The Murdochs take good care of Abbott with a lucrative boardroom seat

Abbott and Rupert Murdoch at a celebration for *The Australian*.

Abbott and Rupert Murdoch at a celebration for *The Australian*. Photo: ABC

Tony Abbott’s appointment to the Fox Corporation board next month will formalise a long and fruitful relationship between the former prime minister and the Murdoch family.

Shareholders will vote to appoint Abbott to the board of directors at Fox’s annual general meeting on November 15, despite Abbott having no experience running a news organisation.

“I welcome Peggy Johnson and Tony Abbott’s nominations to the Board,” Lachlan Murdoch said in a statement announcing the nomination.

“They bring skills, experience and perspectives that will contribute to the Board and benefit Fox.”

According to Fox Corporation proxy statements, Abbott has experience in executive management, media industry, corporate strategy, risk management, business development, government and public policy, and philanthropic and non-profit education.

If confirmed at the AGM, Abbott won’t be the only former politician at the table, with one-time US speaker of the house Paul Ryan and former Spanish president José María Aznar already on the board.

Abbott’s cited media industry experience includes time spent as a journalist at The Australian and writing for The Catholic Weekly, well before he launched a political career that took him to The Lodge.

Labor infighting and widespread support from News Corp created the perfect storm for Abbott to ascend to Prime Minister at the 2013 election, before he was deposed by Malcolm Turnbull, now a notable critic of the Murdochs, two years later.

He has been an adviser to the United Kingdom Board of Trade since 2020, after losing the seat of Warringah at the 2019 election and leaving politics after a quarter of the century in parliament.

A long relationship

Abbott has praised Rupert Murdoch for having “more impact on the wider world than any other living Australian” and it only took a day after taking the top job from his father for Lachlan Murdoch to announce Abbott’s nomination.

The elder Murdoch has made no bones about his interest in influencing politics, saying in 2007 that of all the things in his business empire, trying to influence people gives him the most pleasure.

Abbott and the Liberal Party have benefited greatly from Rupert’s patronage.

The ultra-conservative Abbott has benefited greatly from the Murdoch family’s support. Photo: APP

In 2011, when Abbott and Rupert Murdoch met for the first time, Rupert told his editors he liked the future Prime Minister and his news empire campaigned strongly against the Gillard government and supported Abbott’s hard-line stance against asylum seekers and climate change action.

Abbott, who described ‘the so-called settled science of climate change’ as ‘absolute crap’ in 2009, and Fox News, which has contributed heavily to hosing down meaningful action on the issue, are a climate-change-denying match.

In 2017, Abbott spoke at a climate-denying lobby group and described climate change as doing “good or at least, more good than harm,” and  claimed that high amounts of carbon dioxide are “actually greening the planet and helping to lift agricultural yields.”

Fox, on the other hand, took decades to editorially concede climate change was real while platforming a multitude of science-denying hosts and guests.

Links between the Murdoch scion and the Liberal Party heavyweight trace even further than his father’s endorsement in 2011, after Lachlan’s wife Sarah launched Abbott’s book in 2009.

A new era

Media watchers have predicted Lachlan’s reign at Fox and News Corp would be even more brutal than his father’s, and the nomination of Abbott has done little to reign in those fears.

Abbott is now in line to earn more on the board than he did as Prime Minister of Australia, taking home a lucrative pay packet in the region of AUD$500,000.

Lachlan takes over Fox and News Corp at a challenging time after the company was forced to settle for millions with a voting machine company after their broadcast network falsely claimed Dominion was involved in voter fraud, with another lawsuit from voting machine company Smartmatic currently in the courts.

After the AGM, if everything goes to plan for Lachlan, he will be the sole voting director from his family and chairman of both Fox and News Corp, leaving his father with the honorary title of chairman emeritus and confirming his spot at the head of the Murdoch table.

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