Labor too gutless to fight media laws


Barry Tucker                    25 March, 2014

Australia has one of the most concentrated news media ownerships in the world. The federal Liberal National Party coalition government is planning to loosen ownership laws.

In an article in The Guardian, West Australian Greens Senator Scott Ludlam says the move poses a threat to Australia’s democracy by limiting different voices, opinions and exposure.

Senator Ludlam does not present a solution, or propose any action. I asked him if he would present a Bill to the Senate, amending media ownership laws and forcing Rupert Murdoch to divest his News Corp of some of its newspapers, at least. I’ve asked the same of some Labor MPs. I have not yet had any replies.

Such a Bill would pass the Senate, with Labor’s support, because the Greens hold the balance of power, at least until the new Senate sits in July 2014. But the Bill would not pass the Lower House, where the governing Liberal National Party coalition has a large majority.

Labor could work with the Greens on such a Bill and at least bring on a debate and public exposure of the issues and the threat. It will not, however. It lacks the stomach for a fight with the federal government and will not fight before the 2016 election campaign. Murdoch has supported Labor Prime Ministers Gough Whitlam and Kevin Rudd. He has also turned on them and had their governments defeated. I suspect that rather than fight Murdoch’s near-stranglehold on Australian news and entertainment media, Labor will hold out for his blessing in a future election campaign — practical politics, but bad for our democracy.

Murdoch owns an estimated 67% of city, suburban and regional newspapers in Australia, in addition to magazines and part ownership of commercial free-to-air and pay TV stations, AAP news agency, opinion poll companies and more. See: Murdoch’s media monster for more.