Kevin Rudd questions Abbott and Murdoch NBN talks
The Prime Minister has again raised Rupert Murdoch's motives for criticising Labor's NBN plan and now wants to know if the media mogul has influenced the Coalition's broadband policy.PT1M2S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2rgzb 620 349 August 7, 2013
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has denied ever talking to Rupert Murdoch about the national broadband network.
The denial comes after Prime Minister Kevin Rudd demanded that Mr Abbott detail conversations he had with the media mogul about the future of the NBN during a Wednesday night interview.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. The Coalition has stepped up personal attacks against the PM. Photo: Andrew Meares
The Coalition has upped its personal attacks on Mr Rudd, with Deputy Opposition Leader Julie Bishop saying she is worried about the Prime Minister's state of mind and Coalition frontbencher Malcolm Turnbull describing Mr Rudd as a "jilted lover".
In his first extended TV interview of the campaign, Mr Rudd escalated his feud with Mr Murdoch by suggesting to the ABC's 7.30 that he may be conspiring with the Coalition on broadband policy.
In particular, Mr Rudd pointed to the fact that earlier this year, the Coalition released its long-awaited broadband policy at Fox Sports in Sydney.
But Mr Abbott told reporters in Tasmania on Thursday that he talked to Mr Murdoch from "time to time", but had never talked to him about the NBN.
"Kevin Rudd went to New York to get career counselling from Rupert Murdoch after he lost the leadership in 2010. Have I ever spoken to Ruper Murdoch about the NBN? No I haven't . . . and what we've got from Mr Rudd at the moment is further examples of just how thin skinned he's becoming," he said.
Ms Bishop appeared on the ABC's Lateline on Wednesday night, where she said she was "worried about Kevin Rudd's state of mind" after watching him on 7.30.
"He seems to be descending into some dark world of conspiracies where everybody's against him and it's led by Rupert Murdoch," Ms Bishop said.
Ms Bishop accused Mr Rudd of hypocrisy, telling the ABC that when Mr Rudd lost the leadership to Julia Gillard in June 2010, he "hot-footed" it over to New York to seek "career advice from none other than Rupert Murdoch".
Ms Bishop said that when Mr Rudd was in exile from 2010 to 2013, he leaked against his colleagues to the Murdoch press.
"So he's spent the last three years leaking against his colleagues, getting stories in News Corporation papers and now that the News Corporation editorial doesn't think that he's fit to be Prime Minister . . . all of a sudden it's a conspiracy and then he's got this theory that somehow Malcolm Turnbull launching our broadband policy at Fox Studios was something sinister. I mean, seriously? It's a showcase for high technology . . . But for Kevin to find something sinister in that, I think he's lost the plot."
On Thursday morning, Mr Turnbull told Fairfax that Mr Rudd was like a "jilted lover".
"He spent years duchessing the News Ltd editors and he used to be the darling of the News Ltd tabloids and now they don't love him anymore and he's like a jilted lover. That's why he's bitter," he said.
Mr Turnbull said that the Coalition had its broadband policy launch at Fox Sports because it provided a colourful visual background.
"For a media event, you obviously want to make it interesting," he said.
Mr Turnbull said he did not recall discussing the NBN with the media mogul but said Mr Murdoch's opinion about the NBN was similar to many other views in the business world.
Later on Thursday Mr Turnbull said that Mr Rudd might look like Tin Tin "but he's not much of a detective" to have discovered that the Coalition launched its broadband policy at Fox Sports (of which Rupert Murdoch has a business interest).
Mr Turnbull agreed with Mr Rudd's basic theory that "the internet does pose a threat to Pay TV as a platform", but he said of the two parties' NBN policies he thought the Coalition's network would pose a greater threat to Murdoch because it would be built sooner.
"If Murdoch was sitting there in the bat cave plotting out his preferred position with respect to the NBN, in Kevin's fevered imagination," Mr Turnbull said, "he would like Labor's policy because it probably will never be built and will be too expensive for most people".
On Monday, Mr Murdoch's Sydney tabloid The Daily Telegraph ran a front-page editorial under a picture of Mr Rudd with the headline: "Finally you now have the chance to KICK THIS MOB OUT".
On Thursday, The Daily Telegraph's front page features Mr Rudd as Hogan's Heroes Nazi character Colonel Klink, Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese as Sergeant Schultz and disgraced former Labor MP Craig Thomson as Hogan - in reference to the fact that Mr Albanese had a beer with Mr Thomson this week.
When asked about his treatment in Mr Murdoch's newspapers on Tuesday, Mr Rudd shrugged it off.
"In terms of his views, and his determination to see Mr Abbott elected as prime minister, and his determination to see the end of myself, it's a free country," he said.
But Mr Rudd upped the ante on Wednesday evening, suggesting Mr Murdoch had long held a vendetta against him and his prime ministership.
"If you look carefully at the events of 2007, what you will see . . . written right across the newspapers at that time was a whole series of negative attacks, negative articles, including the most personal attacks on me and my family in the years leading up to that election," he said.
"He says through his own direct statements that he wants Mr Abbott to replace me as prime minister. That's fine. That's his democratic right. It's a free country. But the question that I've posed through this is simply as follows: what is underneath all this?"
Mr Rudd asked if it was because the NBN represented a commercial threat to Foxtel.
"I've seen some commentary on that, and I've only just been looking back on the files today and discovered that in fact Mr Abbott's NBN policy was launched at the Fox Studios here in Sydney. I would like to hear some answers as to what discussions Mr Abbott may have had with Mr Murdoch on the future of Australia's national broadband network."
On Sunday, Fairfax newspapers ran a comment article by columnist Paul Sheehan alleging Mr Murdoch's News Corp was attacking the government because it saw Labor's NBN as a commercial threat to its subscription television network Foxtel.
Mr Murdoch later tweeted: "We all like ideal of NBN, especially perfect for Foxtel. But first how can it be financed in present situation?"
Mr Rudd's interview with host Leigh Sales was a tense encounter, with Ms Sales on several occasions accusing the Prime Minister of failing to address her questions.
At one point, Ms Sales asked Mr Rudd whether he would invite the woman he deposed as Labor leader, Julia Gillard, to join him on the campaign trail, as he had joined her on the 2010 campaign.
"Julia would be welcome to participate in the campaign in any way she chose to," Mr Rudd said.
"When I've been asked about Julia in recent days, I've been very direct and very frank about the positive role she's played in our party, and the contribution she's made to DisabilityCare policy, education policy and the measurement of academic standards at schools – great achievements."
With Jonathan Swan