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Good afternoon. Welcome to

the program. I'm David

Spears. For all the talk of stopping the boats and the

loss of life at sea, we

really are no closer to a

compromise on asylum seekers,

with only two sitting days

left here in Parliament

before the long winter break.

In fact, the two sides of

politics can't even agree to

sit down together and talk

about this, as they did back

in December. Tony Abbott is

insisting the Government only

send asylum seekers to be

processed offshore in

countries that have signed

the refugee convention. That

specifically and explicitly

excludes Malaysia. The

Government is insisting that

Malaysia must be part of any offshore processing solution.

So where does that leave us?

Well, stuck in a political

stalemate. There really is

no great mood for give on

either side beyond these

stated positions, beyond a

small group, growing group

perhaps, of back benchers who

did meet yesterday and will

meet again tomorrow to try to

thrash out some sort of

compromise solution. So

toxic is the atmosphere that

it's unlikely we will get any

compromise outcome on this by

the time Parliament rises on

Thursday night. The

Liberals' Scott Morrison last

night seemed to suggest the Coalition wouldn't support

the Government if they adopted the Coalition's

entire policy. He's since clarified that position and

says of course they would, so

does Tony Abbott. Coming up

we'll bring you the latest

developments, or lack of

developments, on this issue. We'll be talking to the

Greens leader Christine Milne

on the program a little

later. What about the Greens

in all of this? Is their

blunt refusal to accept offshore processing really

the most humane path? Also,

coming up we'll be talking to

Clive Palmer. Quite a stoush between Clive Palmer and Tony

Abbott the other day it

sounds like, heated words

exchanged. What was it all

about, we'll find out. First

a check of the top stories

this hour. The stalemate on

asylum seeker policy continues, despite both major

parties insisting they want a break-through. The Government has called on

tabts to stop playing games,

but the Opposition Leader

insists the Prime Minister is

being stubborn. Tony Abbott

claims even these vulnerable

animals will feel the pain of

the carbon tax. The Prime

Minister loves to say that

only the so-called big

polluters will pay the carbon

tax. That's just dead wrong.

Everyone will pay the carbon

tax, including tens of

thousands of charities,

particularly major charities

like the RSPCA. But it's

vulnerable humans at the

centre of another fierce

political debate after last

week's latest boat tragedy

which saw about 90 people

drown, both political leaders have been under pressure to

come up with a compromise on

asylum seeker policy. People

look at the TV and just go "Something has to happen". You're left

thinking that he sees political advantage in people dying. That's the real disgrace of this. Julia

Gillard insists she's ready

to negotiate. Tony Abbott

says she's the one playing

politics. The Prime Minister

says she wants to talk, but

there's been no letter, no

phone call, no email and,

above all else, no indication

of a change in position. The

Government has repeated its

offer to support the

Coalition's plan to process

asylum seekers at Nauru if

the Opposition backs its

Malaysian solution. The

Prime Minister has hinted

she's open to compromising

further if needed, but Mr

Abbott says only his plan,

involving Nauru, turning back

the boats and reintroducing

temporary protection visas,

will work. I just wish that

the Prime Minister was not

too proud to put in place the

policies that have been

proven to work. It's time to

walk away from the sound

grabs, to walk away from the

politics and to enter into meaningful negotiations with

the Government. If you want

to stop the boats, you have

to stop the games. The Greens

also oppose the Malaysia

plan. The minor party argues

a multi-party committee

through the issue. should be set up to work

Underpinning any such

climate committee had a committee, just as the

commitment to addressing

climate change and a

commitment to an outcome in

terms of pricing, this committee addressing asylum

seekers would have to operate

within the context of

international law and the

refugee convention. Mining

magnate Clive Palmer

maintains he had an angry

confrontation with Opposition

Leader Tony Abbott last week,

but has apologised over his

behaviour. Mr Palmer

initially claimed Mr Abbott

swore at him, but now says

he's not sure if that

happened. Tony is only a lot

smaller than me, I wouldn't

like to think I took

advantage of him. You know,

certainly I think that I

certainly regret, and I apoll

gise to Mr Abbott I may have

raised my voice and said the

most unappropriate things my

wife would have thrown me out

of the house for. I certainly apologise about

lobbyists from senior that. Mr Palmer wants to ban

positions in the Liberal

Party, which would result in

two Vice Presidents losing their positions. The Opposition Leader has

dismissed the call and has

denied swearing at Mr Palmer.

New court documents have

revealed the journalist who

exposed the allegations

against Peter Slipper was

secretly in close contact

with his accuser from early

April. As News Limited

journalist Steve Lewis

prepared to publish sexual

harassment allegations

against the Speaker he

allegedly texted Mr Slipper's

staffer James ashby,

promising "we will get him".

Government lawyers claim they

worked together to destroy Mr

Slipper's career and Mr Ash

by pretended he was sick so

he could travel to Sydney and

give the journalist access to

Mr Slipper's private diary to

write the story. Mr Lewis's

reporting as the Slipper case

was used as a cautionary tail

in Question Time and urged

journalists to be factual in

their reporting. It is

indeed vital that media do

take seriously their

responsibility to report the

facts with honesty and

integrity. The media's main

role is to report the news,

not to make the news. Fairfax

has named the two men who

will take responsibility for

the immediate future of its

operations in Melbourne after

the 'Age' editor announced

his resignation yesterday.

Sky's Aaron Young is at Fairfax headquarters and

filed this report. A day

after Paul Ramadge announced

he was leaving the 'Age'

after four years as editor of

the publication, file Andrew

Holden has now been announced

as editor in chief coming

back from Christchurch, why

he has worked for 11 years,

including four as the editor.

He had been at the 'Age' for

some time before that working

as sub editor. He'll be

joined by Steve Foley, who

becomes the news director, a new position that replaces

the title of editor as

Fairfax tries to prove its

shift, its new direction and

focus more towards a 24-hour

operation both online and

also prints, moving away from

being just a print entity. I

spoke with Andrew Holden here

outside Media House. It's a

huge amount of change we're

going through. We need to

bring together the digital

side with the print side and

turn it into one consistent

news room. My experience in

handling project and news

room change, they've seen me

as the logical choice to help

them do that. Andrew Holden

wouldn't be drawn in on

questions about Gina Rinehart

or perhaps what her

intentions might be for

Fairfax. He says he'll leave

that up to the board of

directors. A group of 63

prominent Australians, mostly

Victorians, wrote a letter

calling for the independence

of the editorial board to

remain in place despite

whatever Gina Rinehart wants

to do. It includes former

Premiers, former Prime

Minister Malcolm Frazer, as

well as Christine Nixon.

They say any constraint on editorial independence

inhibit s the ability of journalists to report without

fear or favour a crucial

element of a vibrant and

healthy dsz. Andrew Holden

starts next week in the job temporarily. He'll continue

to take over that role over

the coming months, as the

'Age' joins the 'Sydney

Morning Herald', moving away

from the broad-sheet large

format to the smaller tabloid

size beginning in March. He

says they have to wait until

March because they have to

retrain their journalists and

sub editors to get there in

time. Hundreds of Syrian

refugees, including dozens of soldiers, have fled to

Turkey, adding to the 30,000

refugees already accommodated

there. The recent intense

fighting has raised fears of

a flood of even more refugees

across the boarder. It comes

after Syrian forces shot down

a Turkish war plane. Turkey

says Syria won't go un

punished over the incident,

but added it didn't intend to

go to war over it. Egypt's

new President Mohamed Morsi

could be sworn in by the end

of the week. Muslim

Brotherhood candidate has

promised to form an inclusive

Government on behalf of all Egyptians, but there's uncertainty about how the

result will be greeted by the three-quarters of the

population who didn't vote

for the new Islamist President. This is the

picture Egyptian s thought

they'd never see, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood

sitting as the President

elect, with the supreme

council of the armed forces,

the generals who actually run

the country. Mohamed Morsi

was once a prisoner in the

gaols of former dictator

Hosni Mubarak. Today he took

over the presidential palace.

There is a celebration in

Tahrir Square following his

victory. Now it is on

Egyptians the same generals

that accepted Morsi's win have already undercut his

authority. The ruling

military recently imposed

martial law, issued a

constitutional decree curbing

the President's powers, this

after the Supreme Court

dissolved the democratically

elected parliament. In

essence, the generals have

ensured they can maintain the

grip on power they held

before Morsi was elected. Even though he's in office

and elected President, still

he is weak enough and

therefore he needs mass

poplisation on the squares of

Egypt to sustain him and to

support him in front of the generals. Tahrir Square has

now turned back into a

protest camp. This is one of Morsi's supporters and

insists they're not going

anywhere. We will support

him, we will defend our

rights and we will go forward

for that. We will not give

up. You will not give up? We

will not give up. Scores of

people are feared to have

been killed by a landslide in

eastern Uganda. 18 deaths so

far have been confirmed, but hundreds more are missing. Many people in the

path of the landslide didn't

have a chance. After days of

heavy rain, bolders and mud

crashed down on to three

villages, crushing homes and

burying residents alive. Emergency teams are searching

the site to try to establish

the total number of dead.

It's feared it could run into

hundreds. The number of

people at risk in this area

448. So far nobody has been

retrieved. This is the third

time in as many years that

this mountainous region has

been hit by landslides. Last

year two dozen people were

buried alive when mud

engulfed their homes, and in

March 2010 a similar disaster

is estimated to have killed

more than 300 people.

Following that incident,

Ugandan authorities pledged

to re settle about half a million people to try to

lessen the risks. As yet,

this hasn't happened. The

area has had so many places

with cracks, so each time

there is rainfall, this water

just seeps into the cracks

and eventually a landslide

happens. So there is a need

for some level of enforcement. But any such enforcement will come too

late for the victims of this

landslide and it's likely to

be days before it's known

just how many victims there

are. Taking a look at sport

now, and Billy Slater has

been named in a 20-man

Queensland squad for next week's State of Origin

decider against NSW in

Brisbane. Maroons selectors

also are sweating on the

fitness of Justin Lodges, who

has a rib injury, while they

are hopeful Sam Thaiday and

Corey Parker have fully

overcome shoulder and leg injuries respectively. It's

the fitness of Slater proving

the most intriguing after the

star fullback injured his

knee in Origin 2. Ran

yesterday morning and he was

very upbeat about that

session, so we'll give him

another five days, until the

end of the week, to make that

final decision. Bulldogs' Ben

Barba didn't make the cut,

with Matt Bowen selected as

potential replacement.

Maninga is citing a lack of big-game experience as the

reason for that decision. A

brief look at the national

weather forecast now - rain

continuing in the east, windy

with showers in the west.

Back to David Spears now in Canberra as PM Agenda

continues. Mike, thank you.

After the break, well, we

were hoping to be interviewing live Clive

Palmer about various issues

this afternoon. Our live

camera is set up there in his

office in Brisbane. But he's

just pulled out just with a

few minutes to go. He's no longer available for

interview with us this

afternoon. Sorry about that.

Coming up we'll talk to

Greens leader Christine Milne

and also our interview with

Scott Morrison, Shadow

Immigration Minister, from

earlier this afternoon, as the asylum seeker standoff continues here in marlt.

We'll bring you the latest. Stay with us.

Good afternoon. Welcome to

PM Agenda. I'm David Spears. It sounds like quite a

stoush. In one corner the Liberal Party leader Tony Abbott, in the other the

party's biggest donor, mining

magnate Clive Palmer. On

Thursday the two met and had,

by the sounds of it, quite an

argument. It was over an internal Liberal Party matter, whether members of

the Liberal Party executive

should be lobbyists or not.

Clive Palmer thinks the party

needs to be squeaky clean and

not have lobbyists involved

in party-official positions. He's pointing in particular

to two advice Presidents,

Alexander Downer and Santo

Santoro. Tony Abbott says

it's entirely legitimate for

anyone to hold these executive positions and there's no evidence they have

been compromised or had any

sort of conflict of interest.

Just what went down in their

argument on Thursday? Well,

there are two slightly

different versions. Here

were both men today. If

there was any heat, it

certainly wasn't coming from

me. If Mr Palmer has a

position to put to me, he's

welcome to put it to me, as

indeed is any other member of

our party, but no member of

our party has a privileged

status by virtue of his

wealth or his donation. Tony is only a lot smaller than

me, I wouldn't like to think

I took advantage of him, but,

you know, certainly I think

that I certainly regret, and

I apologise to Mr Abbott that

I may have raised my voice and said the most

unappropriate things that my

wife would have thrown me out

of the house for. I

certainly apologise about

that. Who -- He's a lot

younger and fitter than me, I

have a lot more padding, I

think. So Clive Palmer may

pursue this at the Liberal Party federal council meeting, taking place in

Melbourne on Friday and

Saturday. Whether he'll move this resolution or not

remains unclear. He's

dedeferring fefrg to the LNP

boss in Queensland, Bruce

McIver. He's also yet to

declare whether he'll go ahead with seeking

preselection for the LNP in

Wayne Swan's seat of Lillie

at the next federal election.

We were hoping to be talking to Clive Palmer this

afternoon. We'd arranged

this interview today. Just minutes ago Clive Palmer

pulled out, he's no longer available for interview. As

soon as we mentioned on air

that it was going to take

place, we've since found out that he is not available for

interview any longer. He's

apparently been pulled into a

meeting and is not available.

So apologies for that this

afternoon. Meanwhile, we'll

look at what's been happening

here in Parliament today.

Once again the focus was

squarely on the asylum seeker

stalemate. The two major

parties are yet to come up with any sort of compromise

solution, let alone even sit down and talk to each other.

Now, what's at stake here?

Well, the fate of those many

asylum seekers trying to make

the journey to Australia. We

saw on Thursday, tragically,

up to 90 drown when a boat

capsized carrying 200 people.

110 were able to be rescued.

Since then, we've seen the

political argument reflecting

where it has been for the last six months, the Government insisting Malaysia

be part of any offshore

processing solution, it's

also willing to send to Nauru

and Manus Island in Papua New

Guinea and contemplate the

return of temporary

protection visas, but it says

Malaysia must be part of the

real mix. The Opposition is

refusing to budge from its

stated policy of sending

asylum seekers to Nauru.

Well, in fact it is willing to allow asylum seekers to be

sent to any other country, as

long as they're signatories

to the refugees convention,

but Malaysia is not,

Indonesia is not, only Nauru

is. It also wants temporary

protection visas and, where

safe to do so, boats to be

turned back. Here is a look

at the to and fro on this

issue today. People look at

the TV and just go "Something

has to happen". You're left

thinking that he sees

political advantage in people

dying. That's the real

disgrace of this. I am

willing to talk and the

Government is willing to talk

to see if we can find a

compromise that enables this

parliament to realise what I

think is supported by all of

us, and that is that we see

an end to this human misery

and loss of life. The Prime

Minister says she wants to

talk, but there's been no

letter, no phone call, no

email, and, above all else,

no indication of a change in position. It's time to walk

away from the sound grabs, to

walk away from the politics

and to enter into meaningful

negotiations with the

Government. If you want to

stop the boats, you have to

stop the games. Coming up on

the program we'll be talking

to Greens leader Christine

Milne about this, what about

the Greens' position, they're

opposed to any offshore

processing. Is that the most

humane approach? First to Shadow Immigration Minister Scott Morrison for a look at

the Coalition's position on

this and what their bottom

line is. David lips om spoke

to him a little earlier this

afternoon. Scott Morrison,

thanks for your time. What

would be acceptable for you

for the Government to offer for you to sit down at the

negotiating table? Well, at

the end of the day, this is

all about a bill before the

Parliament. We've made it

very clear, if the Government

agrees to this one condition,

and that is that the signatory status of the

refugee convention is the

binding legal protection that

goes under the migration

agent, that was the Government's policy before

the last election. The Prime

Minister said she wouldn't

send someone to a country that wasn't a signatory to

the UN convention. If they

agree to that amendment

without condition, there's no further condition on the part

of the Coalition, that Bill will pass the Parliament

today and it would pass the

Senate as well, with the

Government's support. The

Government then can do with

that legislation what they

believe is best, so if they

want to open Nauru, we'd like

them to do that, obviously,

we'd like them to restore

TPVs, we'd like them to turn

back boats where it is safe

to do so, that is a matter

for them if they wish to do

that. That would rule out

Malaysia, wouldn't it, yet

allow Nauru as a solution.

It allows offshore processing

in 149 countries. You have

to ask yourself this

question: what type of a

proposal in the Malaysian

people swap makes it

necessary for the Government

to have to abolish all human rights protections for offshore processing in order

to put it in place? Around

about this time last year I

was in Malaysia. I sat in

the small rooms in which

people live in Malaysia, who live there as asylum seekers.

I met a young man who sat in

his living room with

tuberculosis and a broken

back and his kids. I know

the sort of life people live

in Malaysia in those

circumstances. Sending

people into that arrangement,

whether no legally binding protections for people being

sent there, is a major

problem, as is the 800 cap. We've been through all this.

The issue is if they can have

the legislation by simply

adopting the policy that they

took to the last election and

this bill is passed. That

doesn't really seem like a compromise agreement, because

effectively, as I mentioned,

it does rule out their plan

and rule your plan in

entirely. Do you accept that argument? I think Australian

people want strong borders,

not weak and compromised

borders. I think they want

to see good policy. The Bill

that we're happy to support

with that amendment would provide the Government with the opportunity for good

policy. That's their choice

then and their decision about

what they then do as a Government. The Government

also says the advice it

receives from the immigration

department, from other

experts in this area, is that

adopting such a policy just

won't work. They believe

that Malaysia must be part of

any strategy and that, by

sending people to Malaysia, by implementing temporary

protection visas and towing

back boats where safe to do

so, that alone won't be

enough. What we're talking

about here is one piece of legislation. If the

Government doesn't want to

reopen Nauru, if it doesn't

want to restore TPVs, if they

don't want to turn boats back

where it's safe to do so,

that's their sdegs. We're

talking about a piece of legislation. That

legislation will pass today

and enable offshore

processing in 148 countries,

it will allow for offshore

protections to be in place

which are legally binding. That can happen today and

that is the position the

Coalition has had available

to the Government for a long

time. What would make

Malaysia acceptable to

you? Well, as I've outlined

on I don't know how many

occasions, there are no

legally binding protections

for people sent to Malaysia.

The 800 cap can be

overwhelmed, as we saw at the

beginning of this month, in a

fortnight. Almost 8,000

people have turned up since

they first announced the

arrangement and the people

smugglers are cashed to the

hilt. When people go to

Malaysia, they can get back

to Indonesia and get on another boat and come to Australia. Nauru is ultimately capped, as Chris

Bowen pointed out about half

an hour ago, at about 1500

people at a maximum. What's the difference there between

the caps? I don't accept

it's capped in the same way

as Minister Bowen says. At

no stage did I say that the

Coalition had rejected a deal

if the Government would

accept everything that we

wished. I never said that at

all. I simply said I would

like them obviously to

implement all of those things

and we'd welcome them doing

that. Back on the cans, though, what's the difference

between those two? Obviously

at Nauru, with people moving

off Nauru as well when their

claims are assessed and

potentially re settled in other countries, or returning

home, as 30% did under the

Pacific Solution, this is not

a fixed cap of 1500 people

potentially on Nauru; it is a

cap that can be much more

expanded because of

potentially the rotation of people through that facility

as occurred last time. But

the Government's proposal is

a fixed 800 cap. That's it.

My question to the Government

is: what happens with the

801st person? They have no answer to this

question. Sure, but if they

opened up that cap -- They

can't, I know they can't

because they told me they

can't. But if they were able

to, if they renegotiated with

Malaysia and opened that up,

is that acceptable? But,

David, they won't. These are

things that were raised with

the Government back in

December and January of this

year and we were given the

very clear message that legally binding protections

in Malaysia are not on the

table, that expanding the cap

and having a commitment to that and an open arrangement

is not on the table. These

where the problems that the Government's proposal has. They're for them to solve,

not for the Coalition, it's

not our proposal. We're confident about our proposal.

The other one I would

highlight is this, that is

the policy doesn't apply to

everybody who turns up. So

if they put children on boats

and they don't go to

Malaysia, then they're going

to put children on boats. On the refugee convention in

Malaysia, if they did sign

that convention, would that

make you more -- Yes --

likely to sign up? Yes, that

would be consistent with the

legislation we're offering to

pass today. So that is the

matter before the Parliament.

It's a very simple

proposition we're putting to

the Government, David. We're

not demanding they do all

these other things we'd like

them to do. Of course we'd

like them to do that. We

simply want them to put into

legislation the policy Julia Gillard took to the last

election. If she does that

today, this bill passes and

the Government can get on

with the job. That legislation is aimed at making sure that asylum

seekers are treated humanely,

but surely a deal with Nauru

and Malaysia at its core

would be more humane by

stopping people getting on

these dangerous boats, dying

at sea in vast numbers,

surely that's a more humane

starting point, isn't

it? Given that Nauru doesn't

require us to abolish all

human rights protections in

the Migration Act, I would

argue no. The issue with

Malaysia is it does require that abolition. Our advice

from the officials -- A

compromise kind of deal -

that is a more humane

position, isn't it? Australians wants to see

good policy in place, they

want to see strong borders in

place, not weak borders and

compromised borders. The

legislation we're offering to pass today is consistent with

the Government's policy at

the last election and we

offer that without any

strings attached. Just

finally, is it an indictment

on the front bench, from both

sides of politics, that you

have back benchers,

cross-benchers meeting apart

from the sort of frontbench

to try to work out their own

solution when you guys can't

work it out? No, I think

that's a lively and

functioning parliament.

Everyone who comes to this

place has an opinion and a

view that should be

respected. I respect the

views of the people in this

parliament and particularly

on my own side of the House.

People have had long-standing

issues on elements of our

policy and a number of

people, Judy Moylan and

Russell Broad bent as well,

they've had a long-standing

set of issues with some of

our policies. I respect them

for that. We've been able to

all work together despite

that and I continue to

respect them very highly. Scott Morrison,

thanks for your time. Thanks

very much. Coming up on the

program, we'll hear from

Greens leader Christine Milne

for more on this. After the

break, though, the 'Australian''s editor at

large, Paul Kelly, for a look at the asylum seeker politics, whether we are ever

going to see a compromise

outcome in this parliament. Stay with us.

Welcome back. In a moment

Paul Kelly on the asylum

seeker dilemma that's been gripping politics this week.

First a quick check of the news headlines. Immigration

Minister Chris Bowen says the

Coalition's refusal to

negotiate over asylum seeker

policy is untenable. The

Government has renewed its

offer to talk in an effort to

find a bi partisan solution, but Opposition Leader Tony

Abbott is showing no signs of

accepting the offer. Mr

Bowen has implored Mr Abbott

to rethink his approach,

saying if he wants to stop

the boats, he has to stop the

games. Mining magnate Clive

Palmer maintains he had an

angry confrontation with Opposition Leader Tony Abbott

last week, but has apologised

over his behaviour. Mr Palmer initially claimed Mr

Abbott swore at him, but now

he says he's not sure if that

happened. Mr Palmer wants to ban lobbyists from senior

positions in the Liberal

Party, which would result in

two Vice Presidents losing

their positions. Opposition

Leader has dismissed the call

and has denied swearing at Mr

Palmer. There have been more

major changes to the media

landscape, with Andrew Holden

appointed editor in chief and

Steve Foley as news director

at Melbourne's the 'Age'

newspaper. Mean time, David

Leckie has also announced

he's standing down as CEO of

Seven West Media. It all

comes as jyrd increases her

number of shares in the Ten

Network through the firm's

recent rights issue. Her

stake remains at 10.6%

following Ten's fundraising

efforts. Three high-ranking

military officials are among

hundreds of refugees fleeing

Syria to Turkey, adding to

the 30,000 refugees already accommodated there. The recent intense fighting has

raised fears of a flood of

even more refugees across the

border. It comes after

Syrian forces shot down a

Turkish war plane. Turkey says Syria won't go un

punished but added it didn't

intend to go to war over the

incident. The EU has imposed

a fresh round of sanctions on

the war-attorney country.

Nathan Buckley says the

Magpies remain on target to

retain most of their unsigned

players. The Pies are yet to

secure six key signings, but

Buckley says the players know they'll need to sacrifice

cash to remain at the club.

A look at the weather - rain

continuing in the east, windy

with showers in the

west. Mike, thank you for

that. I'm joined now by Paul

Kelly, editor at large of the

'Australian' newspaper, for a look at the dominant issue

this week in politics and one

of the biggest challenges the

Gillard Government certainly

has faced, Paul, asylum

seekers. Just tell us where

you think we're at with this

policy debacle? Well, I can't

see that this deadlock will

be resolved at all. The

point to make about the

tragedy last week is that we

predicted this. We've known

for quite some time that our

policy had failed, that more

boats were coming. That

meant that there would be

more drownings in the water,

more deaths on the water. So

we shouldn't be surprised at

all about that, but there's

no sign, as far as I can see,

that this deadlock will be

resolved at all. There is, however, increased

frustration, I think it's

fair to say, amongst the

Australian public and also in

the backbench of both parties

as well. A small group of

cross-party MPs met yesterday

and will meet again tomorrow.

Is that going to lead to anything? Well, that's

welcome. There's no problem

about meeting and talking about the problem and trying

to reach agreement, but I

don't think that anything whatsoever will come from

these meetings, because this

is simply a deadlock between

Labor and the Coalition.

Julia Gillard and Chris Bowen

have got a policy. It's the

Malaysian agreement. They

can't legislate that policy,

so what that meant was that

they had no effective border

protection approach at all.

Tony Abbott also has a

policy. His policy is

essentially the Howard

policies from 2001 and the

advisers believe that those

policies won't work, that

they won't stop the boats.

So I think we've got a

difficulty here not just for

Julia Gillard now, which is

very real and there's no

doubt that her lack of

political authority is being

exposed, but Tony Abbott is

storing up a big problem down

the track, because if he

become s Prime Minister,

given the vehemence with

which he said he'll stop the

boats, the question is, well,

how will he stop the boats? This is the thing.

You look at his policy, it

has three core elements:

Nauru, which the immigration

department and national

security agencies doubt will

work as a deterrent;

temporary protection visas,

which may be a deterrent; and

then turning back the boats

where it's safe to do so, and

that has caused a fair bit of

grief as far as Indonesia is

concerned. Will it together

work? Well, when you talk to

the immigration and border

protection and national

security people about those

three policies, what they say

is these days only one will

work and that's turning back

the boats. But the problem

with that is that in order to

make that policy feasible,

you do need the support of

Indonesia. Now, Tony Abbott

has indicated that he is

prepared to turn back the

boats anyway. Now, that is a

high-ris k exercise. It's

hard to imagine that being done without the support of the Indonesian

Government. Can that be done?

I think he said he'll go

there in his first week

-- He's made that a priority.

He's said he'll go to

Indonesia and try to reach an

agreement with the Indonesian

Government. But most people

are involved with this think

that that won't be effective,

that he won't be able to

reach that agreement. In

that case, of course, the

question is, well, you come

back to the fundamental

proposition how does he stop

the boats? Do you think he

should take what the

Government is offering,

Malaysia with Nauru? Well,

look, the really important

point to make about this is

that the Coalition has

adopted this policy that it

will only do an offshore processing deal with

countries that have signed

the refugee convention. Now,

most countries in South-East

Asia have not signed the

refugee convention, so

essentially what this means

is the Coalition have limited

their offshore processing

options very significantly.

I think it was a mistake for

the Coalition to adopt that

particular policy, but I know

that Scott Morrison is very

attached to that. He went to

Malaysia last year at the

time the Labor Party was

negotiating the deal. He

reached the view that we

couldn't accept this deal

with Malaysia, and, of

course, that's also the view

of many people on the Labor

left and within the human

rights lobby. So the

interesting thing about the

Coalition's position is it's

both hard-line, in the sense

it wants to go back to the

Howard policies, but it's

also quite soft when it comes

to offshore processing. Only

send them to signatory

countries. Yes. I spoke to

one Liberal MP today who said

there's very strong support

for that, they have serious

humanitarian concerns about

Malaysia, another Coalition

MP said this would be an

opportunity for Tony Abbott

to show some primeministerial

leadership in finding a solution with the Government.

What about the Government, why doesn't Julia Gillard

just say "Okay, clearly we're

not going to get a compromise

here, let's give your plan a

go?", or wouldn't the left go

for that? I mean, Julia

Gillard has made very

signature concessions

already. They've basically

said they'll do Nauru and

have an inquiry into doing

temporary protection visas, providing their Malaysian

scheme gets up. That policy,

that position, has been

rejected by the Coalition, so

you're forced back into the

sort of proposition that you

just talked about, should

Labor surrender everything and adopt the Coalition

position? I think, frankly,

that is a bridge too far. I

don't think we'll see Labor

doing that. But the problem for Julia Gillard here is

that you'll remember what

happened back in 2001 was

that John Howard was able to

bring political pressure to

bear on Kim Beasley and he

was able to get his laws

through the Parliament. What

this whole episode

demonstrates, of course, is

the lack of any effective political authority by Julia

Gillard. She can't get anything through the

Parliament when it comes to

this particular issue. Of

course she could, if the

Greens came on board. Just finally what about the Greens

in this? They're maintaining their opposition to any

offshore processing. Is that

really the most humane

path? Well, I think as certain people have said

there's no longer a moral

high ground when it comes to

this debate. There was once

the argument that in terms of

moralitiy, we should abandon

offshore processing and just

have onshore processing. That's essentially what we

have now. What that means,

of course, is more boats and

more deaths. So I think the

argument for offshore processing is particularly

strong. The problem is we

can't get Labor or the

Coalition, both of whom agree with the principle of

offshore processing, to agree

with the details, and you

can't see how this logjam is

likely to be resolved. Paul

Kelly, always good to talk to

you. Thanks very much for

that. Thanks, David. After

the break we'll be talking

with the Greens leader,

Christine Milne. Stay with us.

Welcome back to the

program. For more now on the

asylum seeker standoff that

has been continuing this week

in Parliament since that

tragedy on Thursday of last

week, when up to 90 asylum

seekers died when their boat capsized trying to reach

Christmas Island. I'm joined

now by the leader of the Greens, Senator Christine Milne. Thanks for your

time. Thank you. Firstly,

have you had any talks with

Labor at all this week about

a possible compromise with

them on this issue? No, I

haven't. I'm hoping to raise

the matter with the Prime

Minister later today, but my

colleague Sarah Hanson Young

has met with back benchers

from all parties and the cross-bench over the last couple of days, as well as

talking to people in the region. So what will you be saying to the Prime Minister

on this? Is there any room for compromise as far as the

Greens go? Well, I think that

the multi-party committee

model is a good way of

approaching this issue, but

that is something that the

Government would need to

convene. Clearly, it needs

that level of leadership and credibility, and so I think

we've had a model whereby you

actually frame carefully a

committee that has an

objective and in this case it

would be to try to work out a

way to have a regional

solution to deal in a very

caring and humane way with

asylum seekers, but it would

need to be framed in the

context of international law

and the refugee convention.

Otherwise it wouldn't stand

up in the region, it wouldn't be a regional

solution. That's the bottom

line as far as you're

concerned, you will not, even

if there's a big increase in

our refugee intake, accept

sending asylum seekers to a

country that's not a

signatory to that convention,

like Malaysia? Well, that's

right. It contravenes our obligations under international law. That's

why the High Court struck

down the proposed Malaysia

Solution, because it wasn't

consistent with our legal

obligations. But the other

thing, it actually undermines

the capacity to get a regional solution because

other countries are not going

to sign up to the refugee

convention and start treating

asylum seekers in a better

way unless Australia shows

some leadership. What does

signing this document do?

The Malaysia Solution does involve access to health and

education, it does involve a commitment from Malaysia not

to send refugees back to

where they came from, it does

involve us taking in a lot of refugees from Malaysia.

There are safeguards built

into it. Yes, but it doesn't

actually allow them to work,

it doesn't give them the same

respect for human rights that

you would expect would be

extended as if they were

signatories to the refugee

convention. So the key thing -- What human rights would

they miss out on? Well, just

to even be treated decently,

they're not even allowed to

work in these countries if they're not signatories, and

that would be the case in

Malaysia, for example, and

you'd be sending children

-- These people would be

allowed to work under the

arrangement that Australia

has struck? Well, the issue

here is they're not extended

the same protection, if you

like, as they would be under

the refugee convention, and

from our point of view

-- What does that mean, what

do they miss out? Just basic

decent treatment for a start

and protection under the law

-- You don't trust Malaysia

to treat them decently? Not without the refugee

convention, no, and that has

been the history, and whilst

Australia might say we will

try to get some safeguards,

who is going to enforce and

oversee that to any real

extent? The bigger pish u

issue is we need to encourage

as many countries in the

region to sign up to the

refugee convention as we can.

For that to happen, Australia

has to take a lead. We know

we need a regional solution,

that's very clear. When you

say "regional solution", are

you saying you are prepared

to support offshore processing in countries that have signed the

convention? Well, what would

happen with a regional

solution is you would

encourage other countries to

sign the refugee convention.

They would then deal with

refugees and process refugees

and asylum seekers in their

countries consistent with the

refugee convention. No,

Australia must deal with the

asylum seekers who turn up on

our shores in the way that we're expected to under international law, but,

equally, I would expect us to

put some money in - for

example, into Indonesia,

where currently there's only

two people who are funded to process asylum seekers, and

that is not enough. How can

two people manage the

numbers? We need to be

putting some money in to

support people. Equally, we

should be putting money into

those camps to give people an insight into the

process. Even if we put money

in and even if we double our

refugee intake to 25,000,

there are millions of

displaced people and asylum

seekers across the

Asia-Pacific region. Why is

this suddenly going to see

countries like Indonesia and

Malaysia change their

well-entrenched positions in not signing that refugee convention? They certainly

won't if we don't; that's

point. The extent to which

they will change will depend

on the leadership and

generosity of a country like

Australia in the region, and

of course there are displaced

people right across the

planet. You only have to

look at the United States, look at what's happening in

the Mediterranean, and we'll

see more of it with extreme

weather event s and climate

change in this century. You

really think that increasing

our refugee intake to 25,000

will suddenly force or prompt Indonesia to sign the

convention? I don't think it

will force anybody to do

anything, but what it will do

is allow us to call people to

the tabling to talk about a

way of having a regional

solution which encourages

them to sign the convention,

because it would see us

taking our fair share, it

would see us actually funding

the UNHCR to assist them to

do the work in those

countries and it would actually show some

willingness to be generous,

instead of taking a punitive

approach, which is we're not

going to take them, out of

sight, out of mind, you're a developing country, you deal

with it, we don't want to.

That isn't an appropriate way

of behaving. The point here

is - the argument is that an

offshore processing regime

provides a deterntdz.

However big our refugee

intake is, people will always

want to come to Australia in

this region because we're the wealthiest country in the

region. People will always

want to come here. Isn't a

deterrent necessary to stop

them making the dangerous journey? That's a punitive

way of looking at things.

These are vulnerable people

seeking a new life in a new

country, seeking asylum with

us. They are dying at sea

and things like temporary protection visas will see

that more of them will

actually come on boats,

because the family reunion is

then undermined. That's no

way of approaching things

either. The issue here is

these are vulnerable people

seeking a better life. This

should not be a punitive punishment regime. They haven't done anything wrong. They are forced to leave

their countries and go back

to first principles, they're

leaving Iraq, they're leaving

Afghanistan. We think those

regimes were bad enough to be

involved in a war there. Why

would we be surprised that

people displaced want to seek

asylum in a country like

ours? A lot of these people

are paying good money to do

this and they're taking a

huge risk. This boat in particular was 30 nautical

miles off Indonesia when it

made a distress call, it was

told to go back to Indonesia

and it didn't. It continued

on for another 60 nautical miles before capsizing.

These people are taking

enormous risks to get to

Australia. That is not going

to change, is it? Well,

Australia is also not doing

the right thing by not

rescuing them when they see

they're in trouble and

leaving it until they've

actually capsized. We have a

duty of care under safety of

life at sea to look after

them. This is the point, we

have to actually change our

approach. So much of this is

based on a view, we don't

want these people, we have to send them back, take them

back. These are vulnerable

people seeking asylum in our

country and we should be

saying "Let's work out how we'll deal with asylum

seekers across the region.

If we take a lead, increase

the humanitarian intake, if

we support the UNHCR in

Indonesia and if we talk to our colleagues in other parts

of the region, as Sarah Hanson-Young is doing, about

how we can help, you build

goodwill and collaboration.

If we keep insisting on

offshore processing, far from building goodwill, you are

having the rest of the region

say why would we do any

better if Australia won't? Just finally, if there

is a regional solution, if

Indonesia signed up to the refugee convention, asylum

seekers who come through

Indonesia - you think they

could all be processed there

and then re settled elsewhere, you don't think they'll still want to come to

Australia? Clearly, if

they're processed in

Indonesia under a situation

where they've signed the

refugee convention, there

would be a regional solution

as to who would be taking

certain numbers of refugees,

as we did in fact after the

Vietnam War and we dealt with

refugees from indo China. So

the issue is that it has to

be - if you educate people in

the camps and you give them

hope there can be processing

in a reasonable amount of time, that they are cared for under the convention and

there is a regional solution,

you'd have a much better

approach, and that's what

we're asking from a

multi-party committee, to sit

down and say let's take the

law as the first step, let's

all accept we want to be good

global citizens under the refugee convention and let's

work out a way we might work with the region to do that. Greens leader Christine

Milne, thank you. Thank

you. That's all we have time

for this afternoon. We'll be

back same time tomorrow.

Thanks for your company.

After the break, the latest Sky News.