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The long march towards a

Budget surplus just about over

for the Treasurer. It will be interesting to see tonight

whether Mr Abbott wants to put

his wrecking ball right through

that surplus. Even this surplus

is a surplus based on cooked

books. Greece tries to cobble

together a coalition while

France fuels fears about the

Eurozone. A desert bloom meem

means an outback boom for Birdsville. Who cares about the

kids' inheritance. You get out

and have a look. Out in the

open air after almost 130 year,

one of the last privately owned

McCubbins up for grabs. That

represents the origins or

foundings of Australian

impressionism. Hello and

welcome to ABC News across

Australia, I'm Ros Childs. On

the local share market most

sectors are up although some

retailers are under pressure.

It's the day of delivery,

promise or prediction,

depending on who's talking.

After 4 Federal Budgets in the

red the Treasurer Wayne Swan

surplus for the next financial will today announce a Budget

year. It will make him the

first Labor Treasurer to do so

in nearly 25 years. But a cloud

hangs over Budget day. Parliament's first sitting in

six weeks looks set to dwell on union corruption and allegations against the

Speaker. Both matters the

Government could do without.

Navigating the road to surplus

on the path to Labor

heartland. In many ways this is

a battler's bunlted, it's a Budget which goes into the bat

for the living standards of

millions of Australians on low

and middle incomes. The

Government will pledge to get

the books back into the black

in the tune of $1.5 billion

next financial year. By coming

back to surplus we give the

Reserve Bank maximum flexibility to cut interest

rates. Tony Abbott calls the

surplus a rounding error.

Others in the Coalition have

gone in search of a domestic

analgy., I promise to clean my

room, I promise to brush my

teeth, I promise to do my

homework and I promise to bring

in a $1.5 surplus. And then you

have a delivery where you've

cleaned you're room, cleaned

your teeth and bought in a $1.5

billion deficit. Already the

Government has announced new

spending measures as well as

unpopular cuts. The Government

shouldn't be getting to an

early surplus on the back of

single parents. We will not

rubber stamp bad policy

tonight. We will not be in the

business of giving Labor a big tick. The Budget is supposed to

year a chance for governments be the centrepiece of lit Cal

to set the agenda. Labor is

hoping a return to surplus will

help lift its fortunes but it's

being overshadowed by one of

its former MP. Craig Thomson

has bn suspended from the Labor Party following allegations

over his time as head of the

Health Services Union. A Fair

Work investigation has

concluded that Mr Thomson used

union credit cards to pay for prostitutes, overseas travel and entertainment as well as

thousands of dollars to fund

his election campaign. The

information that's out there

that's been reported, yeah,

they are disturbing, they are

disturbing for the many members

of the HSU. Clearly when there

are allegations of this type it

is not good and we would all

prefer, frankly, that there

weren't these matters occurring

or in the public domain. Craig

Thomson has repeatedly denied

any wrong doing, overs others

have already made up their mind. This is a tainted government relying on the

tainted vote of a tainted

member, someone who should not

be in the parliament. But he

will be, sitting on the

cross-bench in Budget week.

Fair Work Australia report on

corruption within the HSU is

ringing alarm bells throughout

the union movement. The

Government has already promised laws to govern union finances

and to boost the powers of Fair

Work Australia. But Tony

Sheldon, the national secretary

of the Transport Workers' Union

believes the report is being

unfairly used as a political

football. Look, I think what's

quite clear is that there's a

lot of political enemies of the

trade union movement that want

to exploit the Health Services

Union beyond the Union beyond the immediate,

outrageous Fair Work Australia

report and I say outrageous

because of these allegations

are appalling if proven true.

What's happened is politically

we're finding both Tony Abbott

and the Premier in NSW are

trying to exploit a political opportunity out of the health

schess union to actually

besmerge the name of 2 million

Australians who are members of

unions and hard-working people

both in the HSU but also across

the trade union movement that

are making a difference for

working people each day. Nevertheless though it

does seem that overall this Fair Work Australia report will

have an impact on the image of

unions whether that be the

right thing or not. Union

membership overall is down, I

think only about 18% of

Australia's work force are in a

uni - union now according to

some estimates, how do you

regain that confident? Do you

have to take action now? I

think there's a couple of

things and this is a broader

question and that is that the

Health Services Union is not

the reason why union membership

is down, because 54% of people

in surveys in this country and

in the US and in other parts of

the world say they would join a

union if they were asked. The

reason they don't join is

because of the pressures from

clients, transport operators in

our industries and also from

many, many companies in the

political system which is

opposed to employee s having a

right and having a voice. That

is a huge percentage. That's

not where people have a freedom

of choice and using the Health

Services Union as an compasm by

the ideologically driven

representation is not an opponents of trade union

appropriate thing for a

democratic society. We quite

clearly have 54% of people who

say they would like to be in a

union and in this country there

isn't the opportunity. Tony

Sheldon, thank you. My

pleasure. Greek conservatives

have failed to form a coalition

government in Athens raising

the possibility of another

election. The anti-austerity

backlash by voters in Greece

and France over the weekend

have shaken the Eurozone

causing uncertainty for its

currency and stock markets

alike. Europe correspondent

Philip Williams

reports. Negotiations had

barely begun but it was soon

clear the gap between the

parties couldn't be bridged.

Instead of taking the allowed 3

days to form government, the

attempt by the new democracy

leader collapsed in a matter of hours.

TRANSLATION: I did what I could

so that there would be a result

but it was not possible. Thus I

informed the President of the

Republic and I handed back the

mandate. Now the leader of the

fiercely anti-austerity party

Syriza, will try his hand at

forming a coalition. Few think

he will succeed which means

weary Greek voters could soon

be heading for another election. They have to find a

solution and they have to find

it fast otherwise we will be

facing exit from the euro. It's

not going to be the end of the

world if we will not have a

government but I don't believe

that at first place we will

have a government soon. And

that could mean further

instability in a country

already beset by uncertainty.

The Greek stock market doesn't

like it, nor do Greece's

European bailout partners. The

German chance lar Angela Merkel has made it clear renegotiation

of the austerity package is not

on. It was a similar message

for the French President elect

Francois Hollande over his

determination to open talks to

change the fiscal pact that he

says is holding back growth.

TRANSLATION: We in Germany and

me personally believe the

fiscal pact is not up for

negotiation. It's been

negotiated and I consider the

fiscal pact the right thing.

Francois Hollande is busy

forming his new government. He

will need the best and

brightest around him as France

struggles with the European

course - curse of debt and

unemployment. Given the

instability in this part of the

world his political honeymoon

may be very brief indeed. US

security officials have

confirmed the thwarting of an

Al-Qaeda plot involving a

sophisticated new underwear

bomb. CIA agents swooped last

month on an undisclosed

location arresting a Yemeni man

and seizing an explosive

device. The plan was to bring

down a US-bound plane on the anniversary of Osama bin

Laden's death. The non-metallic

bomb designed to evade airport

screening is said to be an

improved version of the

underpants bomb which failed to

go off on a plane in Detroit in

2009. What this incident makes

clear is that this country has

to continue to remain vigilant

against those that would seek

to attack this country. Officials have

stressed no aircraft was ever

at risk but with the suspected

master mind Al-Qaeda bomb maker

Ibrahim al-Asiri still at large

they warn the danger is far

from over. Vladimir Putin has

wasted little time in

exercising his authority after

being sworn in for a third term

as Russian president. He's

nominated the outgoing

president Dimitry Medvedev to

be Russia's next Prime

Minister. In his inaugural

address Mr Putin says he hopes

to develop democracy and

freedom in his country but even

as he was speaking more than

100 opposition protestors were

being arrested in Moscow.

Forget the cheering crowds,

the streets were virtually

deserted as Vladimir Putin made

his way to the Kremlin and his

inauguration. In a throne hall

built for the tsars for the

third time he was sworn in as

the country asPresident as

elite and foreign guests looked on.

TRANSLATION: I consider it to

be the meaning of my whole life

and my obligation to serve my

fatherland and our people. Mr

Putin also spoke about

strengthening Russia's democratic freedoms. That would

have been news to the

Opposition demonstrators who

tried to protest against his

inauguration in small groups

throughout Moscow. Some were

arrested just for wearing the right ribbon of the opposition. But the return

president did have his

supporters like this group

headed to a Kremlin sponsored

pro-Putin celebration. Vladimir

Putin is the only personality

that presently can lead our

great country. He's a strong,

strong willed man so we stand

for Putin. But scenes of

inauguration protests are a

reminder that for Mr Putin the

political world has changed.

From 2000 to 2008 he ruled with

near absolute power. Many

analysts say the rise of

opposition activism means those

days are gone. Putin's era metaphorically speaking,

spiritly speaking is over.

Putin isn't the Kremlin but his

ideas are so clearly the past I don't think he has more than

one term. But Vladimir Putin

returns to the Kremlin at just

59 years of age. When this term

ends in 2018 he will be

eligible to run again for a

fourth term as Russia's


A painting by Australian

artist Frederick McCubbin is

expected to fetch more than $1

million at auction in Sydney

tonight. 'Whisperings in Wattle

Boughs' was painted in 1886 and

has remained in the possession

of the same family for more

than 100 years. Geoffrey Smith

is the chairman of Sotherby's

Australia. Frederick McCubbin's 'Whisperings in Wattle Boughs'

is the last painting of its

kind remaining in private

ownership. It was painted at

the Box Hill camp in Melbourne

and that time represents the

origins or the foundings of

Australian impressionism. It's

all part of a bigger auction

that's taking place this

evening. What are some of the

items on offer that you like

and some of the prices also

you're hoping to get? This sale

is absolutely extraordinary in

the quality and rarity of works

being offered. The McCubbin,

for example, hasn't ever been

offered for auction before

since 1886 and like wise Arthur

Boyd's Dry Creek Bed, Alice

Springs, painted in 1953 depicting indigenous

Australians, that has never

been offered since it was

acquired by the Wenzell family

in 1957. What about the timing

of this art auction this

evening, it will be being held

at about the same time as the

Treasurer's on his feet in Canberra delivering a Budget

that is all about spending

cuts, there is this atmosphere

of tightening the purse

strings, how is all that

affecting the art market? Not much from the sound of

it? Well, it's all about rarity

and quality and if people are

looking for reasons not to buy

they will always find those

reasons but in this instance

people have been waiting for

decades for these pictures to

come on to the market. Are

people selling because they

need the money? No, it's just

timing. There's always

situations whereby people are

compelled to release with major

works of art and the fact that

these works have never been

offered previously for sale

it's just simply a matter of

timing. Do you feel the people

are turning to art as an

investment that's less volatile

than other things like stocks

and shares? I think the

wonderful aspect about art is

that people can enjoy these extraordinary paintings on

their walls on a daily basis.

It's tangible, these works are

also historic and very

important in the history and

development of Australian art

and our country. Geoffrey Smith

, best of luck with the auction tonight, thanks for talking to

us. Thank you very much for

your interest. A meeting is

under way for creditors of the

failed Melbourne car component

maker CMI Industrial. The

company has been placed in

administration after workers

were locked out of its

Camberfield factory over unpaid

rent. The closure forced 1,800

Ford workers to be temporarily

stood down. 42 CMI workers have

been made re dundant and the

manufacturing union said they

would be out any money for many

months. Reality is under all

the current legislation the

payments can't be made until a

company goes into liquidation. Unfortunately with this company

it's likely to be another 5

weeks before it goes into

liquidation and after that up

to 6 months before our members

receive any payments. The union

wants an urgent meeting with

the Federal workplace relations

Minister Bill Schacht Shorten

to ensure the staff are paid

their entitlements. Dusty

boots, sizzling steaks and good

humour are in prime form at one

of the country's calender. The

beef expo in central Queensland attracted more than 18,000

people yesterday setting a new

crowd record for day 1 of the

action. It's all aboard for

Australian beef. Beef week

Australia! Tens of thousands of

beef producers from across the

country and around the world

are in Rockhampton to celebrate

the industry. I love cattle, I

really do. I love cattle and

they like me. There's the

chance to get close with some

of the best stock in the

business. Look, he's going to

lick you. In an industry that

relies heavily on international

demand many are enjoying the

opportunity to make a sale at

home. We think it's really

good. Like there's just so many

people from all over Australia

come and have a look and, you

know, it's just - it's probably

better advertising to try and

advertise in a magazine. But

it's more than just about

showing off prized cattle. It's

about eating it too. 54,

54. Organisers estimate more

than 10 tonnes of beef will be

consumed. That's at least 5,000

steaks a day. And the future of

the industry are honing their craft. You learn a lot more

about sales of cattle and also

breeding. Most people come to

win Trovies and walk away with

big medals but it's more about

having fun. The beef expo is expected to attract about

70,000 people by the end of the

week. About 4,000 head of

cattle have been trucked into

Rockhampton from across the country. They're the real stars

of the show so a lot of work

goes into keeping them happy

and looking good all week long.

Let's take a check now of the

markets here's finance reporter

Alicia Barry. It's a brighter

day than yesterday? It is

indeed. The market has managed

to claw back some of yesterday's steep losses as

worries about political changes

in Europe ease. However, many

traders are sitting on the

sidelines ahead of the release

of the Federal Budget tonight

in case of any surprises. At

lunch time in the east the All

Ords is up 6 points and the ASX

200 is also 6 points

higher. How are the banks

looking Alicia? It's a mixed

day for the major lenders and

that's despite a strong

performance from their US counterparts. Westpac is the

best of the big 4, it's up

0.5%. The Commonwealth Bank is

trading fairly flat. ANZ has

slipped a little over 0.5% and

18 cents has been wiped off the

National Australia Bank's share

price. Macquarie Group has

jumped without trading with its dividend yesterday. What other

news is out there? Iluka

Resources has cut its

production target because of a

drop in demand for material.

They're off 10.5%. And Leighton

Holdings is staying on top of

its continuous disclosure

obligations by confirming its

full-year profit guidance

despite cost blow outs at two

of its projects. A check of the

domestic market's other big

movers in the ASX top 100:

Wall Street recovered from

earlier losses to finish flat.

Bank stocks got a boost after

Warren Buffet said US lenders

have liquidity coming out of their ears.

A search has been widened for

a missing swimmer on Queensland's Sunshine Coast.

Police say there's little hope

of finding the 37-year-old man

alive after he disappeared on

Sunday. The father of 2 is from

Germany but his been living in

Australia for several years.

The family says he's a devoted

husband and father and they've

thanked locals and search crews

for their efforts. In Melbourne

there's been a big increase in

the number of people needing an

ambulance after using the party

drug ice over the last

financial year. Figures from

the turning point health and

alcohol drug centre show that

ambulance callouts to treat

people who have taken methamphetamine more than

doubled over the last 12

months. Paramedics also treated

more cases of alcohol abuse

than last year but cocaine and

ecstasy call outs were down. Dr

Belinda loid Lloyd is from

Turning Point. There may be a

number of reasons influencing

these trends. These are

callouts for increased harms,

not necessarily a number of the

increased using. Increasing

availability of the drug may be

influencing these trends. A

concerning trend we're seeing

is increasing use of multiple

drugs at the same time,

particularly alcohol with

crystal methamphetamine and

this increases the risk of someone experiencing a harm associated with their drug

use. And there were more

callouts for people who had

abused alcohol on its own. The

message about excessive alcohol

use just isn't getting through,

use just isn't getting through,

it seems? The issues around

alcohol and drug use and the

harms associated with that are

very complex and there's really

a need to have continuing

public education but also

community level and local community level responses to

these issues. We're talking

about cultural, individual, business level and business level and government level responses required to

actually address these issues

effectively. There is some good

news out there though. Cocaine

and ecstasy related callouts

are actually down and down by

quite a lot? That's right.

We've seen substantial

reductions in ex tacy related

attendances and also

attendances for other

substances as well. That's

encouraging news and reinforces

the need for ongoing public

education and prevention

strategies. Zblt Dr Belinda

Lloyd, thank you. Thank

you. One of Australia's most

famous outback town, Birdsville

, is experiencing some of its

best rain almost in living

memory. The cattle industry's

booming, tourists and wildlife

are rolling in and locals are

making the most of what might

not come again for decades.

More from environment reporter

Conor Duffy at the northern end

of the Birdsville track. The desert's drenched, again, for

the third year in a row this

cattle station on the edge of

the Simpson Desert is

underwater. It brings life and

new animals have taken flight

in record numbers. This last 2

or 3 years culminating in this

year have been the best seasons

that I've known and I've been

here since the mid '60s. There

are also record stock numbers,

improvements to roads mean

graziers can move more cattle than ever than ever before. We're better

equipped today to take

advantage of the seasons. We

can have our cattle, we can

fatten them, we can get them

off the properties quickly. Firstly probably put a

bit of heart in all the

producers and the council and

the tourists and everyone that

you hear about the wildlife and

the river systems out here but

to see it is something

else. Back in towards town

indigenous ranger Don Rowlands

says there's been a boom in

tourism as well and he's set up

a display to document a sacred site. I think that's very

important to tell those stories

and to put them up somewhere

for tourists to visit and get

to understand the Aboriginal -

what the dream time really

means. If you do make it to

Birdsville there's only one pub

around for hundreds of

kilometres. That's the

130-year-old Birdsville Hotel.

And tonight plenty of tourists

are trickling in ahead of the

start of the season. They say

the long, expensive drive is

worth it. Who cares about the

kids' inheritance. You get out

and you have a look. We're all

in the baby boomers so we're

all doing it. As the seasons

pass Birdsville will run dry

again but for now there's plenty

plenty to drink and this might

be a flood they talk about here

for decades. Syrians are voting

in the first multiparty

elections in 5 decades but

opposition groups have slammed

the poll as a sham. The

violence has continued and

security forces reportedly

launched deadly attacks on

villages where opposition

supporters were refusing to

vote. It looked peaceful

enough, Syrians young and old

waiting in line to vote in the

country's first multiparty

elections in nearly 50 years

and many were hopeful this

election might prove to be the

circuit breaker Syria needs. TRANSLATION: We have to vote

for the people who we want to

be in parliament so they can

deliver our voice to the

Government. But as polling

booths opened in some areas

elsewhere the violence

continued unabated. In eastern Dier al Zor province several

people were killed in a dawn

raid by government troops.

Human rights monitors reported

gunfire and explosions in

northern Idlib province while

new clashes broke out at Hama

between rebels and soldiers.

And amateur vision posted on

the Internet showed many

Syrians opposed to the Assad

regime boycotting the election

all together. In one video

voters are shown casting Mokaba

lots with the names of people

killed in the months of blood

sheds. Elections for people's Syrian assembly were due last

September but were put off when

President Assad promised a

series of reforms including the

new multiparty constitution but

opposition groups say the

election is a sham designed

only to prolong the Assad regime.

TRANSLATION: In troubled areas

turn out is very low but in

calm areas the situation is

better than average. Whatever

the election result it's

unlikely to stop the 14 months

of bloodshed which the UN says

has now cost around 10,000

lives. UN monitors in Syria continue to report continue to report widespread

violations of a ceasefire

agreed to nearly a month ago. Let's have a quick look at

other stories making news

around the world. At least 25

people have been killed and 80

more are missing after flash

flooding hit a wedding party in

Afghanistan. Government

officials have atended a

funeral for some of the victims

while aid has been offered to

relatives. And Malawi in

southern Africa has devalued

ition currency by at least a

third in a move designed to

placate the IMF and foreign aid

donors. There are reports of

panic buying from shoppers

worried about price rises to

come. It contains everything

from old hockey sticks and

rulers to pieces of a Jimi

Hendrix guitar. What is it?

Well, a boat, that's the latest

contribution to the cultural

Olympiad for the London 2012

Games. Every piece of wood on

this boat is a treasured

memory. Hundreds of people

across the country were invited

to donate objects. The only

criteria was there had to be a

story behind them. By building

a boat really we're sort of

marking lives, thousands of

lives, thousands of evidences

of people's lives have come

together and we've built

something quite extraordinary from them and from them and it's also a

chance to - it's something

socialable, hundreds of people

came together to build it and

to mark those lives and it's about people at the end of the

day, I think. To remember my

mother. When we cleared her

house we found out she put pegs

on all the important document

so it's nice it's on the boat.

The eye of this horse is from a

piece of box wood from a tree

that was planted to celebrate

the 100th anverse yairt Battle

of Hastings. This is my hockey

stick. I played sport all my

life. This ruler was used when

I was a cabinet maker in the

drawing office and it became

obsolete when it went to

computers. This is a tiny spoon

handle and my mother-in-law

stirred custard for 40 years

with it and I was hoping to see

the whole spoon but it's

wonderful to be here. You can

see the sense of human nor this

boat. Look how confined it is

down here. Take a look at the

detail. With great fan fare

this floating cladge was gent - gently lowered into the

harbour. It's received funding

from the arts council of

?500,000 and as part of the cultural Olympiad it will now

sale along the south sale along the south coast

reaching Weymouth in time for

the Olympics. To the weather

now - the satellite shows cloud

over the south-west with a

front, cloud over Tasmania with

a trough. Cloud developing in

the far northern tropics with a

broad region of low pressure

and mostly clear skies

elsewhere under a high. A belt

of high pressure may extend

across the country. Moist

westerlies behind a cold front may bring show tors the

south-east. A cold front may

clip south-west WA causing

showers and there could be

storms in a Top End from a low.

Let's go back to the stock

exchange for a final check of the marketers: And

And that's the news for now.

There's continuous news on ABC

News 24 and there's also news online. I'm Ros Childs, thanks

for joining us and have a great afternoon. Closed Captions by

CSI This Program is Captioned


Good evening. Welcome to Q&A.

I'm Tony Jones. Answering your questions tonight - financial

businessman and pioneer of

nonbank home loans Mark Bouris. The Minister for Mental Health

and Ageing Mark Butler. Pop diva Kate Miller-Heidke. The

Liberal member for Higgins,

Kelly O'Dwyer and Labor inser Kelly O'Dwyer and Labor inser turned commentator Graham

Richardson. Please welcome our

panel. - insider. Q&A is

live from 9.35 Eastern Standard

Time and simulcast on News 24,

news radio. Go to our web site

to send a question now or join

the Twitter conversation using

the hashtag on your screen. Our

first question is from the

audience and it is from

Michael. I have been a faithful

Labor voter since by 18th

birthday. The current late

state of the Labor Party has

left me uninspired by its rot.

I feel the Labor Party has lost

its focus. With polls tracking

at all time lows how on earth

can the Labor Party regain the

trust and faith of their once