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Q And A -

View in ParlView

TONY JONES: Good evening and welcome to Q&A. Facing the questions tonight: Mitchell Grady, rising
force in the Queensland Young Liberals and winner of the Australasian Inter-varsity Debating
Championship; Perth law student, Linden Brownley, who was one of the 200 young leaders from around
the world invited to Barack Obama's inauguration in January; the Deputy Prime Minister Julia
Gillard, who is also well known for her debating skills. She's also Minister for Employment,
Education and Social Inclusion; the Opposition Leader, Malcolm Turnbull, who, after a successful
career in journalism, the law and business, has taken on one of the most challenging jobs in
politics; and student, feminist and climate change activist Sara Haghdoosti, who was born in Iran
and played a leading role at Kevin Rudd's 2020 Summit. Please welcome our panel.

All right. Remember Q&A is live from 9.25 eastern time. We're still looking for questions tonight
from people aged 16 to 25, so if you fit that demographic, send us your questions by SMS to 197 55
222 or go to our website,, or you can also register to join the audience or upload
a video question.

And we've received an amazing range of intelligent and probing questions from our young audience.
Let's get straight to them now. Our very first question tonight is from Rochelle Rennie.

ROCHELLE RENNIE: The government is currently thinking about lowering the voting age to 16 years
old. Why would the government be thinking about doing this when a lot of 16 year olds show no
interest in politics and are not well-informed on political situations?

TONY JONES: Ok. Before we go to an answer, not everyone agrees with Rochelle's point of view on
this. We've also received this video question from James Higgins of New South Wales.

JAMES HIGGINS: The Labor Government is considering extending non-compulsory voting to 16 and 17
year olds. Despite the fact that this move is unlikely to benefit the Liberal and National Parties
electorally, will the Coalition support this dramatic improvement to our democracy?

TONY JONES: Ok, two very different points of view on that question.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: A leading question.

TONY JONES: Let's hear first from our young audience panel, and I'll go to Mitch Grady.

MITCHELL GRADY: Well, I think that there are definitely a lot of 16, 17 year old students and
people that would be very capable of making an informed vote and most of them are probably in the
audience here tonight. But I think the question is, as a class of people, are 16 and 17 year old
peoples generally capable of expressing an informed opinion and a developed opinion on these issues
and I think we've got to take a consistent stance. And I think when society says that, well, we
don't say a 16 year old has the maturity to decide whether or not to consume alcohol or die for
their country in a war, then it's probably a bit contradictory to say that they can have a say in
determining the leadership of our country.

TONY JONES: But it is the age of consent, Mitch.

MITCHELL GRADY: Well, that is true, it is, yeah, but I think, you know, it again comes down to that
issue of a class of people. Are 16 and 17 year olds generally mature enough and engaged enough to
be able to create an incentive or an impetus to lower the voting age and I think when you look at
it, I tend to agree with Rochelle in that they're probably not and, just to be on the safe side,
it's probably best to keep it to 18, where it has been for a long period of time.

TONY JONES: Ok. All right. Let's hear from Sara.

SARA HAGHDOOSTI: I actually completely disagree with you on that, not surprisingly.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: You were getting on so well.

SARA HAGHDOOSTI: There's a reason we're on different sides of the panel. Well, I might be biased
but I just organised this amazing event called Power Shift and I met 12, 13, 14 year olds who were
not only passionate but were some of the most articulate people around politics. And I think if 16
year olds can make decisions around their own bodies, as Tony pointed out, and who work and who pay
tax, it's the old rule of no taxation without representation. I think they have every right to vote
and I think it would be fantastic. I think it would definitely keep politicians like Malcolm and
Julia on their toes, because they're new thinkers. They're the best and brightest in the world and
I've really seen that at Power Shift and I think that we should go for it. It could do nothing but
improve our country.

TONY JONES: Ok, let's hear from Linden, and let me ask you this, Linden, at the age of 16 do you
think you would have been capable of casting an informed vote?

LINDEN BROWNLEY: Well, I believe I would have been but I'm speaking for myself and I'm not too sure
how many 16 year olds out there in Australia are able to make that decision. There may be some who
would be able to - who would have the brains, I guess, to do that and you might have some who
don't. I mean, it's a bit of a tricky question but...

TONY JONES: Do you think you should leave it where it is?

LINDEN BROWNLEY: Yeah, I reckon.

TONY JONES: Julia Gillard? Now, Joe Ludwig, Special Minister of State, is putting this into a Green
Paper, another famous of papers. So you don't actually do anything. What's going to happen once
that paper is looked at and do you personally support the idea of 16 year olds getting the vote?

JULIA GILLARD: Well, the reason you have those kind of papers is to start a debate and then they're
followed, Tony, by a White Paper, which is the government's decisions. I really think politicians
should be at the end of this process. The reason you have a vehicle like a Green Paper is to test
community views so I don't want to say anything which would let people think the government has
already made up its mind. I reckon it's a great debate and we should hear from 16 and 17 year olds
about what they think. I would be concerned, though, about an opt-in process. I think if we're
going to lower the voting age, then really it should be lowered for everyone. Compulsory voting is
a great thing and it's a rare thing around the world and why it's a great thing is it makes our
politics about the politics of the mainstream, not highly motivated small groups.

TONY JONES: Then you have to fine 16 year olds who slept in through the entire election, though.

JULIA GILLARD: Which may be possible but if it was compulsory voting then, of course, they would
face a fine for that. But I'm anxious about any shift in our electoral laws that says the right to
vote isn't matched by the responsibility to vote.

TONY JONES: Ok, fair enough. Malcolm Turnbull?

MALCOLM TURNBULL: I think 18 is the right place. You've got to draw the line somewhere and there
are obviously plenty of 16 year olds who can make a highly informed decision, probably more
informed than people, you know, my age or Julia's age, if this audience can imagine people as old
as us. But the reality...

JULIA GILLARD: I'm not sure we're the same age, Malcolm, actually.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: That's true. That's true. I'm far older than Julia. But the...

TONY JONES: They don't have to imagine the ancients, they're here in front of them.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: That's right. You too, old boy.

TONY JONES: It's true, we are roughly the same age.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: We're roughly the same age. It's amazing that we're let out so late at night. No,
I think 18 is about the right place to draw the line and I just say that the "no taxation without
representation" that's a fair point, but only up to a point, because there are a lot of people in
Australian who are well over 18 who are not Australian citizens and who are not entitled to be on
the electoral role who are, nonetheless, working hard and paying taxes and don't have the right to
vote. And, equally...

TONY JONES: That's the point that led to the American Revolution.


TONY JONES: I'm just going to interrupt you, because we've got at least one person up there with
his hands up, who'd like to make a point.


AUDIENCE MEMBER: I've been 18 for just barely a month now and I don't feel that I'm really able to
make a really informed decision at the moment about who I should vote for. I do believe that there
are people 16 and 17 who can make a vote but I don't think it's fair to put it on all them to have
to put a vote in.

TONY JONES: Good comment and...

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Well, Tony, just...


MALCOLM TURNBULL: ...a good question, though. I don't know what the audience would think but Julia
raised the issue of compulsory voting and that does have very broad support right across the board
in Australia. But Julia's right, it is very rare around the world. I mean, what does this audience
think about compulsory voting? Should you be fined if you decide not to go and vote? What do you
guys think?

TONY JONES: Well, we're not going to allow you to become a moderator. There's one more person with
their hand up up there.

JULIA GILLARD: That's because Malcolm might be looking for a new job. He's testing out some skills.
You had to expect that.

TONY JONES: All right so we've got a question in the audience.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: He has the same view as me. Everyone in this room is probably politically active -
you know, interested, and they'd vote but there are lots of people who would probably favour just
voting for the current Prime Minister and - because it doesn't affect them. We don't pay tax; we're
still just going to school; we're still being fed by our parents. It's not enough for us to really
care enough about who's leading it, as long as we don't get another Richard Nixon or someone.

TONY JONES: Ok. We didn't get Richard Nixon, by the way. All right. You're watching this special
edition of Q&A, where everyone in the audience is aged between 16 and 25 years, and we've got a lot
of fantastic questions. Now, let's move along to another subject and another question, this one
from Laurence Wainwright.

LAURENCE WAINWRIGHT: In your opinion, what characteristics do you think define a truly great
politician? Is it the ability to put the greater good before personal gain or is it something else?

TONY JONES: Let me throw that, first, to Linden Brownley, because I'm bearing in mind here that you
got the opportunity to go across to Barack Obama's inauguration. So what do you think defines a
truly great politician?

LINDEN BROWNLEY: I believe....

TONY JONES: Political leader, I should say.

LINDEN BROWNLEY: I think what made Barack Obama a great political leader was that he was in touch
with the people down there and just as much as he was with those up here, so I believe you need to
have a good balance with being able to know what's happening with the little people as well as with
the bigger people, just to make sure you're not - I don't know, it's a little hard to say, but as
long as you're down there at the grassroots level and you know what's going on there, I think, plus
a person of integrity, I think that's a very good quality to have as a leader.

TONY JONES: Mitch Grady?

MITCHELL GRADY: I suppose the thing about a democracy is that, you know, at the end of the day the
people don't make the decisions, the people elect the people that make the decisions. I think that
inspiration is a real thing that I look for in a political leader. I don't necessarily want someone
that's going to agree with me all the time but somebody that is inspirational. I don't think we've
had that yet in Australia. I think we've had two Prime Ministers that have come close. I think
Robert Menzies had moments of inspiration and I think John Curtin did, as well, but we've never had
a Barack Obama. We've never had a John F. Kennedy. We've never had a Ronald Reagan, if you lean
that way. We've never really valued inspiration in our political leaders. We seem to have a very
cynical approach in Australia that voting is about going and voting for the least evil. You know
the better of the two bad guys. And I think that if we changed our attitude a little bit and were a
little bit less cynical about politicians and recognised the sacrifices that they make to serve
their country, I think we'd probably attract more inspirational leaders and, therefore, better

TONY JONES: Mitch, you're not inspired by the current, sort of, crop of political leaders you're
seeing right here on the panel?

MITCHELL GRADY: Well, look, I have watched Kevin Rudd's press conferences and at the end of that
I'm not inspired, I'm asleep.

TONY JONES: All right. Well said. Sara?

SARA HAGHDOOSTI: Yeah, I hear where Mitch is coming from but I also think there's a very good
reason why people in Australia are cynical about our political leadership and that's because most
of the time we hear spin out of politics as opposed to people dealing with the real issues and, for
me, leadership is making those hard decisions. I want someone to step up and take the lead on
climate change in this country, because that's not happening. I want someone to step up and take
the lead on indigenous issues in this country, because that's not happening. I want someone to
really step up and fight for women's equality in this country, because that's not happening and I
want that to happen, and I'm tired of politicians playing around and trying to win, like, sound
bites on TV instead of actually doing what they were elected to do, which is fight for our rights -
fight for the rights of the generation that's sitting here.


SARA HAGHDOOSTI: So that's what I'd like to see in leaders.

TONY JONES: Let's throw to someone who's in government, Deputy Prime Minister indeed. Are you a bit
sort of depressed hearing that you don't seem to be getting this kind of message of leadership -
the sort of leadership they want - at least the government doesn't - across to some of the people
around this table?

JULIA GILLARD: Well, I'm not depressed and I think a good thing about Australian political culture
is we don't - I think it's good people feel that politicians are just like them. We don't have that
sense of hierarchy. I think that's a good thing. When I'm in Parliament House - Malcolm would have
had this experience too - we have school kids from grade six come and visit Parliament House and
you'll see them, you know, run across Parliament House. It used to happen with Prime Minister
Howard, it happens with Prime Minister Rudd, and they'll run up and they'll shout, "John. John.
John," or "Kevin. Kevin. Kevin," and you think there's not many other places on earth that a 10
year old would think it's ok to call the Prime Minister by his first name, and I think it's
fantastic that they do, so I don't want people...

TONY JONES: Better give those 10 year old a vote, as well.

JULIA GILLARD: Maybe. Maybe. We could just change the ballot paper to the first name. But I don't
think we've got that sense of hierarchy but I think the thing with politics is it plays out on a
series of levels. You do have to have the conversation through, the sound bites, because lots of
people get their information - indeed their only information about politics from the TV news. But
the most important thing is to have a clear view about what you want to change. Politics is a
relentless business; running government is a relentless business and you could wake up every
morning and let it run you and not achieve what you set out to do or you can wake up every morning
and say, "I'm going to run it and I got into this business to achieve the following things and I'm
going to crash through and I'm going to push and I'm going to achieve them," and lots of things
about our system, the shortness of the new cycle, some of the cynicism about politics, the bigness
of the bureaucracy, lots of things conspire to defeat that and you've just got to have the
wherewithal each and every day to say, "No, I'm running it, it's not running me, and I'm sticking
in here to achieve what I set out to achieve at the start."

TONY JONES: All right, Malcolm Turnbull, I think you've probably found your job to be a bit
relentless in recent days. It's a tough job but tell me about the qualities of leadership that you
aspire to?

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Well, I think, commitment, conviction - I agree with much of what Julia said -
courage, a preparedness to take on difficult jobs. You know, nothing should be regarded as being in
the too hard basket. Back when we were in government, when I was Environment and Water Minister, we
had a huge reform to take control of the Interstate Water, which is the Murray-Darling Basin, out
of the hands of the states, which was a dreadful mistake that was made in the 1890s when the
Constitution was negotiated, and put it in the hands of the Federal Government, and that was a
revolutionary change. And yet for about a year before we did it, everybody said to me, "If we were
writing the constitution again today, Interstate Water would be under Federal control." Then they'd
say, "Oh, it's in the too hard basket." But we just gritted our teeth and we did it and it was a
historic reform, which the Labor Party immediately supported, and, you know, I don't know that they
fulfilled the vision as well as they should have done, in fact I'm sure they haven't, but leave
that aside. It's a good example of when people tell you something is too hard but you believe in
it, you passionately believe in it, just make it happen. That's really what you need. You need
politicians who are prepared to be agents of change. If you want to be an administrator, join the
public service or join a big company. You know, politicians are there to effect change: change for
the better; change so the country you guys grow up in is a better one. That's what our job is.

TONY JONES: Ok. We'll go to a completely different subject now, and we have a question from Lauren

LAUREN SPRING: News released this week clears Rudd and Swan from providing preferential treatment
towards car dealer John Grant. Should Mr Turnbull take responsibility for the Grech claims,
considering his controversial and uniformed attack against Rudd over the alleged scandal?


TONY JONES: Before we go to you, I want to hear from the rest of our panel.


TONY JONES: Let's hear from Mitch Grady first.

MITCHELL GRADY: Well, look, you know, we've spoken about young people disengaging from the
political process a lot and I think this is exactly one of the reasons why. I mean we have had a
news cycle for ages hijacked by an email and a ute. And, I mean, surely this show is about what
young people see the future of Australia as. Surely we have more important things to be talking
about. Let's talk about how to build the best school system in the world or how to fix our public
hospital system or some of the many challenges that face Australia rather than just this game of
political one upmanship that we've seen for the last two months about a fake email and a ute that
keeps going back and forth and back and forth.

TONY JONES: As a Liberal, who do you blame for it?

MITCHELL GRADY: Well, look, I think that the Opposition acted on good faith in this matter. I mean,
if you're given an email that purports to say something, you have no way of telling that that's a
fake. I mean, everyone says, "Oh, well, why didn't Malcolm check his sources?" What source? That is
the source, you're getting the email. There's nowhere to go and check your sources, so it is my
opinion that the Opposition acted on good faith. But at the end of the day let's talk about
something that actually matters and that the young people of Australia actually care about, because
I honestly don't think the majority of people in this room really care about who said what about
fake emails."

TONY JONES: All right, let's hear from Linden.

LINDEN BROWNLEY: I totally agree with what Mitch said. There's a lot of pressing issues out there
that we need to take care of, rather than worrying about an email and a ute, but at the end of the
day I guess we will never know who was to blame or who sent the email or whatever it was.

TONY JONES: Well, we're getting a decidedly clearer picture. Obviously not everyone is that
interested in it. Sara Haghdoosti, are you?

SARA HAGHDOOSTI: Yeah, it's exactly what I was I saying before. It's about political point scoring
as opposed to getting on with the real issues that we're facing and no one here is going to change
their vote because of an email or a ute, like Mitch was saying. What we are going to change our
votes on is the things that affect us, like education, like climate change, and with Malcolm,
especially - like the ute, you know, that may have been a mistake. What I would like to see the
leader of the Opposition do is stay true to the convictions he showed before, like leading the
republic campaign that he did so passionately. I want to see that come back, and that's what will
restore my faith in our Opposition and our Government, actually having real debates again.

TONY JONES: Ok, Malcolm Turnbull, the question was should you take responsibility for the Grech
claims, considering his controversial and uninformed attack against Rudd over the alleged scandal.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Well, I take responsibility for everything that I did and I'm very sorry that the
Ute Gate saga, so called, has taken up so much time and distracted so many of us from the real
issues that do affect all Australians, including and especially young people. I've put all the
facts there are to know about it out in the public domain. I had a 47 minute press conference,
which only ended when the journalists, you know, from exhaustion, ran out of questions and I

TONY JONES: Some of them died in the aisles. However...

MALCOLM TURNBULL: But can I just say this? Can I just say this? We put up on Facebook - you know,
our Facebook page, a question. I mean some of you may have contributed to this. You know, "What are
the issues that we should be talking about tonight?" You know, the issues that affect young people.
Not one person mentioned utes. They were - the issues were: employment/jobs; climate change;
education; debt; and housing.


MALCOLM TURNBULL: And that's what I think we should be focussed on.

TONY JONES: And we will be but some people are sending us questions, and here's one, a web question
from Adam Abdul in Bradbury, New South Wales. "Malcolm, you've made a mistake. That's ok. It means
you're human. However, why is it so difficult for you to say"...

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Why does he sound so surprised?

TONY JONES: I'll leave that up to you. "However, why is it so difficult for you to say sorry to the
Prime Minister and the Treasurer for getting it so wrong? Politicians should realise that admitting
their wrong about something sometimes can enhance their credibility with the public."

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Well, look, the minute this email was established as being a fake, that raised
big questions about the evidence that the public servant you referred to, Mr Grech, had given, and
we withdrew the criticism of the Prime Minister. Some people have said, you know, you should make
an apology to the Prime Minister. The reality is that it's a tough business in politics, and a lot
of criticisms are made. When Kevin Rudd was Opposition leader he accused John Howard and Alex
Downer of being engaged in a corruptions scandal with the Australian Wheat Board and financing
suicide bombers via Saddam Hussein. Now, there was a judicial inquiry into all of that and their
innocence was completely established. No allegation was withdrawn and no apology was given. So I
think in the rough and tumble of politics, oppositions hold governments to account. We rely, in
good faith, on the information we receive. We hold them to account and when that information turns
out to be wrong then we acknowledge that, take responsibility for what we've said, and we should
move on.

TONY JONES: Ok, there's a couple of people with their hands up in the air. We'll go down the front
here to this gentleman.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: It's likely that it's going to be sent off to the Senate Privileges Committee. How
come is it when Labor get a leak from the public service it's heroic but if a Liberal or National's
member gets a leak from the public service it's malice. It's not good?

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Well, good point.

TONY JONES: Let's hear from Julia Gillard on that.

JULIA GILLARD: Well, the main thing here, of course, is the question of judgment in doing what was
done by Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberal Party with a fake document. I've been in Opposition and
people come to you in Opposition all the time and claim to have information about something or
another and you've got to test that. Some will claim to have information about something or another
and you've got to test that. You've got to weigh that and people will make a judgment about you on
the basis of how good the decisions you make are in those circumstances. And this discussion has
proceeded as though the only thing that's been done in Australian politics in this period is talk
about a ute and a fake email. That might be true for some. I mean on the government side today,
obviously, we're focussed on unemployment and supporting jobs. Yesterday I was there supporting
community education, a neglected sector or our education system and another part of what we want to
do with our education revolution and so on for each day that you would have been hearing about Ute
Gate and the fake email. Where this issue has got to and what I think is the thing that remains is
the Senate inquiry to see if a Senate inquiry was effectively corrupted by a pre-scripting process.
That is something that needs to be looked at. It's part of the processes of parliament and working
out whether the processes of parliament have been dealt with shabbily and I think that there is a
question in people's minds, to be frank, about Malcolm's judgment. And when people are assessing
politicians, when they are assessing potential leaders, they're assessing you on the policies you
say you will enact if you are elected and they're assessing you on your personal capacities. And
making such a spectacular error reflects on judgment and how you deal with such a spectacular error
reflects on character and people will make judgments about a politicians character, in this case
Malcolm, on these sorts of events.

TONY JONES: All right. We've got a few people with their hands up. I'm just going to pick a few
comments from the floor. Ok, up there? Yes?

AUDIENCE MEMBER: I just think that it's - I think what you're saying is completely true, Julia, but
I just think that Australia - we don't need to hear about petty little things. It just seems like
it's escalated out of control and it just seems like it was such a small and minute event and
that's not inspiring young Australians to vote for either political party, because we're not sure
what's happening, what the truth is, and if we don't know what's happening, how are we supposed to
know who to vote for.

TONY JONES: Ok, we'll take that as a comment and we'll hear just from that gentleman up the back.

JULIA GILLARD: Can I just make one comment about that?

TONY JONES: Yes, you can.

JULIA GILLARD: It's not a small or minute event to call on the Prime Minister of this country and
the Treasurer of this country to resign. Tony is a professional broadcaster and I know we're not
supposed to be asking Tony questions but, you know, if Tony was going to go on Lateline one night
this week and say, "I've got the evidence,which means the Prime Minister and the Treasurer should
resign," the checking processes in the ABC before he did that, or indeed any of the commercial
channels, would be very, very acute. No one would allow that to happen on the basis of, you know, a
black and white document and someone's word. It would be checked and re-checked.


JULIA GILLARD: And that is not what happened in this case. Calling on the Prime Minister to resign,
that's not a minute event.

TONY JONES: Ok, we've got to get Malcolm Turnbull to respond to that.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Well, just very, very briefly, the criticism that I made of the Prime Minister,
which I have withdrawn, was based on evidence given under oath by Mr Grech in the Senate. Now, it
is true that he...

TONY JONES: Which, incidentally, you knew he was going to give because you spoke to him about that
evidence prior to the fact.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Yes, because he - yes, which is - there's nothing wrong about that. He told us
what his - we checked out his - he brought claims to us. We sat down with him and he told us his
story, easily and naturally and he told us that he'd received an email from the Prime Minister's
office. He showed us a copy of that email. He then gave evidence about it in the Senate and it was
on the basis of that evidence that we made our criticism to the Prime Minister. He subsequently
admitted that the email he showed us was a fake, although he says he still recalls having received
the email. He said that publicly only a few days ago. So it's a curious case, but it's one where we
did check the thing out. We sat down and heard it from the horse's mouth and we acted reasonably,
we acted honestly, we acted in good faith but we have to assume that what he told us was not
reliable because of the faking of the email and that's why I've withdrawn the criticism of the
Prime Minister and that's why I take responsibility for what I said. But in terms of checking
things out, it's difficult to know what more one could have done in the circumstances.

TONY JONES: Just a quick question before we move on from this, how much is this going to damage
your leadership of the Liberal Party? We see stories now every day about people lining up to
challenge you, the latest one Andrew Robb.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Right. Well, politics is a contestable business. I have the support of my
colleagues. This is a rough and tumble game and what - you know the point that some - you know,
you're all young people here. It's a frustration some of you have, and I share it, is that what
happens in politics is that each side tries to magnify the errors of the others, the other side, so
that they appear much more significant or momentous than they actually are and, of course, minimise
their own errors so there is a lot of spin in this business and all I can say it is just tragic
that here we are tonight, again, when we should be talking about housing and the debt...

TONY JONES: Ok. All right. All right. Ok.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: No. No. No. But there it is.

TONY JONES: Well, rather than filibuster your way out of that question...

MALCOLM TURNBULL: All right. All right. Ok.

TONY JONES: ...let's go to the other issues that we do have to deal with. Let's move along. You're
watching Q&A. Remember you can send your questions via web, video or join the studio audience and
ask them yourself. So go to our website, the address is on the screen, to find out how to do that.
Well, we received dozens of web and video questions about the changes to the tertiary Youth
Allowance, including this one from Amy Sinclair of Canberra.

AMY SINCLAIR: The proposed changes to the youth allowance criteria are expected to exclude over
30,000 prospective claimants from 2010. What response does the Government have to the thousands of
rural and regional prospective students, who specifically delayed their entry to university this
year, to be able to gain independence, and who are now excluded from government support at

TONY JONES: Julia Gillard, let's hear from you straight away on that one and here's the question -
I suppose, the additional question: can't you make an exception, when it comes to these people who
thought they had a sort of arrangement? They took a year off and then they found the arrangement
was whipped out from underneath them?

JULIA GILLARD: Well, Tony, there's lots of misinformation about this and it gives me an opportunity
to try and sort it out and I'll do it as quickly as I can. What's happened with Youth Allowance is
that the means test that was operated by the Liberal Government, the means test for family income
became so low that everybody received the message that the only way to get Youth Allowance was to
prove you were independent of your family through the work test. We had this looked at by the
Bradley Review and they said it was inequitable. There were examples of kids who were living at
home with a family with more than 300,000 in family income getting full Youth Allowance. Now, when
you see that, you want to concentrate dollars on the kids who need it the most, so we've
restructured the system by increasing the number of families that can get Youth Allowance by
increasing the family income test cut off points and that means actually 68,000 more kids will get
Youth Allowance. 35,000 more will get more money. And at the same time, we've put in a scholarship
system which is going to be a scholarship system for everyone. It's actually a 28-fold increase in
the number of scholarships from when we came to government. Now, I know that there is concern in
regional communities because many kids have looked at it and said, "I was going to try and be
independent. Now I can't do that. I must be excluded." And my message to them will be look at your
family income and under our new family income arrangements, particularly in regional areas where
people tend to earn less money, people are very likely to come within the new arrangement. So much
of the message received and, indeed, I think it was Amy who was on the screen, much of the message
received assuming that people aren't going to get a benefit is actually not true. More people
getting more money than ever before.


JULIA GILLARD: And more scholarships. 28 times the number of scholarships. No lucky dip for
scholarships. Every student who gets Youth Allowance will be a scholarship payment too.

TONY JONES: Ok, I've notice a couple of querulous faces on the panel. Let's hear from Sara first.

SARA HAGHDOOSTI: Well, first of all the good things. It's true that some of the things you have
said are really great. The fact that the new changes will benefit financially disadvantaged
students a lot more and that's fantastic and I want to congratulate the government on doing that.
But by abolishing the independence test, that's going to take thousands of young students out of
getting - out of the range of getting Youth Allowance and I know they've increased the income to be
about 100,000 but, even if your parents are paying 100,000, if you're coming from a regional or
rural community and you have to move to somewhere like Sydney, pay, at the very minimum, $200 a
week rent for a house, $100 a week for food and other stuff, that's about over 10 grand that your
parents just have to have lying around in their savings to give to you spare and most rural
students don't have that and it's a huge problem. And the other thing is, by taking away the
independence test, it means that a whole bunch of university students are now going to have to work
double shifts just to make ends meet and that's going to completely destroy any campus life we have
because everyone will go straight from class right to work and what really angers me about this is
the people who are pushing through these changes had a free university education, got the best deal
in terms of campus life and are now making life even more difficult for students who are already
financially struggling.

TONY JONES: I want to hear - just get a range - brief answer from you, Mitch.

MITCHELL GRADY: Well, I was absolutely flabbergasted that Julia has seen an inequality and decided
to try and solve it by creating another inequality in a different spot. I mean, if that's true - I
agree it's outrageous that kids are living at home with parents that earn $300,000 and getting
Youth Allowance. I've never gotten Youth Allowance, and that's fine. If you want to close that
loophole, I'll support that. But you don't close that loophole - fix that and create another
problem where, you know, we're meant to live in a society with equality of opportunity. If you want
to go to university - not every is meant to go to university. Not everyone wants to go to
university. But if you want to, you should have the opportunity and the ability to do so and this
change categorically means that there are a whole generation of people that live away from capital
cities, away from universities, that simply will not be able to afford to travel and live on campus
and go to the university and from a government that goes on about skills and education...

TONY JONES: Ok, Mitch, I said briefly, so we'll just...

JULIA GILLARD: Can I just - I'm happy to have this debate but we've got to have it against the
facts. We haven't abolished the independence criteria. That's simply not true. What we've said, if
you are going to show you are independent of family income, then that test should be working more
than 30 hours a week over 18 months. So we haven't abolished the independence test at all. On the
question of what's good for regional students, the current system, which is apparently being held
up as some nirvana, if you actually look at the current system, under it the number of kids from
regional and remote locations participating in universities went down. The percentage went down.
It's not working.


JULIA GILLARD: We can do better.

TONY JONES: All right.

JULIA GILLARD: This system...

TONY JONES: We've got some...

JULIA GILLARD: fairer on family income. A relocation scholarship for everyone who needs to
move. That isn't true of the current system now. A relocation scholarship for everyone who needs to
move. A student start up scholarship for everyone, and we're talking about high amounts of money in
those scholarships. We're talking about people being able to keep more of the income they earn
before they lose a dollar of Youth Allowance, so they can actually work less and keep more of it.
So in terms of life on campus, you'll be able to have more life on campus because that working
dollar you'll get to keep more of.

SARA HAGHDOOSTI: Not if you don't qualify at all.

JULIA GILLARD: Yeah, and more people are qualifying. 68,000 more people will qualify, so good news
for them.

TONY JONES: Hold on. Hold on. Hold on. Ok. All right. Malcolm Turnbull is anxious to have a
response here, but can you keep it brief?


TONY JONES: Because we've actually got to move on to other big questions about education, as well
as this one.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Ok. Very briefly, Julia is quite out of touch with what's happening with young
people in regional Australia.

JULIA GILLARD: They're the facts.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: So Julia thought it was funny when I said that. I'm glad you agreed with me.

JULIA GILLARD: No, they're the facts, that's all.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: The facts are that students or young people who were working under the existing
rules to qualify so they could start university in 2010 have been monstrously disadvantaged because
the rug has been pulled out from under their feet and the rules have been changed and we will move
amendments to seek to rectify that. As far as rural and regional students are concerned, there have
been public meetings right around Australia complaining about the injustice to them and for Julia
to say, you know, that this is all the result of people being misinformed, I've never heard
anything - this is sort of let them eat cake, you know, from the Labor Government.

JULIA GILLARD: Let them get information.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Let them get information. That's the problem with you young people, Julia says,
you're just not well informed enough. It's all your fault.

JULIA GILLARD: No, there's been misinformation campaign, a deliberate one.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Ok, well, the misinformation campaign, Julia, has also reached, according to you,
the Education and Training Committee of the Victorian Parliament which, of course, has a chair who
is a Labor member of Parliament, Victoria having a Labor government, and that committee said, "The
committee believes the removal of the main workforce participation route will have a disastrous
effect on young people in rural and regional areas." That is a Labor government's parliamentary
committee. That's their commentary. This change has been unjust. It is going to deprive young
people in rural and regional areas of access to higher education. It's a disgrace and Julia should
get in touch and change it.

TONY JONES: Ok. I'm going to take us broader on the education issue. We've got another question.
It's from Jono Leonard.

JONO LEONARD: Yeah. In regard to the education revolution, should a government be focussing the
$14.7 billion away from infrastructure developments and more towards more productive means, such as
smaller classes and better qualified teachers?

JULIA GILLARD: We're doing that, as well. We're doing that as well in the education revolution. The
Building the Education Revolution is a big capital program because of the global recession
supporting jobs now when we need that job support and building the infrastructure that will matter
for schools for the long term, but we're also investing in better quality teaching. $550 million in
better quality teaching. We're sitting in New South Wales tonight. This state, because of that
money, is going to give better pay to the best teachers to go and teach in disadvantaged school,
something we've always wanted.

TONY JONES: Can I just interrupt there, because to pick up the spirit of the questioner, could you
imagine if you spent $14 billion on better teachers, on more teachers, and lower class sizes?
Wouldn't that actually be a real revolution in teaching?

JULIA GILLARD: But economic stimulus to support jobs is short term. We're not talking about $14
billion every year from now as far as the eye can see, which is what you'd need to do to pay
teachers. You couldn't have $14 billion of teachers one year and then take it down to zero the next
year. The nature of...

TONY JONES: But you just talked about $500 million.

JULIA GILLARD: Well, yeah, and it's all budgeted for all in the forward estimates.

TONY JONES: If you're talking about figures, there are figures and figures.

JULIA GILLARD: Yeah. No, but...

TONY JONES: 14 billion versus 500 millions.

JULIA GILLARD: ...economic stimulus is short term stimulus to support jobs whilst we've got the
global recession and problems with the private sector sustaining employment. That's what that's
about. It's not built into the budget base for the long term. What have we built into the budget
base for the long term? More than half a billion dollars on teacher quality; one and a half billion
dollars to support disadvantaged schools; more money for government primary schools, who were
subject to a historic funding anomaly; more money in literacy and numeracy. Overall, without
Building the Education Revolution, we had already increased radically the amount being spent on
education to address right throughout quality teach, quality curriculum, money to address
disadvantage, money in foundation skills; digital education revolution and so on.

TONY JONES: All right. As you're talking, hands are going up around the audience and I'd like to
hear from some of those people who have got their hands up. Let's see. That gentleman right up the
back there, if we can.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: As you talk about the way you spend the funding is excellent, but how you balance
the sharing of this funding between private school and public school, whereas this sharing is
literally unequal right now?

TONY JONES: Ok. I'm going to take that as a comment, because I want to hear from a few people
around the audience. There's a gentleman down the front here has got his hand up?

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Who is going to pay the debt?

TONY JONES: Ok. Hold that thought. Ok.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Because obviously throwing money around, it's not really going to solve the
problem. You can throw money at whatever you want but obviously someone's got to pay this debt. Who
is that going to be?

TONY JONES: Ok, we've got another question - or comment or question up the back there. I want to
hear from that...

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Is any of this revolution going to go to the education of Aboriginals at all?
Young Aboriginals?

JULIA GILLARD: Yep. Yep. Absolutely.

TONY JONES: And one more down here, just so that we get a range of thought from the audience.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: In regards to your revolution of education, you say that schools that are
performing below average should release academic data, how does the education system highlight
these schools when there is no benchmark that they can be compared against?

TONY JONES: Ok, so that's a whole range of things there. I'll pick up one of them, first of all,
for Linden there, and it was about Aboriginal education. Are you worried, seeing lots of money
being spent on infrastructure, not as much money being spent on teachers and teacher training?

LINDEN BROWNLEY: I think there's plenty of money has been spent but I guess it just comes down to
teachers and schooling programs being more culturally appropriate to Aboriginal people. I mean, our
problems that we have are much more diverse and I think it's very sad that Aboriginals - we live in
this country and most of us - hardly any - Aboriginal people in remote communities and in rural
communities are finding it hard to speak English.

TONY JONES: Yep, fair enough. Ok, Sara, do you want to pick up on some of the points?

SARA HAGHDOOSTI: For me a revolution implies, like, seismic, enormous change. This isn't it, to be
quite frank, and I want to pick up on the point that was brought forward about public and private
school. I went to a public school myself and our teachers were the most amazing, the most dedicated
group of people, but we had really bad resources. We had to share textbooks between three or four
of us and where you're studying English, like, that's not ok. And I think the way we fund schools
in this country really doesn't address that. And for a government that keeps talking about
inequality and trying to close gaps and making sure that everyone gets the same thing, education is
where you do that and our public schools deserve better.


MITCHELL GRADY: Look, the fact is that you can have the best buildings in the world. You can give
every kid a brand new 17 inch MacBook Pro and still have a bad school. I mean it starts and ends
with, really, (a) the curriculum; and (b) having quality teachers to interpret and teach that
curriculum and that's where the majority of our money should be going. You know, I've just three
years ago finished high school. I can tell you how Othello reinforces the male patriarchy in
society, but I can't spell patriarchy and that's the problem with our education system. It's been
hijacked by people hell bent on this post-modernism that invades our curriculum and so, you know,
one example was an assignment a kid did in my school that got absolutely praised by the teacher and
he did a feminist analysis of Rapunzel and he said even the choice of the name Rapunzel - Rapunzel
is a type of lettuce - was symbolic of the oppressive domestication of women. But he spelt
oppressive wrong, but the teacher thought it was fantastic. I mean, we need to start from basics
then build up if we can and instead of throwing money at buildings; instead of giving kids a new
computer, let's pare it back a little bit and go, well, our numeracy rates are lowering. Our
literacy standards are lowering. We're not going to fix that with a new gymnasium. We're going to
fix that with better teachers teaching better curriculum.


MITCHELL GRADY: That's the revolution this country needs.

JULIA GILLARD: And we're doing that. We're doing that.

MITCHELL GRADY: You've got a funny way of doing that, Julia.

JULIA GILLARD: And I'm sorry that under that Howard Liberal Government you were subject to that
post-modern curriculum, but what I can absolutely say to you is our new national curriculum being
delivered by our new National Curriculum Board won't have anything post-modern about it. It will be
about making sure people master the skills they need, including and particularly, the foundational
skills of literacy and numeracy, including things like grammar, that haven't been taught for years.
We believe in that and we're delivering that and we're delivering new, quality teaching because I
believe we should have a system that has great teachers everywhere, but particularly the best of
the best in our disadvantaged schools. And what's the philosophy driving the education revolution?
When you put all of the bits together, this is a nation in which disadvantaged kids get left behind
and I say "To hell with that." We can make a difference to that disadvantage if we focus on it.
That's what the transparency I was asked about is all about - putting disinfectant right through
the system, every school, putting their results up so we can see where the problems are.


JULIA GILLARD: In the modern age not all disadvantage is in the public sector. Predominantly it is
but there are disadvantaged private schools - Catholic and other schools that make it their mission
to teach the most disadvantaged kids in our country. We should be working in partnership with them
and any relentless focus on disadvantage will make a difference for indigenous kids. And the one
thing we've got to say for indigenous Australians is any sense that somehow they can be left behind
and that they can't succeed to the best academic standards has to be forgotten about. They can.
Educationalists like Chris, Sara and indigenous leaders say that and they're right about that, and
we're going to achieve that by driving those standards forward. On the debt, the question of the
debt is what do you want? Do you want more people out of work or do you want the government now
engaged in economic stimulus and supporting jobs? That's what we're doing.

TONY JONES: Ok, very well done, because you answered quite a few questions. Malcolm Turnbull?

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Well, I'd just say that the gentleman in the front here put his finger on it.
This is $14.7 billion largely devoted to building Julia Gillard Memorial Assembly Halls.

JULIA GILLARD: I'm not dead.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: And they're coming to - no, it's a living memorial, don't worry.

JULIA GILLARD: Oh, right. Good.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: They're coming to a playground near you. The truth is that this is part of the
$315 billion of debt the Labor Government is running up. That debt is debt that you will have to
pay off and it will take you many, many years. Tony and I and even the youthful Deputy Prime
Minister will be old, very old people, by the time it's paid off and the fact is we've got to ask
ourselves what are we getting for it? And we are not getting well targeted investment in education.
All of us know that the really great educational experiences depend on great teachers. It doesn't
matter whether the building is a brilliant building or an old building. Unless the teacher is good,
unless the teacher inspires you, is charismatic, is committed, as Mitch says, is teaching a
curriculum that gives you the skills you need, then you're not going to learn and, you know, one of
the great failings in Australia, and this has been something that's been a feature of our education
system for a long time, is among the OECD countries we have the lowest difference, the smallest
difference, between the starting salary of a classroom teacher and the highest salary you can get
as a classroom teacher. So one of the problems that we've got to address, and this was one of our
objectives when we were in government but it's something the unions - that education unions have
been very resistant to, is we've got to be prepared to pay teachers more money for teaching well;
for being great teachers in the classroom.

TONY JONES: Ok. All right. Ok. You're watching Q&A, the live and interactive forum where you get to
ask the questions. Our next question comes from inside tonight's audience once again. This one is
from Shariq Nabi.

SHARIQ NABI: I go to school where we have many refugee students, most of whom have seen or been
subjected to pretty horrific things. I think these people need more support to function in our
society or we risk alienating them, like many of the young Sudanese in Melbourne. What is being
done to help them integrate into our Australian lifestyle?

TONY JONES: Ok. Well, our questioner makes a point about the young Sudanese in Melbourne and it
raises the issue of whether alienation could possibly lead to alleged terrorism. So, Sara

SARA HAGHDOOSTI: That's a fantastic question and a couple of years ago I actually worked with
refugees who were quite traumatised and what we did with them was we taught them how to make
balloon animals, which seems really sort of trivial but then they'd go to hospitals with kids who
are dying, and they'd make balloon animals and the amount of compassion you saw exchanged in those
groups was absolutely amazing. And this is where I think Julia Gillard can really learn something
from young people is it's young people that come up with these initiatives. It's marginalised young
people who know what other marginalised young people are going through and who create amazing
programs that really bring out those links that we can draw out in our communities and the camp I
was a part of was one of those examples and I'd like to see programs like that being funded. I'm
tired of young people being bought to the table and not listened to because we not only have a lot
to say, we have a lot of experience. We are at the forefront of innovation where it comes to social
entrepreneurship and it's time this government took our voices a lot more seriously.

TONY JONES: Mitch Grady.

MITCHELL GRADY: Well, I think, you know, on the question, one of the big reasons that a lot of
refugee students - and I'm particularly talking about refugee students here - have trouble
integrating is because when they first get here, there's a big barrier between them and Australian
society and that's usually a razor wire fence, and that's the first problem. The fact that in the
21st century a developed country like Australia we support a policy, and it's got fairly universal
support amongst the political parties in Australia, that unilaterally locks people up who have not
committed a crime - because it's not a crime to seek asylum in a country like Australia - it's
inhumane and it's absolutely disastrous and you don't recover from that. When you've fled
prosecution in your country and witnessed terrible things and you come to Australia and the first
thing that happens to you is you're detained in an inhumane detention centre, you know, obviously
I've never been there but it must be hard to integrate once you're released and that is a real
crime in this country that we do that for an indefinite period of time particularly.

TONY JONES: Julia Gillard, getting back to the original question we have a questioner who sees
racism in the school that he's in, who is wondering whether the connection can be made between that
and what we've seen happen in Melbourne and not only once in Melbourne...

MALCOLM TURNBULL: But that's not what - what the question he asked was: "What are the programs for
refugee students in Melbourne from the Sudan," correct? That was your question and I think Julia
should be able to answer that as the Minister for Education.

JULIA GILLARD: And I'm happy to...

TONY JONES: Well, it looks like that other job is working quite well for you, Mr Turnbull.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Well, I mean, you're putting a question to - he didn't say anything about
terrorism. He wants to know what programs are available.


MALCOLM TURNBULL: Look, he's nodding his head.

TONY JONES: All right.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Well, there you go.

JULIA GILLARD: Well, I can actually try and answer part of your question, not really in my capacity
as Minister for Education but in my capacity as a Melbourne member of parliament, because the
electorate I cover is home to a growing Sudanese population and, indeed, one of the violent
incidents that came to public attention in 2007 involving a young Sudanese man actually happened in
part of my electorate. And the local schools there, in a variety of ways, have responded. Now,
these are the kind of programs - and I absolutely agree with you here - these aren't the kind of
programs that you can sit in Canberra and, you know, churn out, you know, the sheet that says, "You
will do this and you will do that." These are the kind of programs that best grow organically in
communities and in schools as people find their way working in a partnership together and I see
that in the local schools in my electorate. It's often led by Sudanese community leaders working in
partnership with teachers and, when you see it working, it's powerful. Are there things we should
do better to share what happens in one school with another school so people can get a feel for the
kind of programs that are working - the kind of thing you've seen working - I think that there's an
idea there, absolutely, that there probably needs to be better mechanisms for sharing some of those
things that work.

TONY JONES: Malcolm Turnbull?

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Well, I didn't sort of really follow what - I mean I'm sure it was very well
intentioned, but it wasn't very precise. I'd really like to talk to the young gentleman there about
his experience in his school and learn more about it. If I could make one practical suggestion
which I've seen in schools in my own area, where you do have a large group of students from one
country or one part of the world - you know, they might be Russian, for example - it's one really
good thing is to have a Russian language program or it could be a language program from the refugee
group in your school that all of the children get invited to participate in so that there is a sort
of a sharing of the cultural experiences from both groups, because I think one of the great - I
think our greatest strength as a nation is our diversity and I think our cultural curiosity is
enormously important and so what we should be encouraging is not just saying to refugees or
immigrants generally, "You have got to become part of - you've got to sort of learn the way we do
things." We should be reaching out and learning more about your culture, because the truth is our
diversity and the fact that we have so many cultural backgrounds is one of our greatest strengths.
I mean in this city in Sydney, where we're sitting today, a third of the people in this city were
not born in Australia. We are truly a richly diverse multicultural nation and I think that's a
great strength that we should employ to work with the young men and women - young students you're
talking about.

TONY JONES: And apologies for mishearing your question there or misinterpreting it anyway. That is
all we have time for tonight, though we've got lots of people with their hands up in the audience.
We'll have to do this again, because I know that we got at least three times as many questions as
we could possibly ask here and all of them were very good. So please thank our panellists: Mitchell
Grady; Linden Brownley; Julia Gillard; Malcolm Turnbull; and Sara Haghdoosti. And while you're
applauding you can give yourselves a huge round of applause, too, for being a fantastic audience.
Thank you very much.

Ok. All right. Well, next week as parliament sits to consider climate change, join us with the ACTU
leader Sharan Burrow; columnist Piers Akerman; climate change activist Indira Naidoo; Shadow
Education Minister Chris Pyne and Small Business Minister Craig Emerson.

And you can go to our website to read more about our panellists and to upload your questions, mash
ups or make a video address to the nation, as some people have already done. We'll leave you
tonight with a video manga fantasy by Chris Voigt. It's called Parliamentary Death Match. Good

Julia Gillard

Will Julia Gillard be Australia's first female Prime Minister? An MP for just over ten years, Julia
has already risen further than any other female in the Federal Parliament, being the first to hold
the position of Deputy PM and the first to be Acting PM.

Julia was born in Wales in 1961 and her family migrated to Adelaide in 1966. She attended Unley
High School and the universities of Adelaide and Melbourne, graduating with degrees in Arts and
Law. In 1987 she joined the law firm Slater and Gordon, becoming a partner in 1990, and from 1996
was chief of staff for Victorian Opposition Leader (now Premier) John Brumby.

Julia entered Parliament in 1998 in the seat of Lalor on Melbourne's western outskirts. She went
into shadow cabinet following Labor's 2001 election defeat, holding the frontline portfolios of
immigration and health and rapidly proving to be one of the ALP's most effective operators in both
politics and policy. In December 2006 she formed a cross-factional leadership partnership with
Kevin Rudd to mount a successful challenge against Kim Beazley and his deputy, Jenny Macklin.

When Labor won the 2007 election Julia took on an enormous ministerial workload with the portfolios
of education, employment and workplace relations, and social inclusion. Her chief tasks since the
election have been to replace the former government's unpopular WorkChoices legislation and to
implement Labor's promised Education Revolution.

Julia lives in the western Melbourne suburb of Altona. Her partner is Tim Mathieson, a hairdresser.

Read articles and watch reports about Julia Gillard.

Malcolm Turnbull

Malcolm Turnbull became Leader of the Opposition in dramatic circumstances in September last year
when Brendan Nelson called a surprise leadership contest and lost by four votes. Since then Malcolm
has struggled to overcome disunity within the coalition, especially on the climate change issue,
and has suffered in the opinion polls.

Though frequently described as the richest man in Parliament and regarded by many as having a
privileged background, Malcolm's early years were spent in comparatively humble circumstances. Born
in Sydney in 1954, he grew up in a single-parent household with his father, Bruce, after his
parents separated. They lived in a series of flats, mostly rented, in Sydney's eastern suburbs.

Malcolm attended Vaucluse Public School and, with the aid of a scholarship, Sydney Grammar, to
which in later life he donated a new scholarship program in his father's name to help
underprivileged students. After graduating from Sydney University with an arts-law degree, he won a
Rhodes Scholarship and completed a further degree at Oxford.

During and after his university days Malcolm worked variously for the Bulletin, the London Sunday
Times and Sydney radio and TV stations as a journalist before entering the legal profession in
1980. He achieved international renown when he defended former British spy turned author Peter
Wright against the UK Government in the Spycatcher trial.

He left the law for business in 1987, working as a merchant banker and becoming invo