Kevin Rudd’s high-profile campaign to disrupt and negate the power of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp in Australia has moved onto a new phase, as the former prime minister tries to mobilise people to hit the company’s bottom line through boycott.
For months, Rudd sought to push for scrutiny into the power of one of the country’s major media players. First, he led the country’s most signed Parliamentary e-petition ever, calling for a Royal Commission into media diversity.
Citing the company’s large reach, their willingness to use their power and their anti-climate change stance, Rudd wanted a full investigation into their influence.
And while the government showed no appetite to launch a royal commission, he got the next best thing: the Senate passed a motion from the Greens to create a senate inquiry to look into the topic.
While this was happening, Rudd began collecting email addresses as a way of organising future efforts. First he said he was going to contact state parties to see if he could launch a Royal Commission that way.
— cameronwilson (@cameronwilson) November 16, 2020
The latest move from Kevin Rudd is to encourage his audience to boycott one of New Corp’s big earners: realestate.com.au.
Sick of Murdoch using his monopoly power to spread climate misinformation & denial of peer-reviewed science? Money is the only language he understands and @realestate_au is the financial heart of his empire. Please join in my #SayNoToRealEstateAU pledge: https://t.co/fZvRKqV5el pic.twitter.com/v0s3hwhcDu
— Kevin Rudd (@MrKRudd) December 10, 2020
In a video posted to social media on Thursday night, Rudd urged his audience to stop using the website as a way of sending a message.
“If you’re like me and you’re sick and tired of Murdoch using and abusing his media monopoly power to stand in the way of effective climate change action, it’s time for us to take the next step in the campaign against Murdoch,” he said.
“Let’s get behind a pledge not to use realestate.com.au for buying and selling our homes or renting property, because it’s only when we hit Murdoch’s hip pocket, when we go for his wallet, that he’s going to pay attention to us and change his approach to climate change.”
To be fair, Australia does not have a media monopoly. Nine Entertainment Company is just as big if not bigger (it, by the way, owns Pedestrian Group, which is the publisher of Gizmodo).
But if your goal is to cause disruption to News Corp’s business, their subsidiary REA Group website is certainly a good target. Realestate.com.au makes money mostly from agencies listing on it, so it’s not clear how successful a consumer boycott would be (although, if successful, it’s doubtful many agencies would want to list on a website that no one is checking).
What this represents is a new stage of attack from Kevin Rudd. He’s moving from coalition-building to action.