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Murdoch and the Whitlam Dismissal – “Inside the Canberra Press Gallery: Life in the Wedding Cake of Old Parliament House” – Rob Chalmers

June 4th, 2012 · No Comments · Australian Labor Party, Democracy, Ethics, History, Journalism, Newspapers, The Media

John Menadue, CEO of News Limited’s Australian operations before heading the Prime Minister’s Department, wrote of Rupert Murdoch’s highly partisan actions in supporting the Kerr dismissal. In the gallery there was much discussion about Murdoch’s behaviour and News Limited journalists in Sydney held several stoppages as a protest against Murdoch’s stand. What was not generally known was the childhood connection between Fraser and Murdoch. Fraser’s father grazed the Victorian Western District property ‘Nareen’ and Murdoch’s father, Keith (later Sir Keith), owned an adjoining property. As small children, Malcolm Fraser and Rupert Murdoch shared the same nanny. With the crisis building, Menadue organised a lunch with Murdoch and News Limited head, Ken Cowley, in a Kingston restaurant on 7 November 1975. Complaining to them both about the coverage of the crisis, he told Murdoch he had cancelled his subscription to The Australian. ‘This didn’t put him [Murdoch] off his lunch,’ Menadue says. On 11 December, Menadue made a written record of the lunch five weeks earlier, and he wrote: Rupert Murdoch told many of his friends that Mr. Fraser had informed him that the Governor-General had given him [Fraser] an assurance that if he hung on long enough there would be a general election before Christmas…although I have no direct information. He did tell me, however on 7 November that he was quite certain there would be an election before Christmas and that he would be staying in Australia until this occurred. He was very confident of the outcome of any election and even mentioned to me the position to which I might be appointed in the event of the Liberal victory—Ambassador to Japan. Murdoch was right about that. Menadue was appointed as Ambassador to Japan and Murdoch could only have got that information from Fraser. When Murdoch later denied this account of the lunch, Menadue stated: ‘I stand by it.’ Having known Menadue well since the 1960s, the author has not the slightest doubt his was the truthful account.

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