The Australian operations of Rupert Murdoch's media empire have some "hard questions" to answer in the wake of Britain's phone-hacking scandal, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Wednesday, DPA reported.
Her minority Labor government has been a fierce critic of News Ltd publications, particularly the top-selling tabloid Daily Telegraph, since the scandal broke and Murdoch closed London's News of the World and withdrew his bid for satellite broadcaster BSkyB.
"When people have seen telephones hacked into, when people have seen individuals grieving have to deal with all of this, then I do think that causes them to ask some questions here in our country, some questions about News Ltd here," Gillard said.
She refused to comment on Murdoch's performance in front of a British parliamentary committee.
"I'm not going to engage in running commentary on testimony but I do believe Australians ... are looking at News Ltd here and are wanting to see News Ltd answer some hard questions," the prime minister said.
News Ltd chief John Hartigan claimed no impropriety had occurred in Australia but ordered a review of payments made over the last three years.
"I've worked in newspapers for 45 years, a lot of that as an editor. I know the newsrooms, I know how cultures develop, and I'm hugely confident that there's no improper or unethical behaviour in our newsrooms," he said.
Hartigan also promised cooperation with any media inquiry the government may set up. Greens leader Bob Brown has called for a review of not just ethics but ownership and regulation as well.
News Ltd titles have a 70-per-cent share of the Australian market, far more than the 43 per cent parent company News Corp holds in Britain.