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Delivering unrivalled live

Australia's news channel. coverage, this is Sky News -

This is PM Agenda. This is PM Agenda. Good afternoon welcome to

the program. I am David

Speers, the first of the

business banks has moved on

announced from the Reserve the interest rate cut

Bank yesterday, a full 0.5%

cut from the reserve

yesterday but the NAB this

afternoon is pass on

afternoon is pass on just

0.32 of that. So not the

whole amount. Despite the pressure from Treasurer Wayne

Swan and others for the whole

lot to be passed through we

will let you know over the

next hour if we get any more

from the big banks about

interest rate cuts will they

know follow suit with the NAB

and only pass on a part of

this rate cut? 0.32, as we

said from the NAB, but still,

some good news at least in an

interest rate cut for those customers we will keep you

posted on that. Meanwhile

another dark day for the

Health Services Union and its

membership today, police as

we have seen have raided the

HSU East branch offices in

Sydney and what's more someone was caught trying to

get away with a bagful of document, reports suggest it

is none other than the union boss Michael Williamson.

Where does this leave

Michael Williamson if indeed

interfere with the police he is charges with trying to

investigation? We will be

talking to the acting

national President of the

union, Chris Brown, he says if Michael Williamson is charged, well that's the

final straw, he needs to

resign. We will also be

talking this afternoon to

Foreign Minister, Bob Carr,

he's just back from Fiji, and

the US, there seems to be

some progress in returns to

democracy in Fiji. We will talk to Bob Carr about that

and the fears about the

foreign aid budget being

targeted in next week's

budget. All that coming up

and we will also, hear from

has been in Afghanistan over our reporter, Laura Jays who

the last few weeks, she's

been talking to a very senior

ISAF commander there and we

will talk to the latest on

that as President Obama again outlines plans to width draw

more American troops. First

let's get to the news centre

for the top stories this

hour. Thank you, the NAB has moved to cut its interest

rates, the first of the big

banks to move since the RBA

cut rates yesterday, NAB will

lower its standard variable

home loan rate, by 0.32%, to

6.99% that's lower than the

Reserve Bank's 0.5% cut, all

Reserve Bank's 0.5% cut, all

eyes now on the other major

lenders to see if if they

move but ANZ boss, Mike Smith

told Sky News Business his

bank won't be moving until

next week. As you know we justed our pricing mechanism

in December last year to go

on the second Friday of every

month. Because what we wanted

to do was to break this nexus central of repricing around the

central bank announcements

because the cash rate is only

one component of our funding

costs. And therefore our next

date is a week on Friday, and

then will you find out. ANZ

today lifted its first half

profit by 10%, to $2.92

billion. The scandal

billion. The scandal around

the Health Services Union has

taken a dramatic turn, with

the NSW fraud squad raiding

its Sydney offices. Around 10

officers raided the building, seizing materials and

computer equipment. But the

police commander of the HSU

investigation says a bag of

intercepted in a separate car documents had to be

park. At the start of the

working day Strike Force park. At the start of the

Carnarvon raided the Health

Services Union offices in

Sydney. I have major concerns

however that efforts have

been made to interfere with

information relevant to our investigation. I don't

dismiss the possibility of

criminal charges arising from

those efforts. Numerous

documents and computer

equipment have been seized but reports suggest the

boss Michael Williamson was but reports suggest the HSU

stopped in the union's car park, allegedly trying to

remove documents. Cole Dyson

said police did intercept

someone but wouldn't say

who. That is direct a bag of

documents was intercepted

this morning. Strike is in

its final stages and police

if criminal charges are to be

laid it will be in the near

future. Kieren Jack says

future. Kieren Jack says the

raid has been -- Cathy Jackson says the raid has

been a long time coming. It's

a sad day for the union, it's

a day we need to get through

so we can clean up the

minimum Michael Williamson organisation. As an absolute

needs to resign from all his

positions because he's

totally in an untenable

position if this information

they have been no political is correct. NSW police say

considerations in the timing of this raid.

of this raid. And no-one from

the Federal Court had been briefed beforehand. It comes

-- federal government had been briefed beforehand, it

comes days after the former

official and current MP Craig Thomson quit the Labor Party pending the investigations

into the union. The Prime

Minister cannot wash her

hands of this stinking putrid

mess, the Prime Minister must entirely disassociate herself

entirely disassociate herself

from this ever growing

scandal and the best way to

do that is to say I repudiate the Health Services Union

House of Representatives. The vote on the floor of the

police are independent of

Government. In a civil

society, in a western

democracy, that is how it

should be. And the police

should be able to do their

interference. work without pressure or

Federal Police have

Federal Police have launched a formal

investigation into Speaker

Peter Slipper over claims he fraudulently used taxpayer

funded taxi vouchers. Last

week Mr Slipper released

documents he claimed would

clear his name. But police

say the matter warrants a

closer look. The Government won't comment on the police

investigation. It is

instead pressuring the

opposition to reveal all contact between Manager of Opposition

Opposition Business,

Christopher Pyne, and Mr

Slipper's accuser James Ashby. Obviously there is a

cover-up going on, there is

no doubt there is a cover-up

going on, you have Mr Abbott

saying he had no specific

knowledge, it is not a

coincidence that Mr Pyne used exactly the same

phraseology. Mr Pyne says

he can't remember asking for

Mr Ashby's phone number but

claims it wouldn't be a problem

problem if he did. Optus has

announced it's cutting 750

jobs in a major restructure

of its operations. The telco

says redundancies will come

from across the board, from

senior and middle management, to operations and support functions. Two-thirds of the

job losses will be from

Sydney, with others in the ACT, Queensland, South

Australia and Victoria. The

Australia and Victoria. The

organiser of an ultra

marathon in which competitors

were severely burned by a bushfire has given evidence

to an enquiry into the

incident. Racing The Planet

founder Mary Giddadams said

she was shocked and upset by

injuries by competitor s but

did not admit any

liability. Michael Hopkin has

more. Mary

more. Mary Gaddams owner was

called before the WA

parliamentary enquiry to

explain the events leading up

to the ill-fated race on

September the 2nd last

year. When five pars it pants

were burned in Tier George in the Kimberley, during her submissions she struggled to

explain three main areas,

firstly, how and at what time

helicopter evacuations were

ordered, secondly, why when

the fire and emergency the fire and emergency services authority wreck

eftsed a map of the route --

requested a map of the route

one was mot promptly provided

and finally she was at a loss

to explain why doctors did

not have any dedicated burn treatment equipment in their

medical bags. That's despite

Ms Gaddams previously telling the enquiry that bushfire

risk was part of their risk

management plan. Ms Gaddams

was ushered into the enquiry

building in secret, and relatives relatives of the two

competitor s most severely

injured, Turia Pitt and Kate

Sanderson said if they had

known she was appearing they

would have liked to stay on

after their testimony on Monday to confront Ms

Gaddams. That's difficult to

accept because she knew the

victims were here. The victims arrived on Sunday. The victims were here in The victims were here in the

hearing on Monday. The

victims generally flew out

yesterday morning. It can't have been that hard to

arrange your flights. If you

had genuinely wished to meet

the victims the opportunity

to meet them all was here.

Ms Gaddams said she's happy

to meet with any victims who

would like to meet with her,

but she did not admit the company had company had any liability for what happened during the

race. Queensland police are appealing for information

from the public in relation

to the suspected murder of Brisbane mother Allison Bayden-Clay, investigators

would like to hear from

anyone who drove in the

vicinity of the roundabout at the intersection of

Brookfield and

Brookfield and Moggall Roads

in Kenmore between the hours

of 11 :30 p.m. on Thursday,

April 19 and 4 a.m. on

Friday, 20 April. Anyone with

information is being urged to

call Crimestoppers, the

mother three was reported

missioning by her husband on

the -- missing by her husband

on 21 April. He says she went

for a wake the night before

and failed to return. The funeral for

funeral for Men At Work

flutist Greg Ham has been

held in Melbourne two weeks

after his body was found at

his Fitzroy home. Sky News

Melbourne bureau chief Young

reports. The Fitzroy Town

Hall was packed with slel

tibs from the muse --

celebrities from the music

word and family members who

had come to pay their

respects. Greg Ham's boundy was found was found last month and

police say there was no suspicious circumstances.

Men At Work had hit songs

with 'down Under' and who can

be it now but he was found

affected by the devastating

2010 court ruling that found

the flute rif in 'down under'

was similar to a first s

nursery rhyme. He lived in

Fitzroy until he died his fellow band members striebed

him as a funny man who was

loved by anyone and had gone

on to become a great teacher, family members asked for

donations to be made to

charity rather than flower,

Greg Ham was 58 years old.

At least six people have been

killed in a suicide attack in

Kabul. The Taliban has

claimed responsibility, and

says it's in response to US President Barack Obama's visit to visit to Afghanistan. The

attack comes amid a

reinforcement of America's

commitment to help rebuild

the war-torn nation. Like a

secret guest on a stormy

night, a President slipping

into Afghanistan. 10 years

into this war America's commander-in-chief can still

only travel here under cover of darkness in total secrecy

yp -- The war is far from

won but Barack Obama's

message is a decade of conflict is coming to an

end. Slowly and

systematically, we have been

able to decimate the ranks of

al-Qaeda. And a year ago we

were able to finally bring

bin Laden to justice. The

words and pictures were powerfully symbolic in this election year, the President

can remind Americans Osama

bin Laden was captured and

killed exactly a year ago on

his watch but persuading this

unpopular war is winding down

is harder, the troops will be

in Afghanistan for at least

nowhere two years but the President held out the prospect of the conflict

drawing to a close at least

in a prime-time address to

the nation back home. Here in the pre-dawn darkness of Afghanistan we can see the

light of a new day on the

horizon. The I rook war is

over, the number of troobs in

harms way had troops in harms

way has been cut in half and more will soon be coming

home. We have a clear path to

fulfil our mission in

Afghanistan while delivers

justice to al-Qaeda. Earlier the President signed an

agreement with his Afghan counterpart guaranteeing US

support for years to come.

But recent weeks have seen US Afghan relations plunge to

new low, the President has to

convince a sceptical public

the worst is over.

Quick look at sport now and South Sydney has

confirmed the signing of

Brisbane utility Ben Teo on a

three year deal seen as a

replacement for departing

forward-day Taylor, he will join

join the club until the end

of 2015. It comes after he

played 60 games for the

Broncos after four seasons. Tomorrow's forecast:

Now back to David

Speers in Canberra as 'PM

Agenda' continues. After the

break we will bring you the

latest on the Health Services Union, the police raid, and on the

on the Sydney offices this

morning. What this now means

for the union and in particular embattled union

boss Michael Williamson. Later on we will

also be talking to Foreign

Minister Bob Carr, he's just

back from Fiji, and the US,

there have been some positive

signs in terms of the return

to democracy in Fiji, we will

take a look at that and

Afghanistan, the latest on

the ground there about

President Obama's plans to

start withdrawing troop, stay with us.

with us.

Welcome to the program I am

David Speers, it's been

another dark day, for the

Health Services Union, police raided the

raided the HSU East branch offices in Sydney this

morning, as part of their investigation into alleged

corrupt activities. And just when you thought this sorry story couldn't get any worse

police have confirmed they

intercepted someone in a

nearby car park carrying a

bag of documents relevant to

their investigations. Reports

today suggest that someone

was none other than the

embattled union boss Michael

Williamson. Now, detectives

from Strike Force Carnarvon,

launched this raid, around 9 o'clock this morning, at the

Pitt Street offices at the

HSU they took in their flat

back boxes, computers and

video gear, this is all part

of a specific investigation

into claims that Michael Williamson, and the former

union secretary, now

independent MP, Craig Thomson, received kickbacks from a printing company. Police say the raids this morning were one of the final steps in this investigation, while this

raid was under way Michael

Williamson was reportedly found in a nearby car park

with documents. Police won't

confirm exactly who they

intercepted with this bag of

documents but they have

flagged the possible charges

for allegedly interfere ing

with an investigation may be

laid. Is it a fact that

officers intercepted a bag of documents in a separate car

park? Yes, that is correct.

A bag uf documents was

intercepted this

morning. What was happening

there? Are you suggesting the

destruction of documents or

the interference with

witnesses? I won't go into

that with any more detail,

only that I have concerned

that information relevant to

the investigation may have

been tampered with. The

detective super intentant

confirmed the investigations

related to events dating back

to the mid 1990s. Craig

Thomson, though, was quick to

distance himself from this

particular investigation.

Look, I'm here today to

make a couple of comments about what's occurred today

in Sydney. There has been a

raid at the HSU East office

and this follows on from the Temby report yesterday, the

pls have done a conference --

police have done a media

police have done a media conference and made a number

of points, the first point

was this wasn't in relation to the Fair Work Australia

investigation. In fact, what

they made the very strong

point was that they have seen a copy of the Fair Work Australia report, which we

still haven't, and I'm very

glad the police have seen it,

and the police also made the

point there was nothing in

that Fair Work Australia

report that was of a criminal

nature. The second issue in relation to - that the

police made is that they have

spoken today to the person of

interest, or the people of

interest. Can I make it

absolutely clear, I have not

spoken to the police today or

at any time in relation to

these issues whatsoever. So

quite clearly this is not

about me. As I said yesterday

in relation to the Temby

report this is about the

Health Services Union East

branch, I have never been

part of that brarj, it formed

after I left -- brarj, it

formed after I left and became a member of

parliament. Craig Thomson,

now an independent member of

parliament. Meanwhile the

whistleblower in the union,

Cathy Jackson, now the

current national secretary of

the Health Services Union had this to say about the police

raids. The sad day for the

union, it's a traumatic day

for the organisation but it's

a day I think we need to get through so we can

through so we can clean up

this organisation. And put it

back on track in representing

our members. Well the Prime

Minister of course moved to

cut ties with Craig Thomson,

and distanced her Government

from the trouble surrounding

the Health Services Union.

But Tony Abbott, isn't

letting her walk away

entirely here was his reaction. The Prime Minister

cannot wash her hands of this

stinking putrid mess. This

is one of the Labor Party's

unions, these are her

faceless men. It was her

national President, it was

her vote on the House, or the

floor of the House of Representatives, the Prime

Minister must entirely disassociate herself from

this ever growing scandal and

the best way to do that is to

say, 'I repudiate the Health

Services Union vote on the floor of the House of

Representatives'. The Opposition determined not to

let the Prime Minister disassociate herself from

Craig Thomson entirely. Today

though the focus was very much on Michael Williamson,

if he did try and interfere with the police investigation

by carrying out a bag of

documents, the police wanted,

well, where does that leave

him with the union? He's

been stood aside or he has

stood aside from his role,

since last year, but he

remains on full pay. How is

the union going to react? If

indeed he is now charged with

interfering with the police

investigation into his role

at the union? Well the

acting national President of

the union, Chris Brown

reckons this could be the

final straw for Williamson , I spoke to him a little

earlier. Not at all. In

fact, I think I heard about

it about 15 minutes after it

had started. Well do you

think anyone at the union may

have, because as you know, police have said that someone

was intercepted carrying out

a bag of documents. Yeah,

look you n reports that are

going around that was Michael Williamson, and if that in fact is the case then

obviously it's very serious

that Williamson would seek to

intervene around interfere

with a police investigation. Obviously we

have been aware the

investigation has been under

way for some time, and in fact you know looking forward

to the outcome of that

investigation so we can see

exactly who it is that's done

any wrong within the union

and they can be held to

account. But, this morning's

developments were a bit of a

surprise at least to most of

us. Well have you been able

to confirm or clarify one way

or another internally within

the union whether anyone did see Michael Williamson there

this morning? No, I haven't.

Look that the raid was on the

East branch of the union and

the administration of the

East branch is not something

that I have a daily contact

with or very much contact

with. So I have actually

tried to ring a few people in

there to try and find out what's been going on but no-one's returning my calls,

not surprisingly. That

doesn't surprise you they are

not calling you back on

something like this? Look I'm

the national President of the

union, not involved in the

east branch itself. So it is probably not surprising they

are not calling me back but

it seems everyone has gone to

ground at the moment. If he

Michael Williamson is charged

with trying to interfere with

the police investigation,

what can and what will the

union do about him? Michael

Williamson as I understand is

still on full pay. Look, if

Michael Williamson is charged

that's the first concrete

evidence that we have of Michael Williamson doing

something wrong that we can

actually take action against

him. And we can actually do

that. I mean we are actually

in the Federal Court tomorrow

seeking that the officers of

that brarj all be stood down

from their positions so that

would remove him from that

position but that's likely to

take some time. If it turns

out he is guilty of what he has been accused of this

morning that would constitute gross mission conduct and

that would give me what I

have -- misconduct and that

will give me what I have

needed to remove him from

needed to remove him from office. How long would that

process take? The process

itself could be done fairly speedily, depending on you

know how much Mr Williamson

cooperated with that. But it

probably could be over and

done with within a month.

Unfortunately the rules have

a whole process of which

people are charged, those

charges are heard, people

have the right of appeal,

etc. But it should be, we

should be able to do it

fairly fast. But I would be extremely surprised if this

is true Williamson doesn't

resign from the positions

anyway and that's certainly

what I would be now

encouraging him to do because

essentially game up, you

know, it's over. Now I

appreciate you are not

involved much in the HSU east

branch, nonetheless, why do

you think this raid was

necessary in the first place?

Does it indicate there was a

lack of cooperation with

police? It would do. I mean I

understand that the east branch officials have been

provided with list of

documentations that the

police were interested in

obtaining. And I was told

true or otherwise that that

information in fact had been

provided. But the fact that

the police saw fit to

undertake a raid of the

nature that they did, they

obviously were of the view

they hadn't been provided

with the information that

they needed and so clearly

someone was not

cooperating. I hope they have

now got the information that

they need, because we need to

know exactly what's gone on within that branch and if

people are guilty of fraudulent behaviour, or

corruption, then they need to

be held to account and

hopefully this will give us

the opportunity to do so. But

as an absolute minimum

Michael Williamson now needs

to resign from all of his

positions because he's just

totally in an untenable position if this information

is correct. Just finally,

Chris Brown as a member of this union, and now acting

President, did you ever think

you would see a day where you

would have a police raid and

now reports that someone of a standing of Michael Williamson was trying to interfere with that police

raid? Look, absolutely not.

And this is just more bad

news on top of bad news and

it's exactly what we don't

need. The only good side of

it is that if what it means

is this is going to start to

come to a head where we can

get rid of these people out

of the union and we can

actually get the union back,

and deliver it back to the

members so they can own it

and take control of it, then

there will be some good come

out of that. Thank

you. You're welcome. The acting national President of the Health Services Union,

Chris Brown there. After the

break we will be talking to Foreign Minister Bob Carr

about his recent travels.

You're watching PM Agenda

in a moment we will be joined

by Foreign Minister Bob Carr,

first a quick check of the news headlines with Vannessa.

The National Australia

Bank is the first of the big

four to announce a cut to its interest rates after the

Reserve Bank's decision to

cut the official cash rate by

0.5%. The NAB is slashing its variable interest rates by

0.32%. All eyes are now on

the other three major banks,

especially ANZ. After its

first half profit inness

crewed by 10% -- increased

by 10% much the NSW fraud

squad has raided the Sydney

offices of the Health

Services Union. The

investigations commander says numerous documents and computer equipment were

seized. A person also had to

be stopped in the union's car

park allegedly trying to

remove a bag of documents but

their identity was not

confirmed. Federal Police

have launched a formal

investigation into Speaker

Peter Slipper. Over claims fraudulently used taxpayer

funded taxi voucher, Mr

Slipper's former staffer

James Ashby has accused him

of misusing Cabcharge

voucher, police say they have

been assessing the allegations since they became public more than a week ago

and have decided they do warrant further

investigation. The Government won't comment on

the police investigation.

Optus has announced it's

cutting 750 jobs in a major

restructure of its

operations. The telco says

redundancies will come from

across the board, from senior

and middle management to

operations and support functions. Two-thirds of the

job losses will be from

Sydney, with others in the ACT, Queensland, South

Australia, and Victoria. US President Barack Obama has

held high level talks with

Afghan President Hamid

Karzai, during a surprise

trip to the war-torn nation,

President Obama met American

troops, before signing a new

security agreement. During

his visit the Taliban has

claimed responsibility for a

deadly suicide attack in

Kabul, claiming it was in

response to the US

President's visit. Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San

Suu Kyi has been sworn in as

an MP. It's the first time

the 66-year-old has held

office in her 25 year struggle against authority

Annan rule. She was mobbed by

mobs and frars as she arrived

in parliament. It heralds a

new political era for Burma

and strengthens a shaky truce

between her party and the

country's reformist government. And in sport,

South Sydney has confirmed

the signing of Brisbane

utility Ben Teo on a three

year deal. Seen as a

replacement for depart ing

forward Dave Taylor, he will

join the club until the end

of 2015. Tomorrow's forecast:

Thank you Victorian ever

Vannessa, as NSW police raided the Health Services

Union offices in Sydney this morning, Australian Federal

Police have confirmed that

they are now launching -

conducting a formal investigation into Peter

Slipper. The embattled Speaker, they aren't giving

away too many details but

this does seem to run counter

to Peter Slipper's

declaration last week the

fraud claims against him had

been shown to be a complete fabrication by the documents

he produced. Nonetheless the

Prime Minister as she did with Craig Thomson over the

weekend also moved to put

some distance between her

Government and Peter Slipper,

telling the Speaker he

shouldn't return to the

Speaker's chair, in

indefinitely, today the

Government also continued to

pursue the Liberals

Christopher Pyne over what he

knew and when about these allegations made against

Peter Slipper. We now know

Christopher Pyne had a drink

with one of Peter Slipper's

staffers, James A Ashby the

man who has made these allegations of fraud and sexual harassment a month

before the claims were made

public. We also now know Christopher Pyne requested

James Ashbyy's phone number

that night. There is a

cover-up going on, there is

no doubt there is a cover-up

going on, you had Mr Abbott

saying he had no specific

knowledge, it is no

coincidence Mr Pyne used

exactly the same phraseology, obviously Mr Abbott and Mr

Pyne had gotten together to

use the term 'specific knowledge' to cover up the

fact obviously they had some

knowledge, the LNP, Liberal

and National Party documents

had prior knowledge of this

document. More questions but

still no smoking gun in

relation to any of this,

meanwhile hits keep coming on

the Government. Today the

mining magnate Andrew Forrest

was addressing the National

Press Club in Canberra Canberra, he was talking

about his efforts of

indigenous employment and the

Government to match training programs to employment outcomes, when it comes to the question he didn't hold

back in targeting his nemesis

Wayne Swan, we all know the

Treasurer and the Fortescue

Metals boss hardly sigh eye

to eye on a number of issues

most particularly on the

mining tax. Today Andrew

Forrest really got stuck into

Wayne Swan, we saw how deep

this animosity is, he accused

the Treasurer of letting down

ordinary workers by doing a

deal on the mining tax with

the big three miners and letting them off the hook.

And when he staired in that

precipice, those striking few

seconds that any leader goes through, will you put other

people's interests in front

of yours. Or in his case all

the Australian workers which

he's championing. And puts

them down, to raise his

little promotion. Then I'd say trsher,

say trsher, that's going to live with you for a very long

time. Andrew Forrest also

had some advice for Julia

Gillard, don't step down

while have you got a dud

deputy, clearly focusing his

anger towards Treasurer Wayne Swan, wholly and solely within the Government.

Foreign Minister Bob Carr has

spent the last week or so out

of the country while these

latest political developments

have been undersh way, he's

been in the US and in Fiji.

Where he says there have been

some positive talks on the

path back to democracy. In

the Pacific nation, Bob Carr

joining me now, thank you for your time Foreign Minister,

before we get to your trip to

Fiji and portfolio responsibilities I know have

you been out of the country

for a while but you are obviously aware what's going on. Let me cut to the chase

and ask you in all honesty do

you think the Prime Minister

is going to survive? Yes, I do. Absolutely. She will

survive, because she's the best person for the job and

if you want to cast your eye

across the chamber and ask

yourself what a single alternative policy Tony

Abbott has got, up against

Julia Gillard, I think that's

a useful exercise. You have

said there that she's the

best person for the job, you

don't think any other

candidate, Kevin Rudd,

yourself, Simon Crean, Stephen Smith would do better? No, when a Government

faces reverses in the polls

and when there are negative

stories in the headlines that

distract attention from the

solid substantial

achievements in policy terms

then you get this kind of

speculation. The Opposition

exists only one onion skin away from leadership

speculation, every day of the

week. But we have got to cop

it as it comes and continue

to work at the hard policy slog, it is what Australians

expect us to be engaged in and I think people will be

very pleased with both the responsibility and the social

conscience of the Budget that

they will see next week.

Just on the budget, let's get

to your portfolio, you met

today with a bunch of

international aid groups, who

are worried about the Budget

and the possibility that the

strong Labor commitment to

increase our foreign aid

spending, that that will be

delayed as part of the effort

to return to surplus, what

did you have to say to them

today? I said we can be proud

as a Government, as a people,

as a nation of our record on

foreign aid. We are the

number seven provider of

foreign aid in the world. And

I've been in Cambodia, where

I have seen maternity nurses

being trained by Australian

experts, funded by Australia,

bringing down the rate of

death with mothers giving

birth from about 500 per

hundred thousand births to

200 and they will help drive

it down to where it is in

Australia, eight deathser of

mothers per -- deaths of mothers per hundred thousand

birth, that is what

Australian aid means in

practice, that aid will continue to be rolled out. I

think Australians will be

impressed by what they see in

the budget about our

commitment to aid being continued at time when

Government's under pressure

to rein in spending and

deliver the surplus we

need. I, those aid

organisations are among the

most admirable people and

organisations I've ever met

and we can be very pleased

that they are out there,

their members knocking on

doors, raise money, persuading people to send in

cheques to make deductions,

to provide assistance in

winding back poverty around

the world. I think they and

any fair-minded observer will

be impressed by what the

Budget manages to do in tough

budgetary circumstances on

aid on Tuesday. Tim

Costello makes the point that

the increase in foreign aid,

Labor has pledged to deliver from

from 0.35% to 0.5% of gross

national income by 2510. That

will save he reckons another

possibly 800,000 lives z that

promise still stand? Well

I'm not going to anticipate

what's in the Budget. What I

am going to say when you see

the budget details on aid,

you can only reach one

conclusion, and that is that

Australia continues to be one

of the most generous nations

in the world. Aid will be an area of commitment that all

Australians can be proud

of. I can't... It would be a

broken promise if you walk away from that though won't

it? David beyond that I can't

tip what's in the Budget, I

can't step late what's in the budget, no minister does

that. I want to turn it your

visit from Fiji have you just

returned from there, it would

seem to be a positive step in

and of itself you went there

along with some other Pacific island Foreign Ministers tell

us what progress there is in

Fiji in returning to democracy. The Foreign

Ministers of PNG Tuvalu, New Zealand of course, the New Zealand Foreign Minister

being the leader of the

group, Samoa, and Vanuatu and we saw, representatives of the Government and they

repeated to us the commitment

to have elections, free and

fair elections in 2014. That

is very, very important. It's

important they repeat, they

reiterates though commitments

to us, we underlined the

facts the elections and constitutional consultation

that will precede the

election s has to occur

within a context of freedom

of assembly, and freedom of

the media. And at every

meeting we press that point.

I... Did they get that, this

issue about media freedom and

being able to assemble in

groups? I think they have

got the message. They have

got the message that we can't

let this go, we can't give

our approval and the case of

Australia and New Zealand we

can't lift or sanctions until we -- our sanctions until we see there is freedom for

example for the Methodist

church to have a conference where they may discuss

political issues where there

is freedom, a New Zealand TV

team can go in there and

report and not be kicked out.

We want to see those guarantees so we know the

provision of constitutional

consultation which on paper

looks authentic and the

elections that will be the

climax of that process will

be free and fair. And

conducted in an all - in an uninclusive and open context -- inclusive and open

-- inclusive and open context. I am moderately

encouraged by the assurances

we received. So, the

benchmark for lifting those

sanctions you talk about,

they include travel bans on

senior government figures in

Fiji, that will be what, the

announcement of an election

date? What will actually be

the benchmark for lifting

those sanctions? We would

want to see that the consultation about the

consultation about the new constitution, includes giving

everyone an opportunity to

have their say, that the media can criticise the

Government favoured

proposals, that critics of the Government can get

reported in the media, we

want to know that churches

can hold meeting, political

groups can hold meetings without running up against government decrees that ban

them. And if that's the case,

then in the words of one of

the government ministers, Fiji may achieve a

sustainable democracy. And

we all want that. We want to

get rid of this culture of

coups that has afflicted Fiji

since the 1980s and which

makes it stand out amongst

Pacific island democracies. The Pacific

islands countries are a

community of democracies,

Fiji stands out because it's

had a succession of coups.

And we want to encourage the

creation of again to use the

words of one of the ministers, a sustainable

democracy in Fiji. But, we

have sent a strong message to

the government and a strong

message to critics of the

government, the NGOs, the representatives of civil

society whom we met we will be watching carefully of what happens with freedom of

speech and freezom of

assembly and robust --

freedom of assembly and

robust media discussion of politics in Fiji. Just like

we have here, Foreign

Minister Bob Carr thanks very much. We don't fail on that

score. We try to do what we can. Thank you. Thank

you. After the break we will turn to Afghanistan, we have

seen President Obama there on

the ground overnight,

delivering a key speech about

the American plans for steady

withdrawal. Our reporter

Laura Jays has also been

there over recent weeks and has been talking to the

number two ISAF commander. Stay with us.

Are you watching 'PM

Agenda', foreign policy

wasn't seen as one of Barack

Obama's strengths when he ran

for office, but given the

domestic economy in the is

still is somewhat stagnant it

turns out it is one of

President Obama's strongest

assets as he seeks

re-election later this year,

on the first anniversary of

the successful move to target

and get rid of intlapd,

Barack Obama popped up in -- Osama bin Laden Barack Obama

popped up in Afghanistan

himself and in a secret

mission he visited troops

there and deliver the a

speech there, speaking about

the plan to withdraw more

American troops and the handover security control to

the Afghan forces by the end

of 2014. He's also signed a

strategic pact with Afghan President Hamid Karzai which

will allow for the continued

presence of American troops

to train Afghan personnel and

also carry out counter terror

operations beyond 2014 in Afghanistan. Here was a

little of President Obama's

speech. We have travelled

through more than a decade

under the dark cloud of war,

yet here in the pre-dawn

darkness of Afghanistan we

can see the light of a new

day on the horizon. The Iraq

war is over, the number of

our troops in harm's way has

been cut in half and more

will soon be coming home. We

have a clear path to fulfil

our mission in Afghanistan, while delivers justice to

al-Qaeda. So what does happen post 2014 in

Afghanistan? Well a lot of

this will be fluted out at a

NATO summit -- nutted out in

a NATO summit in Chicago

taking place in a few weeks

time. The deputy commander of the international security

force, ISAF, says that western nations must put on

the table what they are

prepared to do, particularly

financially for Afghanistan.

Lieutenant general Adrian

Bradshaw told Sky News

maintaining long term

stability is important for

Afghanistan he spoke to Laura

Jays. Thanks so much for

talking to us, when Coalition

forces do eventually go home,

most agree that the ANSF will

be left in a better

situation. But, do we do

about the east, the

government is unlikely to

take control of that

corruption, and also the economies is likely to

suffer, can the Afghans

really do this on their

really do this on their own? Well, the security that

the Afghan national forces are going to deliver will

create the space in which

governance can catch up and develop and of course we are

not going to be abandoning

them, after December 24 #20

14 we will still be here help

-- 2014 we will still be here

helping them develop their governance, particularly the

armed forces will be here

helping them with the defence

ministry of interior. Those

thing also continue to

develop. It was just over a

week ago that Kabul came

under attack, this was the

biggest terrorist attack seen

in this capital for quite

some time. Doesn't that show

there are failures in at least intelligence with the

Afghan national security forces? What I think you

should focus on is the

success of the intelligence

efforts over the seven months

before that attack. A number

of insurgence tried to get

trouble into town, several hundred have hundred have been prevented from doing so

Over the previous seven

months it's a real success,

of course trouble did get

into the town on that day, it

was very rapidly contained,

and the Afghans then dealt

with it very quickly. Are you

expecting to see this kind of

larger scale attack though,

the beginning of the spring

fighting season, this was

really the kickoff for that,

instead of going out into I

guess it didn't have a great

military effect, but in terms

of PR it did have a great

effect in the world wide

media. And how - what's the

plan in combatting I guess this new strategy we are

seeing from the Taliban in

moving forward? It's not a

new strategy. They have been

trying for some time, they

keep on trying. I rather

would step aside from the definition of a fighting

season, because as far as

Kabul has been concerned, we have seen them trying to get

trouble in over the winter

and they have failed. Apart

from this recent attempt. No

doubt they will keep trying

and we will get better at

interjecting them. Think the

national direct rate of

security are doing a pretty

good job anyway. The all

important up coming Chicago

summit is fast approaching,

at the moment it's been

talked about, the financial

situation and what western

nations will pitch in post

the transition, is $4 billion

figure being thrown around,

do you think that's enough?

And what will - and how

should it be diff ideaed up

between these -- divided up between the western nation,

what will be a fair share if

you like? Well, the $4 billion figure is based on

the size and shape of Afghan

national security forces that

we think will be required to

deal with the residual threat

when the bulk of the counter

unsargity campaign has been

completed -- insurgency

campaign has been completed

and of course some guidelines

are out there as to what is

expected from the coalition,

a couple of countries have

stepped up already, with

indications that they are

going to contribute to that,

and at Chicago we hope many

more will. The importance of

Chicago is to give the

Afghans absolute confidence

we will be here beyond 2014,

supporting their security

forces, and ensuring that

they continue to do excellent

work against the residual

insurgency. What do we need

out of Chicago, we talked

about the financial figure,

whether we get an agreement

on that out of Chicago, is

that not the important bit?

Is the important part of the

Chicago summit perhaps each

country signing on and

saying, yes, we are committed

to Afghanistan's future for a

set amount of years, or

contributing in what

way? Like special forces,

with equipment, the like? I

think the most important

thing is a very firm

commitment to the future

underpinning of the Afghan

national security force, both financially and through

future training and support.

And, if this is pitched over

the sort of time line of a

decade, I think the impact on

the Afghans will be profound,

the impact on the insurgent's

higher kwhand who are outside

the country realise they look

forward to another decade of

exile and they will begin to

consider whether it's time to

cash in their chips and join the political process. There

has been a lot of talk about

the military side of things

and we are starting to talk

about the politics and

governance, but also in 2014

we are looking as a presidential election, what

happens post Karzai? Will that create a bit of a bump that create a bit of a bump

in the road if you like or

will there be that create

some uncertainty and are we

preparing for that? Well,

certainly we are preparing

for the election process, and

we are aware that it's going

to be quite a profound

change. Karzai has been in

power for a decade or so, and

the transition to a new democratically elected

government will be a huge

sign of successful transition

here. So it's a very important event and it's one

that we will be

supporting. Julia Gillard,

our Prime Minister, announced

just last week, put a time

line on Australian troops

withdrawing from Afghanistan.

The majority of Australian

troops being home by the middle of next year, do you

think it's the right time

then for Australia to go home? Well, each nation will

be drawing down in proportion

to the requirement on the

ground. And as you know, as

we move to the security

forces assistance model, we

will have less and less

combat troops on the ground,

and more people in an

advisory role. Sure there is

a chance of them being

involved in combat right the

way up to the end of 2014,

but the numbers will come

down, for every nation, not

just Australia. But they will

come down in proportion to the the requirement on the ground. Toptd

That's all we have time for That's all we have time for

today's program we will be

back for tomorrow's program. See you then.

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