Australians have never forgiven Rupert Murdoch for renouncing his citizenship in order to get rich in the United States. So they were not exactly ecstatic to be warned by him, during a flying visit this week to the country Mr Murdoch still claims to call home, that they risk turning into a nation of “bludgers”.
Mr Murdoch's choice of language — in a lecture to a distinguished audience at the Sydney Opera House — seemed designed to wound. A bludger is someone who doesn't pull their weight, or pay their share. It can mean a person who fails to buy their round of drinks.
The billionaire media mogul, whose Australian newspapers represent a small but profitable corner of his global empire, was decrying what he perceives as the country's increasing dependence on welfare. “We must avoid institutionalising idleness. The bludger should not be our national icon.”
While “dole bludgers” are not popular in Australia Mr Murdoch's criticism seemed likely to backfire. Who does this rich bloke think he is, coming over here and telling us how to run our country, a place he turned his back on years ago, was a widely expressed view yesterday.