Murdoch petition presented to parliament

Rebecca Gredley
·1-min read

A record-breaking petition calling for a royal commission into the Murdoch media empire has been presented to federal parliament.

But Labor is reluctant to support such an inquiry.

More than half a million Australians signed the online petition launched by former Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd.

As well, former Liberal prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, publicly supported the petition.

The pair believe Australia is on the American path to deep division unless Rupert Murdoch's hyper-partisan media operations are kept in check.

Labor MP Andrew Leigh tabled the printed stack of petitions to parliament on Monday, spruiking the importance of a strong media industry.

"In Australia the media is shrinking and extremely concentrated," he said.

"There are now over 20 news deserts in Australia which weakens community and raises the risk of corruption going unchecked. Diverse sources of reliable, accurate independent news are fundamental to a healthy democracy."

Petitions committee chair and Liberal National Party MP Ken O'Dowd was impressed with the number of Australians engaging with parliament and democracy.

Mr O'Dowd told parliament the top paper petitions in Australian history related to community pharmacies and beer taxes.

Labor deputy leader Richard Marles said a royal commission is not something his party would pursue.

"We obviously support a diverse media and that is a matter we have been clear about for a long time," Mr Marles told the ABC.

"(But) this is not something we have been considering.

"This is something Kevin Rudd has been pursuing in his capacity as a private citizen."