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If Dick Smith wants to take on Tony Abbott, he will have Murdoch to contend with

Social media went into meltdown with the news that popular entrepreneur Dick Smith is considering standing as a candidate in Tony Abbott’s Warringah electorate at the next federal election.

The excitement, of course, was that person to person Dick Smith could in all likelihood take the seat. It’s a delicious thought and one widely shared. For many (judging by the comments on Facebook and Twitter) the news provided a glimmer of sunshine in what had been a gloomy political week.

But Dick Smith would have to do battle not just against Tony Abbott and other candidates; his major opponent will be the Murdoch media. Dick isn’t afraid of the Murdoch media and he isn’t afraid of rightly voicing his disgust in their modus operandi. This will put him clearly offside and they will batter him from pillar to post should he decide to stand.

Dick had a ‘run-in’ with the Murdoch media in 2013 when he published Murdoch Censorship Gives the Lie to ‘Freedom of Speech’ Claims (which was republished on The AIMN) slamming Kim Williams, then CEO of News Limited in Australia after he said we do not need to worry about the domination of the Murdoch press because we now have digital media! “Let’s see if it works” asked Dick in a subsequent probing letter to Mr Williams.

It is worth publishing again.

* * *

Kim Williams AM
CEO and Managing Director
News Limited
2 Holt St, Surry Hills NSW 2010
Via Email

Dear Kim

Murdoch Censorship Gives the Lie to “Freedom of Speech” Claims

I believe your personal campaign against proposed government media reforms is hypocritical as it is your organisation that is largely responsible for this reaction by our politicians.

You claim, “We are in danger of limiting the full reign of freedom of speech which we cherish and keeps our democracy on its toes.” This is, to put it plainly, claptrap. Your organisation constantly limits freedom of speech and even censors paid announcements when it is in your commercial interests to do so.

You say we shouldn’t worry about your organisation’s dominance of the media as a diversity of opinion can now be had through digital media. Could you be referring to this type of opinion from a popular online site:

“The news industry is failing us; owned by self-interested corporate media barons who put profit before principle. Today’s news is more interested in generating sensationalism and controversy than fulfilling its historic mission of educating the public and our democracies are in danger as a result.”

Never have truer words been said, but where can we read them in print?

Personally, I would prefer that the government’s planned media reforms were not necessary, but I can see why they are being proposed. Many Australian politicians and leaders have told me they are scared of the power of your organisation, and so they should be.

I believe your threats of High Court action are a smokescreen to deflect criticism from the real issue: your organisation’s biased and intimidating reporting. You have one agenda only – the pursuit of ever-increasing profits for your shareholders. You have absolutely no interest in anything other than this and you should admit it, not make false claims implying your prime concerns are freedom of the press and democracy.

I hold the quaint belief it is incumbent on media owners to ensure their papers and broadcasting channels behave responsibly and in the public interest and show leadership on important issues that affect us. And while calling governments to account, they should not so intimidate politicians and public officials that they interfere with the process of rational debate and good policy. Your organisation has clearly failed this test.

I do not need to remind you of the corrupt and criminal activities of many of your proprietor’s employees and their associates in the UK. What is never mentioned is that this has come about as a result of the unwritten “Rupert Murdoch agenda” that if your people don’t achieve ever increasing circulation and profit growth they will lose their jobs.

I must make it clear that I do not blame your journalists; I have found most to be professional and fair-minded. It is obvious that they “self-censor” what they write knowing that if they ever reveal views that are in conflict with your proprietor, then their careers will be brief. This is at complete odds with your claims of ensuring free speech and being concerned about threats to democracy.

And I’m on to you. When friends ask me why your organisation runs such opposing views on climate change – from Fox News’ claims that it’s all bunkum to The Australian newspaper occasionally claiming it’s accepted science – I am able to say, “it’s simple. It’s all about making more money. They have worked out they will get more advertising and make more money on Fox News if climate change is debunked using sensationalism whilst they are likely to get greater circulation and more advertising dollars if The Australian shows a different view, so staff are directed accordingly”.

In effect, your organisation promotes views that meet the prejudices of your audience so as to maximise profits. This is not promoting free speech – it is abusing it.

And it sure works. Your organisation recently declared a 47% profit increase when the people you make most of your money from, the middle and lower income earners in the United States, are doing it tough with record unemployment levels and housing foreclosures. No wonder the “occupy” movement exists.

Of course, I know the pressure you are personally under. If you don’t keep sending ever increasing profits to New York you could suddenly be sacked – just like former Daily Telegraph Editor, Gary Linnell or Herald-Sun Editor, Simon Pristel.

It may not be so serious if your boss, who has so much influence in Australia, was respected and trusted by most Australians. The opposite is, in fact, the case. Just recently he was voted as one of the least trusted. He was placed number 97 on the Readers Digest “Who Do We Trust 2012” list. Only an errant footballer and a foul-mouthed shock-jock were held in lower esteem by the Australian people. Of course, you made sure there was no mention in the Murdoch media of this as all of your journalists worldwide “self-censored” on this issue. Once again, what about your “freedom of the press” claims?

And now to the subject which I am vitally concerned about and that your journalists have self-censored as it is at odds with your “grow profits at all costs” agenda.

That is the need for major debate and planning by our leaders on how to move to an economic system that does not require perpetual growth in population and the use of resources and energy. You are an educated and intelligent person and would know that our present economic system is not sustainable as the earth’s resources are finite and we are clearly heading for challenging times. Yet I have not once seen in a Murdoch publication an editorial which covers this important issue.

It’s even worse than this. Your organisation actively attempts to suppress coverage on the issue, and many politicians have also told me they are not game to mention that our present system of economic growth is unsustainable knowing they will be ruthlessly attacked by your organisation.

Because you fail to show responsibility in this important issue, I prepared a paid “announcement” (see attached) to run in the Daily Telegraph about my Wilberforce Award and the issue of growth and offered a $5,000 reward to a journalist who could get the issue covered in a Murdoch paper.

Almost predictably, the Daily Telegraph refused to run my paid announcement unless reference to the Murdoch press was deleted, and you supported this decision. This was clearly censorship. Of course it was all kept secret and the Australian public never got to hear of your actions. This is just one example of your suppression of ideas that challenge your corporate agenda. How many other views do you censor in order to meet your profit objectives?

Because of this, I have recently produced a magazine and I am printing 2.4 million copies to be inserted in daily newspapers. The magazine is entitled, “Dick Smith’s Magazine of Forbidden Ideas That You Won’t Read About in the Mainstream Media” – a copy of the front page is attached. The magazine is primarily intended to convey important messages that your journalists fear covering because they challenge your perpetual growth agenda.

As you control 70% of the print media in Australia, it’s obvious that 70% of my magazines will have to go in your newspapers. So will you reject my magazine as you did the original paid announcement? Let’s test your commitment to free speech.

Of course, I would normally write this letter to your boss, Rupert Murdoch, directly. However, in his last letter to me of 1 June 2011, he showed how sensitive he was to any criticism by rejecting further communication. This was because he was offended by my criticism of the Daily Telegraph for its front-page attack of Cate Blanchett when she dared to support the carbon tax. Isn’t it amazing – Rupert Murdoch tells people, “Climate change poses clear catastrophic risks” and claims he made News Limited carbon-neutral and he is treated like a hero by you and your colleagues, whereas Cate Blanchett is attacked so more papers could be sold and more profits made!

I am releasing this letter publicly, though I have been warned it is a high-risk strategy to criticise your organisation and that retribution will be swift. I wonder if you will instruct your reporters to come after me, just as News Limited did to its critics in the United Kingdom? But I think it is time to stand up to your bias and bullying and put your claims of “freedom of speech” to the test.

Yours faithfully
Dick Smith

Update: Here is the advertisement that the Murdoch media were too precious to publish:

Extra $5,000 reward for coverage of the Wilberforce Award in the Murdoch Press

The Murdoch press are absolutely paranoid about anyone mentioning that we can’t have constant growth in the use of material resources and energy.

What is even worse is the way our politicians appear to have been intimidated on this subject. Many politicians I speak to agree with the simple fact that we can’t always have growth and we need to move to a more stable system. However, a number of them have said to me ‘Dick, what you are saying is absolutely correct, but if I said it I would be crucified by the Murdoch press’.

I think everyone should be horrified at this. I think Rupert Murdoch himself would be horrified if he knew that free speech was being curtailed because people were frightened of his newspaper clout. My experience with Rupert is that he always wants both sides of an issue to be covered. It seems a pity that his Editors and Journalists in Australia don’t understand this.

The fact is we should be discussing all sides of the issue and acknowledging the fact that the growth we have had over the last thirty years cannot continue indefinitely. I am the first to admit that this growth has benefited people greatly, including Rupert Murdoch and myself. But it’s a simple fact that you don’t have to be a very good businessperson to be making more and more money in such a growth-fuelled environment – and we all know that one day there will be a limit to this growth.

It is very sad and also incredibly serious that we presently have a group of politicians, no matter how small, who agree with the important facts about this ‘growth reality’ but are not game to discuss it because they will be attacked.

Recently Barry O’Farrell, the Premier of New South Wales, stated that we would not have another airport in Sydney. He was attacked mercilessly by the Sydney Daily Telegraph. “How could someone doubt growth?” was basically the attitude of the Telegraph.

I have therefore decided on a special $5,000 prize for the first young person under the age of thirty who can get definitive coverage of the Wilberforce Award in the Murdoch press, including the fact that our present economic system, which requires perpetual growth in the use of resources and energy, is not sustainable.

So go for it! It must be possible. I am hoping that one day there will be a journalist working for the Murdoch press who is able to get the truth out and both sides of the argument will be fairly shown.

Remember, this is not a personal, emotive view of mine – it is a simple fact that we can’t always have perpetual growth in the use of material resources and energy in our finite world.

* * *

So before everyone gets too excited about the prospect of Dick Smith taking Tony Abbott’s seat of Warringah, ask yourself ‘just how much retribution will the Murdoch media have in store for Dick?’

They don’t like being stood up to. They don’t like being told what to do. They don’t like being threatened. They punish those who do. Dick Smith ticked all the boxes with this letter.

So if Dick Smith wants to take on Tony Abbott, he will now have the Murdoch media to contend with. They have long memories . . . and I’m sure they have remembered his attack.



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  1. stephentardrew

    Great article Michale:

    I have been watching with interest. It all fits with my recent posts regarding the TPP. I admire Dick for being diplomatic however we all know this is crisis time and that is why he realises ethically he must act. He is going to need every bit of support by social media and the left. As I noted earlier Cornel West is in Australia doing the job of the opposition who clearly demonstrate their fear of the Murdoch press.

    I have had it up to here with Labor.

    Oh where Oh where has the courage gone. Point is the majority of Australians can’t stand Murdoch or his rags and all it will take is a bit of courage to get into the fray and I am sure Dick Smith will get a lot more support than even he would expect.

    Time for a battle my friend.

    I have been chafing at the bit for much too long.

  2. Michael Taylor

    Thanks Stephen.

    Is that a typo? ‘Time for a battle’. Or did you mean ‘Time for a bottle’? 😉

  3. Richard Schmidt

    Good luck in defeating Rupert the slug, a disgusting spectacle of a man, who seems to run something like the Evil Empire of Negative News–The Faux News Network, we call it here. If you can defeat him, maybe there is hope for all of the rest of us.

  4. lawrencewinder

    I rather think that Bolt-the-Dolt will be in his his best hyperbolic style as he “goes after” DS….

  5. Sam

    I think everyone should be horrified at this. I think Rupert Murdoch himself would be horrified if he knew that free speech was being curtailed because people were frightened of his newspaper clout. My experience with Rupert is that he always wants both sides of an issue to be covered. It seems a pity that his Editors and Journalists in Australia don’t understand this.

    Umm what?

    Also I’m not sure I buy that most of the journalists that work for Murdoch’s empire are decent people under the thumb of more powerful people, well they are but most of them seem to believe the crap they spread.

  6. stephentardrew

    Damn Michael apologise for screwing your name up.

    Good old Dyslexia doing great.

    Like some sort of blindness.

    Hic burp right on. 🙂

  7. Kaye Lee

    I’d rather a full bottle in front o’ me than a full frontal lobotomy

    I sometimes wonder if our politicians went for both.

  8. Marcus Gibson

    Dear Dick, something still isn’t right here. Polls regularly show greater support for action on climate change than is reflected in News publications. The evidence suggests an agenda not driven by circulation, but by some other motivation. The only thing worse than a media baron using his presses purely to make profit and reinforce populist views (instead of truth), is a media baron who uses his presses to promote a private agenda.

  9. Andreas Bimba

    I agree Marcus that Rupert and his media are not primarily looking at profit but are ideologically driven. Most papers lose money. That ideology is the absolute rule by corporations and the rich over all governments, international institutions and citizens. A modern capitalist form of feudalism. Rupert is certainly not acting alone but he is probably one of the main players.

    When Rupert finally departs this world aged 140 or similar, News Corp will live on as the propaganda ministry for the new plutocratic world (unless the people fight back).

    I urge Dick Smith to stand for election in Tony Abbott’s seat and just enjoy the ride and all the attention. I think he can run rings around the Liberals and Rupert’s media sewer by connecting with voters. His party also has a lot of potential if he can find the right team.

  10. corvus boreus

    I agree with Sam and Marcus G.
    There may be some decent folk beavering diligently away in the background at the Murdoch stables (dudes on the Death-star just doing their jobs), but the high profile opinionistas and torytariat (Bolt, Devine, Ackerman, Blair et al) with real column space seem to be bunch of deliberately deceptive and provocative, thoroughly narcissistic and vindictive turds.
    Rupert’s rats will go after Dick (who seems quite decent, if more than a little naive as to the nature of Rupert) in a thoroughly feral fashion, and I hope, in doing so, show a lot more people their true colours.

  11. darrel nay

    Dick Smith is just another greedy control-freak. He is infamous for pushing population control in a country which has one of the lowest population densities in the world. Because western birth-rates have been in decline for some time we are already naturally dealing with population issues. It’s typical that none of these population control freaks ever choose suicide as a contribution to their solution, instead they blame everyone else. I pity Warringah residents if they find they can only choose Tony or Dick ie. greed or greed. I often wonder why these would-be population controllers choose to live in cities rather than in the bush where population density is lower – maybe it is, in part, because they seek the benefits of higher population density. I mean Dick doesn’t build his stores in the middle of the desert, instead he actively chooses high-density urban locations.

    Population CONTROL is ultimately sociopathic. Like millions of other healthy people, I love humanity and abhor the authoritarian Chinese population control model (an anti-human failure). I would encourage Dick, Bill Gates and any other population control-freaks to mind their own business and let individuals decide how many children they want.

    Pro-human and proud.

  12. diannaart

    Regarding Dick Smith, be good to hear from an adult who enters the political sphere, can compose full sentences and think comprehensively… and actually, sincerely cares about Australia.

  13. Lee

    Dick Smith can hold his own against that scumbag Rupert Murdoch. Bring it on!

  14. stephentardrew

    The point is personally you are never going to get a candidate who is one hundred percent in agreement with your personal predilections. It is important to weigh up the pros and cons and if he thinks over population is a problem then lets have the debate. However I would not immediately walk away from someone who is actually willing to spend the resources to build another party willing to challenge the majors. At least Smith is scientifically literate and therefore open to evidence and fact. You can negotiate through use of empirical evidence with him and maybe convince him otherwise if your argument is sound.

    It is too early to reject Smith off hand until he discloses policy objectives. We need more diverse ideas and debates not less. If we shut down every challenger because they do not agree with us we will never get anywhere.

    The pot needs stirring by scientifically literate and intelligent people. The challenge is to increase diversity not narrow it down to my personal prejudices. There will be things I won’t like about Smith and visa versa but let’s have the debate before shutting the door.

    Life should be about negotiation and compromise. At the moment we are heading towards corporate oligarchy and narrow authoritarianism.

    Time for change.

  15. Ross

    Almost the perfect independent candidate. Everybody knows Dick, been in the public eye for yonks, a wealthy man who doesn’t need the coin and most importantly not a politician.
    He wouldn’t have to do much the media would stampede to his door, the coverage would be enormous without any social media input.
    Dick Smith is the sort of person that gives Peta sleepless nights and would be very difficult for Murdoch to destroy.
    Bit of a shoe in really given Tones standing, the bookies would have to have Dick odds to on to win by a wide margin.
    I certainly hope he goes for it, would be the most interesting and lively federal election campaign in living memory.

  16. donwreford

    Murdock who has the ability to be above the law in denial of knowing a crime of some significance operating over time of phone tapping and to remain free from prosecution has power to evade the law must be a opponent that Dick Smith has little chance of usurping Abbott as Abbott is as ruthless as Murdock both being obsessed with power, Smith may well use his money on a better cause than using it against a propaganda machine.

  17. Rosemary (@RosemaryJ36)

    I think the majority of people are inhrerently fair-minded but too many vote the way their parents did because – well, that’s just what you do. As a known philanthropist who has made money, Dick Smith is the ideal person to oppose Tony Abbott. He cannot be accused of wanting to make money out of politics – look at the benefits that TA will reap after 1 term as PM – and he is known to be a caring person. Bring it on and let the best man win – and since Howard could lose his seat, why not Abbott????

  18. wakeupandsmellthehumans

    Thanks Stephen – stephentardrew “The point is personally you are never going to get a candidate who is one hundred percent in agreement with your personal predilections.”

    darrel nay – you may have some valid criticisms of Dick Smith but to single out his views on population and to align them with POPULATION CONTROL IN CHINA is the sort of scaremongering that the Murdoch press roll out endlessly.If Dick runs I can just see a front page of photo of his head photoshopped on to Chairman Mao.

  19. DanDark

    .”If Dick runs I can just see a front page of photo of his head photoshopped on to Chairman Mao.”

    The LNP have the shovels out digging their way to China for the dirt on Dick as we speak,
    they will dig and dig as far as they can to get the dirt file ready
    Then they will have their ” bomb thrower” out soon,
    in opposition Jugular ooops Julie Bishop threw a lot of bombs filled with dirt at Julia Gillard and Labor,
    she couldn’t wait to get to the camera and mic to spew the dirt out over the masses, so much so she had to gasp for breath from her excitement, it was truly sickening to watch, but the LNP are the masters at throwing the dirt at their opponents,or blaming Labo.r
    Morrisscum was blaming Kim Carr for the problem with housing affordability this morning on TV….
    I broke the TV 🙂 …….,. no I just turned it off, it was one of the kids TVs…..
    How long have these Turkeys been in Gov, they are like Robots they cannot say a sentence without blaming Labor still…
    Geeezuz give me feckin strength……..

  20. corvus boreus

    Personally, I find the absolutist statement that anyone favouring population control (presumably including measures like voluntary contraception) is sociopathic thoroughly offensive. I also think the suggestion that anyone who expresses concern at the exponential increase in human populations should commit suicide to be despicable.
    Then again, the person who posted these claims has also previously dismissed concerns about anthropogenic climate destabilisation and biospheric degradation (apparently easily fixed), and expressed a desire for absolute free-speech (including, when queried, stating support for legally enshrining the right to falsely libel/slander and attempt to incite violence/murder).

  21. Kaye Lee

    The best way to assist population control is to educate and empower women (increase foreign aid instead of cutting it which is such a short term attitude) and, as cb mentions, destigmatising contraception and making it easily available (c’mon Pope….you’ve shown you understand the world’s problems….work with us here).

  22. paul walter

    A good reminder- readers note no notice whatsoever was taken of it, no doubt through mulishness and arrogance that typifies them.

    Never forget, never learn.

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