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ABC News Breakfast -

View in ParlView

(generated from captions) the Opposition Leader Malcolm

Turnbull speaking on AM. That

was live. Negotiations between

the Rudd Government and the

coalition over the proposed

industrial relations laws have

broken down. The coalition says

the laws will cost jobs and

it's refused to promise Julia

Gillard its support for the Gillard its support for the

Bill. Federal small business

minister Craig Emerson joins us

now from Canberra. Good

morning. Just before we get to

IR, let's talk a little about

the key story of today, the

government deciding to slash

skilled immigration by 14%. Are

you saying by doing that the

government can guarantee

unemployment won't go above

7%? It's not related to a

7%? It's not related to a

particular guarantee. It's just

one instrument we have

available to us. Governments

for as long as I can remember

haveed a justed the immigration

economic circumstances of the intake according to the

time. But as recently as February, Julia Gillard said

there wouldn't be any major cut

in the immigration intake. In

just a couple of short weeks you've shifted on you've shifted on a significant

policy area for the

government. It is quite

recently. I remember it being

in Perth of November last year.

It was a small business summit

we held there and people were

screaming out for more skilled

migration, so things have

changed a lot as you know, the deepest recession since the

Great Depression globally. This

is having an impact on

Australia. This is an

adjustment that I believe and the government obviously

believes is necessary for the

times. There's still a

reasonably ... Do you think

that all your small business

constituents would agree with

that? They won't necessarily be

able to find the workers they

need. Well, I will give you an

example in restaurant and

catering, the situation there

has changed a lot. It was less

than a year ago they were

saying they were having a lot

of trouble getting people to

wait on tables and so on.

Things have changed a lot. We

know that. We know the economic

situation has deteriorated. We

think it is in the national

interest to take some of that

pressure off, to ensure that

Australian people can get jobs

wherever possible. And we'll

readjust that immigration

intake as the economic circumstances

necessitate. Isn't it going to

be difficult though for the

government to keep arguing as

most countries are at the

moment against a return to

protectionism, during this

global downturn, when you

institute nationalist policies

such as this? This is not

protectionism. Protectionism is

related to trade barriers. We're talking about

the movement here of labour

just as much as the movement of capital. That's all part of

free trade. You've redefined

protectionism. It's about

tariffs and quotas and other

restrictions on imports, not on

immigration levels. And we do

need to ensure that we can do

what we can for Aussie jobs. We

will adjust these immigration

intakes over time. All

governments have done so. Even

with these levels of

increase in Australia's immigration and the natural

population, we have one of the

most strongly growing

populations around the world. I

think that's a big asset for

the future. It's a big asset

for when ret covery comes. This

is a moderate reduction but one

that seems sensible at the the

time. Malcolm Turnbull on AM is

saying the government should

even cut further, should it

need to. Are you saying that's

still a possibility? Well, I

can't speculate on that. I know

that it was about six months

ago that Malcolm Turnbull I

think Helen Coonan might've

been the spokesperson at the

time called for a 25% cut back

reckon we have then. We've resisted that. We

reckon we have the balance

right here but we need to keep a weather eye on this because

the economic situation around

the world continues to

deteriorate. Wayne Swan is over

there trying to do what we can

community to arrest that as part of the international

decline. Not trying to box you

into a corner here, but when

you say you're prepared to

adjust, the adjustment could go either way, could be an

increase or a cutback? I won't

speculate. I'm just saying that

the fact is that governments of

the fact is that governments of all persuasions have adjusted

the immigration intake, including the skilled

immigration intake, in accordance with the economic circumstances of the time. This

is nothing new. Let's move on

to industrial relations. When

the wording of the amendments

that Julia Gillard has put in

place to the industrial

relations legislation that

you're hoping to pass through

the Senate, when that's made

public, do you believe that the

fears of people like Heather

Ridout will be allayed? Are you

prepared to move a little bit

more to deal with the issues of

say compulsory arbitration for

low paid workers? Look, we are

dealing in good faith with the

independents and with the

Greens. What we share in common

with the independents and the

Greens is a desire to get rid

of WorkChoices. So we are negotiating in good faith with them. And the difference,

the coalition wants to though, I have to say is that

the coalition wants to keep

WorkChoices. They said just

after the election they

respected our mandate, for

example, on unfair dismissal

laws, and now they're saying

no, it should be 25 is the

threshold 2, 5 employees. For a

small business. We went to the election saying 15. Some

respect for the wishes of the Australian people, they have no

respect for the wishes of the

Australian people. They love

their little WorkChoices like

Vegemite, they want to keep

Vegemite, they want to keep their WorkChoices. And they

were, they are and they always

will be the party of

WorkChoices. On that, when you

say you're negotiating in good

faith, are you prepared to go

some distance then with those independents, they're still

concerned about the access that

unions get to workplaces, in

particular, to look at the

salary levels and the

conditions of non-union

members. Are you prepared to

negotiate on that? The truth is I'm not

individual negotiations on is I'm not privy to the

matters like that. They are

being conducted by Julia

Gillard but I do know from

discussions I've had, for

example, with Senator Xenophon

that he is committed to trying

to get a good outcome here.

They are being at least starting from the position

where they agree that

WorkChoices has gotta go. And that is a very different

position to the coalition,

because they want to keep

because they want to keep WorkChoices. I will add,

Virginia, that this is now

being driven by Peter Costello.

Peter Costello in so many

areas, including an interview

which just saw on the emissions trading system, is driving

coalition policy, because

Malcolm Turnbull's looking over

his shoulder the whole time to

see what Peter Costello's

position is and then adopting

it. It's a very convenient line

for the government to be

running right now, but ...

It's a true

It's a true one. Just very

quickly and finally, if I could

get your comment on this. We'll

show you some footage to you.

This took place yesterday in

Canberra. If we can just get that footage up.

Sorry, we seem to have a bit

of a timelag here in getting

this footage up. I'm quite happy about that. You were going to show

going to show my entire innings

that lasted three balls. We're

not. We're just going to show

the final ball. Oh not just

the final ball! Two beautiful

defensive strokes. There is the

first one. There is the third

one. You missed a third of my innings! That would be one

ball! You faced three balls,

you were out on the third.

These are difficult times for Australians. If we can't have

Australians. If we can't have

faith in our politicians that

they can survive more than

three balls ... As a cricketer

I'm a good footballer. I think

I buggered my chances of an

Ashes tour! Good to talk to you

this morning. Thanks,

Virginia. He was up against Ben