Friday 8 July 2011

The leader of Australia's Green party has called on the government to investigate Rupert Murdoch's extensive media holdings in Australia.

Party leader Bob Brown, a senator, urged the inquiry following fresh revelations in the UK over the News of the World phone-hacking scandal.

The Murdoch-owned paper is accused of hacking into the phones of crime victims, celebrities and politicians.

Mr Brown said the potential for similar activity in Australia should be probed.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard relies on the Greens to keep her minority Labor government in power.

Speaking in the Senate on Thursday, Bob Brown called on Communications Minister Stephen Conroy ''to investigate the direct or indirect ramifications to Australia of the criminal matters affecting the United Kingdom operations of News International''.

News International runs Mr Murdoch's UK newspapers, including the News of the World, The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times.

On Thursday, News International shut down the News of the World following a spate of fresh revelations.

Speaking later to Reuters news agency, Mr Brown said: "We have the most Murdoch media ownership of any country in the world with eight of the 12 metropolitan dailies owned by the Murdoch empire.

"I think that it's just prudent to take a raincheck at this stage, because the events unfolding in London are so serious, and it would be irresponsible for us not to look at the potential for similar operations to have occurred in Australia," he said.

Rupert Murdoch was born in Australia and founded his international media empire there.

His interests include The Australian, The Daily Telegraph and a 30% stake in Sky News Australia.

Sky is bidding to run a government-funded international TV service currently operated by ABC.

Earlier this week, the government extended the deadline for the contract to be awarded.