The petition, which was posted on the Australian Parliament’s website on Saturday, had received more than 38,000 signatures by Sunday morning. Rudd tweeted that due to the popularity of the petition, the site suspected that users who signed it were robots.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese distanced himself from the advance on Sunday.
Albanese told reporters in Adelaide that Rudd, as a former prime minister, had the right to call for a royal commission, but as a “private citizen,” and that the idea was not a labor policy.
While the petition calls for a royal commission “to ensure a strong, diverse Australian news medium in the face of” new business models that deliberately promote polarizing and politically manipulated news, Rudd posted a video on Twitter showing the petition, “Growing Anger at what the Murdoch media monopoly is doing to our country. ”
However, the federal government is unlikely to respond to the petition as Australia, unlike other governments including the UK, does not have a signature threshold that requires a petition to be debated in parliament.
Rudd explained how he got his current view of the media empire – which included the Australian and several newspapers that supported him in the 2007 general election – and said the company’s legal notice had become an “arrogant cancer” for democracy of the country.
“The truth is that Murdoch has become a cancer in our democracy, an arrogant cancer,” said Rudd.
He said that 70% of Australia’s print readership belonged to Murdoch and that he owned virtually every newspaper in Queensland “that affects so many federal election results.”
Over the past decade Murdoch has fought viciously for one side of politics, the Liberal National Party, and viciously against the Australian Labor Party in 18 out of 18 federal and state elections, Rudd said.
“There are no longer any level playing fields.”
Rudd said Murdoch kept losing newspapers in Australia in order to maximize his political power in defense of the climate change denial and to pursue his commercial interests related to the national broadband network.
“The final reason we need this royal mandate is because of the sheer arrogance and boasting and bullying behavior of Murdoch and his editors towards anyone who opposes him or takes a different point of view.”
A spokeswoman for the Department of Parliamentary Services told Guardian Australia: “The APH ePetitions website has had an unusually high number of page views in the past 24 hours. There were intermittent timeout issues caused by this volume and changes were made to increase capacity. ”
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