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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Media Reform Bill fiasco

Kevin Rudd is enjoying himself.  How sweet it must be for him to see Julia Gillard, the woman who replaced him as leader, now struggling in the polls.  Rudd has always beaten Gillard in the popularity stakes, the people love him. Afterall, he was the man who brought the Labor Party out of the wilderness and into power, yet union heavyweights and other power brokers decided he had to go.  Now they realize their terrible mistake - they got rid of the only man who could have kept them safely in power.

As Labor MPs start to get anxious about losing their seats in the upcoming general election in September, panic is setting in.  Bringing back Rudd as leader won't make any difference, it's too late.  The Obeid affair proved that the Labor brand is on the nose and even though it involved mainly NSW Labor MPs, the tentacles of corruption spread all the way to Canberra.

There is talk of bringing back Simon Crean to end the Gillard versus Rudd leadership fiasco, but he's been leader of the Labor Party before, he wasn't popular then and he's not the answer now.

Out of the blue last week, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy arrogantly announced that controversial media reform packages had to be rushed through by Thursday (tomorrow). 

Stephen Conroy

The bottom line of the Bill is that a single government-appointed regulator would deem what is okay to print and what isn't, with no appeal.  Naturally, the media and the electorate went ballistic and accused the PM of trying to gag the media.  

The proposed legislation is so unpopular that for the first time, the Independents have said they will vote with the Opposition to kill it off. The British press has been caught out tapping phones and bribing people for an exclusive story and there was a real need for media reform in the UK, but not here in Australia, we haven't sunk to their level yet.

Julia Gillard, quick to realize her mistake, by-passed her Minister Conroy and personally took over negotiations with the Independents and she's come up with a compromise - an independent panel - and at least one of the Independents, Tony Windsor, is showing signs of warming to the idea. 

So the battle isn't over yet.

Edit 22.03.2013:  Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy's draconian media laws, which would have seen a government-appointed regulator of the press and sanctions that could shut down newspaper reporting, had to be dumped by the government yesterday.