Former prime minister Kevin Rudd has admitted his petition calling for a royal commission into Rupert Murdoch’s media empire will likely be ignored by the government, despite amassing more than 40,000 signatures in just over 24 hours.
In a tweet on Saturday Mr Rudd said he was urging parliament to set up a royal commission into the abuse of media monopoly in Australia, particularly by the Murdoch media, and to make recommendations to maximise media ownership diversity.
“The truth is Murdoch has become a cancer, an arrogant cancer, on our democracy,” Mr Rudd said in a video launching the petition.
It has since racked up over 40,000 signatures, and he says he’s not surprised by the outpouring of support.
“What I picked up across the Australian community is growing levels of anger about the impact of the Murdoch media monopoly on people’s lives,” he told AAP on Sunday.
“This anger is finally bubbling over into a much more broadly based social movement. People are just fed up.”
According to Mr Rudd, 70 per cent of Australia’s print readership – and virtually every newspaper in Queensland – is owned by Mr Murdoch.
He keeps his loss-making newspapers in Australia to maximise his political power, pursue his commercial interests, and bully anybody who has a different point of view, Mr Rudd said.
“In 18 of the last 18 federal and state elections, we’ve seen the Murdoch media campaign viciously against the Labour Party and viciously in support of the Liberal and National parties.”
“There’s no such thing as a level playing field any more.”
Mr Rudd said the issue had been swept under the rug for too long, because the Murdoch media and coalition government scratched each other’s backs.
He hopes the groundswell of support will mean the government will be forced to consider calling a royal commission.
“That is a political decision for Mr Morrison,” he told AAP.
“The Murdoch media act as a political protection racket for the Liberal and National parties, so they don’t want to change things.
“But the bottom line is, any political party will always be mindful of where there is a groundswell of community sentiment.”
Mr Rudd also brushed off concerns that calling for government intervention into the agenda of a media company could set a dangerous precedent.
“What a Royal Commissioner would determine based on open terms of reference will be a matter for whoever that Royal Commissioner is. I don’t prescribe a particular outcome here,” he told AAP.
“But what I am saying loud and clear is that we no longer have sufficient diversity.”
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese on Sunday would not say whether he supports Mr Rudd’s call for a royal commission.
“Kevin is doing that as a private citizen, as a former prime minister. He’s entitled to put his views,” Mr Albanese told reporters in Adelaide.
Prime Minister Scott Morrision has been contacted for comment.