One of the most disappointing aspects of the past week is the relative lack of criticism in the media directed at the appalling Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy. I guess there were just too many other things to write about.
(Did anyone hear Emmo’s hilarious and lame excuse for the government – aka Conroy and Gillard – trying to ram through the media bills in such a short space of time? Honestly. Some garbage about these bills were always likely to be contentious and so it was important that they were not really debated – by Cabinet, Caucus or any interested parties and were dealt with quickly. My ass, I say, what tosh.)
We, Cats, should recall that it was a close run thing – if Conroy had had more confidence in the cross benchers, he would have had the bills submitted to the House, with the speaker casting the deciding vote. I’m pretty sure, the Coalition would not have accepted Thomson’s ‘no’ vote, assuming he really meant what he said.
There are two really important things to think about:
- There were probably enough cross-benchers on side, at least with the spirit of the bills, including the dreaded PIMA, but the fool Conroy was so ham-fisted in the way he tried to ram the bills through the House, even the likes of Oakeshott and Wilkie couldn’t go along with the farce. Is this the best mate of the great negoshiator?
- Conroy couldn’t even explain what were the real purposes of the bills. First, it was about preserving media diversity, even though on all available evidence, news media has become more diverse. The choice in respect of traditional sources will probably come down to allowing mergers or the collapse of some newspapers, including all of Fairfax. I’m not sure that will do much for diversity. Second, it was about defending community standards of journalism. This was code for trying to put a sock in News Corp products in the run up to the election in the hope that staff would be fearful of being reported to PIMA and emperilling the ongoing privilege of privacy.
The fact that Conroy thought he could split the press media (did he use the word baron? Is Hywood a baron? Is Williams also a baron?) demonstrated what a complete fool he is. At the end of the day, even Fairfax was not going to support suppression of freedom of the press and freedom of speech.
If Conroy remains Minister of Communications and Broadband (say no more about the looming fiasco of the NBN), it will tell us a lot about Gillard, her judgement and her current predicament.