Former Murdoch attorney tapped to be Australian regulator

The nomination of a highly regarded attorney with potent ties to Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch to head Australia’s potent opposition watchdog company is drawing scrutiny.

On Tuesday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s govt tapped Gina Cass-Gottlieb to grow to be chairwoman of the Australian Competitiveness and Purchaser Fee. Her involvement with the Murdoch household stretches back again additional than a 10 years.

U.S. Securities and Trade Fee information checklist Cass-Gottlieb, who is centered in Sydney, Australia, as a manager of a Delaware agency that administers Rupert Murdoch’s U.S.-dependent spouse and children have faith in, which controls the family’s worthwhile stock holdings in Information Corp. and Fox Corp. Federal Communications Fee records also listing Cass-Gottlieb as a director of have faith in administrator.

Cass-Gottlieb individually is a former attorney to Fox Corp. Chief Executive Lachlan Murdoch.

“Cass‑Gottlieb is one particular of Australia’s preeminent competitiveness attorneys, obtaining been a senior associate in competition and regulation at Gilbert + Tobin for more than 25 many years,” Australia’s treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, explained Tuesday in a statement asserting her nomination.

“During her distinguished occupation in lawful practice, she has recommended on some of the greatest and most elaborate competitors matters in Australia and New Zealand.”

In a statement to the Los Angeles Times, Cass-Gottlieb reported she would not remark on any Australian Levels of competition and Buyer Fee issues prior to having office March 21, subject to the acceptance of Australia’s governor normal. Nevertheless, she observed that she planned to “cease private follow and relinquish any positions that may perhaps effect on my skill to perform the function prior to commencing.”

Cass-Gottlieb explained she was honored to take the situation. “The [commission] is a deeply revered and renowned regulator for its safety of individuals and competition, a crucial driver of our economic climate and for upholding competitiveness law,” she explained in the assertion.

But Cass-Gottlieb’s assortment straight away made waves in Australia, in which some politicians have expressed worry about the Murdoch family’s great clout.

“Is this the identical Gina Cass-Gottlieb who is a extended-serving director of the Murdoch Family members Trustee [sic], and was also Lachlan Murdoch’s particular lawyer?” Kevin Rudd, a former prime minister, wrote on Twitter on Tuesday, before long following the nomination was announced.

Cass-Gottlieb’s nomination comes about six months ahead of a essential nationwide election, amid a tumultuous political landscape, and 1 week immediately after an Australian Senate committee issued a blistering report that named Rupert Murdoch’s Information Corp. the “clearest instance of a troubling media monopoly.”

In Australia, “the latest regulatory environment for information media is weak, fragmented and inconsistent,” the Senate report concluded. “As a result, huge media corporations have develop into so powerful and unchecked that they have developed company cultures that consider on their own outside of the present accountability framework.”

Murdoch’s News Corp. owns practically two-thirds of Australia‘s metropolitan newspapers and common sites, and it has radio pursuits all through Australia. It also has the managing stake in the Foxtel news community.

Representatives of Information Corp., however, have argued that the remarkable development of know-how platforms, including Google and Facebook, have fragmented the media landscape by also distributing news and info, successfully weakening the sway of Murdoch-owned outlets.

Irrespective of the report’s conclusions, leaders of two of the important Australian political parties — the Labor Party and Liberal Get together — declined to go after the make any difference of media concentration or create a royal fee, which Rudd and extra than 500,000 people who signed a petition experienced demanded. The petition, which Rudd spearheaded, prompted the Senate’s assessment.

Frydenberg and associates of News Corp. and Fox Corp. declined to comment.

It was in his native Australia that Murdoch, now 90, started making his empire. He inherited a compact newspaper in Adelaide, Australia, immediately after the 1952 dying of his father, a pointed out newspaper editor and celebrated war correspondent.

That began a restless march spanning seven a long time and a few continents as Rupert Murdoch assembled dozens of media attributes in Australia, Fantastic Britain and the U.S., wherever he in the end acquired the New York Post and the Fox movie studio, launched Fox Information Channel in 1996 and, a 10 years later on, acquired the Wall Road Journal.

In March 2019, Murdoch offered the bulk of his Tv set and movie belongings to Walt Disney Co. The Murdoch family members held on to Fox News, two national athletics channels and the Fox broadcast community. The family’s publishing enterprise, News Corp., individually owns Dow Jones & Co. (WSJ, Barron’s and MarketWatch), the HarperCollins ebook publisher, major newspapers in London and the Australian holdings.

His oldest son, Lachlan Murdoch, has run Fox Corp. as main govt considering the fact that the Disney transaction shut in March 2019.

Equally Murdochs provide on the boards of Fox and News Corp. The Murdoch Spouse and children Have faith in controls the family’s stock holdings. The next entity, Cruden Money Services in Delaware, administers the trust.

According to documents seen by the Los Angeles Situations, Cass-Gottlieb represented Lachlan Murdoch a 10 years in the past in dealings with the Australian government relating to media focus.

At the time, Lachlan Murdoch experienced quit the family business and was trying to carve his own path as a media mogul in Australia.

With Cass-Gottlieb’s aid, Lachlan Murdoch received a 2010 determination from the Australian Communications and Media Authority that he and his father, Rupert, had been not relevant “associates” for needs of calculating media focus for radio broadcast licenses and newspaper holdings.

But that designation grew to become problematic in 2012, according to the files.

In 2012, media stories indicated that Lachlan Murdoch experienced come to be a lot more included in his father’s empire and might quickly return to the fold. Lachlan Murdoch was also weighing in on leadership determinations at a variety of Murdoch papers. Australian regulators then requested Cass-Gottlieb to clarify Lachlan Murdoch’s “relationship to Mr. Rupert Murdoch.”

The issue shortly became moot. In 2014, Rupert Murdoch restored Lachlan to a popular function in the U.S.-based mostly media conglomerate to operate alongside his brother, James, who was then CEO of 21st Century Fox. (James Murdoch remaining the loved ones company immediately after the Disney offer.)

Cass-Gottlieb would exchange Rod Sims, who has been the Australian Competition and Customer Fee chairman for 11 a long time, leading the agency in many big battles with business pursuits. Sims was quoted in the Guardian as declaring Cass-Gottlieb’s experience built her a robust option to change him.

“You would not want an ACCC that didn’t have people today who labored on equally sides of the fence,” the Guardian quoted Sims as indicating.

The Australian Fiscal Assessment, which is owned by Fairfax Media (a competitor of Information Corp.), claimed that “it is recognized that a bulk of states and territories — who ought to indicator off on her appointment — swiftly agreed to Ms. Cass-Gottlieb’s appointment.”

Moments employees researcher Scott Wilson contributed to this report.