Murdoch bullish about Australia's prospects

Rupert Murdoch has told a packed Sydney Town Hall that Australia is on the cusp of being able to overtake competitors such as Singapore and Hong Kong but needs to capitalise on its diverse migrant population and embrace economic "disruption", the defining feature of the 21st century.

Rupert Murdoch has told a packed Sydney Town Hall that Australia is on the cusp of being able to overtake competitors such as Singapore and Hong Kong but needs to capitalise on its diverse migrant population and embrace economic "disruption", the defining feature of the 21st century.

Delivering the Lowy Institute lecture, Mr Murdoch said the 21st century was "Australia's for the taking" because we did not have big industries demanding protection and were used to thinking outside the box. "I guess some would say that I have been a disruptive influence at times. I will take that as a compliment, even if it wasn't intended that way," Mr Murdoch said.

"But when I think of the newspaper industry today, and the transition that has taken place from Gutenberg to Google, I know the status quo is being disrupted yet again. This is the hard reality of living in a global economy."

He said mobile communications had been "the most revolutionary disruption" in the past decade.

"For a company like News Corp, that disruption has actually been a shot of adrenalin," he said.

Mr Murdoch even explained how he wears a Jawbone bracelet that keeps track of his sleep, movement and eating habits - and how he shares that data with his family.

He predicted the health industry would be next in line for digital disruption - and Australia was well placed to capitalise.

"Soon we will have similar watches and apps that keep track of our heart rate, our blood sugar, our brain signals. When this information is coupled with what is available on the internet, it will mean the ability to diagnose and suggest treatments instantly," he said. "That will help us all live longer lives, yes. But it will also change the health industry and the health dynamic."

He made no mention of the criminal trial of his former UK chief executive Rebekah Brooks and seven other staff of News of the World.

But he said a free media was vital to a free democracy - perhaps a veiled warning to governments considering greater regulation in the wake of the scandal.

Mr Murdoch also exhorted Australia to capitalise on its diverse immigrant population.

"We speak of Australia's natural resources, but energy and creativity are the greatest of our natural resources and those immigrants who understand and share our values will certainly create greater value for all Australians," he said.

Mr Murdoch said the challenge was to ensure equal educational opportunities for all Australians and to lure the best and brightest here.

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