News Corp's phone hacking scandal threatened to spread to a third country Friday, as Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced that she would be open to an investigation of the company's practices in Murdoch's native country.
Gillard told the National Press Club that she was "shocked and disgusted" at allegations of phone hacking at News of the World and foresaw a "long debate about media ethics in this country," the Australian (which is owned by Murdoch) reported.
The head of the Green Party, Senator Bob Brown, is leading calls to investigate News Limited, News Corp's Australian subsidiary, which controls a substantial portion of the media. Gillard said she would be "happy" to discuss such an inquiry.
Brown plans to seek support for a public inquiry, though Attorney-General Robert McClelland has ruled out the possibility of new legislation to regulate media.
An editorial in today's Courier Mail, which is owned by News Limited, insisted that the company's properties "have nothing to fear from any inquiry into media behaviour."
News Limited chief executive John Hartigan also dismissed the need for an inquiry into journalistic conduct as "totally unnecessary." He said that the company would submit to an inquiry, but differentiated between newsroom culture in Australia and the UK. "They're very sensational, they deal with people's lives, private lives and some of the behaviours that have come out are obviously being driven by the need to get in front of each other," he said of the British press. "I would argue very strenuously that we don't have those behaviours in Australia."