INDEPENDENT member for New England Tony Windsor is undecided on how he will vote on the federal government’s controversial media reforms.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard had met with the MP to garner his and other crucial independent crossbenchers’ votes in Parliament.
Mr Windsor says in their total form, the bills won’t sit well.
He’s sure the bills will be split during the vote today, with some being approved and others dropped.
The reforms plan to increase oversight of journalistic standards and media mergers through six bills, which will also see the appointment of a public interest media advocate to approve mergers and acquisitions.
The government had extended its deadline for a House of Representatives vote on the changes until this morning in the hope of persuading crossbenchers like Mr Windsor to back them.
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy had previously demanded all-or-nothing backing for the six media bills but conceded to have them voted on individually.
He had said they were non-negotiable and if they weren’t supported, they would be scrapped.
Mr Windsor said he understood the government was now willing to negotiate on amendments to the laws, which Labor wants passed by the end of the week.
He believed there were a number of parts of the package that would probably get through the Parliament, including a public interest test for new media mergers and acquisitions and licence fee discounts for television networks in exchange for more local content.
He was unsure how regional media would be affected until it was known which bills made it through Parliament.
“It’s difficult to say and depends on what’s up or not,” he said.
Mr Windsor was unsupportive of the public interest media advocate but warmed to the idea of a “panel” of people doing a similar role, as suggested by Bob Katter and Andrew Wilkie during the day.
Fellow independent MP Rob Oakeshott had dismissed the bills altogether, saying they would not get his vote.
He said he was unable to support the reforms because of “weak policy and poor process’’ and the government’s handling of the issue had turned it into an “own goal’’.
“Sadly, this needs to go back to the drawing board,’’ Mr Oakeshott told Fairfax Media.
As amendments to the reforms were considered yesterday, the prime minister dismissed suggestions the failure of Labor’s media law changes to clear Parliament would amount to a vote of no confidence in her government.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott had asked if her government’s six media bills were so important that she would regard their failure to pass the lower house as a lack of confidence in her government.
Two of the six media bills will have Coalition support but the government will struggle to pass others in the reform package due to a lack of support from the crossbenchers.