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Australian Agenda -

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Australia's news channel.

This is PM Agenda

Good afternoon, welcome to

the program I am David

Speers, the Government isn't

waiting until Budget night to

announce all the nasties,

it's already confirmed a superannuation tax hike for

higher income earners, today

it took the knife to the

defence budget, around $2

billion will be saved, by

delaying new fighter jets and

scrapping so-called self

propelled artillery. But new submarines are going full

steam ahead and the Government has announced a

new defence white paper will

be released early next year, coming up we will be talking

to the shadow Defence

Minister David Johnson about

this and talking to

independent MP Andrew Wilkie,

he's now in a more powerful

position once again after the

Speaker Peter Slipper was

stood aside, he's yet to

declare what he will do on a

raft of issues in particular,

the Government as poker

machine reforms, the watered

down version after they broke

their deal with Andrew Wilkie

on mandatory pre-commitment

government's promised company technology and also the

tax cuts we will talk to him

about all of that. And would

you take in an asylum seeker

in your own home? We will

look at a new program to

house asylum seekerers in the

community. First a check of

the top stories this hour with Susanne Latimore. Thanks, asbestos

victims have welcome aid High

Court rule coming found seven

former director of James Hardie breached their duties

statements about a by giving misleading

compensation fund, the fund

was set up in 2001 but fell

short by more than $1

billion. It won't mean

more compensation for

asbestos victims, but in a

fight that spanned more than

a decade, it is

vindication. It's justice for

asbestos sufferers and

families and for sadly for

all those people that have

lost a battle. Hundreds and

hundreds of victims that have

passed away in them 12 years

that never lived to see this

day of reckoning. But, all

families have survived, I'm

sure that they will be

feeling quite pleased today. In 2001 James Hardie

told the Stock Exchange its

compensation fund would meet

the needs of workers. Who had

contracted often fatal

diseases through exposure to

asbestos. But the fund fell

more than $1 billion short,

seven former directors including former chairman

Meredith Hellicar, were

convicted of misleading

conduct. They were fined

$30,000 each and banned from

the boardroom for five years,

but they appealed and had

their convictions overturned. The corporate

watchdog ASIC responded, by

taking it to the highest

court in the land. And

won. The High Court finding

the ex directors guilty once

more. The decision today by

the High Court brings to a

closure in some respect s a

long fight by asbestos

victims and their families to

be understood, and the issue

of good corporate governance

by directors who chose to

give a statement to ASIC and

then take a company off shore

knowing or misleading ASIC as

to the liabilities of a

company -- For the company

directors the battle isn't over. Their new penalties

await, to be determined by

the NSW appeals court. The

Government's announced nearly

$2 billion in defence saves

ahead of Tuesday's budget.

The Prime Minister made clear

any clay or reduction in

military spending will -- any

delay or impact on military

spending will not impact on

current deployments or troop

numbers. Savings of $1.8

billion from dens has been

announced with more expected on Tuesday. This contribution

has been carefully designed

to protect our service men

and women and our defence operations. The majority of

savings come from a delay in

the acquisition of new

fighter jets. We will see the

Joint Strike Fighters two delivery of the first 12

years after the previous

estimates. At a net benefit

to the Budget of $1.6

billion. The Government as

also committed to 12 next

generation intoouns to be

built in Adelaide with --

intooerns to be built in

Adelaide with $200 million

allocated to fund a scoping

study. There is a national

interest case in getting this

right to make sure the 12

future submarines are right

for purpose, that we learn

the lessons of the past in

relation to the

Collins. Another day and

another extraordinary

announcement. From Julia

Gillard. It's the death

gurgle of a dying government

when they make enormous announcements involving tens

of billions of dollars and

don't explain to the

Australian people where the

money's coming from. The

next strategic review of

Australia's defence forces

will be done next year, 12

months ahead of schedule

like the drawdown in because of changing markets

Afghanistan. The focus on military planning has the

Prime Minister trying to move on, from the scandals that

have distracted from the

Government's agenda. Over the

last week there have been a

said the Prime Minister only number of reports that have

has a month or two to start turning around the

fortunes, before her Government's political

leadership is once again under threat. Julia Gillard says she's heard that

before. To be, you know,

frank with the people who

generate many of these

stories, you know, clearly

over the past few day there's

are stories about deadlines

and all of that kind of

thing, if I was someone given to keeping newspaper

clippings I'd have filing

cabinets overstuffed and

toppling over with stories

bring about deadlines. The Prime Minister remains

adamant she won't be toppled. The Commonwealth has

become the second of the

major banks to reduce rates

the CBA has cut interest

rates by 0.4%, the details

Sky News Business reporter

James Daggar-Nixon joins me

now, and all focus now on the

other two big banks? Absolutely, banks very

much und respect pressure at

the moment, ever since on Tuesday, the surprise

interest rate decision by the

Reserve Bank of Australia, to

cut the cash rate by 50 basis

points and in that time we

have seen the NAB cut their

variable lending rate by 32

basis points. Today of course

we have the CBA cut there,

variable, mortgage and

business lending rates by 40

basis points. Now we shift

obviously to the ANZ and

Westpac, ANZ, we are

expecting next Friday of

course a few months ago they

really did move to distance

themselves or break that

connection between the RBA

cash rate decision and what

the banks do. They set up an

interest rate review, is on

the second Friday of each

month, that falls next

Friday. So that's when we are

expecting an announcement

from the ANZ, Westpac a

little bit earliy er we are

expecting them to announce if

and by how much they cut the variable lending rates tomorrow and of course comes

off the back of their interim

report card today, a rather

healthy profit just under $3

billion came in line with

what the market had been

expecting, we have seen a good bounce in their share

price today. Last I looked is

about 1.4%, the interesting

point is what the banks

lending rate means for the

cash rate moving forward, we

know the RBA cut by 50 basis

points to get lending rates down, the question is whether

or not the banks are getting

down low enough, some suggest

not which means we could potentially have more

interest rate cuts on the

cards. Market pricing in

about a 60% chance of a 25

basis point cut in June.

Thank you very much.

Dignitaries veterans and

defence force members from

Australia and the US have

gathered in Canberra to mark

the 70th anniversary of the

Battle of the Coral Sea. The national commemoration service paid tribute to those

killed when allied forces

confronted the Japanese naval

fleet during World War II in

what was a major strategic

battle in the Pacific. US

representatives, secretary of

homeland security, Janette

Napolitano my light highlighted the importance of

remembering the Falconio en

and for the -- remembering

the fallen and for the two

nations to continue building

a stronger military partnership. Our nations are

bound by common values the

rights and freedoms we

cherish and for nearly a century we have stood

together in defence of those

freedoms. You can watch a

full replay of the national

commemoration service for the

70th anniversary on A-PAC,

channel 648. A memorial

service has been told Jimmy

Little was not only a popular

musician but a passionate advocate for Aboriginal

health. He died last month at

his home in Dubbo, he was

75. The state memorial has been held at the Opera House,

NSW Premier, Barry O'Farrell,

delivered the first of the

tributes. We are assembled

here today to pay tribute to

the life and extraordinary achievements of Jimmy

Little. And there can be no

better place to do so. We

are here in Australia's most

recognisable and iconic

building, the Sydney Opera

House. To celebrate a life

that was centred on music.

Jimmy's great gift was

longevity. The envy of all

working musicians. He

remained relevant throughout

his career, for on 55 years

he took his message to the

dance hall, city beer garden

r gardens football club, surf

clubs rodeo, festivals, black

tie events, the Sydney Opera

House, even Shakespears's

tleetd in London. He plays

them all. He may not have

been on the marches but he

did so much in the creative

industries by just letting

his fellow colleagues know of the state of Aboriginal

Australia. And we truly

acknowledge that, there are

so many young performers now

that have worked with Uncle

Jimmy but those he has either

taugtd or mentored and we --

taught or mentored and we pay

our deepest respects to

Gentleman Jim, our Uncle Jimmy. If you missed the

service for Jimmy Little you

can catch special screenings

tonight on A-PAC, Australia

public affairs channel. The

state memorial will be

replayed in full at 7 and at

11 o'clock eastern time. In

sports news, the injury

played magpies will be

bolstered by the return of

defenders Heath Shaw and Ben

Reid with the clash with the

western Bull Bulldogs, the

coach says they will be a to

be reckon ed with and he

expects Travis Cloke to turn

down big money to stay with

the Pies. We enjoy him being

here and his contribution,

and, I do get a little

affronted seeing him in opposition guernseys in the

paper. I don't think I will

ever get used to that.

Neither will he. In the

meantime Richmond is hoping

for its second win of the

season taking on Port

Adelaide. The coach says

simply being competitive will

not be good enough. The

honourable loss for us is a

thing of the past. Now we are

looking to be a lot more

competitive and win football

game, that's where we stand

as a club and we have made

that very clear at the start

of the year it is no longer

being competitive etc we will win football games. To the weather: Back to David Speers and

'PM Agenda'. Thank you,

after the break we will have

a look at the defence announcement from the Prime Minister today, a new white

paper to be rolled out early

next year because of the changing strategic environment, but also some

cuts happening in next week's budget. In particular,

delaying the Joint Strike

Fighter project. The first 12 fighter jets we were supposed

to deliver, what is that

going to mean? Is this a

sensible decision? We will

be talking to the shadow

Defence Minister about that,

also we will be joined after

the break by the independent

MP, Andrew Wilkie, he is

waiting to see the dust settle on what's been happening in politics over

the last week or so, to see

what influence he now has and what exactly he's going to

push for on poker machine

reform and a few other

issues. Stay with us. Good afternoon, welcome to

the program. I am David

Speers, we have news coming

through in the last few

minutes on the whole Health Services Union Craig Thomson

affair, I want to bring you the Commonwealth Director of

Public Prosecutions, you may recall last month, Fair Work

Australia wrapped up its

enquiry, handed its report

into the Health Services Union to the Commonwealth

DPP, the DPP said thanks but

that's not really a brief of

evidence, we can't do much

with that, well, we will take

a look at it now the DPP has just issued a statement, we

have got this in the last few

minute, it's said that what

it's done is looked at this

material, again pointed out

that it's not a brief of

evidence, but it is handing

it to Victorian and NSW

police. This has been done

today. Now, the Fair Work

Australia had refused to

cooperate in part with the

Victorian and NSW police

investigations into the

Health Services Union, well

now their report is to be

handed to both of those

police surfaces, the DPP, the

Commonwealth DPP has decided

it is appropriate in all the

circumstances it says to

forward the report and the

related material to the Victorian police and NSW

police force. This has been

done today, it says the examination process that it's been conducting in the last

few weeks has been completed, consideration given whether

the material identifies conduct which could involve

potential criminal conduct,

and whether, the alleged

conduct related to potential breaches of state or Commonwealth offences now

it's handed that to police in

those two states, we will

bring you more reaction on

that tonight but just

bringing you that breaking news there from the Commonwealth Director of

Public Prosecutions. This

whole saga has now taken yet

another step and will land

back in the laps of those

police services. Meanwhile

today the Prime Minister and

Defence Minister announced

some big changes on the

future of the Australian Defence Force. Firstly they

have announced there will be

a new white paper rolled out

early next year, it's a year

earlier than had earlier been

flagged that's because the

Prime Minister says the

changing strategic

environment, the fact that

China and this region is

growing a lot faster military

and economicy, than earlier thought. And also the fact we

have a clearer timeframe now

for withdrawing troops from

Afghanistan and winding down

that war there but she has

also announced this was the

key point of the timing all

of this some big defence

spending cuts ahead of

Tuesday night's Budget. About

$2 billion in cuts in fact,

most of that $1.6 billion by

delaying by two years the

first purchase, the first 12,

Joint Strike Fighters, these

are the new fighter jets that

they are purchasing from the

US, they will be delayed two

years because there have been

problems with this project in

the US so it's arguable they

wouldn't have been ready

earlier than that anyway, we

will also scrap a new mobile artillery project, that's

been scrapped, to save about $25 million but the

Government is going ahead

with the purchase of new

submarines, it has taken a

first step, about a $200

million step in looking what

sort of submarine we will

purchase. Here was the Prime Minister explaining none of

these changes are going to effect our front line

troops. Defence will be making an important contribution to the Government's fiscal

objectives. I also want to

be very clear today that this

contribution has been carefully designed to protect

our service men and women,

and our defence operations,

and to minimise the impact on

core project capabilities.

We will have more on this coming up this hour, we will

be talking to the shadow

Defence Minister David

Johnson about this, mine while this was of course the first time the Prime Minister

has fronted the media in a

few days and it's been a few

days where there has been

some leadership speculation

swirling, despair in Labor

ranks about all going on in

tlavr the mishandling of the

issues of Craig Thomson and Peter Slipper, but Julia

Gillard in light of all these

reports that she's been given

a deadline of proving that

she can turn things around

with this budget or facing a

tap on the shoulder in about

June, she's played all of this down, here she was on

that. To be, you know, frank

with the people who generate

many of these stories, you know, clearly over the past

few day there's are stories

about deadlines and all of

that kind of thing, if I was

someone given to keeping

newspaper clippings I'd have filing cabinets overstuffed

and toppling over with stories written about

deadlines. So, you will have

to excuse me if that's not my

focus. My focus is getting on

with the job in the nation's

interests. Well it's not

just Labor MPs watching on this uncertain political climate, at the moment but independent MPs too and one

of them Andrew Wilkie, who

you may recall earlier this

yearer to up his agreement

with the Government -- tore

up his agreement with the government, after the Prime

Minister broke her deal with

him on mandatory pre-commitment technology

with poker machines that

technology that would force

all punters to nominate how

much they are willing to bet before they start gambling on

a poker machine, instead the Government overed a watered

down proposal a trial of pre-commitment technology in

the ACT and also equipping

new machines with pre-commitment technology. Andrew Wilkie has been

considering all of this, he's

been asking for a few more particulars and a few more specifics from the

Government, but he hasn't yet

confirmed where he stands and

whether he's going to vote for or against the

government's proposals his

position has been made more

influential after Peter

Slipper was shifted out of

the Speaker and chair and

essentially unable to vote on

the floor of parliament so

where does Andrew Wilkie

stand on this issue of poker

machines but also the key measure that the Government is planning in next week's

Budget. I spoke to him from Melbourne a short time ago.

Thanks for your time. Can I

start by asking have you made

a decision yet on the Government's proposed watered

down poker machine reforms? Well David, this whole issue of course starts

20 months ago, when the

Government agreed with me to

implement meaningful poker

machine reform but the

Government walked away from

that agreement in January and

then announced a much watered

down package of reforms. Now,

I was ple paired and I may

well -- prepared and I may

well still support the government's watered down

reforms if I judge they are better than nothing. Unfortunately the

bill that's on the table is

worse than nothing, I have

raised a number of specific concerns with minister Jenny

Macklin, she has now sought

to address those concerns and

she's written to me about two

weeks ago, I'm now continuing

to sit on that Government

response and frankly I'm

continuing to wait and see what the political landscape

in Canberra looks like, it's

yet to stabilise I think. But

I'm continuing to be alert to any opportunity I might get

to push for more meaningful reform. But it's pretty clear

now, isn't it, where the

numbers lie? Peter Slipper,

has been stood aside from the

Speaker's chair he will remain stood aside for a

while yet, the police have now launched a formal investigation, that will take

a while to run. Craig Thomson

is now sitting on the crossbench, albeit voting with Labor no doubt. What

more do you need to see about

where the parliamentary

numbers are? I want to give

it a bit longer to just have some confidence that this

might in fact be the landscape for the fore

seeable future, I'm not convinced that we haven't

heard all of the stories and

there isn't more news to come

out. It may well be the case of course that for the next

18 months this is what the

parliament looks like, but

I'm just - I don't feel I

need to rush to a decision on

this. And in any case the

Government has it within its

power to table its bill,

perhaps next week, and then

that gives us all a time to

have a debate about it. To

look at ways it might be

amended and to be improved. I

mean, there is no reason for

me to rush to a decision. So,

why would I? One of those

sticking points as I

understand it has been

whether a future Government,

if it decides to roll out mandatory pre-commitment

technology, that it will be

able to do so simply by

flicking a switch on the pre-commitment technology

that the Government now wants

to install on all new

machines. Has the Government

satisfied you that that's the

case? This is a very

important aspect of this

whole issue. When the Prime

Minister announced her

package of reforms in mid

January, to use her words, it

would be able to become a mandatory pre-commitment at

the flick of a switch. Now, the exposure draft does not

make that clear, it is not explicit in the exposure

draft of the bill that the

system of machines or the

systems and the machines that

are going to be rolled out

will be capable of mandatory

pre-commitment at the flick

of the switch. That was one

of the issues I raised with

the minutes, the minister's

response now does --

minister, the minister's response now does seek to

ensure that, I think it's a

pretty good form of words so

that matter at least I think

has been largely

resolved. What else remain

staking point for you? The

other sticking point was the

ACT trial be legislated and

that the legislation provides

some safeguard at least that

the trial would be an

effective trial, for example,

that it would be conducted by a competent independent

organisation and so on. The Government, in its initial

position, was that it

couldn't be included in the

bill. That in fact it would

be unconstitutional. And I

gave the minister a suggested

form of words which she's

largely accepted so that

point also is largely

addressed. It seems like the

Government has satisfied the demands you have made, what

more do you want? Well, the

key thing now David and I

have made no secret of this,

is that the situation in

Canberra over the last two

weeks has obviously been

quite remarkable and it makes

sense to me just to wait and

see what the political

landscape looks like and

whether or not something

might come out of this current situation in Canberra

that might give me a little

bit more influence and be

able to push for more meaningful reform because

look, this is a once in a

lifetime opportunity to get

mineful poker machine reform

in this cun -- meaningful

poker machine reform in this

country, I don't need to

raise to a decision to say I

will support to the

government --... It sounds

like the Government has

satisfied your

concerns? Largely it has,

yes. But I am making the

point again, and I can only

keep saying it so many times,

I don't need to rush to a

decision. And I want to just

wait and see to find out

whether or not I might in

fact have a little bit more

influence in Canberra and I

might be able to push a bit

harder for more meaningful

reform. Ky turn to next week's Budget -- can I turn

to next week's budget you

have been concerned about

foreign aid and speculation

that the promised increase in

our foreign aid spending

might be delayed as part of

the Government's efforts to

return the budget to surplus, the Foreign Minister, Bob

Carr, told us here on this

program yesterday that aid groups will be happy about

the outcome, even though he

wasn't making any guarantees,

are you satisfied that

Labor's promise will still be

met? Well David, I don't

know. Like everyone else I

have to wait and see what the

fig senior in the Budget.

What I do know -- figure is

in the Budget. What I know

for sure is a succession of

governments right back to

John Howard in the year 2000,

a succession of governments

have committed us to the

Millenium goals, and to an

ultimate target of 0.7% of

gross national income. Now in

recent years that's been

reduced down to 0.5% of gross

national income, as a target for Australia to reach in our

foreign aid program. I will

be mightily disappointed that

if there is any sort of

wavering in the resolve or

the steps to meet that 0.5%

target if there is any sort

of reduction in those

stepping stones, in next

week's budget. Look the

bottom line here is, we are

one of the richest and

luckiest countries in the

world. And there is no reason

whatsoever why we can't give

half of 1% of our national

interest to the poorest and most vulnerable people on the planet. Yes the budget is

under pressure but that is no

reason for this Government to

reanything on the promises

it's -- reneg on the promises

it's made to keep stepping

towards the 0.5%, I understand the stepping stone

in this budget will be 0.38%,

that is the next stage moving

towards 0.5% in 2015. I expect that to be in the budget. There is no excuse

for it not to be in the budget and I will be very disappoint ed in the Government if it doesn't keep

that promise. What about company tax cut, the

government wants to cut the

tax rate by 1% from small

business July this year and

big business July next year,

what do you think on this,

the Coalition are opposed to

it because it's part of the

mining tax package, but will

you support the G? David I'm open minded about that, on

the one hand I do see the

value of a cut of 1% from 30%

to 29% for business in

Australia, particularly at

this point in time when the

economy is soft and a lot of

businesses are doing it puff

tough. But at the same time

I'm -- are doing it tough.

But at the same time I am sympathetic to the Greens

view this is not the time to

basically strip $1.5 billion

out of spending and health

and education and so on, I

suppose it is resonating with

me, especially at this point

in time because the public

hospital system in Tasmania

is in crisis. So I'm looking

for ways to improve federal

assistance to Tasmania's

public health system so

that's a longwinded answerer

to say I'm yet to decide. And

finally can I turn to the

issue of confidence in the Government, you said on the

weekend that you may consider

supporting a no confidence

motion if the Government seriously mishandled the

Peter Slipper situation. Are

you happy with the way they

have handled it so far? Well,

I would have moved or

supported a no confidence

motion against Peter Slipper,

if he had tried to sit in the

Speaker's chair until all of the criminal and civil

allegations have been dealt

with. But Peter's had the

good sense to say he will

stay out of the chair and the

Prime Minister finally had

the good sense to support

that position. So as far as

I'm concerned the Slipper

issue is now put to the side,

so at this point in time I

see no reason why I would

support a no confidence motion in Peter Slipper or in

fact in the Government. Last

week I would have supported

or moved a no confidence

motion against Slipper, this

week, I am happy with the way

things are and I I think the Prime Minister does d the

right thing in regard to

Craig Thomson being suspended

from the ALP, although

heavens she should have done

it six or 12 months ago. But

I don't know what next week

holds, you know, I approach

everything on its merits now

and I make no promises about

the future. Thanks for your

time. Thank you

David. Independent MP Andrew

Wilkie talking to us a little

earlier. As we mentioned at

the top of the show and you

can see on the bottom of your

screen there, the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, has now

referred the Victorian and NSW police that Fair Work

Australia report, on the

Health Services Union. That

it was delivered last month, now it wasn't made public at

the time, the DPP pointed out

at the time it wasn't a brief

of evidence, therefore

couldn't proceed with any

charges. It's now referring that back to NSW and

Victorian police, what that means for the possible

publication of this report is

unclear, does it now mean it

won't be made public, or will

the Senate committee that

also wants to get its hands

on it be able to do so. We

will see, we will get more on

that for you. Also today, the

NSW Government has moved to

pass an emergency legislation

to make sure the Health

Services Union can be put

into the hands of administrators. You may real

last week Bill Shorten, the Federal workplace relations

minister sought a court intervention to put the union

into the hands of

administrators, the court has

expressed some concern that he doesn't have the

jurisdiction to do this, it's

a state-based union, Barry

O'Farrell, the NSW Premier

today announced they will

move urgent legislation to

make sure that can happen

from a state level at least.

So that likes like it will go

ahead. After the break we

will turn to the defence

shake-up plan announced by

the Government today. We will

be talking to the shadow minister. Stay with us.

You are watching PM Agenda

in a moment we will be

talking to the shadow Defence

Minister David Johnson about

many defence announcements

made by the Government today

we will go through all of those, a quick check of the nuls first. Here is Suzanne.

Asbestos victims have

welcomed a High Court ruling

which found 7 former

directors of James Hardie

breached their duties by

giving misleading statements

about a compensation fund. In 2001, James Hardie told the

stock exchange its

compensation fund would meet

the needs of workers. Who had

contracted often fatal

diseases through exposure to

asbestos. The fund fell more

than $1 billion short, for

the company directors their

battle isn't over the new penalties will be determine

earlied by the NSW appeals

court. The Commonwealth DPP

has forwarded the Fair Work

Australia report into the

Health Services Union, to

Victorian and NSW police. The

public prosecutor received

the report last month, but

couldn't take it further

because it was not a brief of

evidence. The CDPP has today

released a statement saying

after examination of the report and consideration of

possible criminal charges,

the report has been forwarded

to state police. A new

defence white paper will be delivered in the first half

of next year, a year ahead of

schedule, the Government has

announced it's been brought

forward to fact in a change

in conditions. Including the

drawdown in Afghanistan. The

Prime Minister also announced

$1.8 billion in defence

savings from the delaying or

scrapping of some projects.

All eyes are now on the ANZ

and Westpac in response to

the Reserve Bank's 0.5%

interest rate reduction, the Commonwealth bank today cut

its standard variable home

loan rate by 0.4%, that

followed the earlier

reduction by NAB which cut

its variable home loan rates

by 0.32%, also less than the

RBA's reduction on Tuesday.

ANZ is due to make a decision

on its lending rates at its

monthly meeting next week. Dignitaries veterans and

defence force members from Australia and the US have

gathered in Canberra to mark

the 70th anniversary of the

Battle of the Coral Sea. The national commemoration

service paid tribute to those

killed when allied forces

confronted the Japanese naval

fleet during World War II. In

what was a major strategic

battle in the Pacific.

Australia's Olympic opening

ceremony uniforms have

received mixed reviews,

swimmer Libby Trickett says

they are fantastic but some

critics say they make the

athletes look like lawn

bowlers they feature green

jackets with white slacks for

men and white knee-length

skirts for women and white

Dunlop Volley shoes, it is

the first time the uniform

has been unveiled ahead of

the Olympic Games which begin in London in July. The

weather: Thank you, as far

as defence announcements go

today, was a biggy, the

Government announced there

will be a new white paper

rolled out early next year

but getting in before Tuesday

night as budget it confirmed

more than $2 billion in

spending cuts for defence, the new Joint Strike Fighters

will be delayed the first

batch of 12 of them delayed

by two years, that will save

around $1.6 billion. New high-tech artillery pieces

also to be scrapped, there

has been problems with that project. That's going to save

more than $20 million but the Government is charging full

steam ahead with the replace

many of Australia's submarine

fleet, 12 new submarines

eventually this will cost a

lot of money, $40 billion but

at the moment. $214 million

being committed in funding

for a scoping study to work

out exactly what we need. On

the Joint Strike Fighters,

here is the Defence Minister,

Stephen Smith confirms there will be a further two year

delay. We remain committed

to the Joint Strike Fighter

project, but we will see the

delivery of our first 12

Joint Strike Fighters, two years after the previous estimates. At a net benefit

to the Budget of $1.6 billion

putting us on the same timetable effectively as the

US. The Government is not

proposing to proceed with the

self propelled aspect of our

artillery project, we will of

course continue with towed

artillery which is also able

to be carried by the chinic

helicopters. That will be at

-- Chinook helicopter, that

will be saving to the budget

of some $225 million a

quarter of a billion. The shadow Defence Minister,

Senator David Johnson joins

me from Perth, thanks for

your time. Firstly the Joint

Strike Fighters there have

been delays in the actual

project in the US, so this

was really forced on the government this saving wasn't

it? Well, it was to some

extent David, and a pleasure to be with you this evening.

The point is this, with four

days to go before the Federal

Budget, the defence portfolio has had to stump up on

savings to make the numbers

come together. Now, it sends

an irresistible inference I

think that this whole Budget

process is shambolic, and in

disarray, the numbers are not

adding up and minister Smith

has had to come before the

public and media this morning

and say, here are some

further contributions from defence. Now the Joint Strike

Fighter is a very, very important platform for

Australia into the future. I

hope he knows what he's doing. He has exhibited

nothing that gives me any

great confidence that he

knows what he's doing. This announcement is about politic, it's not about the defence of Australia. But you

have just agreed there have

been delays in the project

itself, so what could the

Government have done on the

Joint Strike Fighters? Well,

he hasn't explained the basis

for the deferral. He said

he's deferred it for money

reasons. Now, I would have

thought he would defer it

because it might be a better

aircraft, it might be a

cheaper aircraft, and those

are the sorts of matters I

would have thought which

would have underpinned a

decision of this nature. But

no, it's about the

money. Well, what in

particular then do you

disagree with in terms of these savings the

Government's announced

today? Well, he hasn't

explained the effect on

capability. He hasn't said to

us why and how he had

supported the program to this

point in time in the white

paper of 2009, there has been

no explanation as to the

shortfall in capability that

deferring this aircraft

brings to the table for our

defence. And I have to say,

he imparts no confidence

whatsoever that defence is

his first priority. It is

about the politics of this

coming tuts night. If --

Tuesday night. If the Coalition Form government

next year, what will you do

on our fighter jet capability

because we do have a

potential capability gap

emerging there, don't

we? Brendan Nelson did a

remarkable job in filling the

gap with 24 super hornets,

every RAAF pilot I speak to

says this is a fabulous

capablity. We would want to see the Joint Strike Fighter,

bear in mind we are one of 11

countries participating in

providing this aircraft, and

it's very, very important

that the purchase orders be

concrete to zour the cost and

capability of -- secure the

cost and capablity of the

aircraft. It concerns me

greatly when the minister

does not explain from a

defence perspective what this

deferral mean. But if they are not ready, they are not

ready, are they, so what can

you do? Well I have just come

back from have Fort Worth as

of Monday you will be

surprised to know, these

aircraft are coming along very well, they are on

schedule for production. I

have seen over 40 fuselages in police officer. This

aircraft is coming along --

in manufacture, this aircraft

is coming along very well. What is the minister

talking about when he says we are essentially going to be

in line with the US by pushing back this purchase by two years. I don't know what

he's talking about, I think

he's taking a convent

perspective there has been a

recon fig ration with respect

to a number of the aircraft.

He doesn't ever explain the

detail from a defence

perspective of what these

deferrals mean. He doesn't say... He could go ahead with the purchase you reckon? Well, he hasn't explained to us why he couldn't. He's explained

that he wants the money for budgetary purposes, I'm

sorry, from a defence

perspective which is my responsibility, that doesn't

cut it. Now on the

submarines, the government is

embark on on a $214 million

early stage design study at

least on the purchase of the

new 12 next generation submarines these could eventually cost around $40 billion, what do you think we need when it comes to

submarinacious lot of debate

about this do we need long

range submarines what do we

need? We need is a reliable

submarine design that can be

built with a minimum of

risk. We have some of the

world's best sur mariners in

a platform today -- submariners in a platform

today many of the senior

players today in Canberra had

a lot to do with choosing.

Now the Collins Class has

been running at $800 million

a year to sustain with very

little capability on offer,

in defence of Australia.

What we want to see is a

detailed plan. We have wasted

the last three years. This is a Government that is all

about the announcement and

nothing about delivery. So

this sort of study they

announced today is a good

idea then isn't it to work out what exactly we need? This is something like

the 13th study that has been

conducted by rear admiral

Rohan Moffatt and now a new

study, I can't believe it's

costing $200 million but the

fact is this Government does not want to make a decision.

They have deferred it until

after the next election, they

have wasted three years and

they will waste a further

another 12 months. They talk

but don't deliver. Are you

not certain what we need

either, are you, so what

would you do? Have another

study or make a decision? I

can tell you, last week I was

in Kiel and I was in Spain. Two very good manufacturers, I also went to

France to have a look at what

they do, their predominantly focused on nuclear

manufacture. Now the point is

that there are three

conventional class submarine manufacturers. If we are

going to have a conventional class submarine which clearly

we are, then we have only

three choices. The longer the

minister leaves this the more

narrow the choice of options

to him. Because bear in mind

Collins is due to complete

its life in 2025. Now, you

are never going get a new submarine in the water by

that time. So buy off the

shelf from one of the European manufacturers? Not

for five years. A European

manufacturer will want five

years to manufacture the

vessel. Bear in mind the

cost of 40 or $36 billion set

out by ASPI is only the

acquisition costs, that is one-third of total life

costs, this is $100 billion

project. Now $100 billion

project ha that no Labor

Minister for Defence in the

last three years has dared

open the file. Because of

that cost. So what has this

minister done? Simply

deferred it and put $200

million on the table, too

little too late, and said, I

am not going to make this

decision for another 12 months. Something... Something

the next government may

inherit. I want to finally

ask you about the white

paper, it's going to be a

year earliy er do you accept

the Prime Minister's argument

that the changes in this

region, the clearer timeframe for withdrawing for

Afghanistan do mean we need a

white paper a little

earliyer? I think this is the

epit my of spin she herself

has shed -- e epitome she

herself has said she will not

deliver, what has changed.

What has changed Australia

has presented and provided

much more resources oil and

gas and coal into the region,

our maritime security is ever

more important than it was

through years ago. And what

is this government doing?

It's taking money from

defence. It has clearly abaun

donned the 3% -- adan donned

the 3% growth in the --

abandoned the 3% growth in

the defence budget in the

2009 white paper. The 2009

white paper is shambolic, it

has not been supported by its

authors. We are left high and

dry. And so the minister is

now saying I'm going to bring

forward the next review which

was scheduled for 2014. Why? Answer is, because defence

finances will be in such a

parlous state next year, and

the fact of the strategies

outlined in the 2009 white

paper are all wrong. And so what have we done? Wasted

four years effectively. We

will have to wrap it up there

I'm afraid, shadow defence

minister David Johnson we get

the point. You think the

government is pro var

indicating on this. Thanking

for joining us we will turn

to the question of housing

asylum seekers in your own

home after the break, would you do it? Stay with us.

Here is a question for

you, would you welcome an

asylum seeker or an asylum

seeker family to live with

you in your own home? On a temporary basis? The Government's announced a new plan that will roll out in

the next couple of weejs that

could see asylum seeker --

weeks that could see asylum

seekers housed in the community we all know long stays in detention are no good for anyone and the

government is trying to get

more people out into the

community but this new initiative will see them

placed in people's homes,

it's part of a project

recommended to the government

by the Australian home stay

network which is

traditionally looked after

international students

studying in Australia.

Joining me now Sonya Caten

from the home stay network,

firstly explain to us how

this program will work. Thank

you, the Government has

processes in place under a

scheme called the community assistance and support scheme which applies to certain

asylum seekers who are assessed as needing a little

bit of extra help. Upon

exiting detention. So, the

Department of Immigration

will undertake certain

assessments and those who are

eligible for the scheme and

agree to be placed in

Australian home will be

eligible for placement. But it is a small scale

process. They have already

had their security and health checks they are waiting to be determined as a refugee or

not. That's correct. While

they go out into the xupt

community. They stay for six

weeks I understand it with a

family? That's correct. And what costs would the family

have covered as part of

this? They are paid

approximately $130 a week,

and that is the entire cost

of boarding. And if there are

extra matters they want to

assist the asylum seekers

with, that's up to them but

it's only subsidised to $130

a week. So they have to

provide a room obviously, and meals as

well? Yes. Transport, how far

does that go? Well, the

asylum seekerers are covering

their own transport, so they

have a very, very small

allowance to assist with

that. And that is to give

them a breathing space if you

like to get a tax file number

and some other very basics

for them to enable them to go

and find work. And accommodation that's

independent of this

transitional program p.m. Why

only six weeks? I heard a refugee talk on the radio about this today saying that's not long enough to go

and find a job, particularly

if you are your language

skills aren't great. Is six

weeks really long enough to

be in someone's home before

then being out on your own? That's a matter for the Government to determine, we

are working within the

framework of a government

program so AH, the Australian

home stay network is working

within the terms of this particular transitional program. It's not really up

to us to say whether that's a

sufficient time or not but by

the same token if there are private arrangements that are reached between asylum

seekers and hosts after that

six weeks, we can't stop that

but that would be carrying on

outside of the framework of

the Australian home stay

network at this stage. I

would imagine, the needs in

terms of the homes that you

put these people into are

very different to the

international students who

you guys often deal with, you

are talking about asylum

seekers here, who may well

have come from a traumatic

situation, may not have great

language skills, are in a

very different society and culture, how do you select the families and home they

will go into? Well, they self select, which is terrific and

just today we have had 600 applications so that's

fabulous. Of people who are

interested in joining this

program. And there are in

fact a lot of similarities

between people coming from non-English speaking backgrounds to Australia,

that's international

students, and some

international students come

with feeling very home sick

and find it very difficult to

adjust to Australia. So there

are host there's experienced

in dealing with a lot of

matters we think may cross

over but in terms of a traumatic background we are

finding most sackers when

they leave detention have one

real more asylum seekerers

when they come out of detention they have one real

goal and that is to find

work. What will the training

of the householder receive as

part of this? They initially complete an on-line training

and assess many. If they successfully complete that

they have effectively become registered as a potential

host. They are then visited

by Australian Australian home

stay network supervisor, who

vets the premises and they

will have had to have

completed or been issued with a police clearance

certificate from the police

force of the state or

territory within which they

live, and they are taken

through the program and

further training manual by

the supervisor. It is then a

24 hour hotline which is

there for both the asylum

seeker and the host, that the

AHN runs and they run that

for international students as

well with full interpreter

services. Just finally, you

have had 600 applications

today f anyone else is keen,

what do they do? Yes. They

can go to the internet, and

look for Australian home stay

network, and there is a page

there that will take you to

the community placement

network, this community

placement network is the

project devoted to this, and

it's an initiative of the

Australian home stay

network. Thank you for

telling us about it this afternoon. Thank you for

having me. We are out of time

for today's program. Do join

us tonight nor 'The Nation'

on Sky News, a look back at

the week in politic, see you later. Live Captioning by Ai-Media