The Nationals will want to
preserve the AWB for their constituency. That helps John Howard. But
the PM mightn’t be so happy with something else they may try to hang on

The SMHreports today that proposed new media ownership laws – expected within days – may be rejected by the country cousins.

leader Mark Vaile told his party room last night that a stronger
differentiation of policy from the Liberals and an enhanced policy role
for its backbenchers would help their party survive.

And media ownership is already a subject where National backbenchers have held independent views.

Paul Neville, De-Anne Kelly and Ron Boswell blocked media ownership reforms in the government party room back in 2002 .
A curious coalition of Liberals objected to the proposed measures back
then too – Bruce Baird, Bronwyn Bishop and Marise Payne. Bruce
Billson, Petro Georgiou and Sophie Panopoulos asked for more

Neville – a thorn in the government’s side over Telstra – has taken an equally strong position over media ownership.

More crucially, Barnaby Joyce has raised concerns, threatening the passage of legislation in the Senate.

First’s Steve Fielding, who gave the Government its VSU win, has so far
used the excuse of any obvious “family impact” to duck debate on media

Communications Minister Helen Coonan plans to replace
existing laws with a system that will allow media mergers so long as
mainland state capital cities retain at least five distinct commercial
media operators and regional markets four.

The risk of less diversity must surely be a concern to a proselytising Christian like Fielding.

then there’s the Nationals’ own Senate leader, Boz. He’s only been
granted a temporary reprieve with the delaying of the Queensland
Nationals Senate preselection until after the state poll.

If the
Nats regret their Telstra vote, if they want some product
differentiation, media could be it. A number of Liberals would probably
quietly cheer them on.