The Australian is a broadsheet newspaper published in Australia from Monday to Saturday each week since 14 July 1964. The editor in chief is Paul Whittaker; the editor is John Lehmann and the editor-at-large is Paul Kelly. Available nationally (in each state and territory), The Australian is the biggest-selling national newspaper in the country, with a circulation of 116,655 on weekdays and 254,891 on weekends, figures substantially below those of top-selling papers in Sydney (The Daily Telegraph), Melbourne (The Herald Sun), and Brisbane (The Courier-Mail). Its chief rivals are the business-focused Australian Financial Review, and on weekends, The Saturday Paper. In May 2010, the newspaper launched the first Australian newspaper iPad app. The Australian is owned by News Corp Australia. Recent years have seen significant decreases in circulation.
The Australian is published by News Corp Australia, an asset of News Corp, which also owns the sole dailies in Brisbane, Adelaide, Hobart and Darwin and the most popular metropolitan dailies in Sydney and Melbourne. News Corp's Chairman and Founder is Rupert Murdoch.
The first edition of The Australian was published by Rupert Murdoch on 15 July 1964, becoming the third national newspaper in Australia following shipping newspaper Daily Commercial News (1891) and Australian Financial Review (1951). Unlike other Murdoch newspapers, it was neither a tabloid nor an acquired publication. From its inception The Australian struggled for financial viability and ran at a loss for several decades.
The Australian's first editor was Maxwell Newton, though he would leave the paper within a year and was succeeded by Walter Kommer, and then by Adrian Deamer. During the 1975 election, campaigning against the Whitlam government by its owner led to the paper's journalists striking over editorial direction.
Daily sections include National News (The Nation) followed by Worldwide News (Worldwide), Sport and Business News (Business). Contained within each issue is a prominent op/ed section, including regular columnists and non-regular contributors. Other regular sections include Technology (AustralianIT), Media, Features, Legal Affairs, Aviation, Defence, Horse-Racing (Thoroughbreds), The Arts, Health, Wealth and Higher Education. A Travel & Indulgence section is included on Saturdays, along with The Inquirer, an in-depth analysis of major stories of the week, alongside much political commentary. Saturday lift-outs include Review, focusing on books, arts, film and television, and The Weekend Australian Magazine, the only national weekly glossy insert magazine. A glossy magazine, Wish, is published on the first Friday of the month.
"The Australian has long maintained a focus on issues relating to Aboriginal disadvantage." It also devotes attention to the information technology, Defence and mining industries, as well as the science, economics, and politics of climate change. It has also published numerous "special reports" into Australian energy policy.
The Australian Literary Review was a monthly supplement from September 2006 October 2011.
The Australian has often been criticised for being biased against recent Labor governments. In recent years, the paper was scathing of Labor's decision to introduce a carbon tax and other carbon emission reduction measures, using reporting and opinion pieces to emphasise its point of view.
In 2009, The Australian ran many articles about the Rudd Government's Building the Education Revolution policy, which uncovered evidence of over-pricing, financial waste and mismanagement of the building of improvements to schools such as halls, gymnasiums and libraries. On the newspaper's website, there was a section named "Stimulus Watch", subtitled "How your Billions Are Being Spent", which contained a large collection of such articles.
The following year, other media outlets also reported these issues and the policy turned into a political embarrassment for the government, which until then had been able to ignore The Australian's reports. Along with the government's insulation stimulus policy, it contributed to perceptions of incompetence and general dissatisfaction with the government's performance. On 16 July 2010 it was reported that Julia Gillard had admitted that the school-building program was flawed and that errors had been made because the program was designed in haste to protect jobs during the global financial crisis.
In 2011, Glenn Milne reported on the allegations against Prime Minister Julia Gillard concerning the AWU affair including a claim regarding Gillard's living arrangements with Wilson. Gillard contacted the chief executive of The Australian, resulting in the story being removed and an apology and retraction posted in its place.
On 18 August 2012, Hedley Thomas reported that Julia Gillard left her job as a partner with law firm Slater & Gordon as a direct result of a secret internal investigation in 1995 into controversial work she had done for her then boyfriend. However, the story was ignored for a long time by other media outlets. The ABC for instance did not cover the story until after Gillard held a press conference to respond to the allegations against her. The story became a major political issue, resulting in Julie Bishop questioning Gillard in parliament and Gillard holding another press conference to respond to the evidence against her. All allegations against Ms. Gillard were dropped after she was cleared of any legal wrongdoing at the Royal Commission into trade union governance and corruption, though commissioner Dyson Heydon openly disputed her credibility as a witness.
Payment for online content
In October 2011 News Ltd announced that it was planning to become the first general newspaper in Australia to introduce a paywall. It charges readers $4.00 per week to view premium content on its website and mobile phone and tablet applications.
Editorial and opinion pages
Editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell has said that the editorial and op-ed pages of the newspaper are centre-right, "comfortable with a mainstream Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd, just as it was quite comfortable with John Howard." According to other commentators, however, the newspaper "is generally conservative in tone and heavily oriented toward business; it has a range of columnists of varying political persuasions but mostly to the right." Its former editor Paul Kelly has stated that "The Australian has established itself in the marketplace as a newspaper that strongly supports economic libertarianism".
The Australian presents varying views on climate change, including giving space to articles and authors who agree with the scientific consensus, such as Tim Flannery, those who agree with the cause but who disagree with the methods of coping with it, such as Bjørn Lomborg, through to those who disagree that the causes or even presence of global warming are understood, such as Ian Plimer.
In September 2010, the ABC's Media Watch presenter Paul Barry accused The Australian of waging a campaign against the Australian Greens, and the Greens' federal leader Bob Brown wrote that The Australian has "stepped out of the fourth estate by seeing itself as a determinant of democracy in Australia." In response, The Australian opined that "Greens leader Bob Brown has accused The Australian of trying to wreck the alliance between the Greens and Labor. We wear Senator Brown's criticism with pride. We believe he and his Green colleagues are hypocrites; that they are bad for the nation; and that they should be destroyed at the ballot box."
Columnists and contributors
Regular columnists include Janet Albrechtsen, Troy Bramston, Paul Kelly, Chris Kenny, Brendan O'Neill, Nicolas Rothwell, Imre Salusinszky, Niki Savva, Angela Shanahan, Dennis Shanahan, Greg Sheridan, Judith Sloan, Emma Tom, Peter van Onselen and Phillip Adams. It also features daily cartoons from Bill Leak and Peter Nicholson.
Former columnists include Mike Steketee, David Burchell, Michael Stutchbury, Simon Adamek, Glenn Milne, Cordelia Fine, Alan Wood, Michael Costa, P. P. McGuinness, Michael Costello, Frank Devine, Matt Price and Christopher Pearson.
The Australian's "Australian of the Year"
In January of every year, The Australian announces a choice for "Australian of the Year", separate from and often different from the official choice of the government's National Australia Day Council. In 2011, the newspaper announced that Treasury Secretary Ken Henry was its winner of the award for 2010. Previous winners include Kevin Rudd (2009), Stephen Keim (2008), Bob Brown (1983) and Gough Whitlam (1972).
The average print circulation for The Australian on weekdays was 116,655 during the June quarter 2013, having fallen 9.8 per cent compared to the June quarter 2012. The average print circulation for The Weekend Australian was 254,891 during the June quarter 2013, down 10.8 per cent compared to the June quarter the previous year.
As of March 2015, the weekday edition circulation was 104,165 and the weekend edition was 230,182, falling 6.5 per cent and 3.3 per cent respectively compared to the same period in 2014. The Australian had 67,561 paid digital subscribers in the same period.
According to third-party web analytics providers Alexa and SimilarWeb, The Australian's website, theaustralian.com.au, is the 72nd and 223rd most visited website in Australia respectively, as of August 2015. SimilarWeb rates the site as the 23rd most visited news website in Australia, attracting almost 3 million visitors per month.
In November 2006, The Australian journalist Caroline Overington was awarded both the Sir Keith Murdoch Award for Journalism and a Walkley award for investigative journalism over her coverage of the AWB Oil-for-Wheat Scandal for the paper. The following year, Hedley Thomas won the Gold Walkley Award for his coverage of the Haneef case.
Also in 2007, the newspaper's website won the Pacific Area Newspaper Publishers' Association Online Newspaper of the Year award.