Murdoch backs Australian immigration despite backing new government


By Jane Wardell

SYDNEY, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Australia should throw open itsdoors to immigrants to make the country more competitive, mediamogul Rupert Murdoch said on Thursday, in contrast to hisbacking for the new government's tough policy on asylum seekers.

Murdoch said the diversity created by immigration, and theties it brings with other nations, particularly in Asia, wouldhelp give Australia a leg-up as it seeks trade relationships.

"Australia is on its way to becoming what may be the world'smost diverse nation," Murdoch, head of News Corp, saidin a speech to the Lowy Institute think tank in Sydney. "This isan incredible political advantage."

Murdoch contrasted Australia with the United States, whichhe said was being "racked by self-defeating debate overimmigration policy".

The steady flow of refugee boats is a hot political issue inAustralia, polarising voters, while stoking tension withneighbours like Indonesia and Sri Lanka.

The new conservative Liberal-led coalition government cameto power partly on the back of a tough campaign against asylumseekers, following a relaxation of border policies by the formerLabor government that resulted in a rise in the number of boats.

But its hardline border security policies have beencriticised by the United Nations.

News Corp's media outlets in Australia were staunchsupporters of Prime Minister Tony Abbott, with his best-sellingDaily Telegraph tabloid urging readers to "Kick This Mob Out"over a photo of former Labor leader Kevin Rudd.

Murdoch's support for immigration did come with a caveat. Newcomers, he said, should abide by Australia's values,institutions and way of life.

"There is still a strand among some parts of Australiansociety who seem to value every culture except our own," hesaid.

Revelations about phone-hacking engulfed News Corp duringthe summer of 2011, forcing Murdoch to close the 168-year-oldNews of the World.

Rebekah Brooks, Murdoch's former British newspaper chief,and others went on trial in London this week accused ofconspiring to illegally access voicemail messages on mobilephones.

News of the World ex-chief correspondent Neville Thurlbeck,former assistant news editor James Weatherup, and ex-news editorGreg Miskiw pleaded guilty to conspiracy to interceptcommunications at earlier hearings.

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