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Australian Agenda -

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(generated from captions) Good afternoon, welcome

to the program. I'm David

Speers. The latest round of carbon tax advertisements

have hit our TV screens but

they don't mention the carbon

tax. These are ads being paid

for by you and me, by

taxpayers to tell people

they're about to start

receiving money in their bank

accounts from the Government but they don't mention

exactly what it's for, other

than saying it's to do with

cost of living pressures.

Coming up we'll have a look

at that, play you the

advertisements and talk about

whether this is a wise use of

taxpayers' money. Meanwhile

both sides of politics have

been out selling their

respective budget measures,

for the Prime Minister that

means telling people about

the additional family

payments and baby bonuses

they're going to get. The

Opposition leader meanwhile

has been accusing the

Government of class warfare

and then shifting the topic

to Craig Thomson as well.

Coming up we'll have a look

at how the post- budget

messages are going, they are

going around and around a

little bit. We're going to

take a big picture look this

afternoon to efforts to save

sustainable global economy. the planet or make it a more

In about six weeks one of the

largest ever gatherings of

world leaders will take place

in Rio. It's about trying to

reach an agreement on sustainable development. Is

that ever going to happen?

We'll look at the progress on

that and be talking to the UN

official who's in charge of

making an agreement a reality

at those Rio talks. Also this

afternoon we're going to look

at a Local Government election taking place in Australia, in Sydney, in

fact. It's the race for the

Sydney City Council, why is

this important? Well the ALP

which has been losing members

hand over fist for the last

decade or so is experimenting

an open primary preselection

contest in Sydney's city

council, that means nonparty

members can have a say on who

the Labor Party candidate is. Would you be involved in that

sort of thing? Is this going

to make a dinners? Will it

attract more people to

actually join the Labor

Party. We'll be talking to

the NSW Labor leader John

Robertson about that. First

check in on the top news

stories this hour.

Australian troops in

Afghanistan are on track to

come home by the end of the

year after reaching a major

milestone. Hamid Karzai has

announced that local forces

will take over parts of

Oruzgan from our soldiers next month . Julia Gillard

said the announcement is

according to plan. The

message people should get

from the announcement by

President Karzai overnight agree that the transition

summary is on track. The

transitions process, it can

take 12 to 18 months and it

is at the end of transition

in our province, Oruzgan

province that we would see

the bulk of Australian forces

come home. It comes ahead of

the Chicago summit this

weekend where western nations

will discuss practical

support. We've made it clear

that we think the

continue to make a international community #14ud

contribution to resourcing

the Afghan national security

forces. That was one of the

lessons of the Russian

departure from Afghanistan.

The Russians continue to

contribute to the Afghan

security forces for a couple

of years after they left.

With the collapse of the

Soviet Union the cheques

stopped coming, that saw the

rise of the Taliban. So we're

not proposing to make that

mistakes. The government

expects most of our troops to

be home before Christmas next

year with a smaller

contingent to stay on for

almost a decade longer. The

Opposition says the Prime

Minister's support for a new

code of conduct for MPs will

be undermined while she

relies on Craig Thomson's

vote. Tony Abbott is under

pressure from another front,

whether he will scrap family payments. The Prime Minister

is taking her post- budget

pitch to families seat by

seat. Here in Morton 9,000

families will see an increase

in family payments. 6,800

families will best from the

school kids bonus. The

Opposition did not support

the school kids bonus. Tony

Abbott however hasn't given

any guarantee to keep them in

place if he wins the next election. The best thing you

can do for the families of Australia repeal the carbon

tax. Mr Abbott can't budge

this. If he's going to rip

money off Australian families

then they've got a right to know. The Prime Minister

maintains she's being up

National Disability Insurance front when it comes to the

Scheme. Julia Gillard says

the Government is willing to

get into detailed talks now,

the initial funding's been

committed. We've got a

billion dollars on the table.

For the launch sites we are

prepared to pay the lion's

share. The Opposition has

repeated its offer for a

handle the National bi-partisan committee to

Disability Insurance Scheme.

We know from this

Government's record that

they're not good on detail, implementation. The Prime

Minister is trying to get on

with selling the budget

including the increased

family payments and the

Government's support for the National Disability Insurance

Scheme. Despite the enormous

distraction posed by the

ongoing Thomson scandal. On

that front debate centres on

the possibility of a new code

of conduct for MPs. There

are many rules that govern

members of parliament now but

I'm very open to looking at a

code of conduct for the

future. The future is one

thing, the present another. As long as the Prime Minister is clinging to Craig Thomson's vote in the

parliament, we know what her

code of conduct is. The embattled Health Services

Union east branch has applied

to have an administrator

appointed. The move means all

elected officers in the NSW

union would be declared

vacate. An application file

says the union is not operating effectively and

recent scandals have badly damaged its representation.

The ability to represent its

members has been compromised.

Officers from the NSW fraud

and cyber crime squad rated HSU offices seizing documents

and computers. The Federal Government's Climate

Commission has released a

report focussing on climate

change in western Sydney, not

everyone is convinced. Global warming could make you

sick. That's the warning from the climate change

commissions latest report.

What we are doing is citing

literature that shows a link

between extreme hot weather

and all sorts of health

problems, both mental illness

problems and death. The

report focuses on western

Sydney where hot days have

increased 60% since 19706789

among the predictions an

increase in heat waves even

days above 33 degrees, a

greater risk of bushfires,

sea levels to rise by up to 8

storeys over the next century

and cyclones to be more

intense. But Professor Tim

Flannery says the predictions

are based on the current

trend of emissions and

climate change. This This

report isn't all bad news.

The world is changing renewable clean energy of course has to be the future.

If it's polluting, if it's not renewable it's not going

to be there for a long term.

The climate change

commissioner says people need

to look at the big picture.

I think what we're seeing is

there's been a global

economic crisis, people have

got immediate short terms,

doesn't mean they give away

the long term issues they've

got to deal with, people

still think there is a

problem with climate signs.

Some have dismissed the

report noting it uses forecast models provided by

the UN that have provided

inaccurate results. The

Australian dollar slipped

below parity with the US just

after midday today for the

first time since December.

The fall is being attributed

to the political and economic

crisis in Greece with the nation's Prime Minister and

party matters unable to reach

a deal over the austerity

measures. If a deal is not

reached tomorrow it's likely

voters will head back to the

ballot box. Greece is no

stranger to political

uncertainty but even so this

has been a roller-coaster

week in the eurozone's most

troubled country. A string of

meetings to try to thrash out

a Coalition deal have so far

failed to come up with an

answer. The radical left

Syriza party is sticking to its anti-austerity poll

Chris. Its leader insists the

terms of EU's bailout must be

consaid. The prospect of an

agreement looks remote. TRANSLATION: Friends, come raids, there are no

saverours, don't search for

savours. According to State

TV he's refusing to attend

today's last ditch talks. If those negotiations fail

Greece will go back to the

polls, June the 17th is the

likely election date.

Anti-bailout Syriza is tip ed

to enjoy a surge in votes. Combined support for other

parties which back the

bailout remains higher but so far they haven't managed to

put their differences aside.

TRANSLATION: The President's

told me that unfortunately at

the moment there is no

possibility of forming an eck mencal Government. He

referred to the eare fusal by

Syriza to participate in such

a Government or even show

tolerance towards one. The

bailiff could well prove to

be the king maker of talks

but without Syriza it could

come to nothing. If so it's

back to square one, a fresh

round of campaigning, the

country's future hanging in

the balance once again. And

the big questions remain

unanswered. Can Greece

realistically stay in the

euro and if not where does the country and indeed the

rest of the eurozone go next?

A 22-year-old woman accused

of stabbing her former

boyfriend to death during

Mother's Day celebrations in

Sydney's inner west will

spend at least weeks in

custody. The 28-year-old

victim was found with

multiple stab wounds. He was

taken to hospital but

announced dead on arrival.

Police say the woman was heard screaming before the

incident. The female and the

victim have been in a

relationship for the last

four years and that

relationship ended about four

months ago. The woman and

two male relatives were

arrested at the scene. To

some sports news and Todd

Carney's confessed his Origin

call up is due to the Sharks

success in the NRL. His upset

over the Storm is the main

reason he's back in favour

with selectors. At the

Sharks we've been really good

as a team and I feel that's

where I've got my selection from, the back of our

effort. Meantime Broncos

lock Cory Parker is to miss

out on a jersey when

Queensland name their squad

tonight. Matt Gillett may

have done enough to push his

way into the side. You've

obviously got to pick on form

and there's new guys pushing

through all the time. There's

some talented players that

are on the fringes.

Queensland will announce

their side at a galah dinner

at Suncorp Stadium. The

weather forecast a few

showers in the south-east and

south-west. Mo mostly dry

conditions elsewhere. Back to

David Speers in Canberra.

After the break we're going

to take a look at those new

carbon tax ads that don't

mention the carbon tax. We'll also look at the budget sales effort from both Julia

Gillard and Tony Abbott this

week while parliament's not

sitting. We're also going to

look a little further afield.

The global talks on sustainable development,

might sound a bit dry but of course it is very important

as the global population

continue toss grow and yet

the scarcity of food, water

and energy remains an ever

present problem. What are

world leaders going to agree

on when they meet in Rio in

six weeks time. All of that

coming up after the break.

Good afternoon, welcome to

the program. Coming up this

afternoon we're going to take

a look at those carbon tax advertisements that don't

mention the carbon tax.

They've now started airing on

our TV screens at the expense

of taxpayers. Albeit a

moderate spend compared to previous Government advertising campaigns but why

don't they mention the carbon

tax? Purely just the

household assistance to help

with cost of living

pressures. We'll discuss that

with our panel coming up.

Meanwhile the budget sales

message has continued today,

the Prime Minister and the Opposition leader both

heading straight to Brisbane. They've been arguing

different sides of the story.

The Prime Minister talking

about how many families are

going to benefit from the

increased family benefits and

school kids bonuses and why

Tony Abbott shouldn't be

allowed to claw them back..

The Opposition leader accused the Government of class

warfare and shifting the

focus to Craig Thomson. And a

code of conduct for MPs,

would it make any difference

in the way our federal

parliament works. First 20

years ago it was the Rio

earth summit that first put

the issue of climate change

on the map. Now 20 years on

world leaders and plenty of

them are going to be

gathering in Rio once again,

for what's called the Rio 20

plus summit. Taking place in about 6 weeks. Julia Gillard

is going to be attending, in

fact, there's going to be

something like 50,000 political business leaders as

well as lobbyists descending

on the city to try and thrash

out not just climate change but more broadly sustainable

development. In the 20 years

since that earth summit in re

roo back in 92 the global

population has growned by 1.5

billion people, yet food

energy resources do remain scarce, this is all about

trying to make sure the continued economic

developments around the world

is done so on a sustainable

basis. Already there are real

concerns about what can

realistically be achieved.

Remember Copenhagen, it

didn't prove to be. What really is going to be

achieved here coming up at

the Rio summit? The man with

the task of overseeing this

all and trying to nut out

some sort of agreement is a

Chinese diplomat. He's the

head of the UN's social and

economic affairs department. He's in Brisbane at the

moment for a lead up

conference. I spoke to him a

little earlier in the day.

Well, the - we say

realistically, you I think I

would go to what the

resolution said, the

objective of ryo plus 20 is

re new the plit call

commitment we made 20 years

ago. The political commitment means sustainable development. And sustainable

development means the integration of economic development, social

development and environment

protection. As you know, the

last 20 years the world has

seen the rapid economic

development but not that much

progress made in the field of

the social development and

environmental protection. So

the real job, the job of the

Rio plus 20 is to make sure

that the commitment we made

20 years ago will be

implemented. That is to integrate the three

dimensions of the sustained development. The US

President is unlikely to attend. The British Prime

Minister and the German

chancellor have already said

they won't be attending. Does

that dis appoint you that

some leaders of key developed

countries won't be there?

Well of course it's a

sovereign choice of the

member states to send

whatever level of the

participation and right now

let me share the information

with you, we have over 130

head of state and government

who have prescribed to speak

at the conference. Knicks to

that we have already -- in

addition to that we have 180 countries altogether will be

there. In addition to over

4,000 or almost 5,000 other

stakeholders or participants

who will be going there. I

hope that - I'm aware as you

mentioned, as you have

mentioned already, I also

learn that the Prime Minister

of the UK and chancellor mer

cele will not be able to make

it. I feel sorry for that. I

hope that we still have

better time, they can change

mare mind. -- their mind.

One of the key stumbling

blocks is the issue of

finance and how much developed countries are

willing to give to developing

countries to achieve sustainable development.

Given the impacts of the

global financial crisis are

still being felt around the

world particularly in Europe, how confident are you that

there will be an outcome on

this, and do countries need

to make firm commitments at

Rio? Well, we are all aware

of the difficult time, you

know, developed countries are

experiencing with their

financial crisis and its

aftermath, we are aware of

that. You know, while

recognising the fact that it

will be difficult for those

developed countries to make

any further or new additional

commitments, I agree with

that. But that said, for the

time being but we all know the sustainable development

is issuer for the -- issue

for the future generations so

the question is the future we

want. We all agree that the

current approach or current

style of production and

consumption are not

sustainable and if we

continue the same approach,

same lifestyle or same

production style, you know we

need five planet. But we have

only but one planet.

Therefore for the developed

countries it is huge issue

for them to consider, that is

how to strike the balance

between the immediate

interest and also the

interest for our children and our children's children. That

is the future they want. This

is the hard political

decision but this is the

decision we must take. Any

responsible head of state of

government and any real good

political leaders, they

should not, you know, run

away from their obligations.

But given that, what do you

make of Australia's

announcement in last week's

budget that it's taking $3

billion out of its previously

promised foreign aid

commitment in delaying the millennium development goal

target by a year, $3 billion

that would have otherwise

been spent on foreign aid.

What's your reaction to

that? Well, I was just

informed by the parliament

secretary that Australia

Government has already

decided to double their

assistance and I'm very happy

to learn that and, you know,

the Australia has been a

leader in many ways,

including they are generous

support to their most vulnerable countries,

particularly the small island

countries. I welcome their

initiative but I also of

course I know as a developed

country they have committed

themselves to 0.7 to help developing countries. It

takes time, you know it takes

a time to do its job but I

welcome any increased ODI

from the Australia What

about Australia's carbon

pricing plans? It is still a

hot political topic here in

Australia. But how do you see

it comparing internationally,

the sort of carbon price plan

that will come into effect

here from July? You know,

I'm aware of the debate which

is going on in the world and

there are pros, cons, you

know, and depends which part

of the world you're from and

where you stand. You know

Assange a conference

secretary general I'm not in

a position to comment on the

country's, the policies of

any specific countries. All I

hope is that with these

issues that are pretty complicated, I think the

member states in consultation

with other stakeholders can

work out a solution or arrive

at agreement. So you're not

actually going to be pushing

at the Rio summit for any

renewed commitment on an

international carbon pricing

plan? Well, we are in the

hands of the member states.

And we know that the UN CCC

is grappling with this issue

and a lot of discussion is

taking place. In a way I call

it a positive chaos, you

know, or positive confusion

and a clear ideas will

definitely emerge so this

so-called confusion. I hope

that people working in the

field will speed up the

effort on this. We'll have

to leave it there. Thank you

very much for joining us.

Thank you for your

interview. He is the head of

the UN's social and economic

affairs department and in

charge of that Rio plus 20

summit coming up in about six

weeks from now. Plenty of

work ahead of them no doubt

about that. After the break

we're going to return to

domestic politics, look at

that carbon tax advertisement

that doesn't mention the

carbon tax now on our TV

screens and also how the budget message is going. Stay with us.

In a moment we'll show you that carbon tax package ad

that you're paying for. Is it

worth the money? First we're

going to check in on the news

headlines with Mike will Si

back at the news centre. Australian troops in Afghanistan are on track to

return home by the end of the

year after reaching a major

milestone. Hamid Karzai has

announced local forces will

take control of parts of

Oruzgan from our soldiers

next month. The Government

expects most diggers to be

home within 18 months

although a small number of specialist forces could stay

on for a decade. Prime

Minister Julia Gillard and

Opposition leader Tony Abbott

both say they're open to an

idea of a code of conduct for

federal MPs. It comeses the

report into the misuse of

funds by Craig Thomson is

tabled in parliament. The PM

says the code is already

being looked into, while Mr

Abbott is happy to consider

anything that improves the

parliament. A Senate

committee has asked for more

time for its inquiry and will

report in November. Embattled Health Services Union east

branch has applied to have an

administrator appointed. The move means all officers in

the NSW union would be

declared vacate. An

application says the union is

not operating effectively and

recent scandals have badly

damaged its reputation.

Officers from the NSW fraud

and cyber crime squad raided HSU East offices two weeks

ago, seizing documents and

computers. Unions say they

fear more than 1200 Qantas

workers will be sacked this

week with the airline to make

its long awaited

restructuring announcement.

The move could save $100

million a year by

rationalising three bases.

Aviation union is calling on

the aif yaleg regulator to

intervene immediately. The

Australian dollar went below

parity just before noon

today. If a deal in Greece

isn't reached when talks resume tomorrow it's likely

voters will go back to the

ballot box. In sport Cory

parker is expected to miss

out on a maroons jersey when

the Queensland team is

announced for the Origin

opener tonight. Matt Gillette

may have done enough to push

his way into the side. The

weather, a few showers in the

south-east and south-west and

mostly dry elsewhere. Mike,

thank you, let's bring in our

panel this afternoon, two political strategists joining

plea here in Canberra, Simon

Banks and in Brisbane,

Grahame Morris from Barton

Deakin. I want to start with

the new carbon tax ads that

have hit our TV screens just

in the last 24 hours or so.

They're ads that don't

actually mention the carbon

tax funnily enough. Let's

play it to you first and see

what you think. Soon

millions of Australians receiving Government payments

will get additional help with

their everyday expenses. An

additional payment will

automatically appear in your

bank account from May 2012.

It's the first parliament of

the package. This extra assistance will become a

regular part of your

government payment. For more information visit

Australia.gov.au. The

household assistance package,

benefitting those who need it

most. There are three ads in

total targeting different

demographics but they all

revolve around a very busy

kitsch scene. No mention of

the carbon tax though Simon

Banks, why is that? I don't

think anyone has any doubt

what these measure s are

connected with. You would

you'd think gee I'm going to

get some money for nothing.

I reckon this is part of the

new rules the Government's

brought inter around

government advertising which

is you're actually not

allowed to put some of the

political spin and other

things that go around advertisements. You've actually got to say this is

what we're doing. It's about

a price on carbon, it's going

to jack up your electricity

costs. It's got to fodgeus

on what the payment actually

does. The goodies and the baddies. The point about

this is the families are able

to spend this money exactly

as they like. It's not tied

to either a personal or

collective sense. It's there

because of those higher electricity prices.

Absolutely. Is that fair

enough, Graham people know

what it's been. It seems to

me this is just another

broken promise. We had the

Prime Minister promise there

wouldn't be any political commercials paid for by this

Government. Not true

Graham. These aren't

political. And next week the

auditor-general will be in the estimates committee and

the first question in

estimates ought to be "Sir,

can you read out the rules on

government advertising and

then explain to us how this

lot of drifle actually fits

into those rules". It

doesn't. Is that the point,

they all have to be approved

by the auditor-general.

They actually have to be

preapproved by the

auditor-general. They go

through an initial pass, they

have to go through like a

preliminary signoff by the

auditor-general and then when

the final ads are approved

they get another say. This

never used to happen under

the Howard Government. We got

all of the WorkChoices ads s,

hundreds of millions of

dollars of advertising. This

may technically pass those

rules because there's no

factual error there, but

there's a big gaping hole and that is any mention of the

carbon tax. That's what's

come about. So Labor's got

its hands tied behind its

back. It simply can't mention

the carbon tax even if it

wanted to. It's not like

we're getting the singing and

dancing Joe Cocker ads like

we did for the GST. That's a

good point. Look, there was

an election promise. The

Coalition didn't promise to

not do this sort of stuff.

Of course the Opposition did

it. But Julia Gillard said

she wouldn't. And you know, I

wouldn't mind them at all if

they opened up and they said

look as compensation for this

dreadful carbon tax we're

going to hit you with, we're

going to give you this stuff

through the back door. Fine.

But this is government

communication fraud. All

right, let's move on. The

budget sales pitch,

parliament not sitting this

week so the two leaders are

out and about. Both much them

have been in Brisbane today.

Now Julia Gillard has been

focussing on how many families are going to benefit

from the budget goodies on

higher family payments, the

school kids bonus, she's also seized on what Tony Abbott

said to us on Friday when he

gets rid of the carbon tax,

getting rid of the extra

family payments, didn't say

that in so many words but

strongly indicated that may happen, here was Julia Gillard's response again on

this today. Mr Abbott hasn't

been clear about the future

of these family payments, if he's ever Prime Minister and

I would call on him today to

say very clearly that those

family payments will stay. Mr

Abbott can't fudge this. If

he's going to rip money off

Australian families, then

they've got a right to know.

Tony Abbott meanwhile giving

a speech in Brisbane

continued his theme that this

budget is all about class

warfare. The last thing that

we want to do is turn

Australian against Australian. The last thing we

want to do is to have a class

war or a postcode war or start attacking people

because of where they live or

what their father did. That

is not what we do. We want to

bring Australians together

and the best way that we can

do that is to build that

stronger economy. Now, Simon, was Tony Abbott's

argument here that this is

about class warfare, given

some ammunition by Julia Gillard using that North

Shore line last week? I

think the biggest element of class warfare is that Tony

Abbott is getting ready to

take about $600 off a fam

with with two kids and give

it back to claum and jard.

All they're asking is

Australians give a fair

prietion for resources all

Australians know. He's not

saying he'll take $600 off

families. What he's saying,

these taxes now are funded

out of the mine tax, he's

saying he's going to take all

of that money back. On top of

the school kids payment which

is being made to people,

which isn't funded out of the

mining tax, we have these

attacks from Tony Abbott and

more particularly from

Christopher Pyne saying low

and middle income families cannot be trusted with this

money. They're going to spend

it down the pub, at the pokies, these sorts of

things. If you want to talk

about who's engaged in class warfare, I think Australians

have always had a deep sense

of fairness, why are they

attack can just good honest hardworking Australians who

are entitle letd to this

money. Why does the

Government have to spend so

much time attacking Tony

Abbott and not talking up the budget. I think the

Government is talking up the

budget but at the same time

Tony Abbott is running round

saying lower and middle income families can't be trusted with this money. I

think it's pretty reasonable

for the Government to point

that out. Graham? Did we

actually have a budget? You

missed that. If you have a

look at the weekend and today it's really surprising that

it's less than a week ago the

Treasurer brought down the

budget. Look, there are parts

of this budget that Mr and

Mrs Potato head who are just

thick, they could sell. But

there are parts of it that

are not. Some of the anticks,

some of the class stuff the

Prime Minister was going on

with is like early days Mark

Latham. It's starting to get

zealot like. But look, the

Prime Minister is running

around a few of the electoratings. We know what's

happening in the electorates. We know the questions her

colleagues are getting. The

first question is what are we

going to do about Craig

Thomson and the next one is

what are wooz going to do

about the Prime Minister.

There's nobody really asking

any questions about this

budget because of all the

distractions and inaction of

the Prime Minister some time

ago. This is quite a good

budget to try to sell but

nobody's listening. A good

budget to sell, says Grahame

Morris. Let's look at one of

those issues clouding it.

Craig Thomson. It's now let

to an argument perhaps we

need a code of conduct. Some

of the Independents like this

idea. Listen to the two

leaders on this today as well. Parliamentarians are

there doing the job to

represent their electorates.

Of course I want to see parliamentarians doing the

right thing. There are many

rules that govern members of

parliament now, but I'm very This program will be live

captioned by Ai-Media to

looking at a code of conduct

for the future. The Prime

Minister is now talking about

a code of conduct for members

of parliament. Well, as long

as the Prime Minister is

clinging to Craig Thomson

agency vote in the parliament

we know what her code of

conduct is. It's all very

well talking about a code of

conduct but no member of

parliament should need to be

told that fraud, theft and

sexual harassment are wrong.

What do you think, Simon

firstly, on this whole issue

of a code of conduct for MPs

would it be a good idea? I

think it is. I think the

important thing the

Government has actually been

working on this well ahead of

the Craig Thomson stuff. It's part of the agreement they

did with the Greens and the

Independents. This issue was

on the table. The

Government's actually been

acting. I think it's one of

the real potential benefits

that's coming out of the hung parliament. Would you say

you can't sit in parliament

if you've misused union money

or been to see a prostitute.

How will this agrees the

Craig Thomson matter. First

of all it would set out what

are clear standards of

behaviour expected from MPs.

If someone has stolen money

off trade union members as an

official that's totally inappropriate. There should

be some form of sanction

about that. But we also need

to recognise there are proper processes that need to take

place here. Let's put this in

a slightly different context.

If we were looking at a

country that doesn't have our

strong dem combrick systems,

because they've had the

numbers on the floor of

parliament was making

allegations about an Opposition spoke person,

using that numbers to force

that person out of the

parliament, we would all be

deeply concerned without due process that something fundamentally wrong and

corrupt was going on in that

country. Yes we need clear guidance about what's

appropriate conduct for plxt

Ps but we do need proper

process to back that up. We

can't run around like Tony

Abbott conducting a lynch

mob. Graham, what are your

thoughts on the code of

conduct idea? Every state and

Territory parliament except for South Australia I think

it is, all have codes of

conduct. Why not federal

parliament? David, when I

was at school I had a couple

of report cards that said I was a disturbing influence on

the class. And you think,

what would you have on Craig

Thomson's report card? It

seems to me he's the biggest

distraction the Labor

Government's had since Judy

Morosi. Simon and I work with

the Independents and the

Opposition leader as it funny

looking Government was formed

to have a code of conduct on

the parliament itself.

There's nothing wrong with

what's there. But two or

three years ago, if there was

any honour, then Craig

Thomson should have stood in

the parliament, he should

have done his media work and

explained himself properly.

Instead of that he has ducked

for two or three years. Now

he does it. Meanwhile the

Prime Minister, he has

dragged down the Government,

dragged down the parliament.

Anyone with sort of honour

and team work would have said

look I don't want to destroy

the Labor Party like this, I

will stand aside. And in the

end your own piers and your

own judgment and your own honour and commonsense should

have to reach that

conclusion. Instead of that

we've got this dragging on

and on. You do not need, I

don't think you need another

set of rules on whatever that

we call the Craig Thomson bill. It should have been

dealt with some time ago and

anyway, the electorate is the

final arbiter and the

electorate is going to pay

out really really big on

Craig Thomson. I don't think there's too much doubt about

that from where we sit at the

moment. We're going to have

to wrap things up there

though. After the break we'll

be join the by the NSW labour

leader John Robertson, a look

at what Labor is doing to

build its base, and the primary preselection contest

being trialled in the city of

Sydney council elections. Stay with us.

As the Gillard Government

plumbs new depths in the

opinion polls, some are even

writing off the fate of the

Labor Party pointing to the

desertion of the voters to

the Greens on one side and

the Liberals on the other and

saying that Labor is becoming

a narrower and narrower base.

It may be premature to write

off the Labor Party but it is

true that there is a crisis

when is it comes to the

party's membership. The membership numbers have been

steadily falling for about a

decade at least. In order to hopefully improve its membership base the Labor

Party is about to experiment,

an American style open

primary preselection contest. For the first time in

Australia it's happening in

the Sydney City Council

election. The about five

candidates have put up their

names, it's now up to the

community as to who should go

forward to try and knock off

Sydney Lord Mayor. To tell us

how it will work John

Robertson joins me now.

What's wrong with the current

system of rank and file

preselections? At the last

election in NSW we were sent

a very powerful message from

the people of NSW. About

three months after that we

had our first state

conference and there was a decision taken there following a review that was

conducted of the election

campaign that a series of

reforms ought to be put in

place one of which was to

trial primaries. It's an

opportunity for us to go out

and have candidates selected

by a wider range of the

community before they actually stand for election.

It's an exciting time tore

the Labor Party because this

is new, it's the first time

there's been anything conducted like this by Labor

in Australia. I'm very

excited by this. I'll be keen

to see how the results go and

how many people take the

opportunity to participates.

Is part of the problem the

sort of candidates that are

selected under the current

rank and file preselection

process that you end up with

former union officials like

yourself filling the ranks of

the parliamentary team? No,

this is about recognising we

need to engage the wider

community as part of the

selection process for our

candidates. We've made a

decision we'll also do it for

five seats in the run-up to

the state election as well.

This will allow us to see how

it works, how many people

participate and the sorts of

things we need to refine.

But do you think it's going

to change the sort of

candidates that ends up

getting the nod. It becomes

a debate about ideas and it's

an opportunity to engage the

community much earlier in the

election process than we

otherwise would through our

normal processes. This will

be a ballot, a ballot paper

will be sent to everybody in

the city of Sydney and the

ballot itself will be 50% of

residents and 50% of party members who will determine

who the final candidate will

be for the city of Sydney

Lord Mayorty. How is this

going to encourage someone to

sign up and pay their dues if

they don't have to? There

are other benefits, not simply preselection

processes. This is an acknowledgement on our part

that we need to do more to engage people in the community. But people who are

in the party will still get

access to a whole series of other things that people who

ant in the party won't. It

isn't just about preselecting

candidates. It's about policy development, participation in your local community, those

sorts of things. How will

you judge whether this has

worked or not? Will it again

on whether you actually win

the election and Labor knocks

off clover Moore. If you

don't do that, will this have

been a failure? This will be

measured as a success based

on the number of people who

participate in the actual

voting process. We've got

five great candidates and an

opportunity for people in the

wider community to select our candidates. We think that's an important part of the

process. Ultimately the success is pleasured on how

many people take the

opportunity to participate.

If I can shift topic to the

Craig Thomson saga which

certainly is hurting Labor

and the union movement badly

at the moment. Did you watch

his interview with Laurie

Oakes on the weekend, and did

you believe what he said?

I've seen brief reports on

it, I think Paul Howes

covered it off best when he

said it doesn't pass the

believability test. You

don't buy his line he was set

up? I just can't see

anybody's buying that line

other than Craig Thomson Are

you annoyed that the Labor

Party were footing his legal

bills for so long? It's

frustrating that that was the

case. Certainly I was un

aware of that until I saw the

media reports. I think it

just goes to why this sad and

sorry asaga continues to dog the Labor Party. You were

un aware of that until you

saw it in the media. That's

right. How can that be if

you're the Labor Party leader

there in NSW and it was the

NSW footing the bill. That's

a decision that's done by

others. My focus is on the parliamentary wring wing, as

I say, that's why I only

found out about that when I

saw the media reports. Do

you think you need a better

handle on how the party's

funds are being used if you

think what he says is completely unbelievable. I

think there's a whole series

of things that have occurred

that people would have

preferred had been dealt with differently, me included. It

is something that we need to

take on board. All right NSW

Labor leader John Robertson

thanks for that. Thanks

David. Of course we'll let

you know how that Sydney City

Council election process and Labor's experiment there

goes. Next week we'll sit

down and talk with some of

those candidates that are

squaring off against each

other for the Labor

preselection. More of that

coming up. After the break the very latest Sky News.

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