As it nears the final 24 hours to gain support, the petition by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd for a royal commission into media diversity in Australia is at nearly 480,000 signatures.
The petition to parliament has surpassed the popularity of Australia’s previous biggest, a 2019 demand for a climate emergency to be declared that was presented to parliament, with nearly half a million signatures.
Just over 24 HOURS to go before they close off the petition for #MurdochRoyalCommission to protect our democracy. We've collected almost 475,000 signatures in only 24 days. Can we make it to half a million? Let's give it one more big heave!
— Kevin Rudd (@MrKRudd) November 3, 2020
The petition, which now has the support of former PM Malcolm Turnbull, calls for a royal commission to be established “to investigate threats to media diversity, and recommend policies to ensure optimal diversity across all platforms to help guarantee our nation’s democratic future”.
Particularly the overwhelming control of Australia’s print media by News Corporation, founded by Fox News billionaire Rupert Murdoch, which controls around two-thirds of daily newspaper readership.
The royal commission would also investigate powerful monopolies like Facebook and Google, and Nine Entertainment’s takeover of former Fairfax outlets The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, Rudd proposed.
“Professional journalists further have legitimate concerns around unjust searches, potential prosecution, whistle-blower protection, official secrecy and dispute resolution that should be comprehensively addressed,” Rudd writes in the petition request.
However, as Guardian Australia notes, regardless of the petition’s popularity Australia has no threshold of signatures that requires a petition to be debated in parliament.
The chances of a royal commission any time soon, the independent outlet writes, is highly unlikely. It writes that without the support of either the Liberal-National Coalition or the Australian Labor Party, the petition has no political force behind it.
However, what Rudd really wants, he says, is to start a national conversation about the negative impact Murdoch’s media has in Australia, through its domination of the landscape and its overt support for one side of politics, Guardian Australia reported.
Launched earlier this month, Rudd’s petition was so popular in its first 24 hours that it caused the parliamentary website to crash.
The success of the petition has brought with it an aggressive response from Murdoch’s newspapers in Australia, with some of the latest reports accusing the former Labor leader of having dealings with Hunter Biden, which Rudd described as an attempt to “smear” him.
“When I put a public petition to the Australian people to sign, calling for a royal commission into the Murdoch media monopoly, I knew at that time that Murdoch at the first opportunity would take a huge whack at me,” Rudd told Guardian Australia on another occasion after Murdoch’s papers published a story about the non-profit International Peace Institute, which he chairs, receiving donations in 2013 from Jeffrey Epstein.
For context, you can read a statement from the IPI board regarding the allegation below.
Surprise, surprise — the Murdoch personal smear efforts continue. Here's the latest effort: they want to know what meetings I may have had with… wait for it… Hunter Biden!
— Kevin Rudd (@MrKRudd) November 1, 2020
I see the Murdoch media and their ally Dutton once again out conducting the politics of smear. How unusual. Dutton should focus on the massive corruption allegations in his own portfolio. Murdoch’s Dutton protection racket… just not credible. Here’s a statement from IPI’s Board. pic.twitter.com/hnotgNiMi4
— Kevin Rudd (@MrKRudd) October 29, 2020
Featured image source: Twitter/@MrKRudd
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