Australia should be open to immigrants and take advantage of its “fortunate geography” in Asia, media mogul Rupert Murdoch says.
The News Corp executive chairman was speaking at a high-powered gala to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Australian newspaper.
“We must be open to immigrants, to their desire to improve themselves and to the resulting improvement in our country,” he told guests including Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Tuesday night in Sydney.
“It is in the collective self-interest to welcome immigrants, those who cherish the values of the country, and who are sometimes willing to risk all in the quest for a better life.”
Mr Murdoch backed the coalition federal government’s plans to reduce expenditure and the reach of government into the lives of ordinary Australians, while arguing “intractable” institutions were often a barrier to individual achievement in areas such as education.
“..we spend a disproportionate amount of time debating what is best for teachers’ unions and the system instead of what is best for students,” he said.
Australia must also take time to understand its populous Asian neighbours, speak their languages, welcome their students and build on existing commercial and cultural links.
“Australia has an unprecedented opportunity to prosper from its fortunate geography,” Mr Murdoch said.
Mr Abbott also spoke at the gala attended by former prime ministers John Howard and Paul Keating and business leaders, including James Packer.
The Australian, where Mr Abbott once worked as a journalist, was “one of the world’s very best”.
He wanted to “kill” the urban myth that News Corp papers are “ciphers” for Mr Murdoch.
“The Australian has borne his ideals but not his fingerprints: it has been his gift to our nation,” Mr Abbott told an audience which included past and present politicians, sporting greats and business leaders.
Mr Murdoch, who started The Australian in Canberra in July, 1964, will attend the B20 Australia summit in Sydney on Thursday.