Australia may review media laws after NewsCorp scandal

By Rob Taylor

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Australia's government may review national media laws in the wake of the News of the World phone hacking scandal, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said on Thursday, after an influential party demanded a probe into Rupert Murdoch's local media empire.

"To see some of the things that have been done to intrude on people's privacy, particularly in moments of grief and stress in the family lives, I've truly been disgusted to see it," Gillard told Australia's National Press Club.

"I anticipate that we will have a discussion amongst parliamentarians about this, about the best review and way of dealing with all of this," she said.

Australia's influential Greens Party, which controls the upper house Senate balance of power, has called on the government to investigate Murdoch's Australian outlets.

The Greens have also been critical of the coverage in the government's plans for a carbon tax to fight climate change and want an inquiry into whether a new statutory media watchdog is required.

The Australian parliament will consider the issue in August when it next sits.

Australia's media can often be robust, particularly its tabloid newspapers which occasionally run a political campaign, but their behavior is meek compared with their British counterparts.

The Australian arm of News Corp on Wednesday announced its was launching an investigation into whether there had been any wrongdoing at its editorial operations in recent years.

Australian-born Murdoch's News Corp has been rocked by a series of scandals alleging journalists and hired investigators working for its flagship News of the World tabloid hacked into the voicemails of thousands of people, from victims of notorious crimes to families of soldiers killed in the war in Afghanistan.

The allegations also include bribing police officers for information.

Murdoch shut down News of the World in a move to contain damage and withdrew his bid for broadcaster BSkyB on Wednesday, as outrage over alleged crimes at his newspapers galvanized a rare united front in the British parliament.

John Hartigan, chairman and CEO of News Corp's Australian arm, News Limited, said attempts to link the behavior of the company's British and Australian outlets was "offensive and wrong."

He said he had "absolutely no reason to suspect any wrongdoing at News Limited."

(Reporting by Rob Taylor, Michael Perry; Editing by Miral Fahmy)