Australian's are being told by media tycoon, Rupert Murdoch, that they will lose self respect if they do not vote "yes"
at today's referendum for a republic. Murdoch is acting true to form. John Howard reports.
Proponents for an Australian republic include three quarters of the Federal Parliament, the entire media, the trade
union movement, most of the business community and most of academia - all now seen by Australian's as "elitist." Polls
have supported the elitist charge by showing support for the republic is highest among affluent society and lowest among
the working class.
Even a directly elected president could only be a politician, or would soon become one, because only the political
parties and their monied supporters have the resources to win a successful presidential campaign. Australian's see that
Which brings us back to big businessman Rupert Murdoch. Earlier this year Murdoch, owner of huge global media interests,
took a swipe at the Dalai Lama by launching a self-serving attack on him and condoning the Chinese occupation of Tibet.
At the time Murdoch, who hopes to expand his business in China, said of the leader of Tibetan Buddhism: "I have heard
cynics who say he's a political old monk shuffling around in Gucci shoes."
Murdoch also excuses China's disregard of human rights on the ground that the average Chinese person cares more about
"his next bowl of rice" than democracy.
Human rights groups reacted furiously calling Murdoch's comments "ignorant," "cynical" and "self-serving."
Murdoch has a lot to answer for. In 1994, he dropped the BBC from Star satellite television after it was critical of
Chinese leaders and the Tiananmen Square killings. Last year he ordered his publishing company HarperCollins to abandon
publication of Chris Patten's recollections of his time as Governor of Hong Kong because they were too critical of the
Now, it seems, he thinks his opinions are important to Australian's. He owns a very large slice of the Australian media
and also has wide business interests there. In that respect his opinion is probably important but only because he has
shown a propensity to want to manipulate what people might read in his many newspapers and magazines
Murdoch also owns a fair slice of New Zealand's media so we might expect to soon see his media interests here starting
to promote a republic, or perhaps his form of a republic, for New Zealand. Particularly if Australia votes in favour.
But even that might not stop him.
One cynic recently said " Murdoch's media, you even have to check the date at the top of his pages to make sure he
hasn't had a hand in manipulating it."