PRIME Minister Kevin Rudd is being thin-skinned and needs to accept media outlets won’t always back him or Labor, the opposition says.
Mr Rudd has called on Opposition Leader Tony Abbott to reveal his dealings with News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch, who has print, broadcast and other media assets in Australia.
Labor claims Mr Murdoch’s media outlets are hostile to its $37.4 billion high-speed national broadband network (NBN) because it could pose a commercial threat to News Corp’s half-owned pay TV business Foxtel.
Mr Rudd further suggests a “strange coincidence of interests” between News Corp and the coalition, which says its alternative NBN plan is cheaper and won’t take as long.
But Mr Abbott says he’s never discussed Labor’s NBN project with Mr Murdoch, even though he speaks with him occasionally.
“Have I ever spoken to Rupert Murdoch about the NBN? No I haven’t, no I haven’t,” he told reporters in the federal seat of Bass in Tasmania on Thursday.
Coalition communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull said Mr Murdoch’s view on the NBN dovetails with that of other business people who believe it’s too expensive and is being mismanaged.
“So Rupert Murdoch’s views on the NBN are very mundane,” he said.
A number of News Corp mastheads have been critical of Labor’s NBN and Mr Murdoch himself has questioned how the government could afford it.
Mr Rudd said Mr Murdoch had a “democratic right” to rail against Labor’s policies through his publications but wondered what was behind it.
New Corp’s The Daily Telegraph newspaper printed an editorial under the headline: “Kick this mob out” on day one of the federal election campaign.
Another Telegraph story on Thursday about Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese having a beer with former Labor MP Craig Thomson included a mock-up of Mr Albanese, Mr Rudd and Mr Thomson as Nazi characters from American sitcom Hogan’s Heroes.
“Senior politicians have to accept that sometimes media outlets will back them and sometimes they won’t,” Mr Abbott said.
Mr Abbott pointed to Mr Rudd’s meetings with Mr Murdoch in New York in 2007 and 2010.
“The News group backed Mr Rudd in 2007 – he was very happy to accept their support then,” he added.
“I just think the problem is we’ve got a prime minister with a glass jaw and a thin skin.”
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Mr Rudd said he wasn’t aware of ever discussing the NBN with Mr Murdoch.
“I haven’t spoken to Mr Murdoch for about three years,” he added.
Australian Greens leader Christine Milne believes there’s no doubt Mr Murdoch’s interests are running a “massive campaign against the Labor Party and the Greens and to get the coalition in”.
News Corp executives have rejected suggestions the group’s targeting the NBN, saying the faster download speeds would accentuate its Foxtel business.
The earlier argument was consumers could opt use the NBN to download their own visual entertainment at home rather than pay for a Foxtel subscription.