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Monday, 20 August 2012
Page: 9213

Mr MURPHY (Reid) (22:05): Last Thursday I addressed the House to congratulate that great Australian Dick Smith for being game to stand up to the Murdoch press, and others in big business, and actually admit that perpetual growth in the use of resources and energy is not sustainable in a finite world and that we must start planning now before the limits are reached. Dick Smith correctly branded News Limited's campaign against proposed media reforms as hypocritical. He said News Limited's claim that proposed media regulations would curtail freedom of speech was 'claptrap' because News Limited regularly censored any criticism of itself. He said also that it is in News Limited's commercial interests to censor the idea that people are responsible for global warming. In Dick Smith's Magazine of Forbidden Ideas That You Won't Read About in the Mainstream Media, he says:

Ever since I started Dick Smith Foods, the Murdoch press has attacked me when I call for a fair balance of Australian ownership in our food industry ...

I've wondered why some Murdoch journalists get so angry when I explain how important it is to support Aussie-owned businesses, so the profits and jobs stay in Australia …

Could it be that they are embarrassed by the fact that the Murdoch press, which controls about 70 per cent of our print media, is American owned and each year sends substantial profits out of Australia?'

As I have being saying all along, News Corporation has one standard for itself and another for everyone else. I have urged members to read Dial M for Murdoch: News Corporation and the Corruption of Britain, written by the great Tom Watson MP and Martin Hickman, to see how News Corporation's criminal activities have corrupted democracy in Britain.

As the authors have noted:

From the start of his career in 1950s Australia, Murdoch manipulated politicians and broke rules and promises to accumulate money and power.

They go on to say:

As head of the company he shaped its culture. While he depicted phone hacking as an anomaly, something set apart from an otherwise virtuous organization, seasoned Murdoch-watchers identified the wrongdoing as part of a pattern—the greatest manifestation of a win-at-all-costs diktat which bent and broke all the rules at will'.

The authors further noted:

… what is most revealing is not that his newspaper company was breaking the law at will and paying off police and officials, but how it responded when it was caught. At all times until very recently—and then arguably only under the pressing need to avoid its directors being jailed—News Corp acted to cover up rather than uncover its past.'

In the last paragraph of the book, the authors state:

In the end, this story is about corruption by power. Some of Murdoch's enforcers departed from the company line (it's all about business) and pursued personal agendas and vendettas, even against minor politicians. Their arrogance was so stratospheric they discussed their crimes even though they knew they were being recorded. They thought they could destroy the evidence, threaten and cover up. They thought they were cleverer than everyone else; they thought they were untouchable. From the criminal underworld to the headquarters of London's police force, from the decks of yachts in the Mediterranean to farmhouses in the Cotswolds and the deep-carpeted rooms of Downing Street, they had spun an invisible web of connections and corruption. They had privileged access to government ministers, state secrets, tax, health and vehicle data, to the records of phone companies and banks, to the intimate personal information of members of the public. They listened to voice messages, of course, but they also blagged, bribed, spied and bullied, and imposed their will through blackmail, corruption and intimidation. The names of their agents spoke of the darkness: Silent Shadow, Shadowmenuk. Rupert Murdoch was not running a normal business, but a shadow state. Now exposed to the daylight, it has been publicly humbled, its apparatus partially dismantled and its executives in retreat, at least for the moment. It stands shaken and ostensibly apologetic but it is still there, and Rupert Murdoch is still in charge.

In Australia, we have seen some of those same double standards and some of that same hypocrisy in the attempt to censor Dick Smith. News Limited feels free to criticise everyone but will not accept criticism of itself. That is at least one reason why we need a public interest test and a fit and proper person test for media owners in order to stop the corruption of our democracy. (Time expired)