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Australia’s high commission to Britain praises Murdoch press in securing support for free-trade deal

AUSTRALIA’S High Commissioner to Britain has praised the Murdoch press for the role it played in securing support for a free-trade deal that British farmers believe lacks protections for animal welfare and the environment.

George Brandis QC, a former minister under right-wing Australian premiers John Howard, Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull, also said that the only opponents of free trade were “dinosaur trade unionists” and “communist academics.”

Speaking at a fringe meeting hosted by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), a right-wing think tank, Mr Brandis objected to an audience member who criticised the media for failing to champion free trade. He said that the Murdoch press in Britain had been very supportive of the recent post-Brexit free-trade deal between Britain and Australia.

When the deal was first struck, the Morning Star, contrastingly, reported the comments of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), an employers’ association. NFU president Minette Batters raised concerns that the deal could “undermine UK farming and merely exports the environmental and animal welfare impact of the food we eat,” and pressed for more clarity.

Mr Brandis also praised Foreign Secretary Liz Truss for aligning Britain’s strategic objectives, such as in the recent Aukus deal, under which Britain and the United States will supply Australia with new nuclear-powered submarines, with the nation’s trade objectives.

The meeting was hosted in the IEA’s  “think tent” outside the conference centre, which is co-sponsored by the Taxpayers’ Alliance, another right-wing pressure group.

IEA-published pamphlets championing causes such as “allowing true entrepreneurship in healthcare” and the “risks of over-regulation in gambling” were made available to conference delegates for free.

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