Former Lachlan Murdoch lawyer appointed director of Australia’s competition watchdog

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government on Tuesday selected lawyer Gina Cass-Gottlieb to become chair of Australia’s Competition and Consumer Commission. The decision to have Cass-Gottlieb head the competition watchdog has drawn criticism because of his longtime connection to News Corp’s Murdoch family. She runs a Delaware company that administers Rupert Murdoch’s American family trust, which oversees the family’s stock holdings not only in News Corp, but also in Fox Corp. She even previously served as attorney for Lachlan Murdoh, CEO of Fox Corp.

“Gina is one of Australia’s foremost competition lawyers and will be the ACCC’s first female chair. I thank Rod Sims for his outstanding leadership over more than 10 years as ACCC President,” tweeted Josh Frydenberg, deputy leader of the Australian Liberal Party, on Tuesday. Frydenberg named her.

Reviews of the choice came quickly.

Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd tweeted“Is this the same Gina Cass-Gottlieb who is a longtime director of the Murdoch family trustee and who was also Lachlan Murdoch’s personal attorney?”

According to a statement announcing his appointment, the ACCC “plays a vital role in promoting competition, fair trade and the regulation of national infrastructure for the benefit of all Australians”.

Cass-Gottlieb was appointed as a member of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s Payments Systems Council in 2013 and became a member of the Regulators Rating Authority in September. If approved by the nation’s states and territories, she will serve as the ACCC’s president for five years, beginning in March 2022.

Cass-Gottlieb told the Los Angeles Times that she would not comment on office-related matters until March, but that she planned to “cease private practice and relinquish any positions that may impact my ability to play the role before starting”.

Martin E. Berry