The Government media bills are at the committee stage in the Senate at the time of writing – the stage when they’re tackled clause by clause.

But the details of the legislation are largely irrelevant now. The numbers seem to be there to shove them through. Instead, everyone in Canberra wants to know what Family First’s Steve Fielding’s price was. Why is he supporting the bills? What family does he put first? The Packers?

The opposition, the Democrats and the Greens provide 36 votes in the Senate. To block legislation, 38 are needed. All the focus has been on who might provide those two others – on Fielding and Barnaby Joyce.

Michelle Grattan has a good account of the negotiations over the media bills in The Age today. Yet Crikey understands that there are a few more details that haven’t got a run yet.

Crikey understands that Fielding was prepared to talk about everything other than media when Labor tried to draw him on his views earlier in the week.

And we also understand that it was made quite clear by the Prime Minister around the same time that Joyce’s vote was irrelevant.

That suggests a deal had already been done with Family First.

So forget the details of media laws. Instead, the question is just what was the substance of this deal?

Peter Fray

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