Wilkie rejects Labor's media laws

20/03/2013 - 12:50

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Wilkie rejects Labor's media laws

The federal government's plan for a public interest media advocate to oversee media mergers and press standards is on the brink of collapse after independent MP Andrew Wilkie ruled out backing Labor legislation.

"These reforms are rushed and poorly constructed," the MP said in a statement on Wednesday.

"Frankly this is a shambles of the government's own making and no reasonable person could expect quality decisions to be made in these circumstances."

The government needs the support of at least four crossbenchers to have its four remaining media bills clear the lower house.

So far, only Greens MP Adam Bandt and independent Peter Slipper have indicated they will support the government.

But the government has failed to win the support of Mr Wilkie, Rob Oakeshott, Bob Katter and Craig Thomson who's opposition will be neutralised by the coalition's determination not to accept the suspended Labor MP's vote.

Earlier today, Australian Greens leader Christine Milne says her party had reached a deal with Labor on media law changes and gives them a "more than 70 per cent chance" of passing both houses of parliament.

Senator Milne said part of the agreement included a ban on any further press councils being set up beyond the existing two.

She said the public interest test when applied to mergers of media organisations would need to consider "the protection of local and regional news current affairs and local media".

"We are now seeing really good reforms," Senator Milne told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.

"I'm hoping that the agreement we've reached with the government will give renewed enthusiasm for some of the independent members of the House of Representatives to get on board."

Senator Milne called on independent MP Andrew Wilkie "to step up and stand up on media reform".

"I'm calling on Andrew Wilkie to fall in (behind them) and actually stand up to Rupert Murdoch trying to run the parliament, and bully the parliament," she said.

"The question is has Andrew Wilkie got the backbone to stand up to the bullies."

Crossbencher, Tony Windsor, is expected to also back Labor.

Senator Milne also hoped the Greens' success in negotiating amendments with the government might sway independent Rob Oakeshott, who has said he won't support the package of media reforms.

"He has said one occasion that he is out, on another occasion he's said he would look at sensible amendments," she said.

"I think with the Greens having secured this agreement I'm confident ... he would at least look at it."

Senator Milne praised Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who since Tuesday has taken a greater role in negotiations with the crossbenchers.

Passage of the media reforms would be a victory for Ms Gillard, her former alliance partner said.

"It will be a victory for the parliament ... if this gets through, but certainly for the government and the prime minister because there has been a hysterical reaction from News (Ltd) in particular," Senator Milne said.

"This is really a case of the parliament acting in the public interest against bullying."

More to come....

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