Kevin Rudd’s petition calling for a Royal Commission into the Murdoch media ownership in Australia has been presented in parliament.
Labor’s Andrew Leigh carried in a copy of the petition with a little more than half a million Australian signatures.
While presenting the petition in the House of Representatives Leigh said, “We in this parliament are the servants of the people, and a vital part of our job is to table the views of citizens.
“In Australia, the media is shrinking and extremely concentrated. From 2006 to 2016, the number of journalists fell nine per cent. A healthy media isn’t a luxury – it’s fundamental to a strong democracy.”
The massive petition was acknowledged for being a good representation of how the country can unite for a single use.
Rudd’s request became the most signed online petition on the Australian government’s website’s history.
The campaign ended at 11:59 pm on Wednesday November 4, 2020, and managed to rack up a total of 501,876 names.
It overtook the similarly successful petition demanding the government declare a climate emergency, which was launched last year and notched a still impressive 404,538 signatures.
The huge amount of support is particularly incredible considering the petition suffered a massive IT glitch when it was first launched and many people weren’t able to put their names down.
The former Australian Prime Minister set up the online petition to see what the public’s appetite was for investigating why there are so many publications owned by Rupert Murdoch.
Mr Rudd said this issue is ‘beyond politics’ and he hopes a Royal Commission will ‘preserve the vitality of our Australian democracy into the future’, which is something he believes can’t be done when Rupert Murdoch owns a raft of media publications across the country.
On his petition, Mr Rudd wrote, “Our democracy depends on diverse sources of reliable, accurate and independent news. But media ownership is becoming more concentrated alongside new business models that encourage deliberately polarising and politically manipulated news.
“We are especially concerned that Australia’s print media is overwhelmingly controlled by News Corporation, founded by Fox News billionaire Rupert Murdoch, with around two-thirds of daily newspaper readership.
“This power is routinely used to attack opponents in business and politics by blending editorial opinion with news reporting. Australians who hold contrary views have felt intimidated into silence. These facts chill free speech and undermine public debate.”