Key independent Andrew Wilkie and the Greens have taken aim at key planks of the Gillard Government's media reform package, increasing the likelihood Labor will shelve the plan to avoid defeat in the House of Representatives.
But with media chiefs to appear before a Senate inquiry into the package today, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has warned crossbenchers they will be blamed if it fails.
The Government has come under fire for the details of the package and the rush in introducing it, releasing the six Bills late last week and demanding Parliament pass them before Thursday.
Among the proposals is establishing the Public Interest Media Advocate, a government-appointed bureaucrat whose tasks would include certifying self-regulatory bodies such as the Press Council or the Independent Media Council, a role media companies warn threatens press freedom.
Mr Wilkie said he was undecided but shared concerns the appointment of the advocate amounted to media censorship and would diminish free speech.
"That a government-appointed official would oversee the Press Council and that he or she has resort to withdrawing the privacy protection for journalists could indeed be said to be threats to free speech," he said.
Greens communications spokesman Scott Ludlam said his major concern was how the legislation could lead to the establishment of multiple press councils, citing how _The West Australian's _ publisher, Seven West Media, had withdrawn from the Press Council and established the Independent Media Council to hear complaints.
He said if Labor rejected amendments to stop the fragmentation of press councils, the Greens would vote against that Bill.
"That is a real red line for us," Senator Ludlam said.The Government may require Speaker Anna Burke's casting vote to pass the package, needing the support of four crossbenchers to force a tie after independents Rob Oakeshott and Craig Thomson signalled their opposition.
'The West Australian' is a trademark of West Australian Newspapers Limited 2013.
All rights reserved.
Select your state to see news for your area.