Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s petition calling for a royal commission into media diversity in Australia has surpassed more than half a million signatures, a record number for a Parliamentary e-petition.
Just minutes before the Royal Commission to ensure a strong, diverse Australian news media e-petition‘s closing deadline at midnight last night, the number of signatories ticked over 500,000.
It ended up at 501,876, far outstripping the second most signed petition Declare a Climate Emergency, which sits at 404,538 signatures.
The petition’s founder Kevin Rudd heralded the milestone in posts made to social media.
“Half-a-million Australians have spoken. They’ve smashed the records to make their voice heard: Australia needs a #MurdochRoyalCommission to protect the lifeblood of our democracy,” he tweeted early in the morning. “I am grateful and overwhelmed. This fight is far from over.”
Half-a-million Australians have spoken. They’ve smashed the records to make their voice heard: Australia needs a #MurdochRoyalCommission to protect the lifeblood of our democracy.
I am grateful and overwhelmed.
— Kevin Rudd (@MrKRudd) November 4, 2020
What’s going to happen to Rudd’s petition?
Despite the record number of signatures for Rudd’s petition, it remains extremely unlikely that the call for a Royal Commission into media diversity will eventuate.
There’s no support from either the Coalition government or even Rudd’s own Labor Party. Labor leader Anthony Albanese shot down the idea of the petition because he thought it was unlikely to eventuate.
“I’m just not sure how a petition would advance, the government is unlikely to say ‘we’re going to have a royal commission into News Limited because they get a petition,” Albanese told 2GB.
The Australian Greens have thrown their support behind it, with leader Adam Bandt saying he’ll table Rudd’s petition in the House of Representatives — despite Rudd slighting them.
MPs aren't allowed to sign such petitions, so I can't.
But I'd be very pleased to table it in Parl on yr behalf.
It's important & I support its call for an inquiry into corporate dominance & threats to media diversity.
Let me know when you've got Labor on board.
— Adam Bandt (@AdamBandt) November 4, 2020
What is worth paying attention to is how, and if, Rudd is able to mobilise support for the petition into something more.
While announcing the petition’s final signature count, Rudd included a link to his website for the campaign and encouraged people to sign up for monthly campaign updates.
While the petition is likely to fail to prompt a Royal Commission, a movement that manages to mobilised 500,000 engaged Australians could have a big influence on Australian politics and media.