Former Aussie prime minister Kevin Rudd has taken aim at Rupert Murdoch in a blistering speech at the Labor national conference, claiming his media empire has become more like a political party than a news outlet.
Taking to the stage, Rudd told delegates that the media mogul had “hooked into” all Labor leaders before and after him, including current leader Bill Shorten. He even went on to brand all of the Aussie-born’s newspapers the “Murdoch mafia”.
“You know Murdoch. It’s not a news organisation, it’s a political party,” he told the crowd at the Adelaide convention centre, as he accepted the honour of life membership to the party.
“We don’t accept your ideology and your commercial interests, we actually revile against them. That’s why they hate us so much,” he added.
While Rudd said each of Labor’s leaders “posed a threat” to Murdoch, he then compared the treatment they had received in the Murdoch press to that of his former rival “St John of Howard” – who he said was treated with a much kinder than those in the Opposition.
“For us and for Bill, dealing with the Murdoch mafia is kind of like dealing with a daily evisceration. It ain’t fair, it never will be, and as soon as we acknowledge that fact the better we will be in our response,” he added.
To rounds of applause, he concluded: “The simple message I have for Rupert Murdoch, from citizen Rudd, is this: You don’t own Australia. Murdoch doesn’t have Australia as his own personal belonging. This country belongs to the working men and women who built Australia.”
Reporting on the speech, news.com.au – which is published by Murdoch’s News Corp Australia – wrote they and Murdoch’s other media outlets “actually endorsed him over John Howard in 2007”, contrary to his claims at the event.
It’s not the first time Rudd has slammed Murdoch. He unleashed his anger in an opinion piece for the Sydney Morning Herald in August, branding him “the greatest cancer on the Australian democracy“.
He claimed Murdoch – who owns the majority of print media in Australia – not only contributed to Brexit in the UK through his newspapers, but also helped enable Trump’s takeover in the US, while pushing for tax-cuts for the wealthy in Australia.
While Rudd admitted less people are reading print media now, he claimed online outlets are “ripping” Murdoch’s stories nonetheless – setting the same news agenda. Describing Murdoch as a “political bully and a thug”, Rudd even claimed Aussie politicians have become so scared of him, they’re too fearful to take him on.
He called for the Labor party, should they get into power in the next election, to consider a royal commission into the future of Australian media ownership.