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AUSTRALIA: Government withdraws remaining media bills

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy ... government's self-imposed deadline for passing the bills is firm. Image: PMW

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Item: 8233

CANBERRA (The Sydney Morning Herald / Pacific Media Watch):  The Australian federal government has withdrawn the remaining four media reform bills from Parliament after failing to secure sufficient support from the crossbench to get them over the line.

Earlier Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said the government's self-imposed deadline for passing the bills was firm, despite calls from independents to shelve the changes until Parliament returns in May.

At a lunchtime media conference, Defence Minister Stephen Smith said he was unaware of the bills being withdrawn but he did not believe such a move would reflect badly on Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

"I don't believe so [that it would reflect badly]. There are a package of six bills; two have already been passed," Smith said.

Gillard intervened personally this week, trying to save the reforms in two days of frantic negotiations.

Earlier this week the lower house passed two relatively uncontroversial bills that would expand the requirement for Australian content, prevent the establishment of a fourth commercial television network, and update the ABC and SBS charters to explicitly require the production of online content.

When announcing the reform package last Tuesday, Senator Conroy said the government was not prepared to barter with the bills. He added that if he did not secure the support needed from the Coalition, Greens or crossbenchers, it would be scrapped.

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Pacific Media Watch

PMC's media monitoring service

Pacific Media Watch is compiled for the Pacific Media Centre as a regional media freedom and educational resource by a network of journalists, students, stringers and commentators.
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