Craig Thomson’s vote – Labor’s media control

Christopher Pyne’s announcement that the Coalition will not ‘accept’ Craig Thomson’s vote to overturn Conroy’s new media control legislation seems rather odd.

I can understand the Coalition providing a pair for any positive action – eg a vote of no-confidence in the Government which Thomson (hypothetically) wanted to vote in favour. Or a private member’s bill by the Coalition for which Thomson would support.

This preserves the status quo.

But to pair when Thomson is voting against a bill is silly. The status quo would mean a vote against the Bill.

Conroy’s legislation is so egregious and so harmful that the Coalition should have all of its members going into the Chamber and voting a resounding NO. If Thomson happens to move over to the left side of the Speaker, so be it. That is preserving the status quo.

Which, after all, is the lesser evil? Supporting an outrageous attack on the national interest and an ourageous attack on personal liberty, or standing on the left hand side of the Speaker near Craig Thomson?

The ethical position is to marshal all Coalition votes to defeat the Bill.

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60 Responses to Craig Thomson’s vote – Labor’s media control

  1. Cato the Elder

    It’s lose/lose for the Coalition and possibly the real reason the Bill is being put up at this time. Who can tell? The whole situation is so bizarre and the ALP so Byzantinely corrupt that they may think the whole circus is worth it so they can have another stick to hit AbbottAbbottAbbott with.

  2. Infidel Tiger

    After Craig votes with them, all coalition members shoul move towards him and shake his hand and thank him for attempting redemption.

  3. Dave of Cossack

    Some one or Party should grow up as every vote counts. Bet Labor would grab it if he was voting the other way. Politics is always a grubby affair.

  4. Chris M

    Nah, let it pass. Keep it for a while after the election & use it to crush the ABC; make them shed lefty reporters until there are equal numbers with their conservative reporters for true balance.

    Then when this is done dump the law. Hopefully.

  5. Samuel J

    Once it is the law, it may be difficult to repeal, especially if the Coalition doesn’t win enough seats in the Senate.

  6. JC


    The Coalition will likely have a DD if as you say they don’t have enough votes in the senate. This abomination will be tagged with all the others. let the Liars party go to a DD supporting this too.

    They need to be seriously damaged.

  7. Poor Old Rafe

    Kill the Bill now!

    I don’t trust the Coalition to do all the things that need to be done.

    Voting with the shagger to block a truly rehensible piece of legislation is not the same as recruiting his vote to pass a bill of their own.

  8. entropy

    well the problem is they said they wouldn’t take his vote regardless of circumstance. So they cant go back on that. Abbott should never have said it. He should have said he would ignore his vote, but he didn’t. So he must live with it. He must do his best to keep his word.

  9. JC

    I don’t get this. How can pyne refuse Shagger’s vote? He doesn’t have that right, I thought.

    The parliament may be arranged along party lines, but the votes get counted individually, no?

  10. Cato the Elder

    The parliament may be arranged along party lines, but the votes get counted individually, no?

    Well yes, so they nullify the vote by “pairing” and voting the opposite to the way that he does. Silly but they have committed to do it, on the basis that his suspension is a sham and any votes that Shagger makes will be as directed by “Da Boyz”.

    entropy is right, Abbott should have kept his powder dry but didn’t, so he’s now stuck with a lose/lose proposition – pair off with Shagger, or break his word in the middle of a campaign that is largely about integrity.


  11. JC

    Oh really, so they would “lose” a vote to cancel his? That’s really silly. But no matter. Even if the election is held in Sept there won’t be enough time to do much damage.

  12. Samuel J

    So if Labor proposes a vote of no confidence in Tony Abbott, and Craig Thomson comes over to vote against that motion, the Coalition would send someone over to the Labor side to vote in favour of the no confidence motion? (Actually Labor should try that one!)

  13. Cato the Elder

    I agree. More cost, though. They’ll appoint some turd on a 5 year contract, who will then have to be paid out. With luck they’ll do a Newman on him/her/it and force the turd to disassemble all the work he/she/it is so proud of.

  14. twostix

    Even if the election is held in Sept there won’t be enough time to do much damage.

    Have you been in Australia for the last six weeks JC?

    We’re back to the white australia policy, 1945 union power and the finklestein report and a bunch of other stuff I can’t be bothered remembering.

    That’s in six weeks.

    Twenty+ weeks to go and you say something like that.


  15. JC


    What i meant by not doing much damage is that I don;t think there will be enough time to get the regulator up and going and attempt to muzzle the media. That’s all. Of course they will cause far more damage.

  16. Gab

    Another dictator praises Conroy’s media restrictions:

    FIJI’S military ruler Frank Bainimarama and his regime say they are “flattered” Australia has followed the rogue Pacific nation and proposed a crackdown on press freedom.

    Those who fled Bainimarama’s rule yesterday said the architect of Fiji’s 2010 media decree would be “laughing” at the Australian government and Communications Minister Stephen Conroy.

    Leading government figures, such as Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her predecessor Kevin Rudd, have launched savage attacks on Fiji’s ruler for dispensing with democracy and a free press. Bainimarama’s spokeswoman, Fiji’s Ministry of Information secretary Sharon Smith Johns, said the Pacific nation appeared to have paved the way for Australia: “When we implemented some of the same provisions in our Media Decree two years ago, we were roundly criticised for suppressing media freedom.

    “Yet it now appears, from Labor’s proposed legislation, that it actually regards us as pioneers.

    “We’re flattered that Australia is emulating our lead but wonder why Fiji was subjected to such prolonged protest at the time from Labor, the unions and elements of the Australian media.”

    She claimed Australia’s position “smacked of a double standard”.

    Mr Rudd described Fiji’s actions in denying a free press as part of a “wholesale assault” and said Fiji’s ruler had treated “with contempt fundamental democratic institutions and press freedoms.”

    Ms Gillard has stridently criticised the regime and has said “all steps need to be taken to restore democracy to Fiji”.

    The 2010 decree sparked fury in Australia after it banned the publishing of stories deemed by censors to be against Fiji’s “national interest” – and threatened journalists with jail. New Fijian media ownership rules also forced News Limited, publisher of The Daily Telegraph, to sell the Fiji Times.

    Senator Conroy’s reforms propose a government-appointed enforcer and sanctions which, if utilised, would remove exemptions from the privacy act for media organisations – effectively gagging reporting.

    Fiji Democracy Freedom Movement Australian spokesman Tui Savu said Fiji would welcome Senator Conroy’s proposed changes and he claimed it was a sign of a government in trouble.

    “They’ll be laughing. That is what they have been saying – that is what they have been trying to tell Australia – you can’t run a government with a free press,” he said.

    “The government is aware of the problems they are having in parliament house.”

    Senator Conroy’s spokesman said last night: “Trying to compare the situation in Fiji with the government’s media reforms says more about those making the comparisons than it does about the government.”

    Senator Conroy is so pleased with the response to his media reforms that he is offering to autograph copies of The Daily Telegraph depicting him as a despot who wants to control the press, The Australian reports today.

  17. tbh

    I think the Coalition have to make good on their promise not accept Thomson’s vote, otherwise they look like hypocrites. I agree it was a tactical error, but if you don’t have standards you adhere to (when you explicitly promise to do exactly that) then where are you really? You’re those lying turkeys in the current parliamentary ALP, that’s where.

  18. Gab

    Oops, didn’t mean to c&p the entire article. Apologies.

  19. Sean

    According to Minchin tonight on PM Agenda the senate has referred the bill to a committee which will not be looking at it till June. The 8 day deadline is a sham so perhaps that is why the coalition will not accept his vote.

  20. The principled stand in this situation is difficult to decide, especially with an MP who in the eyes of the Coalition is so morally diseased that they do not want to benefit from him. The alternative is that the way the Bill has been written, it is so incredibly fucked up that even the Greens can’t bring themselves to support it. Given this government’s record for drafting and implementing ideas, that scenario is not impossible.

  21. Super D

    While it would be far better for this bill not to pass it would inevitably end up as a DD trigger along with all the others that a left leaning senate would provide. I actually think it would be fitting to have 20 or so bills to be passed after a DD election. The entire Rudd/Gillard legacy could be erased in a single afternoon with a national public holiday gazetted to commemorate the event. Freedom from tyranny day has a nice ring to it. Who could reasonably object? You’d have to be pro-tyranny to come out against it!

  22. Keith

    This argument is based on the assumption the brothel creeper will vote the way he says he will. Pyne and others will be watching Shagger and the other so-called indeps very closely when the vote is called. None of the crossbench votes are reliable, except for Bandt’s. These Bills will get tied up in committee for several months anyway.

  23. Alfonso

    Tone is already making silly decisions.
    Unless of course they plan to force Conroy into launching prosecutions against free speech ‘violations’ approaching September.

  24. manalive

    The entire Rudd/Gillard legacy could be erased in a single afternoon with a national public holiday gazetted to commemorate the event …

    … and Conroy will continue to sit in the Senate as a constant reminder of the autocratic face behind the mask of so-called social democracy.

  25. dd

    The ethical position is to marshal all Coalition votes to defeat the Bill.

    I agree.
    The theatre of running out of the chamber to try to ‘refuse’ Thomson’s vote is absurd. They have no control over how Thomson votes and they have not courted his vote. That’s the end of the matter.

    Anyway, ‘refusing his vote’ only makes sense for a coalition bill. This is a Labor bill.

    They’re more interested in seeming to be un-corrupt than defeating bad legislation.

  26. M Ryutin

    I don’t mind the coalition trying to stick to their supposed principle of not accepting the Thomson vote but the way proposed is not the way to do it. It is stupid in fact and could give the government an extra vote.

    The ‘pair system is fine because one side absents a member from the vote to counter van actually absent member from the other side. But this silly show of trying to keep their Thomson campaign consistent, the coalition proposes to take a member out of the chamber because they BELIEVE that Thomson will vote against it. By the time they actually know how he will vote they can’t leave and if they leave beforehand Thomson can vote any way he likes.

  27. Popular Front

    NO. Do not accept the whoremonger Thomson’s vote in anything, under any circumstances. Once the Coalition accepts his vote, the ALP rabble will use that fact to smear them endlessly, just as they did with the old queer Slipper.

  28. Rabz

    Unless shagger’s been given a free pass by his puppeteers in the labor pardee, he will not vote against the media bill.

    If he does, he is officially a labor rat, with all the attendant odium in the eyes of the labor troglodytes.

    shagger is labor’s creature, they own him lock, stock and barrel.

    I expect him to vote in favor of the bill, unless this has been an elaborate ruse to tie Abbott and the opposition in knots.

    These points were originally raised by someone yesterday, but I can’t remember who they were offhand.

  29. Andrew

    The damage is much smaller politically if the Coalition do not accept CT’s vote but the damage would be far greater to society if it passed by one vote.

  30. dd

    Do not accept the whoremonger Thomson’s vote in anything, under any circumstances.

    What constitutes “accepting” his vote?
    There’s no mechanism is the constitution for a party to “accept” some person’s vote. The vote, being cast, must be accepted. There is no choice.

    This is a Labor bill, so it’s Labor who will be accepting the vote (or not).

  31. Dr Faustus

    If Conroy’s Bill gets up, the PIMA will be in place by September.

    However, imagine the shitstorm if the ALP’s operative (for it will be that, despite the pretence that the appointment would be bi-partisan) tries to influence pre-election commentary by Australia’s only national newspaper + NSW, Vic, Qld major dailies.

    Being locked out (or threatened with lockout) of the Journalism protection from the Privacy Act affects newsgathering – not editorial comment.

    This is a toxic albatross for the Government.
    Gillard fuck-up #1,457.

  32. dd

    However, imagine the shitstorm

    In which media outlet will this shitstorm occur?

    Letting your opponent win is usually a bad idea. Beware rationalisations that make losing seem like it’s really a sort of win.

  33. Dr Faustus

    I would rely rather heavily on News/Murdoch raising the shitstorm.

    If you look at the legislation and explanatory memorandum, you notice that the sanctions available to the PIMA do not involve shutting the offending publisher down. Even with the PIMA doing her worst, News will be publishing away through the election.

    Agree that it is usually a good idea not to let your opponent win. However, when your opponent is in the process of making a mistake – leave them to it.

  34. Leigh Lowe

    Oops, didn’t mean to c&p the entire article. Apologies


    Damn you!
    Scrolling finger now very tired!

  35. whyisitso

    By the time they actually know how he will vote they can’t leave and if they leave beforehand Thomson can vote any way he likes.

    Yes it would be so easy for Thomson to trick the opposition this way, and he’ll probably try it.

    If Thomson voted with Labor, the result may go 75-74 to the government. If he votes with the Opposition the result would be 74-75 against the government.

    If he’s paired and he votes with the opposition, the result would be 74-74, the Speaker would exercise her casting vote and the result would be 75-74 to the Government, the same result as if Thomson had voted with the Government.

    If a Coalition member, instead of pairing, simply crosses the floor, the result is the same, 75-74 to the Government. It may be preferable for Pyne to adopt the latter approach rather than the former, mirror-imaging each of Thomson’s steps. I recall a comedic episode last year when pairing was tried.

  36. H B Bear

    Shagger is much more use to the Coalition as the rotting albatross around Gillard’s neck. Samuel’s point is well made but would be completely lost on Bruce and Charlene Stringbag of Rooty Hill at election time.

    As indicated, if the Coalition can’t get it through the Senate, just line it up with the other bills for a double dissolution. If Labor and the Greens are in a position to obstruct the Senate after the belting they are about to receive they will be decimated at the ballot box. Sound politics by Pyne.

  37. Lew

    Rabz @ 8.21am. Spot on. Shagger is still a member of the ALP and is still required to vote in accordance with the decisions of the Labor Caucus unless he wishes to be expelled from the Party. I really thought Payne would have been too smart to be taken in by some Albo-orchestrated bullshit,but perhaps not.

  38. Ubique

    Let Thomson vote anyway he damn well pleases. Best that he’s ignored – the theatre of running out of the House is ridiculous. Thomson’s political career is finished; the courts will determine other aspects of his future.

  39. Rabz

    Thanks, Lew. I’ve never been a fan of pyne – I detest the stupid, ungainly twit with a passion.

  40. John Comnenus

    Imagine if the legislation is passed and the public interest test determines that it is not in the public interest for the Government to be the Nation’s largest media proprietor, or that a Public Broadcaster had to have a balance of journalists that roughly aligns with political break up of the community at large. Wouldn’t that be the silver lining on this gray cloud before the LNP repealed the legislation. The strategic way to get this bill defeated would be for the Coalition to leak rumours to this effect and then the ABC and SBS would fight hard against the legislation.

  41. JamesK

    The Coalition’s quandary:

    The Silly May 31, 2012:

    Sitting in his office while the numbers were being counted, Mr Abbott said Labor should refuse to accept Mr Thomson’s vote just as John Howard used to refuse the vote of turncoat senator Mal Colston .

    He said the Coalition would never be trapped into having to grant Mr Thomson a pair. ”We don’t give pairs to independents and we will never accept Thomson’s vote under any circumstances,” he said.

    The Australian March 5:

    “And again (John) Howard’s aphorism ‘underpromise and overdeliver’ I think is apt.”

    He said any initiatives beyond the Coalition’s election mandate on issues such as industrial relations and tax reform would be taken to the people for a fresh mandate.

    Mr Abbott said the reason there was such dissatisfaction – “verging on disillusionment” – with the government was because in the post Howard-era, “too many politicians have abandoned clear pledges for no good reasons for their own political advantage”.

    “It is critical if trust in our polity is to be restored, that that doesn’t happen in the future,” he said. “So we will do what we say we do, we will do no more, we will do no less.

  42. Skuter

    What i meant by not doing much damage is that I don;t think there will be enough time to get the regulator up and going and attempt to muzzle the media. That’s all. Of course they will cause far more damage.

    JC, I fear this is all part of a ‘Fabian ratcheting’. These pricks want to make the Coalition’s life in government as difficult as possible by putting the skeletons of their agenda in place. They know that the coalition might have the stomach for a handful of political bunfights, but not 20, therefore they will have laid the groundwork upon which to build next time they are in power. They know that the anger won’t last a full term so whatever doesn’t get done by the coalition in that time won’t get done at all. The only way I can think of to deal with this is for Abbott to pledge, in the first 100 days of government to repeal everything that wasn’t legislated before the slapper announced the election and seek a mandate for that. Of course, they can still say that they’ve already pledged to repeal other stuff too. Abbott needs to live up to his reputation and get tough.

  43. dianeh

    Coallition should vote down the bill and they need every vote to do it. Let Shagger’s vote be the one to sink the bill, let Labor take the results of their own games.

    Not accepting Shagger’s vote is a bit of political fun and games. This bill is a threat to our freedom in the country and must be dealt with.

    Abbott should say that up front, that this bill is so important that it negates any moral issue accepting Shagger’s vote. Give Labor fair warning and see just what they do.

  44. Skuter

    Also, this bill needs to be defeated NOW! I suspect there are a few in the coalition who wouldn’t mind having media control…that temptation must be removed NOW. Screw the principle. This is a time when pragmatism must prevail.

  45. Tom

    Thankfully, Turnbull left no doubt this morning that the bill would be repealed and there was no chance of wedging him and Abbott on the issue. Listen here.

  46. Septimus

    Thomson’s so-called intention to oppose these Bills is just Labor party BS. If Labor needs his vote then he will side with them, end of story. The only way he will vote with the Opposition is if his vote will not affect the outcome (ie. if the numbers are already there to either pass or defeat the Bills). In that event, what he does will be dictated by Labor Party strategy to attempt to embarrass the Opposition, and in particular, to embarrass Tony Abbott. If push comes to shove, all the Opposition needs to do is have one of its number sit in the Advisers’ Box. That will negate the Brothel Creeper’s vote.

  47. Anthony Millman

    I don’t understand what the fuss is about. If Thomson votes against a government-sponsored bill and the Coalition votes against a government-sponsored bill, the Coalition is not necessarily accepting Thomson’s vote. If the Coalition puts up a bill, even as a private member’s bill, and Thomson supports it, that could be argued to be accepting Thomson’s vote. You simply cannot accept a negative vote on a government bill.

  48. Fred C Dobbs

    Instead of pairing members, what’s wrong with an Opposition actually abstaining on the vote if the Shagger does vote against the Bill. Is there any reason that can’t be done?

  49. Fred C Dobbs

    Sorry that should be “Opposition member”

  50. Spot on Ubique!
    Why would anyone worry about this particular vote and what the idiot Thomson might do. Treat him with the contempt he and his rabble of a political party deserve.

  51. FFS, this is all about the government, not the opposition!

    The issue is Thompson voting with the party that banished him, not voting with the party that opposed him. What sheer idiocy to make the onus of ethical behavior on yourself instead of the government. Stupid, stupid, stupid!

    What about “this is too important to worry about Craig Thompson’s vote”.

    Is that really too hard to say?

  52. Pedro

    London to a brick Thommo would have voted with his party if the pair hadn’t been offered in the first place. It was a stupid stragegy from the coalition in the first place.

  53. Borisgodunov

    If this Fascist “law”is passed ,the media shoul defy it and challenge it at the high court,if enough people defy the alpnazicommos ,what are the filth going to do ? When the filth are thrown out of office the People should demand the new government punish them financially stripping their assets by retrospective lagislation if need be,.then change the Constitution tostrip all power from poiiles and giving Full Powers to the People by Referendums. PS strip the alp. Greens and union thugs of all assets too.

  54. Anyone notice that we are, in the main, talking about the Libs when Labor is getting ready to pass their “STFU” legislation on the media?

    Just thought that I’d point out this minor detail…

  55. John Comnenus

    Hey Cato,

    stop implying that Byzantines were corrupt. They ran a very effective government, economy and taxation system that allowed them to outlast their Roman predecessors by a thousand year.

    For most of that time the gold solidus was the most trusted currency in the world.

    The Byzantine Empire was the great protector and conservator of the West’s classical heritage, maintaining the Athenian Academy right up until the end. All the great Greek and many Latin texts were kept, preserved and translated by the Byzantines.

    The Renaissance started after Venice sacked Constantinople in the Fourth Crusade and took the looted treasure back to Venice. Suddenly the West was able to reconnect to its classical roots and synthesize the logic of the classical Greek world view and the faith of the Christian religion that Pope Benedict often commented on. It was this synthesis that created the modern West.

    The garbage that Byzantium was a slothful incompetent culture was promoted by that imbecile anti Christian bigot Brit, Edward Gibbon, who wrote the seminal historical work: The history of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. No one lasts for a thousand years between very powerful competing forces because they are incompetent and stupid. They last, as Edward Luttwak recently wrote, because they were very strategic and judicious in the way deployed force, diplomacy and their economy to protect and promote their interests.

  56. Samuel J

    As I said before, it is madness to pair Thomson for a negative vote.

    So if Labor proposes a vote of no confidence in Tony Abbott, and Craig Thomson comes over to vote against that motion, the Coalition would send someone over to the Labor side to vote in favour of the no confidence motion? (Actually Labor should try that one!)

    Let Labor do its worst – go after Abbott for ‘accepting’ Thomson’s vote. It won’t make any difference to the election, but we won’t have the evil media law in place.

  57. cohenite

    As I said before, it is madness to pair Thomson for a negative vote.

    Exactly. Pairing is typically and originally designed to balance a government member’s vote who is not present in the house for a legitimate reason and therefore unable to give their usual support for the government.

    You don’t pair an expelled former government member in anticipation of him voting against the bill.

    This has been overthought and ignores the primary point which is that an insidious bill reflecting a diseased political intention should be rejected.

    Pyne should restate that the opposition does not give a rat’s fuck about shagger and will do what they believe is best for the nation.

  58. old bloke

    If Shagger was joined by Oakshott and Windsor in voting against this bill, would it get through? What would the result be if Pyne’s pairing reduced the coalition’s vote by one?

    I can’t figure out what the government’s intention is here. They would know that if this bill passed through both houses that it would backfire on them big time.

    They know that News Ltd. would use it to cause them maximum pain. Imagine the front page of The Australian or the Tele on election eve blank, with a message saying that their headline article with photos of Gillard with the goat (as an example) have not been published on orders of the government. News Ltd. would cause the government more anxiety by what they don’t publish than by what they do publish.

    I’m not sure that the government wants to get this bill through.

  59. south

    Again, readers here seem to regard the Lib-Nat Coalition as defenders of openness and freedom of speech. I’m willing to bet most of their members are perfectly OK with this bill being passed, and will make a few noises about repealing it after the election before deciding it’s impossible with their Senate numbers, or not a priority, and putting it on the back burner till no-one mentions it anymore but a bunch of ‘crazy libertarians’.

  60. wreckage

    Again, readers here seem to regard the Lib-Nat Coalition as defenders of openness and freedom of speech.

    Kill the worst, let natural selection take its course.

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