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Australian Agenda -

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Good afternoon. Welcome to

the program. Well, politics

appears to be preventing a

resolution much the stalemate

over asylum seekers. Four

days on from the latest

tragedy at sea in which it is

asylum seekers, died trying now feared around 200 people,

to make their way to Australia, there's

positioning between Labor and the Coalition over they can't

agree over whether they

should even hold talks to

discuss a compromised

outcome. Coming up, we will

look at the latest of this

and Philip Ruddock, the former Immigration Minister's

plans to try to make the

Malaysian solution work for

the Coalition. Would that

really be a path forward on

this? We will take a look at

that. We will also be

looking at the bushfire

minister for emergency and season ahead and the new

management joins us. Today,

he has launched a new tool

aimed at catching arsons. We

will also be talking to

Liberal Senator about making

the transition this year from

political back room operator

to member of Parliament. How

has he found that and how

does he see this political year drawing to a close. All

of that coming up. First we

are going to check in on the

latest news headlines this

hour. Thank you. Just I

want to let everyone know

that we are standing by to

take you to Melbourne for

Derryn Hinch, 3AW, he will be

back on the air after

completing five months on

home detention for contempt

of court. He is going to be

begin his radio show in this

very studio that you can see

on your screen in a few

minutes time. We will bring

you that live when it gets

underway. In the meantime,

let's take a look at our top

story and there is still no

sign of a compromise between

the two sides of politics over asylum seekers. Around

200 people are believed to

have drowned over the weekend

trying to make it to

Australia. But Labor and the

Coalition can't even agree on

whether they should sit down

and talk to each other about

finding a solution. Traumaised survivors continue

to recount the horrors of

their ordeal at sea. Some

spent three days clinging to

wreckage after the heavily

overcrowded boat went down.

The capsized vessel has now

been found. The search has

shifted to smaller islands

and a slim hope of finding

anyone else alive. Back

home, the political battle

grinds on. The Government

and opposition are still

arguing over whether they

should even start talking to

each other about a solution.

A meeting without an agenda

is just a media stunt. Tony

Abbott is demanding the

Government put forward a

compromise before the

Coalition will agree to

talks. Labor says it's

willing to consider all

options but only in private

discussions. I think if

those two men are separated

from the political noise, the

good faith between them could

resolve this issue and I

think that should occur.

Both sides agree on offshore

processing but can't agree on

where. The Government says

Nauru won't work as a

deterrent. The opposition says Malaysia shouldn't be

considered because it hasn't

signed the refugees

convention. As Immigration

Minister under the Howard Government, Philip Ruddock

put the pacific solution in

place. He says the Coalition

should consider supporting

Malaysia but only if written

guarantees are given about the treatment of asylum

seekers. We have said that

that could be addressed by

Malaysia becoming a party to

the refugee convention. But

I would suggest that it could

also be met if Malaysia were

prepared to formalise the

arrangements, that is, to

give Australia a written agreement. Tony Abbott says

that's in line with Coalition policy. Well, effectively

Phillip is restating our

position. Our position is

that we didn't like Malaysia

because Malaysia hasn't

signed the UN refugee convention and the essential

provision of the UN refugee

convention is you can't

refoul people to their

country of origin. Nearly 100,000 refugees and asylum

seekers live in Malaysia with

no work rights and little

access to health or

education. The country has

shown no willingness to sign

the refugee's convention or

make any legally binding

commitments. So, the

political stand-off continues

despite the near certainty of

more dangerous boat journeys.

Tony Abbott says he is

prepared to hold talks with

the Government on Christmas

Day, if necessary. Well, I'm

happy to spend it negotiating

on this issue if the

Government is prepared to put

a specific proposal forward. The Immigration Minister says

he is also willing to meet on

Christmas Day but only if the

opposition is genuinely

prepared to talk Turkey, not

just eat it. Music legend

Molly Meldrum has been taken

off the critical list and

doctors say he is now in a

serious but stable condition

in Melbourne's Alfred

Hospital. Six days after

Molly Meldrum fell 3 m while

trying to put up Christmas

lights at his home in

Richmond, he is now in a

serious but stable condition,

that condition has been

downgraded from critical but

still it is baby steps and we

are being reminded he is not

out of the woods yet. That

came through this morning

from his manager and also his

brother who says we all need

to prayer and keep our

spirits high for Molly who

yesterday woke up briefly as

doctors wanted to see whether

or not he could open his

eyes. They have now put him

back under sedation. He has

been in intensive care for

six days now. He was brought

here last thurs after having

suffered a fractured skill,

ribs, he was treated straightaway to swelling to

the brain to remove some

pressure on his brain. Today Australians right across the

country are able to SMS their

support for Molly Meldrum

with a big screen at

Federation Square displaying text messages from across the country. Already this

morning we have heard from

the St Kilda football club,

and the Victorian Premier Ted

Baillieu who has today texted

"There's only one Molly

Meldrum. All the best. We

are with you all the way".

St Kilda saying the same.

Now to another Melbourne

icon, as you can see on your

screen at the moment, broad

caster Derryn Hinch is

getting ready for his radio

show on 3AW. It will be his

first since being released

from home detention at

midnight last night. He had

been in home detention for

five months. He hasn't

spoken publically all day, I

guess, to try to get as many listenerers as possible for this slot and we will bring

you there as soon as he

starts talks. More charges

have been laid against the

skipper and second officer of

the chip stricken off New

Zealand's coast. The men

whose names have been

suppressed have now been

charged with perverting the

course of justice. The

master of the Rena is facing

four charges while the second

officer is facing another

three. They faced court this

morning and have been

remanded on bail. The pair

is facing heavy fines and a

year behind bars. They will

face court again in the new

year. One of two brothers

arrested and charged with

conspiring to murder Sydney business man Michael McGurk

has been faced a Sydney court

this morning. The

33-year-old didn't apply for

bail and it was formally

rested. Court documents

allege the man and his

30-year-old brother agreed to

kill Mc combchlt urk for $400,000 but failed three

times to carry out the shooting. Five others have

already been charged over his

murder, including property

developer Ron Medich. The

Navy's newest ship HMAS Choules has arrived at its

home port in Sydney after being formally commissioned

into service eight days ago.

It is a 176 m vessel with a

crew of 158. I'm going to

take you live to Melbourne

now for the return of Derryn

Hinch and his program on 3AW.

As I was saying before I

was so rudely interrupted,

good afternoon. Good

afternoon. It's great to be

back here on 3AW. It's even

better to be alive. Thanks

to an organ donor and his

family I have a new liver and

I have a new life. I will

talk about that later but

first, five months under

house arrest. Five months.

That's 155 days. That's more

than 3,600 hours, actually

more than 13 million seconds.

So what was it like? Well, I

handled it. I didn't go stir

crazy. I didn't get bored.

I got used to the rules after

being reprimanded in the

first weeks for being 28

seconds late back from the

exercise yard. Now for those

of who you think it wasn't

really jail, just imagine

somebody knocking at your

door at 9.15am for a random

breath test, having to seek

permission to go to the

doctors or the dentist, the only excuses permitted for me

to leave my home and wearing

an ankle bracelet from July

21 which was cut off my leg

at 1.29 p.m. yesterday. Now,

they call it home detention.

Which sounds like being kept

in after school. But it was house arrest. It was house

arrest. I was banned from

sending emails, from giving

interviews, from broad

casting, banned from earning

a living. I was made a

non-person. Magistrate said

he wanted to make it as much

like jail as he could and he

did. I was even banned from

using Facebook, which I have since discovered has more

than 1 00,000 names from

people supporting my position

over the suppression of the

names of serial rapists and

paedophiles, a campaign that

will continue and for that I

thank you. That's what this

was all about. And it is

weird. It is even ironic but

while I was locked up, so

much was happening on this

issue. I guess if my name

was senator Derryn Hinch, I

would not have been

convicted, not have been

gaoled and not spent five

months of myself life locked

up under house arrest because

while I was gagged, senator

nick Xenophon named a

Catholic priest, but he spoke under parliamentary privilege

so he was protected from any

legal action and he said he

felt duty-bound to name the

priest. The people in that

parish, he said, had a right

to know. Sound familiar? My

wife Chanel, who has been

amazing through all of this

with ill-health and house arrest, said it highlights

the ludicrousness of the law

currently in place in

Victoria. She is right. It

is ludicrous. To make it crazier, as I reached the

half way mark of my

incarceration, the same justice department which

charged me and had me muzzled

for so long, they went into

court to try to have a

suppression order lifted on

one of Australia's worst

paedophiles. You go figure.

David grace QC said the man

had been allowed to make

unsupervised visits in Ballarat and come to Melbourne, even though he was

still regarded as an

unacceptable risk to the

community. The lawyer said

people had a right to know

that this serial offender was

"In their midst". Hello.

What have I been on about all

this time. In Western

Australia the lower house has

just passed a bill setting up

a public register for sex

offenders, something we must

have here in the State of

Victoria, we must have it.

Something that is in

operation without fear of vigilante attacks in the

United States and Britain, I

will give some examples of

that after 5 o'clock and in my weekly sessions with case

managers from the Department

of Corrections, they did

their job, they tried to get

me to pledge that I would

never ever do such a thing

again. I pointed out, with

respect, if seven High Court judges and other judges from the Supreme Court and the

Magistrates Court had not

convinced me that what I did

was wrong, then they didn't

have much of a show of doing

it and the scandalous facts

are these. Under this new

law brought in in 2009, which

is worst be the one which I

was convicted, more and more

of the worst sex offenders in

history are anonymously out

in your communities. It's

called the serious sex

offenders and monitoring act.

They have changed the name.

Even though it applies to men

who are likely to reoffend,

it is now hard for the media

to even report such cases,

often I've found out, since I

was incarcerated, they are

not even registered on the

daily court lists and there

are shades of dictatorship.

The courts are saying that

you, the mothers and fathers

of young children, are not

allowed to know why they are

in court and who these men

are or where they live or

what they look like. In the

first 18 months after this

new law came in, the county

court put 30 men under

supervision orders. And you

know how many of them had

their names suppressed? 28.

28. With the county court

virtually rubber stamping

them. Now, there are dozens

of such men, men who have

been released back into the

Victorian community in recent

years. Dozen's more rapists

and paedophiles in jail now,

they will benefit from that

an nimity and I believe, and

I still believe, these men

have no right to be able to

go about their foul business

under a cloak of court

sanction secrecy and I

believe they must be named.

The campaign cannot end

because too many children are

still at risks and if I put

myself at risk again, well,

that's life. Because these

men, they move anonymously

amongst you. Their

identities are protected. By

the courts. A protection not

given to murderers, or to

sweundlers, or to me. And

these cunning predators use

the anon-minimumity as a

weapon. In a minute, I will give you the sort of details

of three of them. Three of

the worst. You are entitled

to know who they are and what

they did. And one judge talked about the, and I

quote, the emotional and

psychological effect on the

respondent if material is

published. Well, what about

the victims for God sake.

What about future victims.

What about the emotional and psychological effects on

them? That's what I believe

that whenever released on

parole, they must be on such

a short leash, they have

little opportunity to attack

again. You not only deserve

it, you should demand it, you

should demand that such serious sex offenders be

identified. That's why I say

the fight must go on and from

here, it will go on. And as

I walk, as I shuffled into

court to be sentenced on July

21, only two weeks after

having a liver transplant, I

was fighting for breath, and

I couldn't say much. But I

correctly suspected that I

would be banned from talking

to the media on the

courthouse steps after I was

sentenced. But I did manage

to say on the way in, this is

a bad law, it will change.

Maybe not in my lifetime, but

it will happen. And now with

my new liver, I'm now

confident that I will still

be around when this mad and

bad and dangerous law is dust

binned forever. And if my

bifing -- giving up five

months of my new life and

five months of my freedom, if

that helps change a bad law

and that saves the innocence

of even one child, then has

it been worth it? My bloody

oath it has and, if

necessary, if an ob scenely

bad law does not change, I

would do it again. Derryn

Hinch looking and sounding

comfortable back behind the

Mike. You can continue

watching his radio show on

Sky News Melbourne channel

600. Tomorrow's forecast now showers and storms over the

east. Hot in the south. Now

back to David Speers in Canberra as PM Agenda

continues. Thank you. After

the break on PM Agenda, we

are going to be looking at

the latest in the political stalemate over asylum

seekers. Is there any shift

at all from the two sides of

politics in trying to reach a compromise four days on from this latest tragedy at sea.

We will be talking to the emergency management

minister, the new minister,

former Attorney-General about

his role and the bush fireb

season ahead and what can be

done to try and crack down on

the number of arsons that are

responsible for bushfires across the country each season and later on we will

be joined by the newlishral senator T he became a senator

during the year but making

that transition from back

room operator, as a long time

Chief of Staff to John Howard to now being a member of

Parliament, how has that been

and what does he think of this current position on

asylum seekers. Do stay with us.

You're watching PM

Agenda. Well, the two sides

of politics are really no

closer today to finding a

compromise on the issue of

asylum seekers. Some four

days on from the latest

tragedy at sea in which it is feared around 200 people died

trying to make their way to

Australia. Now, talkback

radio and feed back we are

getting here at Sky News does

seem to suggest that public

opinion is now being

galvanised in favour of find

something sort of compromise

outcome. To put the politics

to one side and at least to

try to come up with a

solution for offshore processing that is going to

stop people making this

dangerous boat journey.

Before any more lives are

lost. Now, the two sides of

politics do agree on offshore

processing, they disagree on

where. They also agree that it is possible worth sitting

down and talking but Tony

Abbott is demanding a firm

proposal from the Government

before he will agree to any

talks. Either between him

and the Government or his

shadow minister Scott

Morrison. Today Philip

Ruddock, who is of course

Immigration Minister for many years under the Howard

Government, came up with the

pacific solution, he has

entered the debate suggesting

that the Malaysian man of the Government could work for the

Coalition if, and this is a

big if, Malaysia agrees to

put down in writing the

agreements and commitments

that it's made to protect the human rights of asylum

seekers. This has been the

big problem for the

Coalition, Malaysia is not a

signatory to the refugees convention, it does have a

bad record when it comes to the treatment of asylum

seekers. Philip Ruddock is

saying if there could be some

sort of certainty that the

commitments it has made can

be enforced, that might be

worth considering. Here he

was. We have said that that

could be addressed by

Malaysia becoming a party to

the refugee convention. But

I would suggest that it could

also be met if Malaysia were

prepared to formalise the

arrangements. That is, to

give Australia a written

agreement. Now, Tony Abbott

was asked about this today as

well and he describes this as

being in line with Coalition

policy, essentially. Here he

was. Well, effectively,

Phillip is restating our

position. Our position is

that we didn't like Malaysia

because Malaysia hasn't

signed the UN refugee

convention and the essential

provision of the UN refugee convention is you can't

refoul people to their

country of origin. The

problem here, though, is that

if Malaysia were to make any

sort of written agreement or legally enforceable agreement

with Australia on the protections for those asylum

seekers, that would take a

big step for Malaysia. It's

a country that has a much bigger problem when it comes to asylum seekers and

refugees than we do, it has

got nearly 100,000 of them in

the country at the moment.

They don't have rights to

work, they have very limited access to health and education services. It

doesn't want to, and

certainly has shown no inclination to sign the refugees convention or make

any sort of legally enforceable guarantees about the protection of asylum

seekers. So it is still a

very big if that Philip

Ruddock is talking about here

today. So, it therefore

seems there's not going to be

much progress on this in the immediate future. Tony Abbott today said he is

willing to talk to the Government on Christmas Day

if necessary. But they have

to make a firm proposal, a compromised proposal first

and that's not something the Government has yet signalled

it is willing to do. So it

looks like we may head through the Christmas period

with no resolution on this

issue. It does go into

hibernation largely over the

Christmas/new year break,

it's a time when we all turn

our attention to Christmas,

to the beach, the cricket,

that sort of thing but sadly

also to natural disasters as

well and for one politician

recently shifted from the job

of Attorney-General to the

minister for - the federal

minister for emergency mlgt,

Robert McClelland, this could

be a busy period for him as

well, as he watches what goes

on with natural disasters, in

particular, bushfires around

the country. I caught up

with him earlier today. Thanks for your time.

There's been a lot of rain during the year and, of

course, grasslands and

undergrowth have grown a lot.

What sort of bis fireb season

are we in for this year, this

summer? We are probably in

for the worst grass fire

season for 40 years. Now, the floods last year and the

water that you've spoken of

recently is going to promote

that growth but as it dries out, it is a substantial

risk. So whereabouts in

particular? I mean, are we

looking right across the

country? Particularly the

south-east, from Queensland

down through NSW, Victoria

and South Australia. Is

certainly going to be - towards the end of January

quite nasty. Today you have

launched a website, a

bushfire arson website, what

is the aim of that? It arises from a forum that we

have had and it is about

engaging the community.

Bushfire arson is probably

responsible for half the

fires that we see, about 1.6

billion a year, most of the

deaths from natural disasters

are from fires. So very

significant issue. You said

about half of them are from

arson. It is estimated that

about half are deliberately

lit. So this is about

engaging the community, both

giving the community

information, about risk

factors but also enlisting

the support of the community

where they identify an

individual who is acting suspiciously, where they

think there's a location that

could be a risky location.

Just to be both spotters, to

communicate with law

enforcement, but also to keep

that extra eye out. So

you're asking people to keep

an eye out on the community

and dob in suspects on this

website? Yep, and there's references where they can do

that, they can do that

anonymously. But just also some pointers, obviously, if

their household is in the

vicinity and they see a car

suspiciously hanging around

or young people, whatever it

may be, just some

identifiers, risk factors.

You could end up with a flood

of names put on this website.

What happens with that

information? Do police then

go through that and try to

filter through what is real

and serious and what is not?

The police will act on all

information. This is not

what we have done a few weeks

ago, we have introduced a

flagging system for those who already have a criminal

record, if they are suspected

of being involved in arson,

on a reasonable basis, they

will be flagged for that.

This is simply notifying authorities of suspicious

circumstances, but also conveying that information of

what to look out for. Do the

States have strong enough

penalties for arson do you

think? It varies. They vary

from 10 to 25 years. We have

put forward proposals, that

is, the Commonwealth, that they should have a uniform

standard in the event of

arson causing death, 25 years

based on the felony murder

rule, causing grievous bodily

harm, sort of 15. So we are

trying to get the States and

territories to adopt a

uniform approach. But it's

one factor, it does vary.

Can I turn to the other area,

your other portfolio area,

housing. The state of housing supply report

released today, pretty

alarming figures in it,

housing under supply now

stands at nearly 187,000 and

that's grown by 28,000 during

this year. We now have a

cabinet minister dedicated to

housing. Are we going to see

any new ideas, new policies

from the Government on this?

Yeah, there's been a lot of

initiatives, I think we have

put in since we have been

elected about $20 billion and

about literally 25,000 homes,

the target is 80,000 by the

end of 2014. So there is a lot happening but clearly

it's going to be an ongoing

problem and they estimate

that unless some more is

done, that by 2030 that gap is going to become even more significant. So what have

you got in mind? Well,

essentially we have got to have partnerships. Government funding in itself

is never going to be enough.

So we have to work with the

Government funding, yes, but

we also need to enlist

private sector partnerships

and indeed with the community

sector who are doing some

really great stuff in this

space. So I think we have

got to build on what has

already occurred but work on

refining those partnerships.

The financial institutions

are just starting to fund

these community projects as

being viable. So that's a

pleasing sign. But I think

we can look at how we might enlist funds from the superannuation industry for

instance and get that all coming together as part of

that partnership approach.

So some incentives for super

funds to invest in housing

stock? That is certainly one suggestion that has been put

to me that I think is really

worth exploring. Part of the

problem has been the lower

demand from the financial

stressors has also resulted

in less people building

homes. So for instance in

NSW, I think we have seen the

lowest new building approval

rates for 40 years. So we

need to, as the report indicates, increase that

supply. It's a catch-22 in

many ways because the housing

market has been flatter in

the last few years, why would

super funds want to invest

when the rate of return isn't

great, that the markets

pretty flat, but same if it

takes off again, it is going

to raise those issues of

affordability for those

others trying to buy. If we can get into some of the

social housing programs, or mixed housing where you have

got a mixed of private, the

reduced rent and even social

housing, they still give a pretty good rate of return

and if you have got a secure

rate, particularly in these

financial times where the

stock markets are going all

over the place, we believe we

can put together some viable

packages from an investment

point of view. Can I turn

finally to, well, the main

political issue of the week, asylum seekers. I think

people are starting to get

increasingly sick and tired

of the toing-and-froing over

this. People are dying at

sea trying to get to

Australia. What is your view on this and whether Labor should be compromising with

the Coalition? Again, I think the Australian people

want an outcome. They

obviously get distressed when

they see people lose their

lives. My view, for what

it's worth, is that I have

respect for both Minister

Bowen, also Scott Morrison,

the shadow spokesman who I

share an electorate with. We

join up together. I think if

those two men separated from

the political noise, the good

faith between them could

resolve this issue and I

think that should occur. Which inevitably will have to

mean some going to Malaysia,

some going to Nauru? Again,

what Chris Bowen will

ultimately make that call, I think from the opposition's

point of view, if they want

more information on the

advice the Government has

received as to why it was

necessary to have the

Malaysian arrangements, we

can do that. If there are some particular points of

view that they can put, then

obviously I think those two

men can and would do it in

good faith and in the

national interest. Surely

Nauru is worth a try at this

point. I know the

Government's line is it is

not going to work again, but

why not give it a go? Again,

that is Chris Bowen's call.

It is not mine. The two men

can discuss, quite frankly,

all the options and I think

Chris has indicated he is

prepared to discuss all the

options. Thank you. It's my

pleasure. The new minister

for emergency and management

and housing, Robert McClelland talking to us a little earlier. After the

break, we will be joined by

Liberal Senator looking at

his transition this year into the Parliament and his

thoughts on how the Coalition

is fairing at the end of this

year. Stay with us.

Welcome back. Time to

check in on the latest news

headlines. The political

stalemate over changes to border protection continues with the Government saying

it's willing to consider all

options. But only in private discussions. Tony Abbott

says there is no point in meeting until the Government

puts a formal compromise on

the table. Meantime

traumatised survivors have

recounted their horrific

ordeal after the weekend's

asylum seeker boat tragedy

off the coast of Indonesia.

So far around 50 people have

been rescue ed but more than

200 are feared missing or

dead. Broad caster Derryn

Hinch has returned to the airwaves in Melbourne this afternoon. After completing

his five months of home

detention for naming sex

offenders. Hinch arrived at

the 3AW studio ready for work

this afternoon after his

court imposed silence ended

at midnight. Once on air,

the 67-year-old continued his

campaign for free speech,

saying if the obscenely bad

law doesn't change, he will

do it again. And you can

continue watching his return

to radio live on Sky News

Melbourne channel 600. Music guru Molly Meldrum's

condition has been changed

from critical to serious but

stable. The 65-year-old

manager says while Meldrum

has largely remained the same

over the last 24 hours, he

has opened his eyes a few

more times. It is hoped

operations on Meldrum's shoulder and chest area will

be scheduled for later this

week. Thousands of fans have

sent text messages of support

to Molly whose been in

hospital since last Thursday.

Flags are at half mast around

nor Korea as the nation

continues to mourn their deer

leader Kim Jong-il. They

cued to see the glass coffin

to see the 69-year-old who

died of a heart attack on

Saturday. It makes it difficult to predict what

will happen in the coming

days. In sport, an injury concern has cost Shane Watson a place in the Australian

squad for the Boxing Day Test against India. The vice

captain reinjured his calf at

booting boot camp in

Melbourne yesterday. Phil

Hughes and Usman Khawaja had

been dropped from the team. Tomorrow's forecast:

thank you. You're watching

PM Agenda. The Coalition has finished the political year

on top, maintaining throughout the year it's

commanding lead over Labor in

the polls. Tony Abbott is

under some pressure though to

sound a bit more positive in

2012 and put forward some

alternative policy ideas.

Perhaps we will see that in

the year ahead. He now has in his ranks someone

considered to be one of the

smartest policy minds on the

conservative side of

politics, Arthur Sinodinos was Chief of Staff to John

Howard for most of his time as Prime Minister but this

year made the transition into

Parliament as a Liberal

Senator. He joins me now.

Welcome. Thank you for your

time. I want to start on the

asylum seeker issue dominating this week, of

course, after the latest boat

tragedy at sea. What do you

make of this? Is there room

for compromise between the

two sides of politics and

what should it be? Well,

David, I think it is tragic

that on eve of Christmas we

are having to discuss an

issue like this and everybody

in Australia, their hearts

would go out to the people

who have been affected and

that said, there is an

obligation on both sides of

politics to see what we can

do to resolve this. I can

remember when the tamper

issue arose, John Howard took

pretty immediate action to

put together a policy package

to address it. He then took

that to Kim Beezley as leader

of the opposition to try to

get buy partisan support for

it and that's what you have

got to do. You have got to

take the lead on these things

and I think it is appropriate

for Tony Abbott to say, well,

give us a proposal, something

that reflects the consensus

within Government now and

what to do and let's go from

there. It's clear within the

Government that both, from what Chris Bowen and Wayne

Swan as acting PM have said, there are some apparent

differences over things like temporary protections visas

and all the rest of it. I think it is really important

that the Government come up

with some quick package it can put to the opposition

because at the end of the day

we don't run the country, the

Government does. But just

going to that example you

gave there of the tamper,

John Howard seeking a

bipartisan outcome, he got it

from Kim Beezley. Arguably,

isn't there a strong case for what the Government is

seeking to do now in giving

the Government of the day the

power to choose where they

send asylum seekers? Look, what happened then is Kim Beezley wasn't able to

support in full the sort of

legislation that John Howard

drew up but he did agree, at least initially, that certain

things needed to be bun. But

as I said before, it is an

obligation on the Government

to come up with a more

complete package and if they

are saying everything is on

the table and they want the

opposition to write the

policy for them, so be it,

but it is better to have a

proper dialogue with smog

paper that you can discuss. You know how political

negotiations work between the

two sides of politics. Isn't

the very meaning of the word negotiations, doesn't that

mean that you actually sit

down and do discuss

everything on the table

rather than having it locked

in position beforehand?

Well, I think the fact that

Philip Ruddock has indicated

some potential flexibility on Malaysia under circumstances

suggest some good faith on

behalf of the Coalition going

into this and the question

then is, in terms of the

Government, what are they

prepared to put on the table

in return and then kick start

a process of genuine

dialogue. So, okay, well Philip Ruddock's idea then,

he is saying if Malaysia can

put some written assurances

around the commitments they

have made to look after

asylum seekers that are sent

there, is that a good idea

and is that much of a

compromise? That potentially takes the process further but

don't forget we are talking

about Malaysia taking, I think, about 800 asylum

seekers in return for us taking 4,000 people assessed

to be refugees. So the issue arise is because the numbers

are bigger than that, what

other strategies should be in

place and that's why you need

probably a more comprehensive

approach than just agreeing

what might happen in relation

to the first 800 asylum

seekers. But I guess all of

that requires a fair bit of give on Malaysia's part, going back to them saying

"Look, can you make this

bigger than 800 and you can

make some legally enforceable

guarantees". They have not

signalled any willingness to

do that. An that's the

issue. That's where more

flexibility is needed on the

part of the Government about

what other facilities might

be open and that's why not

only PNG but also Nauru

potentially come into the

picture. I think it's

important that the Government

takes those steps quickly.

Let's turn to the issue of population, something you

spoke about quite a bit in your maiden speech to

Parliament. You called for a

bigger population, higher

immigration. What sort of

higher immigration are you

talking about here? We did

hear the minister Chris Bowen

about a month ago talk about

increasing the refugee intake

to 20,000 but overall

immigration, what do are you

talk being? I was talking - I didn't nominate a

particular figure because I

think you have to do that in

the context of the economic

cycle, but at the moment, we

are around 170,000 and we

have to assess whether that

is consistent over a longer

period with creating the sort

of bigger country that we

need for both strategic, economic and social reasons

that I mentioned in my

speech. I think we have got

to look at that with an open

mind and including the

challenge of infrastructure,

environmentsal and congestion

issues that potentially go with bigger levels of population, so I think it's

important to get the proper

advice on that, including

advice from, say, a group

like the productivity commission. It does run

counter, doesn't it though,

to all that we heard at the last election in tweb from

both sides of politics, not willing to support the idea

of a big Australia -- 2010 I historically Tony Abbott has

been quite supportive of the

idea of a bigger, as opposed

to a smaller Australia. I

think there was some interesting circumstances

around the time of the last

election but I'm talking

about a policy which has some steadiness and consistency over a long period and I

think you would find that the Coalition has been in that

camp, if you like, over a

very long period of time.

When we look at the pressures

on manufacturing in Australia, on industry more

broadly, and our economy, are

you saying we need a bigger

population to sustain some of

these industries? Look, some of these industries will

perform best with a bigger

domestic market, with more

competition internally. I

think that is all quite important. The economies

have scaled that come from having a bigger internal

market. So yeah, I think

that's part of the equation

and I think it is important

that we not give up on having a substantial manufacturing

base in Australia because of

the science, the innovation,

the intellectual property

that are tied up in smart

high end, high value

manufacturing. On industrial relations, you, of course, were intimately involved in

the work choices policy under

the Howard Government, that is dead and buried, Tony Abbott says. Now the

Government is going to be

reviewing its Fair Work Act.

What sort of changes do you

believe are necessary? Well

look, I think the first step

is for us to evaluate what

the Government may come up with and Tony Abbott has said

he will have a policy out

before the next election. I

suppose my starting point is

do we have a policy at the

end of this process of review

of the fair work which promotes better relations between employees and

employers in the workplace?

Does it mean that all sorts

of agreements are potentially possible under such

arrangements? Depending on

whether they are freely

entered into or not. Whether

there's a capacity for people

to promote productivity at

both the interprise level as

well as the industry level.

It goes to all of those sorts

of factors. I think

initially we have to make

sure that business and others

who have an interest in the

outcomes of the Fair Work Act

get a fair hearing from the committee that has been put

together and in that context,

I'd have to say that I'm a bit disappointed that minister shorten seems to

have appointed a group of

people who are essentially

supporters of essentially a

left of centre view of

industrial relations, if I

can put it like that. What,

a member of the Reserve Bank

board, an academic and a

former Federal Court Judge,

you think there's a political

bias there? Not one

businessman among them, not a

small businessman among them,

not someone hag to meet a

payroll he every day, not

someone that knows the red

tape across their activities.

I think it speaks for itself

as a panel. Bottom line, business groups are saying

what they want is the

flexibility to have some individual arrangements between employers and

employees. Do you agree with

them on that? And I think

one of the things that ought

to be done is that business

makes some thorough

submissions to this review of

the Fair Work Act setting out

how they think that would

operate under current arrangements and if they think alternative

arrangements would be better,

identifying how in practice

they could work so we have

got some workable models.

Yeah, but surely your own

view here, you must still be

a supporter of individual

contracts? Look, I have

always supported the freedom

to agree in the workplace. I

don't believe in coercing

people. I believe in giving

them a choice between individual arrangements and

collective arrangements. I

don't believe in this idea of

loading up the Act to favour

one group as opposed to

another. So I don't walk

away from that view. But

what I'm saying is it is a

two-step process here. First

of all we have the review of

the Fair Work Act, business has the opportunity to

identify the options in that

context and that also then is

a contribution to the debate

within the Coalition about

the policy we put to the next

election. This is just one

of the policy areas that Tony Abbott will be grappling with

over the coming year. What

is the task ahead for the

Opposition Leader? He has

had a pretty good year in the polls, at least for the Coalition, some unhappiness

with him in terms of his approval rating but what does

he need to do in 2012? Part

of the frustration for Tony

Abbott is that the stuff

that's really good theatre,

the stuff that gets media

attention is when there is

conflict between Government and opposition and to be

honest, there have been a

fair few issues where there has been potential for

conflict. So when he makes

positive policy

announcements, they don't

seem to get much air play,

simply because they are overwhelmed by the more interesting stuff which is

the conflict stuff. I think

next year as, in effect, the

default Prime Minister of the

country, Tony Abbott has an

opportunity to keep fleshing out his alternative and he is

thinking about that the whole

time, alternative and

positive policies and we go

from there. So it is

important for him to look

more positive? Look, I think

he has done quite a few positive things. I'm saying they don't get the coverage

that the other stuff does.

Next year we have got to make

sure that he is get that sort

of coverage for his positive

stuff as well. I've got to

ask, are you looking for a

promotion to the front bench?

It seems strange that someone

of your calibre is not there

in the front-line team. Back

benchers are always looking for promotion but I'm also

new to the Parliament n a new

role there as an advocate

rather than an advisor. I've

got a head of the job of the

new business task force,

throwing all my energy into

there and we will take it

from there. It will be an

interesting year. Thank you

for joining us. Thanks David

and have a Merry Christmas to

you and your family. And to

you as well. After the

break, we are going to look at the Christmas season

ahead. We will be talking to

the Salvation Army about what

sort of fund raising they are

hoping to achieve and what we

can all do to help make

Christmas a little brighter

and better for those struggling this time of year.

Welcome back. Many of us

are of course spending these

last few days before

Christmas trying to rush

around trying to find a few

last minute pressees and get

organised for the weekend but

do spare a thought for the

many thousands of Australians

who this will be a very

difficult time of the year. The Salvation Army and other

charities are doing their bit

and asking all of us to do

our bit as well. Thanks for

your time. You are trying to

raise $12.5 million this

Christmas. How is that going

at the moment? Well

certainly if we look at the

need around Australia with

people coming to the

Salvation Army, the Salvation

Army help over 1 million

people per year and it is

suspected that the lead-up to Christmas t will be about

350,000 will turn to the

salvos for help. So whilst

we put a figure of 12.5

million, if we look at the

need, there is a need out

there, 1 in four are saying

they were worst off than what

they were last year. We have

seen 80,000 new people come

to the valuation army for

help who have never been to

us before. Our Christmas

appeal financial donations

are coming in. Are we near

the 12.5 million? No, we are

not. But we will spend

approximately $10 million in

the lead-up to Christmas in supporting the need right

across Australia. I saw some figures today showing that

Australia used to be the most

- Australians used to be the

most generous in the world

when it came to charity

donations but we have slipped

off top spot to about third.

Are we seeing less generosity

than previous years? Look, I

think that people of

Australia are fairly generous

because, look, there is that

many charities out there

today that are needing the

dollar to assist those people

that they help. Salvation is

one of many, many charities

who are raising money to help

people in need. I have to

look at, again, the Salvation

Army have got many stories of

people who come to us and

they come to us for all

different types of reasons.

Initially for food. They try

to pay the rent, they try to

pay the mortgage, they try to

pay the light bill but they

can't put food on the table.

So they come to us with that basic need to get food and

then we find there's a whole heap of other problems that

happen. So coming back to

your question. I think Australians do what they can to support their fellow

Australians who are doing it

tough and the alation army

really wants to thank those

people who have again given

generously and, you know,

$1.5 million is a lot of

money to raise and it's

certainly much needed. If we

don't have the money, we

certainly can't provide the

service but saying that, we

aim to help those that come

to us and we will do the best

we can for them. Now, you

mentioned the salvos

distributing meals of course

at Christmas time, toys as

well, but what do you need

from people most of all? Is

it money, is that more

important than finding a toy

or something else? Look,

they are all important.

Certainly money helps us to

fund our programs, the K-Mart

wishing tree, we need around

500,000 toys will be

distributed across Australia

and, look, we need all of

that. Different Christmas

meals happening around the

city in regional areas where

the Salvos provide meals.

Here in Sydney it is suspect

that one place will have

2,000 people turn up on

Christmas Day who have

nowhere else to go for a

meal. And we should mention

the website, it is a new

website, true meaning of

Christmas dot org. Awe.

That is so people can go on

to share what their meaning

of Christmas is, upload their

photos of their family or their friends, enjoying

Christmas, but also it is very important that that

site, make a donation to the

Salvation Army's Christmas

appeal or they can make a

call to 137258 to make their

credit card donations.

People want to give more than

money, a bit of time as well,

will there be information on

there as well as to what they

might be able to do over the

Christmas period? Certainly,

look on our website and they

will see some information

about what services are

provided by the val Salvation

Army, and our care line, the

people that are lonely out there, it will have that

number on that website as

well, who have no where to

go, no-one to talk to, there

will be someone on the phone

they can talk to 24 hours a

day, seven days a week. Thanks so much and happy

Christmas to you. And happy Christmas to you. Thank

you. Well that's all we have

time for today's program. We

will be back with our final

PM Agenda of the year

tomorrow at this same time.

Hope you can join us then.

Stay with us after the break,

the very latest Sky News.

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