PRIME Minister Tony Abbott has given a ringing endorsement of The Australian newspaper at a gala dinner overnight celebrating the broadsheet's 50th birthday.
Mr Abbott told the audience he felt the paper was the closest to "the true spirit of Australia".
"While the paper has long had a consistent perspective, it's barracked for causes rather than party; it's promoted issues rather than individuals; and the editorial "line" has never precluded well-argued dissent," Mr Abbott said.
He credited the paper with helping lift former Prime Minister John Howard to the top of the Coalition so he could go on to take power.
"It was The Australian, late in 1995, that cleared the way for John Howard to return to the leadership of the Coalition and then become our most successful recent prime minister by putting on the front page his change of mind on Asian immigration," he said.
"To its credit, when The Australian is campaigning, it makes no bones about it and while its preferences are clear, its mind is almost never closed."
The Prime Minister did not give The Australian any credit for his own rise to power.
Mr Abbott said he wanted to "kill" the claim that News Corp papers are "ciphers" for owner Rupert Murdoch.
"He may have become an American by necessity but he's always been an Australian by conviction," Mr Abbott said.
"The Australian has borne his ideals but not his fingerprints; it has been his gift to our nation."
Also in celebration for The Australia's notable anniversary, independent news outlet Crikey dispatched a birthday cake with the line, "Much like the climate, we hope you never change".
The Australian is often accused of favouring a strong line against climate change.
Crikey also published a list of "50 things the Australian hates" including The ABC, climate change, Gen Y, Twitter, people on welfare, Media Watch and of course, Crikey.
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