics and what he calls the attack dogs of the Murdoch press.

DAVID WILLIAMSON: It might be daunting for some writers to satirise Australia's most powerful man ever, but I've been thoroughly done over by his press already, so ...

LISA WHITEHEAD: You've nothing to fear.

DAVID WILLIAMSON: I've nothing to lose. I mean, I'm one of those - according to him, those terrible inner-city, cafe latte-sipping, greeny disgraces to the Australian population.

LEIGH SALES: Lisa Whitehead reporting.