Thursday, 7 August 2014

Is a pattern beginning to emerge in the Abbott-Murdoch relationship?

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is consulting American media magnate Rupert Murdoch and News Corp before taking policies to Cabinet – is this a pattern emerging?

The Guardian 5 August 2014:

Federal cabinet has been caught unawares by media reports of a national security committee plan to require telecommunications companies to retain customers’ metadata for at least two years.
Cabinet is likely to be briefed on Tuesday morning about the plan, but had no knowledge a decision had been taken before it was revealed in the Daily Telegraph newspaper. The issue is not on the formal cabinet agenda.
Telecommunications companies had not been briefed on the decision before it was revealed in the media and were frantically seeking information on Tuesday morning, although they have responded to several parliamentary inquiries on the issue.
It is understood ministers hold strongly differing views about the practicalities of metadata retention, which has been proposed for several years and which the government argues is now needed to combat domestic terrorism threats.
According to the Daily Telegraph the attorney general, George Brandis, and the communications minister, Malcolm Turnbull, will be asked to work up an urgent interim measure by as early as September, with legislation to be introduced later after the government has considered a report from a Senate inquiry.
Neither minister was aware of the interim plan, and some government officials claimed the prime minister’s office appeared to have “gone rogue”….

The Guardian 23 July 2014:

In the book, King reveals Murdoch was consulted before Abbott announced the policy – including a levy on big business – on International Women’s Day in March 2010.
“Big business rumbled but didn’t erupt at the scheme, but the party room was in uproar,” King writes.
“The hardheads knew that it would open the Coalition up to an accusation of raising taxes even though the extra tax would only apply to big businesses. But, more importantly, neither the party room nor the businesses who would pay had been consulted.
“Abbott, however, had conferred with one leading business figure, the media proprietor Rupert Murdoch, who had been in Australia the month before for his mother’s 101st birthday …
“The new leader, like many before him, had dinner with Murdoch, where he gave the media mogul a full rundown on the scheme – supplying enough detail for Murdoch to later have his Australian-based editors briefed on Abbott’s plan, which he considered a visionary approach to dealing with a real problem in his workforce. They were encouraged to support it, notwithstanding that it represented a tax impost and was skewed to be of most benefit to parents outside their middle-Australian readership.
“This fact was unknown to members in the party room, who condemned Abbott’s solo policy-making on such a fundamental issue.”

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