Craig Thomson has yet to announce his stance on media reforms.
Craig Thomson has yet to announce his stance on media reforms.

Wilkie joins Oakeshott in opposition to media reforms

ALL eyes are now on former Labor MP Craig Thomson, the only crossbencher yet to pledge his support or otherwise for the Federal Government's media reforms.

Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie declared on Wednesday afternoon he would not support the four remaining media reform bills, joining Rob Oakeshott in opposition to the changes.

Both independents said they would not support the current bills, primarily due to the unusually short time frame the government gave parliament to consider the new laws.

Mr Wilkie said the reforms currently before parliament were rushed and poorly constructed.

He decision came a day after Mr Oakeshott said he could only support them if the proposals took on recommendations of the lengthy Finkelstein Inquiry and Convergence Review "all or nothing".

However, Greens Leader Senator Christine Milne declared the minority party had come to an agreement with government on the reforms.

Senator Milne said she was open to discussing a new independent panel to oversee the proposed Public Interest Media Advocate.

New South Wales independent Tony Windsor said he was also willing to support the government, saying he expected 70% of crossbenchers would back the reforms.

Queensland independent Bob Katter first proposed such a panel, saying he was open to discussing the merits of the reforms if the panel included members from the Australian Press Council, media union and nominations by the Council of the Order of Australia.

But he said he would not support the reforms if it did not include the 12-member oversight panel.

If the proposal was to get wider support, it would mean an independent panel oversaw the actions of the PIMA, which in turn oversaw the press council, which took complaints about the media directly from the public.

Former Speaker, independent MP Peter Slipper, told the Sunshine Coast Daily he would support the government's reforms, despite believing the proposals did not go far enough to protect individual privacy.

While the government did pass two of the six media reform bills on Tuesday, it has yet to pass the most controversial laws, including the 75% reach rule related primarily to local television coverage.

The government's proposal includes the abolition of the reach rule, which was a crucial issue for crossbenchers including Mr Wilkie's decision not to back the laws.


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