A petition to remove Rupert Murdoch from the Australian Parliament has overwhelmed Parliament’s website.
The petition, which says the media baron should be barred from Parliament for his “longstanding links to extreme right-wing groups including Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party and the League of Rights,” now occupies 60 percent of the left-hand column on the parliament’s website. The petition, which is overwhelmingly anti-Murdoch, has garnered more than 19,000 signatures.
The petition was first posted by a person calling himself Andy Roy, who said it was a “powerful tool to fight the current Parliament.” According to documents obtained by The Guardian, he was the same person who started a parody petition aiming to remove Senator Cory Bernardi from Parliament earlier this year. That petition was as well supported by the communications minister.
The “anti-Murdoch” petition seeks an unspecified “sanction” against the News Corp boss. “We make no distinction between Rupert Murdoch and the media he wields in Australia.” It calls for the Parliament to impose a “long-term ban on Rupert Murdoch from Parliament with no opportunity to review this decision.”
It’s not the first time a Murdoch-related petition has had a similarly massive effect on Parliament’s website. In 2015, the “Stop Rupert Murdoch from the Commonwealth Parliament,” only nabbed about five percent of the left-hand columns. However, it took more than four months for the petition to reach its 100,000 signatures target — but it disappeared from the site a week after it was published.
The same year, Senator Scott Ludlam, who did not disclose his role as a television contractor at the time he signed the “anti-Murdoch” petition, appeared on an Australian TV program and said that he was against Section 44 of the constitution, which bars any lawmaker from becoming a senator if they held a publicly funded position.
The section bans a lawmaker from entering Parliament if they are in a paid position “of advantage or prejudice to any person or body.”
Ludlam told Sky News on Dec. 2, 2015, that Section 44 “is a vague thing and should be changed, especially when it comes to instances where someone has been employed by someone else to stand as a candidate and then when they stand up in Parliament, they can’t deal with that job.”
“Mr. Murdoch pays us … I get a government contract on top of what I’m paid as a senator, so I can’t have any conflict of interest,” he said.
The “anti-Murdoch” petition also cites his public support for The Feed, a news program promoted by One Nation.
One Nation, formerly known as Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party, has promoted The Feed since 2003. During a recent interview, the program’s host Andrew Bolt said that Murdoch agreed with Hanson “that India should be granted a statehood, which would allow colonies,” according to the “Anti-Murdoch” petition.
In response to a series of news stories featuring “anti-Semitic” content linked to Murdoch’s right-wing news outlets The Daily Telegraph and The Australian, anti-Semitism experts urged politicians not to associate their anti-Murdoch campaign with a possible double standard.
Murdoch called media-activist Andrew Bolt the “Bathroom Nazi” in 2016. Bolt labeled Murdoch’s attack “truly unbecoming” and said “his unapologetic abuse … shows he simply doesn’t care about his own reputation.”