Turnbull defends Murdoch on Labor's NBN

Summary:News Corp boss Rupert Murdoch isn't sitting in his 'bat cave' plotting against Labor's NBN, opposition front bencher Malcolm Turnbull has said.

Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull believes Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is grasping at straws in trying to imply Rupert Murdoch's local media interests and stating that the Coalition is aligned against the AU$37.4 billion National Broadband Network (NBN) project.

"He looks like Tintin, but he's not much of a detective," the Coalition communications spokesman told reporters in Sydney on Thursday.

Turnbull said the universal judgment of the business community — including Murdoch — is that Labor's NBN is too expensive and is taking too long to roll out.

"So Rupert Murdoch's views on the NBN are very mundane," he said.

"He's an original thinker and a great entrepreneur and businessman, but when it comes to the NBN, he's not saying anything that just about every other businessperson in Australia is not saying."

Turnbull was asked whether he has discussed the Coalition's NBN policy with Murdoch.

"I haven't discussed it with him in those terms, in terms of our specific policy," he said. "But I can tell you that Murdoch's views are nothing special."

While he hasn't spoken to Murdoch for a few years, Turnbull said he has known him very well for close to 40 years.

Labor claims that Murdoch's media interests are hostile toward its NBN, because it could pose a commercial threat to News Corp's half-owned pay TV business, Foxtel.

The argument is that consumers could opt to use fast NBN speeds to download their own visual entertainment, rather than paying for a Foxtel subscription.

Kevin Rudd said Murdoch has a "democratic right" to rail against Labor's policies through his publications, but wondered what was behind it.

He's also said that there is a "strange coincidence of interests" between News Corp and the Coalition, after The Daily Telegraph newspaper printed an editorial under the headline "Kick this mob out" on day one of the election campaign.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott also said that he has never discussed Labor's NBN project with Murdoch, either.

Topics: NBN, Australia, Government : AU

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