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Sky News On The Hour 4pm -

View in ParlView

(generated from captions) captioned by Ai-Media This program will be live

Leading this bulletin -

pressure mounts on Craig

Thomson as Health Services

Union refers allegations

against the embattled Labor

MP to police. The debate interrupts Question Time with Opposition Leader Tony Abbott demanding answerers from the

Prime Minister. Coming up

shortly on 'PM Agenda' we

will hear from both sides of politics on this Craig

Thomson affair, just how much

trouble is you had now?

Welcome to news-day for

Wednesday, 24 August. Also

this hour, authorities

recover 4 bodies from the

ruins of a house fire south

of Brisbane, 7 people are

still unaccounted for. And

in sport - not guilty, Benji

Marshall has his assault

weather: charge dismissed. The

This is News Day.

A criminal investigation

into embattled Labor MP Craig

Thomson is now looking more

likely. After his own union

referred the misuse of his

credit card to police. The

union made the decision as

political pressure mounted on

the government over the

issue. Joining us is Sky News

political editor David

Speers. Good

afternoon. Vannessa good

opposition earlier in the afternoon. Of course the

week referred documents to

police which they are looking

into, now the health services

union has decided after a

meeting of its national

executive to refer its own

documents cooperate with any

police investigation. Legal

experts say this now means

that a formal police criminal

investigation is more lakely

and we expect there could be

-- likely and we expect that

could be confirmed as soon as

tomorrow by NSW police. The decision clearly wasn't an

easy one for the union. They

acknowledge this is going to potentially hurt the Labor

Party and potentially even bring down the Gillard

government. But as the now

national secretary of The

Union Jack , pointed out this

afternoon -- Kathy Jackson,

pointed out in announcing

this decision the union

first before that of the members interests must come

Labor Party. It is not just

the executive, union members

in general are concerned any

allegations against a union

official, any member of the

Labor government. We Labor Party is damaging to a

understand that. Our first

priority is to the members of

the Health Services Union not

to members of the Australian

Labor Party. That's an important point here, and it

is a test of just how strong

the bonds are between the

union in this case and the

Labor Party. But whether

Craig Thomson did it or not

here we are talking about

union members funds, the due

they pay, the aged care, hospital workers and the likes. Members of the Health

Services Union being used for

things like prostitute, fancy

dinner, flights and cash with

of withdrawal, clearly the

union must be seen to be

doing all it can to get to

the bottom of it. Tony

Abbott went straight on the

attack in Parliament? He

did. In fact this morning the

opposition soos Parliament

began sitting demanded that

Craig Thomson give a full

explanation of this whole

affair. He refused to do so

of course. He denies misusing

his credit card. The

Opposition had the numbers

but not enough numbers. You

need what's called an

absolute majority in

Parliament for this sort of

motion. 76 votes an the

Coalition were never going to

get that but in Question Time

in afternoon Tony Abbott

shifted the focus to the

Prime Minister. For more than

a week this Prime Minister

has been asserting that the

member for Dobell has her

full confidence. On no fewer

than eight separate occasions

she has done so. And Mr Speaker, Standing Orders must

be suspended for the Prime

Minister to explain because

if this Prime Minister has

full confidence in the member

for Dobell given the issues

that the member for Dobell

needs to address it is very,

very difficult for the

Australian people to have

full confidence in her. Tony

Abbott tried to suspend

Standing Orders after just one question in Question Time

this afternoon, to demand the

Prime Minister give a full

account of this issue as well

and what she knew of the

Labor Party paying for Craig

Thomson's legal bills. Julia

Gillard didn't answer that

motion and Anthony Albanese,

the Leader of the House did,

but the argument from the

government is that the

Opposition is merely pursuing this for political reasons.

We did as I say hear one

question and answer in

Question Time. That was from

Tony Abbott to the Prime

Minister where she did

indicate she stands by the

expression of confidence she

has given over the past week

in Craig Thomson. I have

made many statements about

that in this House and I stand by every one of them.

But what I'm not going to

stand for Mr Speaker is the

Leader of the Opposition in

his question verbaling and

presuming the motivations of

the member for Dobell. Now beyond that Julia Gillard was

not willing to give any

further explanation to

Parliament. What she knew and when the Labor Party bailing

out those legal bills for

Craig Thomson. This political

pressure will continue on the

backbencher, the embattled

Labor MP, no doubt with

Parliament again sitting

tomorrow for the final time,

final day this week. Extraordinary scenes

today. Thank. The quelled

Premier has visited the site

of a tragic house fire in

Brisbane's south where 11

people including 7 children

were killed. The fire

started just after midnight

and by morning hundreds of

family and friend has

gathered outside the inturan

home. Heart breaking scenes a

tragedy beyond all

proportions a quiet suburban

street now a haunting

reminder of a tragic bleez of

unimaginable scale at the blaze. It is a tragedy on

moment and really just trying

to come to term with what's

actually happened. Neighbours

phoned firefighters just

after midnight. They arrived within minutes but the blaze had already engulfed the

home. Saw a house on fire. I knew it was something serious. Because I knew there

was lots people that lived in

there. It sort of is really

sad. It is very sad. Yep. 14

people were asleep inside the

house, three people escaped

the fire but 11 didn't. It is

believed 7 children are among

the dead. The youngest just

three years old, the eldest,

17. I have spoken to one man

this morning who's wife and

five children are unaccounted

for. I don't think anybody

can imagine the pain that that would involve. Firefighters are

receiving counselling, after

a horror night. The fire is

still under investigation. We have investigators from

Queensland Police and Queensland Fire Service

investigating the cause at

this stage it is still un determined. It's the worst

fire in Queensland since the Childers backpackers blaze 11

years ago. I think on behalf

of all Queenslanders and all

Australians we send our

condolences and our heartfelt

sorrows to these families and

this community today. The emotion expressed by the grieves friends and family of the relatives has been

extraordinary. They pray and

they sing as a grim reality

sinks in. They stayed all morning, huddled together

drawing on each other 's

support, remembering the

victims new immigrants from

the Pacific Islands who had

hoped for a better life.

Scenes of jubilation have

continued well into the night

in the heart of the Libyan

capital as rebels celebrate

what they are calling all but

the end of their six month

battle for control of the country. Rebel leaders say

the transition to a new

government will begin

immediate ly after forces

took control of Colonel

Gaddafi's compound in the

centre of Tripoli following a

day of heavy fighting around

the capital. But, in a radio

address Gaddafi has called

his withdrawal from the

palace a tactical move and

has vowed to fight against

any further aggression.

In a long day of fighting

and dying the rebels were throwing everything they had.

To find Gaddafi and take his stronghold in the heart

of Tripoli. And after hours

of fighting, the doors came

tumbling down. This is

the moment the rebels have

been waiting for. They have

breached the walls, there's

heavy fighting back there,

they are now in Gaddafi's

compound. Resistance was

slim and the rebels fire power overwhelming. The

people is dying,:

Dead people and many

guns? Yeah. A prize that

came with prizes of its own.

Ing in that could be

carried, hundreds of weapons,

a baby carriage for twins.

And this lucky man found a

signature hat that the world

has often seen on the dictate

of's head. -- -- dictator's

head. I am in his room, oh,

my God, but this thing

happened. I found this and I

was like Oh my goodness. But

the big prize eluded them.

The tyrant himself nowhere to

be found. We don't find him:

Only the rare elite have

even seen the inside of the

sprawling compound. So big

that Gaddafi once shut off

his golf cart. A symbol of power and wealth but became a

different kind of symbol

today of hatred. The end of a

more than 40 year rein of

terror where his enemies disappear into the night.

From now on we will have a

new Libya. We will have a new

Libya. For obvious reasons

the feeling here is pandemonium and celebration.

Raising the rebel flag, proof

that they have taken the stronghold, right in front of

the window where Muammar

Gaddafi stood in defiance and

said he would never be

removed from office. Now

this is what's left of Gaddafi's stronghold.

Tonight they celebrate the

sweet taste of victory. Now

comes the question of if the

war in all the bloodshed on

both sides will buy a new day

for a people who have waited

generations to be free. To

sport now and relief for West

Tigers star Benji Marshall

who has been found not guilty

of a assault charge in a

Sydney court. It had been

alleged that he punched a man

after reacting to verbal

taunts in the early hours of

5 March outside a Sydney fast

food restaurant. He denied punching the man but had

claimed he had been racially

a abused. Less than two days

into the hearing he cleared

the court of assaultcationing

twarm. I am -- -- It gives me

a chance to concentrate on

finishing the season, I like

to thank the legal team. The

Wests Tigers for the support,

the players that the coach

wouldn't let come and sit in

court. My friends and family

and I'm looking forward to

getting on with it and like I

said, very pleased with the

outcome and let's play rugby

league. He had earlier been

supported by swimming legend

and Tigers director Dawn

Fraser who gave Marshall a

character reference. A kwk

like at tomorrow's forecast.

-- a quick look at tomorrow

's forecast: 'PM Agenda' is

just moments away. Thank

you, coming up after the

break on 'PM Agenda' of course we will be looking at

the latest in the Craig

Thomson affair. We will be

joined by the government's

leader of of the house

Anthony Albanese on that and

also the tough new pairing

rules that Coalition has

enforced from today, denying

MPs leave from Parliament. Stay with us.

This program will be live captioned by Ai-Media

Good after noon welcome to

the program. The chances of embattled Labor MP Craig

Thomson facing a criminal investigation increased today

when his own union decided to

refer the matter to police.

In particular how its

member's own fee fees were

misused for prostitutes,

fancy restaurants and large

Cath withdrawals, the

Opposition has referred a

number of documents to NSW

police, this decision by the

Health Services Union to also

cooperate with any police investigation does according

to legal experts mean an investigation is now quite

likely. The union of course

had little choice when it

comes to the misuse of its

own member's fees it has to

be seen to be doing all it can to get to the bottom of

it. An announcement could be

made by NSW police as early

as tomorrow. It was the Health Services Union's national secretary Kathy

Jackson holding the position

Craig Thomson used to hold

who made the announcement

this afternoon saying while

this will put more pressure

on Labor and the Gillard

government, she had to put her union members first.

Although we continue to

believe that Fair Work

Australia is an appropriate investigatory body we will

continue to fully cooperate

with this investigation, we

recognise that the NSW police

are currently assessing

whether criminal offences may

have occurred. In these

circumstances and based on

the new material that has come to light in recent

weeks, and to remove any

suggested impediment of the

investigation of the NSW

police, the national

executives has today resolved

to refer the matter to the

NSW police and cooperating with any subsequent

investigation. Craig

Thomson of course denies

allegations, that he did

anything wrong. In Parliament

this morning the opposition

moved to demand he give a

full explanation about this whole affair. He refused to

do so and while the Coalition

had a couple of

cross-benchers vote with it

it didn't have what is called absolute majority required

for those sorts of motions,

76 votes on the floor of the House. This afternoon Tony Abbott shifted the focus to

the Prime Minister. For more

than a week this Prime

Minister has been asserting

that the member for Dobell

has her full confidence. On

no fewer than eight separate

occasions she has done so.

And Mr Speaker, Standing

Orders must be suspended for

the Prime Minister to explain

because if this Prime

Minister has full confidence

in the member for Dobell,

given the issues that the

member for Dobell needs to

address it is very, very

difficult for the Australian

people to have full

confidence in her. The Prime Minister didn't respond to

that motion, and brought

Question Time to an abrupt

end. The leader of the House

for the government, Anthony

Albanese did respond to that

motion. He joins me now.

Minister thanks for your time. Craig Thomson's own

union has referred to matter

and what documents they have

to police. Can you understand why they have done

that? Look, they have to look

after what they perceive as

their interest. So it is of

no surprise where you have

allegations and denials, the

police are an appropriate

investigative authority,

that's why we have a police

and a judiciary to examine

the voracity of what are --

-- veracity of what are

claims and counterclaims. Kathy Jackson

the head of the union says

there are no way the national

executive will ever authorise

union funds to be used by prostitution and some other thing, the cash advances.

Which is why they are so

concerned about this. Craig

Thomson has said on the

record that he authorised

those payments. How much does

that concern you? David, as

you have just said, Kathy

Jackson and the HSU have

referred this to the police,

there is likely to be a

police investigation. What's

appropriate is that

politicians not speculate on

the facts. What's prop -- appropriate is that the

police have a proper

investigation and that these thing also take their

course. But The government

and the Prime Minister has expressed full confidence in

Craig Thomson. Absolutely. What's

she done to establish that

confidence? Because it is

absolutely the case that here

in Australia we have a rule

of law and that people are

innocent until allegations

against them are proven. That

is entirely appropriate.

That's entirely consistent

with things that have happen

happened in the past. We have

seen a lot of hypocrisy from Tony Abbott and the

opposition. There was barely

a day of their 12 years in

office in which they didn't

have a senior member, a

minister or someone else under investigation about

certain allegations. I am not

sure if that went to misusing

the credit card for

prostitutes. We saw nine

ministers and Parliamentary secretaries go from office. For travel entitlements and the like. No, for a whole range

of issues and indeed we had

issues such action print-gate

where three members of the

then government were investigated about

allegations and misuse of

taxpayers funds. But getting

back to Craig Thomson... What

happened there was that Tony

Abbott and George Brandis and

John Howard all declared very

clearly that it was important

that those due processes take

their course. But it is Julia

Gillard who has now declared

full confidence, repeatedly

and repeated again today in

Craig Thomson. What has she done to establish that

confidence? It is entirely

appropriate under our system

that people are innocent

until proven otherwise. But

he's a guy who has authorised

payments of union funds for

prostitutes and cash

advances. With due respect

David, the facts haven't been ascertained... This is what's he has admitted on the record. The facts haven't been ascertained... This is

the fact he has admitted he

authorised the payment of

union funds for escort agency services, for other matters

that are on the public

record. That's a fact. Well,

with due respect to you

David, and your forensic

capacities ... I can read a transcript. For your forensic

capacities the ideas that the

fact in this matter are

known, are just dozens it

just not the case. Are you

disputing the fact that Craig

Thomson has admitted

authorising these payments? I

am not commenting on the

facts of something that is now under police

investigation and nor should,

nor should any politician.

The fact is that there are charges against one politician and it is not

Craig Thomson. There are

serious charges there. The

Australian public and you

didn't even know about it.

Charges were laid in May. It

was only made public in July,

that person maintains a

position as chair of a Senate

committee. So that they are

hanging on to that salary.

And we made no comment about

these matters David, as you

full well know. We made no

comment. But you are now. We

absolutely point out the

hypocrisy here of charges

being laid against one member

of Parliament, the opposition

say ing don't worry about

that. Look over here. Would

you therefore welcome a

police investigation? That is

up to the police to determine whether they should

investigate or not. And I

welcome - it's really

important David, we could go

down a really slippery slope

here - what is really

important is that politicians

not give advice to the police

or to the judiciary no about

what may be the appropriate

action. But someone... It's

highly inappropriate for that

to happen. But for the

government this is causing a

lot of political pain. Would

you welcome this being

cleared up one way or the other with a proper police investigation? That is up to

the police, I welcome

whatever the police decide

should happen. What I think

is really important is we

don't go down the road, which we have seen with the motions

that were moved on the floor

of the Parliament today, very

dangerous motions, purporting

to essentially pre-empt any

investigation. Well if he is charged will he still

continue as a member of the

Labor Party? Look I'm not

going to speculate on

hypotheticals. What's important... Would he

continue as a member until

there is an actual hearing

and a conviction? Due process

will take its course. I'm not

going to speculate on what

might be found or what might

not be found. What's the precedence for this. If a

member is charged do they

stay as a member of a party

or do they sit as a cross

percher? There ask a --

crossbencher There is a

range of people who have been charged including a Liberal

member. If he is charged

with fraud what's your pre

disposition? I will not

speculate on hypotheticals,

what I will do is make sure

we stay out of it, that

processes take their course.

I think all politicians

should stay out of this. The

idea that 150 people will sit

in on the floor in the House

of Representatives and

determine people's innocence of any particular

allegations... But you guys

pursued... According to the

numbers on the floor of the

house is quite absurd but is

also quite dangerous. What

about the Labor Party's role

in this? Funding his legal

bills. Did the Prime Minister

authorise or was she involved

in any way in the isation of

those bills being covered? -- authorisisation of those

bills being covered? Why

don't you ask Tony Abbott if

he was involved... Because I'm talking to you about a

Labor Party matter. In the

payment of the legal bills of

a Victorian minister in the

Victorian State Government. A

defamation case. That is a

side step. No, it is not.

It's a matter of... The

question to you is of Craig

Thomson. It's a matter of

transparency. It seems to me

there is nothing terribly

unusual about the be fact

that a political party would

support one of their members.

It happened in the Liberal

Party this year. Even in a

defamation case he has launched. It happened in the

Liberal Party this year and

clearly it's happened in the

case of Mr Thomson. Now Mr

Thomson did erin not putting

in a declare -- err in not

putting in a declaration at

the appropriate time but Mr

Abu Slim has done that as

well on -- -- Mr Abbott has

done that as well on more

than one occasion. How

worried are you that this is

going to cost you votes on

the floor of the house, the

pairing arrangement. And how

much are you going to have to

Change the way ministers will perform. Will they have to cancel overseas

Prime Minister was doing her trips? Today of course the

job as the leader of the

nation in meeting another

head of state, the President

of the say Shells. What we

capital have -- the

Seychelles. What we can't

have is the Prime Minister in

the middle of one of those gathering says the bells are

ringing, sorry I have got to

leave. And surely it requires

some commonsense when it

comes to those issues and it requires also some common

deessy. I found it incredibly

offensive that Simon Crean as the arts minister couldn't respect the Australian

Government at the funeral of

Margaret Olley, and that

Malcolm Turnbull who was a

friend of Margaret Olley, a

great Australian, who the

whole Parliament rose at one

for the condolence motion

last week, and yet the

government and the opposition

weren't represented at that

funeral. Surely a bit of commonsense has got to come

into play here. We will put

that to your opposite number shortly. Anthony Albanese we

will have to wrap it up. Thanks David. As far as the Health Services Union

goes it acknowledges that

yes this isn't going to

necessarily do the Labor

Party any favours referring this to police but Kathy

Jackson did say the main

thing was looking after her

members' interests. It is not

just the executive, union

members in general are

concerned that any allegations against be it a union official or any member

of the Labor Party is

government. We understand damaging to a Labor

that but our first priority

is to the members of the

Health Services Union not to members of the Australian

Labor Party. As for Julia

Gillard she did express or

repeat her expression of

confidence in Craig Thomson

today. She wouldn't read any

particular guilt though into

his decision last night to

stand down as chair of the

House Economic's Committee. I

have many statement s about

that in this House and I

stand by every one of them

but what I will not stand for

is the Leader of the

Opposition in his question

verbaling and presuming the

motivations for the member of

Dobell. For now we are joined by the Manager of Opposition

Business in the House

Christopher Pyne, Craig

Thomson denies misusing his

credit card. Police are

looking into whether there

should be a investigation.

What exactly do you want him

to explain in Parliament? I

think what will be a normal

course of events, if a member

was facing these kinds of

what are very serious claims,

which he says are a mis

representation, normally a

member of Parliament would

stand up after Question Time

and claim to have been

misrepresented and then give

a personal explanation about

the mis representation. Now

what is passing strange in

this matter is that Craig

Thomson has not done that.

People make personal

explanations for the most

minor mis representations and

yet Craig Thomson has made no personal explanation for what

is obviously a very serious

allegation. Therefore should

the Liberal Senator Mary Jo

financialer who is facing

charges give a -- fisher give

a similar explanation? There

isn't any comparison between

Mary Jo Fisher's situation and Craig Thomson's situation. She has been

charged, he hasn't. She has

been accused of remove ing $9

3 worth of goods from a

supermarket. Now Craig Thomson... It's more than

being accused though. She

says it is not true so she

has been charged with that

offence and she's defending

it. But $93 is hardly in a

relative scale as important

an offence as Craig Thomson

has been charged with. And today Kathy Jackson, the head

of the HSU, has referred the

matter to the police, has

said that the HSU will hand

over all their documentation,

she has shown real courage

and integrity. Bill short --

shorten said if he was head

of the HSU he would have

referred the matter to police

and durg Cameron said -- Doug

Cameron said he doesn't have

full confidence in Craig Thomson. Do you believe Craig

Thomson should be sacked

from the Labor Party? That is a matter for Julia

Gillard. She Prime Minister. She has obviously had conversations with the member

for Dobell, her office has been involved and she may have been involved in the

negotiating of the NSW ALP

bail-out of Craig Thomson in

May this year. She is the

Prime Minister. It sits with what happens with Craig

Thomson and a Prime Minister

who had real strength and

could actually want to lead the country would have dealt

with this matter in a way that Julia Gillard has not.

All we have had for a week is

stone walling and ob

fusecation in the Parliament

and even today she left the

chamber and refused to debate

the issue. She only returned

for the vote and then she cut

off Question Time. Can I turn

to the tough approach the

Coalition is now taking

towards the pairing rules in

Parliament. You wouldn't give the arts Minister Simon Crean

a pair to go to Margaret

Olley's funeral today nor

Malcolm Turnbull. Who is a

good friend or was a good friend of Margaret Olley.

Why? Well for the simple

reason that the Craig Thomson

affair is engulfing the

Gillard government. This is a

question of the integrity of

the government. The place for

members of Parliament to be

is in the Parliament. And we insisted... It's a attack

though. It is not going to

effect any legislation? The

NSW police are now

investigating the matter. HSU

has taken the courageous decision, Kathy Jackson has

taken the decision to refer

the matter to police... Back

on the pairing if Simon Crean and Malcolm Turnbull had both

been to the funeral it

wouldn't have if affected the

numbers on the floor of the House. The members of

Parliament are elected to be

in the Parliament when it is sitting. How far do you take

that? What are the rules

now. What will you grant a

pair for? The Labor Party has

managed to reduce the sitting

pattern to 18 weeking a year

out of 52. The reality is

when Parliament is sitting

members of Parliament have to

be hereless there is an

otherwise reason why they

can't be. Kevin Rudd is not

here and he has been given a

pair because he is having a heart operation. Jenny

Macklin has been given a pair because she is doing

important things in her

indigenous affairs portfolio.

Malcolm Turnbull is relaxed about not going to Sydney

because he knows his

responsibility is to be in

the Parliament. If the Labor

Party had wanted to they

could have sent Senator Chris

Evans to the Margaret Olley

funeral in the same way as Tony Abbott sent George Brandis, a Senator to the

Margaret Olley funeral. Does

that mean the Prime Minister,

the Treasurer and senior

ministers can still attend important national forums

like the G-20, the IMF. Will

you be okay with that? As has

always been the case we will

examine each application for

a pair and decide whether a

pair will be given. What we

have announced this week is

that the carbon tax is so

important an issue,

apparently it's the most important issue facing Australia according to Julia

Gillard since the election,

and therefore we won't be giving pairs for the carbon tax debate and... Forking

in? If the Labor Party -- for

the Labor Party It is their pow tore schedule the carbon

tax votes they should be

schedule when the ministers

will not be away. We will be

joined after the break we by

our panel. Catherine Murphy

Anderson rue Probin, stay with us.

Welcome back to our panel.

In just a moment first let's

check the latest new headlines. Here is Vannessa.

A criminal investigation into embattled Labor MP Craig

Thomson is now looking more

likely after his own union referred the misuse of his

credit card to police. The

union made the decision as

political pressure mounted on

the government over the issue. In the meantime Opposition Leader Tony Abbott

has interrupted Question Time demanding that Prime Minister Julia Gillard explain her role in the events surrounding the Labor member.

The move, after just one question, prompted the exit

from the chamber of around 35

Labor MPs, including Ms

Gillard. The bodies of four

victims have been found in

the blackened shell of a

house south of where 11

people perished. The fire

started after midnight and hundreds of family and

friends have gathered outside

the inturan home. Police superintendent Noel Powers

says the building has been

secured. Police say the blaze

began underneath the building

but no cause has been determined. Margaret Olley

has been remembered as a

remarkable Australian with an

unshakeable passion for

people, life and art at a

state memorial service in

Sydney. 5 00 people gathered

inside the Art Gallery of NSW

where Ben Quilty's Archibald

Prize portrait of Margaret

Olley hung in tribute to the late painter and

Governor-General Quentin

Bryce addressed the service. Former Prime Ministers John

Howard around Gough Phitlam

also attended. Tripoli has

celebrated in the early hours

of this morning after rebels

overran Libyan strongman

Muammar Gaddafi's compound

but found no sign of him or

his sons. Several hours later pro-Gaddafi media quoted him

as saying he had a abandoned

the compound in a tactical withdrawal after if was

wrecked by NATO bombing

attacks. The attack on Gaddafi's compound following

three days of fighting in the capital, which has left more

than 400 killed and 2,000

wounded. And in sport,

relief for Wests Tigers star Benji Marshall who has been found not guilty of an

assault charge in a Sydney

court. It had been alleged

Marshall punched a man after

reacting to verbal taunts in

the early hours of March 5

outside a Sydney fast food

restaurant. Marshall denied

punching the man but had

claimed he had been rashly

abused. Tomorrow's weather:

Thank you Vannessa time

to get to our panel. Katszry

Murphy from 'The Australian'

Anderson rue Probin from 'The

West Australian'. I want to

astart with Craig Thomson.

The Health Services Union referring what they have got

the documents in the internal

investigation they have done

to the police. Catherine it

can't have been an easy

decision for the union, this

is inflicting pain on their

own Labor brethren but it was

the right thing to do wasn't it? Absolutely. Yeah.

Absolutely. It was the right

thing to do and the union

would have been in an

untenable position with its

membership to doing in other

than what Kathy Jackson did

today. Because whether it is

Craig Thomson or someone else

union dues from hardworking

low paid workers have been

misused for prostitutes and

fancy restaurants and cash advances. Yeah, that's right

and the HSU represents low

paid workers, there is no way that the union's position

would have been tenable to

doing in other than cooperate with the police

investigation. And the union

of course did refer

documentation to Fair Work

Australia and today's

decision obviously dramatically increases

pressure on Craig Thomson and

of course the union would

have been cognisant of that

decision but if there was no

other decision that the union

could have made under the

circumstances. Does it also dramatically increase the chances of a formal investigation now taking

place? You would have to say a criminal investigation is

almost assured now because I

think Andrew Scipione has

said recently that the only

way that they would really

advance it beyond the

preliminary stage is if they

got an official request from

the union to investigate. But

it does begin the next

dangerous phase of this

affair because of course this

could lead to a criminal charge and this is where it's

very, very dangerous for the government and Craig Thomson himself. But in another

respect it might be some

relief to the government

because if you have got a

police investigation then

there might be good reason

not to talk about it. As we heard Anthony Albanese

earlier it gives you a simple response to say "I can't

answer that" because there is

a police investigation under

way. I have been speaking to

a few Labor members today,

there is certainly growing

nervousness, but it seems

that the view is that even if

he is charged here it's going

to take a long, long time to

get to court and get a conviction and then possibly be forced out of Parliament but it won't necessarily

bring down the Gillard

government any earlier than

the next election. Certainly there is that view around

that Labor's best hope is to

effectively let process take

its course and to run down

the clock. I think though if

public scrutiny continues to

this extent though the wild

card in the equation is the

Independents. It is - this

is very difficult for the

government the atmospherics

are terrible. Logic tells you there will be an investigation that will take

a period of time, any charge

s stemming from that will

also take time to work

through the system but anybody watching Parliament

today sees what ex kruruating

pressure the government is

under. Zm Andrew Wilkie this

morning decide of sided with

the Coalition in demanding

Craig Thomson give an

explanation to Parliament. Do

you think there is a chance

they can become increasingly

un come forl -- un for

theable with the minority government? He voted with the government when Question Time was interrupted so it's

a bit confusing his

position. Wilkie is basically

arguing that due process has

to be allowed to occur. I am

not over-egging the Wilkie

point. I am saying these guys

have to account to their own

voters as well and the look

of propping up a government

that's doing everything to

try to defend itself is not a

brailleant look, that's all I

am say -- brilliant

look. They are copping it for

siding with the government in

if the electorates. Should

Craig Thomson give a explanation in Parliament?

Very good question, it will

be very interesting but I

suppose that is not really

something that from a journalist perspective it

will be fantastic. It sure

would. But the point is

precedence shows there will

be none and I think that Anthony Albanese this morning

was talking about various

enquiries into various

shenanigans on the other side

of Parliament and in

Parliament's past. Have shown

they go got away and gout away without explanation

simply because of the police

investigation. So... But

Christopher Pyne does make an interesting point and

obviously these allegations

against Mr Thomson he has

denied consistently. But in

all the time since the story

has first surfaced Chris Pyne

said before that Mr Thomson has never made a personal

explanation. It's pretty

unusual. That's a good point.

The pairing rules, the Coalition toughening the

approach. What do you think?

I think this is really

fascinating. In a process

sense but also I think a lot

of it is down to the Craig

Thomson affair. -- Because we

are seeing in some sense a

dress rehearsal as to what

might come in the months

ahead. Now, he must be under

enormous pressure. If he were

to seek leave for, on stress

leave for example, then the

government number is down by

one. And if they are going to

play hard ball then it becomes all the more difficult for the government.

So I think that there is a

combination of factors here, obviously the carbon tax

debate which is going to come

up in say October and

November is going to be very difficult. That's the big

one. You have got a lot of

government business overseas.

There are lots of trips that

Julia Gillard has to go to

overseas, whether it is...

Chris Pyne it seems was

leaving the door open to

allow that still to happen.

They will be judged on a

case by case basis. The G-20

and IMF forums and things

like that but when it comes to the carbon tax all bets

are off. It is all pressure,

pressure, pressure, hustle,

hustle, has of hustle in

terms of Opposition tactics,

certainly in relation to the

carbon tax debate the

opposition is trying to

ensure that no Labor MP is

uncomfortable with the policy

get an opportunity to duck

out of having to put their

vote on the record but it's

Tony Abbott's very enhanced

partisan approach to politics, and it's place a

lot of pressure on the

government from everything

from procedure to legislation

to messaging. So it is just

all... Then again I think the Opposition is responding to the fact the government is

going to try to make the

carbon tax very difficult to

unwind. They will try to have

it prefit in a lot of sense.

Contracts signed, compensation will go through.

They are play ing hard ball.

So the opposition within -

who is entitled to play the

same game. Absolutely. We

are out of time. Thanks both

for that. There was some legislation dealt with in

Parliament today. Mostly on

the health front. Plain packages of cigarettes and

the like. We will be talking

to the Health Minister after the break. Stay with us. the break. Stay with us.

Welcome back. Despite the

to and fro over Craig Thomson

in Parliament this afternoon,

throughout the day there have

been a number of key bills

dealt with in the House or at

least debated. Most of them

on their health front. The

government's moves to

introduce plain packaging of

cigarettes and also a key

plank of its health reform

deal with the states. To set

up a new independent

authority which will set the efficient price hospitals

will be able to charge for

each procedure. I spoke

earlier about these measures

to the Health Minister Nicola

Roxon. Thanks for your

time. Have you now introduced

the legislation to effect plain packaging of cigarettes

how confident are you that

this will get through

Parliament? I am very

confident. We have had very

strong support obviously from

the government, from the

Independents and from a

significant number of the backbench in the Liberal Party. There was a

Parliamentary committee that

inquired into both of the

bills. The Liberal Party

members and the Labor members

said both bills should be supported. So I hope that Mr

Abbott might be rethinking

his last ditch opposition to

one of the bills. What if

they do oppose one of those

bills? This is the bill not

the substantial bill to do

with plain packaging but the

other bill he's concerned

about is about trademark

changes. What happens if that

doesn't get through? Well, I

am confident that they will

both get through. And I think

it will be shame if the

Liberal Party didn't support

them both. Australia has got

a good record on tobacco control. It will be nice for the world leading legislation

to be supported by both of

the major parties and think

that there are substantial

number of people in the

Liberal Party really pushing

Mr Abbott to reconsider. Including those three members

who were on the committee

looked at it carefully and

said it should be supported. The big question I suppose for everyone is what

is this going to go to

smoking rates, will it make

much of a difference? We are

confident it will make a

difference. It's the last way

that tobacco companies can advertise particularly to new

smokers, they use colours and

embossing and other things to make their product look

different or better or selfy

or glamourous or whatever it

may -- self yr y or

glamourous that they -- sexy

or glamourous what they are

trying to do. If we can stop

people developing a habit now

that has a huge impact into

the future. It hasn't been

done before so we are reliant

on modelling, but we think it will have a significant

impact. You have also

introduced legislation today

to deal with a key plank of

your health reforms agreed

with the states this is the

independent hospital pricing

authority. Have you said it

is a bit like a Reserve Bank

type body. It's going to set the efficient price for

hospital procedure s around

the country. This is due to

start from next year. Is

there enough time for this

body to work out what those

efficient prices should be

for each hospital? It is

going to be a tight time

frame. The negotiations as

many of your viewers would

know were pretty protracted

with the states an

territories and took us

longer than we would have

hoped but we have been doing

the ground work in the

meantime because there has

been agreement for a number

of years that some of the basic preparatory steps

should be taken. We have had

a team of people ready to

work, we have now appointed a

chair and deputy chair of the

authority that they can

commence work straight away

with an interim team while the legislation is going

through the Parliament. But

this is a significant really

generational change of the

way we are going to pay for

hospital service s into the

future. Which allow us to

just be much more confident

about our money being spent

efish e efishly. Looking

what work -- efficiently and

looking what works well in

some parts of the country and

what doesn't in others and

give people piece of mind we

are getting value for money

in hospital s. All hospitals

are different. The head of

the Queensland AMA has raised

concerns about this. Dr

Richard Kidd, he says each

hospital is different. Some

have multiple clinics and

theatres, some are

specialists in trauma and

some aren't. How do you work

out what is a fair price for

hospitals? It's a complex

job. We have a big job in

front of them. We know a fair

price of things that happen

in hospitals. It's a much

nower area in we try to price

outpatient clinics and trauma

ones and there is a different category for smaller rural hospitals but all of that has

been done in two states of

the country, we won't do it

exactly like that but we can

build on a lot of their work

and I think if we don't start

this now it is the same Queensland President of the

AMA or the next one in the

future who complains about

not having enough money in

the system. This way we will

actually know whether we have

got enough money and the

right price being paid for

the right services where ever they occur across the country. You said this will

save up to $1.3 billion in

efficiencies does that mean

some hospitals will lose money That is not our

figure, this is the national health reform commission who

said we waste a lot of money

by not having activity based funding, the Commonwealth

puts in more money, the state

takes some out and patients

end up not being better off.

That is the argument. They

are what comes through a

natural introduction of a

more efficient price. There

is a phase in time. It means

we will actually end up

getting better value for

money because we are actually putting more money into the

system. But it's essentially... That we will

be able to pay for more

activity and pay more money

for populations and

communities where they are

fast growing and our old

system lagged too much so

that if there was a boom in population and you needed

more hospital services, you

still actually had a fixed

amount of money to deliver

them with. That clearly

doesn't work. The hospitals

that are charging too much

for services at the moment

are going to lose money? They

will have a time to be able

to scale and work towards an

efficient price. They won't

necessarily lose money, they

might actually do more for

the same amount of money and

of course because there is a

growth in the services and

money we are extend ing

no-one will be losing money

but people will be have to

make sure they are operating

efishly. If people don't when

this is fully introduced then

there will be a component of their services that the Commonwealth will not

contribute to. And the states

won't want to either. So that

will actually drive better outcomes for patients. The

other big reform you are

moving ahead with or trying

again on is means testing the

private health insurance

rebate. You still don't have

enough crossbench support to

get this through. When will

we see the legislation

introduced? We would like to

introduce it and we would

obviously like it to be

passed. We don't yet have a

final position from a number

of members of the

Independents, the group, the Independents we obviously

need their votes, the Liberal

Party has been implaquably

opposed to us taking away the

rebate from millionaires and very high income

earners. Will you wait until

you get those... We are still

in negotiations. We are keen

to be able to introduce this

change but we also need to be

realistic that a number of

the Independents have asked

for more information. They We

have had discusses with them. They have asked for

more than that. Tony Windsor is flat out opposed to it but Rob Oakeshott says he is

worried about losing doctors

and specialists in country

areas, so is Tony Crooke, Rob

Oakeshott suggested

increasing the rebate for

people living in country

areas, are you open to that? I think that will be

very hard to do. So we are

not particularly keen on that

idea. But we are talking to

them about a range of things.

In fact our investments in

rural health are starting to

pay off and are showing the

trends of more GPs moving

into rural and regional

areas. Could you offer more money for rural health to get

him over the line? You could

obviously there is a range of

different options but when we

have got this historic level

of investment. When we have got all the health and hospital fund regional rounds

actually starting to pay off,

when we have the next one

about to open, we think we

have got a pretty good record

here. Are you considering an

extra package for rural

health to get them over the

line on this? We are talking

to the Independents on a

range of things but at the

moment it is primarily

focused on the way the rebate

works and the point in most

of their electorate s as in

many other parts of the country there are actually

not large numbers of people

who are privately insured who

will be affected because they

have a lot of low income

earners rather than high

income earners and in some parts of country there are

not a lot of private health

services can you use if you

have private health insurance

so we are talking through all

of the issues, some of the

data they have. Some data

they want we don't have and

doesn't exist but there is a

little wait to go on it. Thank you. Thanks.

That's all we have time for

today's program. Do stay with

us after the break the latest

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