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Meet The Press -

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(generated from captions) Good afternoon. Coming up at 5:00 -

a church service to remember the

elderly victims of a Sydney nursing

home fire. Police have now

confirmed a sixth resident has died

in hospital. Hundreds turn out to

catch a glimpse the Danish royal

couple in Sydney. New explosive

detection technology to allow

liquids in containers on

international flights. And Darren

Lockyer hangs up the boots with a

win over England.

This program is captioned live.

Hugh ANNOUNCER: Meet the Press, with

Hugh Riminton.

Hello and welcome to Meet the Press.

The Prime Minister meets

Indonesia's President today on the

sidelines of the east Asia summit

in Bali. It is the last of her

summit meetings and presidential

visits for the year, but not for

her brushes with royalty. Ahead

this week - the Danish crown prince,

and his Australian wife Princess

Mary come to town. Also, the last

sittings of parliament, with debate sittings of parliament, with debate

set to be the mining tax.

Tony Abbott sought the sympathy of

the US President. Mr Speaker,

Australia's danger is complacency -

the feeling that the world has no

choice but to buy our minerals so

fiscal new taxes can painlessly fix our

fiscal problems.

But how legitimate was it to inject

politics into a welcome speech?

Tony Abbott can't ever have a

higher plane. higher speech which is elevated to a

The Prime Minister is framing her

agenda for the ALP conference. She

wants a conscience vote on same-sex

marriage and the resumption of

uranium sales to India - news to

her Foreign Minister.

The truthful answer to your

question is no, I was not consulted.

Final talks today in the Qantas

dispute - the 21-day deadline for

negotiations expires tomorrow.

alliance. But no expiry date on the US

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Oi, oi, oi!

President Obama's speech to

parliament spelled out a forceful

new intent in the Asia-Pacific

involving every element of American

power. We've struck major blows

Our enduring interests in the

region demand our enduring presence

in the region. The United States is

a Pacific power, and we are here stay. a Pacific power, and we are here to

On our soil in the coming years -

thousands of US marines, plus B-52

bombers, fighter planes, and more

American warships and submarines.

Pacific. This is the century of the Asia-

Defence minister Stephen Smith is our guest. our

And later - the final arm-wrestle

over the mining tax - Simon

Bennison from AMEC, the association

- joins us. of mining and exploration companies

First, Lachlan Kennedy has what's

making news this Sunday, number 20.

Thanks, Hugh. Here are the mage

stories this morning: The last of Muammar Gaddafi's

fugitive sons has been arrested.

Saif al-Islam was found in southern

Libya. He's wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity.

Three elderly residents remain in a

serious condition after a deadly

nursing-home fire that killed five

people. News Limited reports a male

nurse charged over the blaze in

Sydney's west was interviewed by

matter. police the night before on another

The Prime Minister will hold talks

with Indonesian President Susilo

Bambang Yudhoyono today. There are

several hot topics, including

miners in detention, -- minors in

detention, people-smuggling, and

live cattle exports.

Leaked ALP research reportedly

shows most people support the

tax. Government's mining resources rend

And a walk

I think we have to be very careful

to divorce commentary from official

responses from China. If you look

at the official spokesperson from

the Chinese ministry of foreign

affairs, that response was frankly

quite measured. China, for a long

time, has said that it doesn't

believe there should be military

alliances, but it understands that

Australia has a military alliance

with the United States. So my own

judgement is that the response -

official response from China - has

frankly been a measured one. It

hasn't been over the top. And so

far as Australia is concerned, we

continue to make the point publicly

and privately to China that there's

no inconsistency between a military

alliance through our ANZUS alliance

with the United States and a comprehensive bilateral

relationship with China, which also

includes military-to-military and

defence-to-defence contacts and

arrangements. But as a former

foreign minister you understand

quite clearly the way that China

works - their official line may

well be measured, but they express

how they're feeling through those

organs of the state like the

people's daily and the Shinwa News

Agency. They never do anything that

isn't signed off, essentially, that

top level. To take you back to it,

what do you think they mean when

they're warning Australia that we

could potentially be caught in the

crossfire? Well, to take up your

point, it's really what they say at

the top level. It's really not a

matter for me to go into exhaustive

detail - the Prime Minister will do

that if she so chooses. But it is

the case that, overnight in Bali,

the Prime Minister met with Premier

Wen. I'm told they had a cordial

and forward-looking conversation,

and that it was a conversation

conducted, as you would always

expect between Australia and China,

with mutual respect. Again, if you

go to the highest levels and

official response, my own judgement

is that the response from China has

been a moderate and an appropriate

one, and there are plenty of

commentary - there's plenty of

commentary around in Australian

media. There's plenty of commentary

around in Chinese media. The wink

we need to understand very

carefully what we've done here -

which is a continuation of training

and exercises that we do with the

United States. It has been a force

of prosperity in the Asia-Pacific

region for us. Can you confirm that

the new strategic arrangements with

the United States were even discussed between the Prime

Minister and Premier Wen last

night? I'll be careful in what I

say - it's a matter for the Prime

Minister. My understanding was that,

yes, the Prime Minister raised that

issue with Premier Wen. And made

the sorts of comments that you've

seen her make publicly, which of

course you would anticipate. But

the tone of the meeting, I'm told,

was cordial, was forward-looking,

and constructive. And that is both

to be expected, but also a very

good thing. I have spoken in the

past to many Chinese interlockers,

and I've always made the point,

there's no inconsistency with our

United States alliance with a

growing and comprehensive

relationship with China. And again,

we have, in the last 12 months or

so, conducted, for example, live

firing exercises with China. So,

just as it's important to have a

comprehensive relationship with

China, so we say both to the United

States and China, it's important

that they have a positive and

productive relationship, including

a relationship which encompasses

military-to-military and defence-

to-defence contacts. If I can take

you to something that the Greens'

leader, Bob Brown said - he

believes Australia deserves a

proper debate, not a fait accompli.

I'll play you a grab of his

comments in recent days.

The question is, "Is Australia's

future interests exactly the same

as the US?" And I would contend they're they're not.

There is an issue here, isn't it?

We go to war without a

parliamentary debate about it. We

have now signed up to a strategic

shift with the United States

without a parliamentary debate

about it. At what stage is there

going to be a genuine opportunity

for the people's house to get

through these important issues?

Well, firstly, I don't agree with

that characterisation. In the first

instance, since the Australian

Federation commenced, it's been a

matter for the executive, for the

Government of the day, to make a

judgement about whether Australian

troops are committed overseas in a

conflict. That's been the case for

time in memorial, and my own

judgement is that is how it should

continue. Of course, parliaments

and people will make their

judgements about the wisdom of such

an exercise. But I strongly

disagree with the Greens' view that

a judgement about whether Australia

should engage in a conflict is made

by the government of the day or the

parliament of the day. Secondly,

the Greens' position is that they

would not have an alliance with the

United States. And again, we have a

very strong disagreement there. So

everything that Bob Brown says

about this matter is predicated

from the starting point that the

Greens would not have an alliance

with the United States. And so far

as a -- in so far as a conversation

about this is concerned, the Australian Government, since it

came to office in December 2007,

has been arguing strongly that the

United States not only needs to

remain engaged in the Asia-Pacific,

it should enhance that engagement.

We've been instrumental in

successfully seeing an expanded

East Asia Summit where Russia and

the United States now attend, and

we're seeing that for the first

time today - that's very important.

And secondly, we've also seen the

United States indicate, through

President Obama's Canberra speech

last week, that it intends to

enhance its engagement in a

practical way, but as a force for

peace and security and prosperity,

not for concern or constkpwhrict.

We'll take a break and return with

the panel. The Aussie export of the

week, apparently, was Australian English.

Ied to the Australian Prime

Minister and said "Thank you very

much, Julia, for allowing us to

have this meeting in Australia."

And she said, "- I can't quite do

the accent but I'll try. "Not a bit,

David. This is good news for sheilas everywhere." (LAUGHTER)

I hope that you have a safe return

home to your cheese and kisses -

that is the missus, the wife. (LAUGHTER)

And to the billy lids - the kids, your children. (LAUGHTER)

Vodafone Prepaid gives you a massive $450 Flexible Credit on the new Prepaid $30 Cap so you can play more this summer

without blowing your budget.

Welcome back. You're on Meet the

Press. Our guest is the defence

minister, Stephen Smith. Welcome

now to our panel, Sabra Lane from

ABC radio, and Matt Wade from the

'Sydney Morning Herald'. Good morning.

Kevin Rudd's declaration that he

was not consulted on the Prime

Minister's backflip on uranium

sales to India even though he was

headed to India at the time was a

free kick for the Opposition.

Plainly, Kevin Rudd and Julia

Gillard don't talk to each other.

They don't like each other. Minister, when

Minister, when Kevin Rudd became

the Foreign Minister, you said that

there shouldn't be a shred of

daylight between the Prime Minister

and the Foreign Minister. What does

it say about Julia Gillard and

Kevin Rudd's relationship that she

kept him totally in the dark on her

policy reversal, and she now wants

to endorse uranium sales to India?

Well, a couple of points. Firstly,

there's one of two ways that a

Prime Minister can do this. A Prime

Minister can take a change of Labor

Party policy to a Cabinet and say,

"We should resolve, as a Cabinet,

that this is the approach we want

to take to a national conference ,"

bind the Cabinet, then go with the

decision already made. Or you can

do what the Prime Minister, in my

view, has correctly done, which is

say, "I think this is an important

change for Australia, an important

change in our national interest and

strategically," announce that, and

move forward. It's not the case move forward. It's not the case

that the Foreign Minister had no

notice. Just as my office was

advised the night before, so he

received some advice that the Prime

Minister was proposing to start the

day with those opinion pieces. So I

don't regard that as a big point.

The key point about crack of light

is not a crack of light on policy.

And the Prime Minister, the Foreign

Minister, the resources minister

and I all very strongly support the

change of approach, because change of approach, because it's in

our national interest and it's very

important strategically, as India

emerges as a rising power in the

course of this century. The Labor

left is meeting today to discuss

policy. Particularly looking at

this U-turn on uranium. It says

that Australia - that India

shouldn't be given uranium, that it

hasn't signed the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty, and that it's

irresponsible to give them uranium

when they're in constant conflict

with another country that is also

nuclear-armed. They've got a point,

haven't they? Well, there's no

evidence whatsoever over the years

that India has, in any way,

proliferated so far as uranium or

nuclear materials or nuclear

expertise is concerned. On the

contrary, they have guarded that

very jealously. The changed

circumstances here occurred when,

in 2008-2009, the atomic energy

agency, international atomic energy

agency, and the nuclear supplies

group authorised the India-United

States civil nuclear arrangement.

That brought India, for the first

time, under the international

nuclear regulators. It effectively

ensured that India would, in a de

facto sense, comply with the

general arrangements we find under

the Nuclear Non-Proliferation

Treaty. India has always made it

clear it wouldn't sign that treaty.

This is the best way of bringing India under international

regulation, and Australia's

attitude is now - or should be,

after the national conference -

that if India signs up a separate

standard bilateral arrangement with

Australia on nuclear safeguards,

then there's no reason why we

shouldn't export uranium to India.

If we can export uranium to China

and Russia, we can export uranium

to the largest democracy in the

world where there is no evidence

whatsoever of proliferation of

nuclear materials. Mr Smith,

Australia has been at the centre of

a very stormy week in the region,

and it ended with reports that

Australia and the US had discussed

military bases in the Indian Ocean

- a joint military base in the

Indian Ocean. Can you rule out that,

in future, Australia and the US

will have bases in the Indian

Ocean? Well, that discussion has

not occurred. We have three levels

of arrangement or engagement with

the United States. We have our

joint fu silts. We don't have bases.

We have joint facilities and Pine

Gap is a classic illustration.

Secondly, we have joint training,

and thirdly, we have joint

exercises. The training and

exercises occur under the umbrella

of a status of the forces agreement

entered into in 1963. That's the

basis under which the marines will rotate through the Northern

Territory. I made if clear during

the weak that there were three

levels of engagement so far as the

global force posture review is

concerned. The marine rotation

through the Northern Territory,

greater utilisation of Air Force

bases in northern Australia for US

planes, and in the longer term, the

prospect of enhanced ship visits

and submarine visits through the

Indian Ocean rim through HMAS

'Sterling' in Western Australia.

That's where that comment has been

misunderstood. So you're ruling out

any future joint operations or

military establishments in Cocos

Islands? Well, we don't have United

States military bases on Australian

territory. That's the first thing.

Secondly, we have joint exercises

and joint training. And we

certainly have naval vessels coming

to HMAS 'Sterling' on a regular

basis. Now, down the track in the

future, there may well be some

possibility or prospect of greater

utilisation of Cocos island. But

that's well down the track. Indeed,

there would be a requirement for

substantial infrastructure changes

to be made for air or naval - for

further air or nafbl engagement

through Cocos Islands. I regard --

naval engagement through Cocos

Islands. In the first instance, our

Indian Ocean arrangement will be,

in my view, greater naval access to

our premier Indian Ocean naval base

- Sterling base in Western

Australia. The Government will

update its budget figures in coming

weeks. Can you affect it won't

affect troops on the front line?

We've got two things coming up

which are challenges fiscally and

financially for the Government.

Firstly, my EFO, which the

Treasurer will present in the

period between now and the end of

the year. And secondly, we've got

next year's budget. I've made it

clear, in a paper to the Defence

leadership group on Friday, that so

far as the budget is concerned,

because we want to meet our overall

economic priority of returning to

surplus, Defence may again be

called on to make a contribution to

that. One thing you can be

absolutely assured of - nothing we

do on the financial front will

adversely impact on our operations

or force protection in Afghanistan,

or indeed in East Timor or the

Solomon Islands. Minister Stephen

Smith, your voice held up, which

after the last week is good news.

Thank you very much for being with

us today. Thanks, Hugh. Thanks very

much. Peter Nicholson thin

'Australian' took as his subject

this week uranium sales to India:

"Don't be alarmed if there's a

small nuclear explosion in Canberra." (EXPLOSION)

This is Meet the Press. The

Independents will decide the fate

of the mining tax, which is being

debated again this week in

parliament. We're joined now from

Perth by Simon Bennison, from AMEC,

the body that represents so-called

miners in Australia. Good morning.

Good morning, Hugh. Can I ask you,

at this stage in the final stages

of the MRRT, are you confident that

you will extract, with the help of

the Independents, significant

amendments at the very least to

this tax? Well, we certainly have

been having discussions with them

that we believe has put a very good

case that joifz why -- justifies

why the current thresholds,

particularly in the low profit

offset and also, possibly, with

setting a cap on a benchmark rate,

will at least provide a more level

playing field for the junior miners.

But we've still got some

discussions in regard to this with

the cross bench, and we would also

like to convince the Government, as

well as the Opposition, to support

these amendments. Mr Bennison,

there's a lot of small companies in

Australia who would look at your

claim to lift the threshold to

something like $500 million before

this tax applies as quite

extraordinary. Don't you think that

seems greedy to other small

businesses in Australia? Well, I

think there's a bit of a

misunderstanding about the $500

million level. It really was our

intention, and still is, to look at

around a $10 million -- 10 million

ton per annum threshold. On current

prices, when the price of iron ore

is around $160 at port, and the

cost of production of around $110,

you've got about a $50 margin,

which translates out to about $500

million. But if you look at where

prices might go, and that's coming

back a fair degree, once the margin

slips back to, you know, $20 or $30,

that proportionately drops the

level down to about $200 million or

thereabouts. So this threshold is

really fixed to a tonnage rather

than a dollar value. And that way,

it enables the companies to manage

it on a profit basis, and as I just

stated, that is going to fluctuate

quite considerably. We're at the

top of a cycle now, and there is no

question that the cycle will turn,

therefore that margin will drop considerably, as will that dollar

level. The polls are very much

against you on this issue. Doesn't

it mean that your message isn't

getting out, and doesn't it seem

that you're out of step on this

issue, out of touch? This isn't an

issue we've been trying to get to

the public. It's a very complicated

scenario. And our efforts are obviously in convincing the

Government, the Opposition and the

cross benches about how this

applies. That's where our focus has

been. I think most of them

understand it, and we'll still

continue to work with them through

the week in the context of making sure that they're comfortable with

the fixing of this to a tonnage

rather than a dollar value. Given

that the Labor Party is now

considering lifting its ban on

uranium sales to India, the Greens

are now calling for uranium to be

included in the minerals resources

rent tacts. Do you support that? --

-- minerals resources rent tax. Do

you support that? Definitely not. I

think that's justified. This was a

thax that was obviously contriveed

to look at bulk commodities such as

coal and iron ore. Uranium is a

very different proposition in that

context. China's voiced its displeasure over Australia linking

with the United States to increase

its presence in this region. China

has talked about Australia getting

caught in the crossfire. Many

analysts have taken this from a

military point of view. What about

from a commercial point of view? Do

you worry about that? Look, China

have made it very clear about their concerns commercially in Australia.

I mean, they're in here for a long-

term -- for long-term investments,

but they do get seriously concerned

with ad hoc changes to the

commercial and business environment.

And the introduction of taxes like

this puts at risk that investment.

It's one of our biggest concerns -

that investment attraction to the

junior sector in Australia is just

about at an all-time low. Certainly

there's big dollars being invested

in major oil and gas projects, and

by the BHP and Rio - it's been the

smallest sector. We are seriously

still looking for venture capital.

And China is a major source for a

lot of these iron ore and coal

projects. But what about this

strategy - will it affect your

sales? Has China got the capacity

here to affect sales? Well, it has,

and again, what we don't want to do

is put any of those opportunities

at risk, whether it's China, India

or anybody else for that matter. We

just want to make sure that there

is a level playing field as far as

the pricing of both iron ore and

coal goes, and the tax that's going

to result that'll be payable on it.

At the moment, that is horribly

skewed towards the majors where

they have the benefit of bringing

forward a lot of their capital

assets into their starting base,

which the juniors just don't have.

To be clear about what's going to

happen this week - you have called

for this entire MRRC to be

rescinded. Do you, at this point,

concede that there will be an MRRC

of some form going through, and

your best hope is to take some of

the edges off it? Look, there is no

question that getting the tax

rescinded this week is going to be

a massive challenge. But certainly

if a couple of - two or three small

amendants can be made - these are

not significant amendments. They're

not deal-breakers in the context of

revenue generation for Treasury to

concern themselves with. We're

still asking Treasury to complete

the modelling, financial modelling,

just to confirm that there are no

issues with regards to the revenue

take from the amendments that are

being put forward. Even at 10

million tons, the kaeflz that are

captured in that process --

companies that are captured in that

process are miner to the scheme of

things, and as the Government has

already said, they're out to

capture the majors in the context

of generating this tax revenue,

therefore a change within the

threshold, and also being able to

benchmark companies on a capped

rate. OK - Shouldn't be an issue.

Alright. We're out of time this

morning, but we appreciate you

coming and joining us on the

program, Simon Bennison from AMEC.

Thank you. My pleasure. Thanks a

also to our panel, Sabra Lane and Matt Wade.

A transcript and replay of this

program, as always, will be on our

website, and also on the Facebook

page. Until next week, goodbye.

Supertext captions by Red Bee Media -

This program is captioned live.

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