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Australian Agenda -

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Good afternoon, welcome to

the program. I'm David

Speers. It's been another

busy week for Australia's border protection authorities

. Concerns crews are now

issuing distress calls soon

after leaving Indonesia even

though they may not be in

distress. People smugglers

know Australian rescuers will

come to the residue and take

asylum seekers to Christmas

Island. It's putting enormous

strain on border protection

crews. Coming up on the

program we're going to be

discussing this issue with a

number of guests, Independent

MP Andrew Wilkie. He was

clearly torn on this issue,

he vod for the Rob Oakeshott

bill to allow the

Government's Malaysia plan to go ahead but also voted for

the Opposition's bill to

prevent the Malaysia plan. He

was keen to find any sort of

solution. Also talking to the

Liberal's Scott Morrison, what would the Coalition

really do about boats in this

situation. Also NSW Labor

Leader John Robertson joins

us. The political impasse has imflamed tensions between

Labor and the Greens this

week. All that coming up,

first a look at the top

stories this hour with

Suzanne Latimore. The Prime

Minister insists Australia's

economy is the envy of the

world despite a rise in unemployment for the second

month in a row. It now sits

at 5.2%, a result the

Opposition has described as

deeply dis appointing. Myer

is the latest iconic Aussie

business to be shedding jobs,

100 workers are getting the chop. It's a trend happening

all ore and it's set to

continue. The Government is bracing for further slowing

of the Labor market. In June

27,000 jobs disappeared

sending the unemployment rate

up by 0.1 of a per cent.

South Australia was hardest

hit with the job less rate

rising a full 1.2%. Tasmania

still has the high eflet

unemployment in the country.

The boom states of Queensland

and WA continue to surge ahead. The number out of work

is going down, the Prime Minister says by world

standards we're flying high.

Whether it's the President of the United States, whether

it's the Prime Minister of

the United Kingdom, whether

it's any number of the

representatives who are in European economy s, they

would literally do anything

to have the same economic

story and statistics as Australia. But the

Opposition insists at home

people are hurting. It's

enormously dis appointing

figure because it represents

yet again the fact that the

Government is always keen to

crow about the successes but

out in the real world people

are losing jobs. The silver

lining is interest rates, the

Reserve Bank now has one more

reason to cut the official

cash rate next month. That

will help home and business

owners alike. Tony Abbott is

also promising to make things

easier for employers by

tweaking workplace laws. He's

hinted at making penalty

rates more flexible but he's

been careful to keep workers

on side. The one thing that

the Australian workers will

find is that I am their best

friend. What I want to see is

higher wages and more jobs.

With friends like that who

needs an enemy? The Government admits there's

work to be done to improve

expense of pay and productivity but not at the

conditions. We've been

engaging in workplace change,

we don't have a us-and-them

mentality that Opposition

says whenever they front up

to a group of employers, they

say trust us, a nod and a

wink. The Government is

itching for refines over

workplace reforms. The

Government and Opposition

will weigh up privacy against

national security. A

parliamentary committee is

examining proposed changes to

give intelligent agencies security laws which would

access to up to two years of

a person's internet history.

In this day and age, an age

where governments all around

the world are grappling with

the challenge of terrorism

and organised crime, it is

important that our relevant

agencies have access to the

information that they need

but of course there is always

going to be an important need for us to balance against

that the protection of the

privacy of individuals. But

the Greens say the new powers

are not justified and will

target ordinary citizens.

Somehow this agenda has

slipped well outside national

security and terrorism arguments where I think

people see a le jet mat role

to be spying on the entire

population. It's over the

top, unnecessary and the case

Government wants to proceed hasn't been made for why the

in this direction.

Victoria's Country Fire

Authority says it deeply

regrets the failures that led

to recruits being exposed to

hazardous dem calls at its

Fiskville training base. It

may have put the health of

Sthounds of recruits at

risk. The damning finding

revealed the CFA was reckless

and showed a disregard for

the health and safety of its

firefighters. A cancer class

action of more than 0

occasions was linked to

Fiskville. What we

identified was that CFA were

very slow during the late 80s

occupational health and and the 0s to catch up with

safety, the storage and management of dangerous goods. The inquiry found

between 1971 and 1999

hazardous chemical s donated

were regularly used as cheap

fuel in training exercises

and that the CFA knew there

was a risk but failed to

act. I was exa dreamily dis

appointed that matters that

could have been dealt with that could have brought about

an end to practises which

were draconian had not been

taken. The CFA has

apologised and says the next

step is for a health impact

study to see how many people

have been affected. The

concerns over Fiskville

condition today. Just a few

weeks ago there were more

tests on the site. The CFA

says it's confident Fiskville

is safe. The Fiskville site

is safe to operate, business

as usual will continue but

improvements to that site and

our fuel training grounds is

under way. We will deliver on

the 10 recommendations that

Professor Joye has outlined.

The CFA will monitor the

health of those recognised as

being at high risk of exposure, also flagged

compensation which could run

into millions of dollars.

Four people have faced court

over the stabbing death of

Sydney chef Patrick Crowe at

a Parramatta bus stop. An 18

year old charged with

covering up the murder was

grarntd bail while a 21-year-old will remain

behind bars until his trial

in September. Another two

juveniles have been charged

as police hadn't for more

people they suspect were

involved. We are still

seeking one male person in

his late teens, described as

islander appearance and we

are also looking for three females described one

Caucasian, two of islander

backgrounds, aged between 15

and 17 who we would like to

speak to in relation to this

investigation. In a world

first Australian schoolboys

will be able to get the

gardacil vaccine. Starting next school year the Gillard

Government will fund the vac

sees for 12 and 13 year old

boys. Year nine boys will

also be able to get the

vaccine at school under a

cappup program for the next

two years. Tanya Brisbane sec says providing the vaccine

for boys would protect them.

Every parent wants their

child to have the maximum opportunity to lead a healthy

life and this improves the

protection we have against

HPV and against the related

San cancers that come from

it. The vacnation program is

expected to cost $21.4

million ore four years. After

rejecting a new pay offer

from Toll who run the site.

The union says Toll's offer

ignored the key issues raised

by workers at the somerton

warehouse. These workers

wanting to treated on equal

terms, they want to be able

to paid a shift penalty if

asked to work a shift, they

want to accrue time if

working extra time through an

RDO, they want to elect to

become permanent employees.

The company continue toss

ignore those claims. The

union claims that Coles

stores in Victoria and

Tasmania will begin running

out of stock if the dispute

isn't resolved soon. The

Department of Defence says

two Australian soldiers have

been wound while on patrol in Afghanistan, they were

travelling in a Bushmaster

vehicle when an improvised

explosive device detonated

earlier this week. One

received serious wounds while

the second soldier received

only minor wounds. They are

now receiving treatment in

tarrin Kot. The seriously

injured soldier is expected

to return to Australia.

Syria's ambassador to Iraq

has defected. He was

appointed to Baghdad in 2008

and is the first senior

diplomat to quit the

embattled regime. He

announced his defection on television, calling on

soldiers to follow his lead

and turn their guns on the

leadership in Damascus. The

international mediator coffee

Annan has been briefing

following his visit to Syria

this week. Both tear ran and

Baghdad has closed ties but

Mr Annan said he has support

for a Syrian led. Parramatta

was embarrassed in the first

half against Manly last week.

And the weather forecast,

rain and storms across central and eastern

Australia, colder and showery

in the south. 12 minutes past

4 o'clock eastern time, back

to David Speers and PM

Agenda. After the break the

asylum seeker stand-off,

we'll be talking to

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie,

what does he think is the way

forward here and how serious

are the three main parties

involved. We 'll also be

discussing the bid by

intelligent agencies in

Australia to broughten their

powers, Andrew Wilkie is a

former intention officer.

Stay with us. -- intelligence officer.

You're watching PM Agenda.

The political stalemate over

asylum seekers is frustrating

and distressing for many

Australians, probably none

more so than the men and

women dealing with this on

the front line. In the past

month they've been required

to pluck bodies from the sea,

rescue survivors, it's

dangerous work and done with

absolute professionalism. There are concerns people

smugglers are now instructing

crews to issue distress calls

soon after leaving Indonesia

even when they're not in

distress. They know

Australian, not Indonesian

authorities will come to the

rescue and take them to

Australian, not Indonesian territory. Just how serious

are the three sides of

politics about finding a

solution. We know the

arguments from Labor, the

Coalition and the Greens on

this. He was being pushed and

pulled in different

directions in that final

sitting week of Parliament,

the Independent MP Andrew

Wilkie. He joins me now from

Hobart. Can I start by asking

you to clarify your position

on this. It did seem you were

voting at one time for the

Rob Oakeshott bill to allow

Malaysia but it seemed you

prevented it. My personal

view, a very strongly held

belief is we should have

onshore processing, shouldn't

have temporary protection

visas, we shouldn't be

excising Australian islands

from our zone. I was prepared

to put my firmly held beliefs

a little to the side in an

attempt to find some sort of

compromise. The problem we've

got at the moment is boats

are being readied, leaving,

for all we know in the next

four or five weeks before parliament resumes more

people will drown. Everyone

needs to shift a little bit

and find some way of stopping

the boats leaving I believed

niecesa. Even at 4 o'clock on

the Friday morning, I was

moving that we would bring on

the Opposition's bill, not

because I agree with the

Opposition's bill the I think

parliamentarians should have

stayed in Canberra, kept talking, because at the end

of the day this is a problem

for the parliament to solve.

No wonder so many Australians

are very unhappy with

politics and politicians and

I would add the political

parties. Because if we could

take everyone out of their political party, put them in

a room, I think within half

an hour we'd have a

compromise. Just on that, it

sounds to me like it's not

injure preferred option,

Malaysia or Nauru but you are

willing to give ground on

this, it would make you an

ideal candidate to be part of

this reference group the

Prime Minister wants to set

up. I have been told you

wanted to take part in this

committee but the Prime

Minister decided to pick Tony

Windsor and John mad Ghan as

the represent alternatives. Is that right? It is right

that I asked to be a member

but in fairness to the Prime

Minister she has established

this committee, it is

entirely her choice who goes

on the committee, she has

written to me and advised me

that she will ask Angus

Houston to seek my views. So there is no ill feeling about

that. All I care about is

that we can find some way

through this impasse because

my firmly held beliefs are

one thing but people drowning

is another. I think it is entirely unacceptable that

the parties are not prepared

to compromise and find some

sort of short-term solution

to stop the boats being

launched. I did the Prime

Minister give you an explanation why she didn't

want you as part of that

cross-party group? David, I

think it was just simply

numbers. She had talked of

two government, two

Opposition, two Greens, two cross-bench. Senator mad

began asked to be on the

commission, Tony Windsor, he

has asked to be on the

committee. You need to ask

the Prime Minister why she

chose knows gentlemen, not

me. What do you think about

boats that are issuing

distress calls even though

they might not be in

distress, also the

Coalition's policy of turning

back boats to Indonesia. I think it is entirely

unsurprising that the people

smugglers are smart enough to

know if they send out a

distress signal we'll come

and pick them up. We saw this

a decade ago, I suppose it's

an ex innings tension of that

sorted of strategy. That's

exactly why we need to find a

way through this, and to stop

the boats leaving Indonesia,

presumably through some sort

of dis incentive to even get

under way. As far as Tony

Abbott's policy of towing

boats back, I think that is

deeply unethical, illegal and very dangerous, considering

Tony Abbott is there

criticising the Malaysia

solution, his policy is no

better and arguably worse. We

should not be putting fuel in

their tanks, turning them

round and sending them back

to Indonesia. That is not

better than the Malaysia

solution. Frankly none of the parties are covering

themselves with any great

glory right here right now.

Everybody claims to be on the

moral high ground. There are

harsh elements to both Labor

and the Coalition's poll

Chris no doubt about this,

but turning back the boats

was done under the 2008, it

did present a deterrent,

didn't it? Yes, but the issue

is not simply coming up with

a deterrent. There are all

sorts of things we could do

which would be a very strong

deterrent which would be completely unacceptable and

we don't do. I would

categorise turning boats

around and towing them back

in that category. It is

unethical, it is dangerous,

for our uniform personnel who

crew our customs vessels. We

shouldn't be putting them in

that sort of position and

Scaoebly in a position where

they are at odds under the various maritime laws and

conventions. You are a

former office of assessments

officer, you famously quit in

protest over the Iraq War and

the lead-up, what do you

think about the request intelligence agencies are now

making, this is part of a

discussion paper released by the attorney-general

department for wider powers

to retain phone and internet

records of all Australians

for up to two years and also

have greater access to social

media sites like Twitter and Facebook. Do intelligence

agencies need that sort of

power? David, can I

emphasise up front that

although I am a member of the

joint committee on

intelligence and security, I

am not empowered to speak nor

the committee or any members

of the committee, you really

need to talk to the chairman

about what the committee's up to. Talking as an individual

and as a former intelligence analyst, I think it is the

case that our legislative

framework is a dit bated. It

is the case that it may not

have kept up with modern communication technologist

and social net working

arrangements and so on. I

think it is appropriate for

us to look afresh at the framework and consider whether or not there should

be any changes to that framework. Exactly what view

I will come to remains to be

seen, exactly what view the

committee comes to remains to

be seen but I would add though David, I don't think anyone needs to be concerned

that the committee is going

to rubberstamp any range of

claims from the intelligence

community. We've got people

like John Faulkner on the committee, Kevin Rudd,

myself, I think people can be

assured that we will look

very critically at any and

all requests. To be clear

though you do have a concern current powers are outdated

in the sense that the social media landscape in particular

has changed so much since

September 11 and the raft of new powers that were brought

in then. I'm yet to actually

reach a firm conclusion on

that. What I'm saying is that

I think there is a case to be

argued and I think we do need

to look at it to just determine whether the

framework is still suitable.

My gut feeling is it does

need to be updated, the framework is many years old.

The intelligence space has

changed and evolved a lot

just ore the last 10 years or

so. Technologies have

changed, social networking

arrangements have emerged. I

think we do need to look

carefully at the legislative

framework, and it may be the

case that it needs to be

updated. Twitter I suppose

is a forum that is public.

I'm not entirely sure why

ASIO would need to have wider

powers there, everyone can

see what goes on there. You

can understand people would

have concerns about Facebook,

certainly other phone and

internet records, should

people be worried about

privacy and breaches of privacy? I think it is

entirely appropriate for the

community to look at the

critically to any requests

from the intelligence

community for greater powers

and freedom of movement

within the legislation. I

think if you gave some

agencies total free reign

they would probably want to

go beyond what the community

would accept and what is necessary. At the end of the

day we've got to find a

balance between respects people's individual rights

but also keeping the

community safe. And whilst I

haven't agreed with

everything that's been done

over the last decade, at the

end of the day I do

understand the important role the intelligence community

plays. I want to make sure

that they have the

legislative framework to do

their job properly but not to

go even one step beyond what

they really need.

Independents MP Andrew Wilkie

thank you for joining us this

afternoon. Thank you David.

After the break we're going to be talking to John

Robertson, there's an ALP

State conference hang over

the weekend. This is one of

the reasons why we've seen a

lot in Labor must ling up

against the Greens in the

lead-up to this conference.

They're going to be making

decisions on whether and

where they should preference

the Greens. We'll hear from John Robertson on that. Stay with us.

You're watching PM Agenda.

In a moment we'll be talking

to the NSW Labor leader John

Robertson ahead of this

week's ALP State conference.

First a quick check of the

headlines. Here's Suzanne.

The struggling retail sector

has been delivered yet

another blow with department

store Myer announcing it will

axe 100 jobs. The news comes

on the same day the country's

unemployment rate rose to a

three month high. The

Government says the latest

figure shows the economy is

still performing more

strongly than other

countries. Controversial and

new proposals from Australia's intelligence

community could see our

internet and mobile data

retained for up to two years.

A joint parliamentary

committee will review the proposals which will also

allow agencies to have

increased access to our

social media accounts.

Victoria's Country Fire

Authority has admitted up to

90,000 people may have been

exposed to has dust chemicals

at the Fiskville training

college between 1971 and

1999. The CEO of Victoria's

cun fri fire authority

Michael Burke confirmed

trinee firefighters had been

exposed to cars know Jen ic

chemicals. In a world first Australian schoolboys will be

able to get the Gardasil

vaccine. Starting next school

year the Gillard Government

will fund the vaccine for 12

and 13 year old boys under

the national immunisation

program. Year 9 boys will be

able to get the vaccine at

school in a catch-up program.

It is expected to cost $21.1

million over four years. In

sport Marc Murphy has trained

strongly with Carlton.

Murphy's on the comeback

trail from a broken shoulder

and the Blues desperately

need him back on the Park.

Tomorrow's weather, rain and

storms across central and

eastern Australia, colder and

showery in the south.

Suzanne, thank you. The ALP's

NSW right faction has been

flexing its muscles recently

with a stream of vitriol

about how extreme and loopy

the Greens are and why the

Labor Party should be putting

the Greens last when it comings to preference at the

next election. It does look a

bit strange when Labor's Prime Minister Julia Gillard

entered a formal minority

agreement with the Greens and

worked closely with them on

the carbon tax. Leading the

charge against the Greens

this week has been the NSW

secretary Sam Dastari and

Paul Howes. John Robertson

also joined in the critique

ahead of this weekend's State

Labor conference. John

Robertson joins me now. Do you agree the Greens are

extreme and loopy. I think the Greens are certainly no

friends of the Labor Party and Bob Brown made that clear

last year when he said I'm

not here to keep the bastards

honest, I'm here to replace

them. Even while Kevin Rudd

has cm #78 Prime Minister the

Greens really are on blocking

some of the significant

reforms that Labor's tried to

introduce. You saw the

blockage of the tax cuts for

small business when it came

too part of the carbon

pricing package. I think it

is important we do have this

debate. Labor has got a proud

record on the environment but

Labor also gets Government on

the fact that you need to

grow the economy and protect

the environment. You can

list Sof an even longer list

there, the carbon tax, the

mining tax, industry support,

something the Labor Party

feels very strongly about,

not to mention allowing Julia

Gillard to form Government.

It's not to say that there

aren't things the Greens will agree with the Labor Party

on, but it's also important

for the Labor Party to be out

there and say there are some

things we agree on but we're

a party with more than 100

years of history. We believe

you've got to grow the

economy, grow jobs and at the

same time protect the

environment. That means that

there are points where we

significantly differ with the

Greens and it's at those

points we need to be making

those differences made

known. What should happen, this weekend's state

conference is going to be

looking at whether the Greens

should be preferenced last,

Sam Dastari says they

should. I think we ought to

be saying these people are

not our friends. Preferences

put them last? I think

that's not a bad thing to be talking about at the conference. They'll be

looking to you, what do you

think on this? I think we

ought to be giving that some

very serious consideration.

Have you made up your own

mind on this? I'm inclined

to be saying we ought to be

preferencing them last. It's

an important message for us

because these people are not

our friends, these are people

who are trying to defeat

Labor to take votes away from Labor. I don't think we

should be kidding ourselves

that somehow they are allies

or friends of Labor because

they have shown federally over the two periods that

Labor has been in Government

most recently that they are

prepared to block the

significant reforms that

Labor wants to put in place.

How does this reflect on

Julia Gillard though, she did

sign that agreement with Bob

Brown, all smiles and photos,

she worked with them closely

on the carbon tax, does this

make all that look a bit

weird. I think what you see

with Julia she needs to form

an alliance with the Greens.

That are not your friends,

that are extreme, loopy. At

times if you're pragmatic you

enter into these

arrangements. Would you do

that? Would you form a

Government with the Greens?

I would not sign a formal

agreement with the Greens,

no. Why is not? Because I

think what they've

demonstrated federally, you

can't rely on them in the

sense of this is not a

Government. It was a mistake

for Julia Gillard to do that

At the time I think it was

the right thing to do. I

think the way it's played out, hindsight's a wonderful

thing, I'm not sure in

hindsight people would have

done. In hindsight it was a

miss take. I'm not sure it should have been structured

the way it was. Was that a

failing of Julia Gillard leadership. No, people

entered into this in good

faith there would be

cooperation, that cooperation

hasn't been there. Perhaps in

hindsight it should have been much more detailed about the

sorts of things they would do with Labor they haven't

done. It should have been a

broader agreement that spelt

out we will pass all your

policies. The significant

things likes the tax breaks

for small business, they ought to have been things

contained in it. Hindsight's

a wonderful thing. It's

going a bit far to say they

should support various tax

cuts along the way, the

carbon tax was the biggy, the

mining tax as well, they

supported those. I think the

significance of the tax cuts

to small business was part of

a reform package associated

with the mining roiments re

source tax and also the

carbon tax, those things packaged together ought to

have been supported. As I

say, I think Julia did the right thing at the time,

entered into this arrangement

in good faith with the

Greens, at times I think

she's been sadly let down by

the combraoens as they've

behaved in a particular fashion throughout this

parliament. I note in the

list of cernings you haven't

gone to the asylum issue,

which they're not budging on

offshore processing. I think

the Greens, it's one thing to

adopt a particular position

at a point in time. I think

what you've got to be looking

at is what is on offer and

how do you proceed to find a solution, and at the moment

what we don't see is the

Greens moving or looking

outside the square for a

solution. I think what you've seen the Government's

approach is very much one of

let's put all ideas on the

table in the setting up of

this complo to look at that I

think is the right approach

to that. Everybody's got to

be open on to looking at what

is the solution here to avoid

seeing more and more people

drowning at sea. That's

offshore processing. That

could be part of it. I'm not

into the detail, You changed

your own position on this

issue, you've held different

positions over the years on

this. I have, 10 years ago I

did have a

This is a tactic that the Scebtives are now adopting

right across the nation.

Function it's fair to say

Federal Labor isn't helping

your chances at the moment.

Federal Labor is struggling.

I don't think anyone is

arguing that. What I think

Mark McGowan and others are

doing is saying if we're

going to deal with statement

issues let's not cloud them

with federal issues. Final

issue John Robertson, the

G20, it's going to be hosted

in Brisbane in 2014 was the Prime Minister's decision

this week, it's copped a bit

of flak in NSW, some sour

grapes perhaps, was it a good

or bad call? I think the

realities is Barry O'Farrell has made a decision and I

think it's the right decision

to actually upgrade our

convention facilities in

Sydney. They will be

demolishing our convention

centre when it is on.

Therefore you do have to look somewhere else, obviously

going to be looking at

Brisbane or Melbourne. Again

I see a conservative premier

trying to drag federal issues

in to try and cover up what's

going on in the state. What

do you think on the airport situation. We're not going

to, I also heard in that is

very same interview Anthony

also said that we won't have

convention facilities either.

That's the reality. They're

demolishing our convention

centre. You don't agree with

him on the need for a second

arnt? I've had conversations

with the federal department

of transport, met with Sydney

airport, there's conflicting

views as to whether we do or

don't need a second airport.

What's your view? I've had

one conversation already with

the head of Sydney airport.

I'm going to have more

conversations. You're open

to a second airport. I want

to get to the detail. What I

do know is the solution isn't

Canberra airport which is

Barry O'Farrell's solution.

That does leave the door open

to a second Sydney Airport.

What it says is that I'm not

going to jump in and make a

scision either way. Sydney

Airport tell me they've got

capacity for the next 40th

years. I want to test that

before I make a decision.

Anthony Albanese has done a

lot of work on this. I've

met with his departmental

head, I've got that report,

from memory it's about 488

pages in a report, there's a

lot of detail in there to get

through. I'm not going to do

what Barry O'Farrell did and

rush in and say yes or no.

Tees important for me to get

through the detail as someone

who puts themselves forward

as the alternate Premier one

thing you've got to do is

make reasonable decisions,

not just shoot from the hip.

John Robertson, NSW Labor

leader, thanks very much for

joining us this afternoon.

Pleasure David. We've also

got some news just come

through from the Foreign

Minister Bob Carr, South

Korea's decision to start up

some scientific whaling often

the coast of South Korea but

the Minister Bob Carr has

issue ed and statement this

afternoon saying he's held

talks with his South Korea

counter part, he's been told

South Korea will take the

advice of the international

whaling commission indicating

the plans for scientific

whaling would not proceed. He praised the leadership of

South Korea in reaching that

decision. He says he

acknowledged the nation's responsiveness and

leadership. So some good news

it seems there that South

Korea will not proceed with

scientific whaling. After the

break we'll be talking with Scott Morrison, stay with us.

Welcome back to the program.

As we've been discussing it

has been another busy week

for Australia's border

protection personnel. Three

boat loads of asylum seekers

were picked up in the space

of 24 hours, two of them

after issues distress calls.

People snrug letters are

telling them to issue

distress calls soon after

leaving Indonesia. It

basically assures them a safe

passage to Christmas Island

once an Australian navy or

customs vessel picks them up.

Indonesian vessel s do not

come to their assistance,

even though within the zone,

they are not taken back to an

Indonesian port. They're

always it seems taken to

Christmas Island. The Opposition says the

Australian navy is now being

used as a water taxi service

for people smugglers, I spoke

to Scott Morrison. Thanks

for your time. Of the recent

boats that have issued

distress calls on their way

to Australia, are you able to

say with any certainty that

any of them haven't really

been in distress? Are you

sure of that? I'm not in any

position to make a comment on

that David because I don't

sit in the room where there's

the intelligence and the

rorleing is provided to, only

the Minister for home affairs

and others directly involved

in that operation could give you those sorts of responses. Should he,

because we're all on the dark

really on this. Should that information be made public? I think what the Minister for

home affairs has said is it's

a fairly routine tactic to

put in distress calls on

occasions when they're not in

distress. That is a

longstanding tactic of the

smugglers. Whether it's

happening in each and every

case, that's a matter only that the Government could

explain to you. What do you

think can be done and what

would the Coalition do in

this situation if the navy vessel on the scene finds

there's actually no danger to

those on board? One of the

things I think we have to

bear in mind is these vessels

themselves aren't exactly necessarily seaworthy to

begin with. I mean with the

tragedy a few weeks ago, we

had a vessel with hundreds of

people on board riding low in

the water just 38 nauptcal

miles off the coast of

Indonesiana. That was before

any genuine issue of distress

had been identified. Just on

that situation alone, clearly

that vessel was not in a

situation that you would want

a vessel off the Australian

coast to be in. What we've

got now David is effectively

this, if you don't have

policies to stop the boats effectively you turn your

navy into a water taxi

service for the people

smugglers. That's what we are

now seeing. That's what we

will continue to see. Of course the Government would

argue they have the capacity

to stop the boats as you do

as well. Without getting into

that debate again, in this

situation is there anything

more that can be done?

Caution prevails, doesn't it?

You have to go and see if

there is real distress. If

the Government is not going

to have policies that stop

the boats they do find

themselves in this situation,

with this ffer, we know under

the -- qualifier, we know

that if it is in your search

and rescue zone then it is that country that has

responsibility for finding a

safe place for people

ultimately to disembark. In

this case, that has been

Indonesia. I think there's I reasonable question that has

to be asked as to why the

Government is taking people

to Australia when under those

normal conventions and

particularly when they're

closer to Indonesia, they

might otherwise go to

Indonesia. I suspect the

answer is this, and that is

the way that the ocean antic

Viking issue was bungled with

Kevin Rudd and the Government

has taken that option off the

table for this is Government

and as a result our navy has

become a water taxi service.

Is it completely off the

table? If it is as you say a

boat that's found in the

Indonesian search and rescue

zone, why isn't Indonesia

providing some of its navy

vessels to do this work and

why can't they be taken back

to an Indonesian port?

They're the questions that

you have to put to the Government because the conventions that sit around

these issues, I think make it

fairly clear that the ultimate responsibility, if

you are in charge of the

rescue, and it's in your

search and rescue zone, let's

remind ourselves that the

entire sea area between Indonesia and Christmas

Island except for our

territorial sea is within the Indonesian rescue zone.

Clearly the Government has

taken the view they are going

to have to take people in these circumstances because

they don't have a

relationship with inleds

niecea it would seem on these issues. Of course the

Coalition plans to turn some

of these boats back where it

can. Is that going to improve

that relationship with Indonesia that is so important? I think we will

have a much better

relationship with Indonesia.

We've gone through the

reasons for that on many

occasions, for a start we

wouldn't be turning off their

food supply on the basis of a

'Four Corners' program which

this Government did, we

wouldn't engage in the megaphone diplomacy this Government has done, which

led us to the situation where there doesn't seem to be the option for this government to

fake people back to

Indonesia. You would turn

the boats back, and we know

Indonesia doesn't like that.

If the suggestion is that our

navy that has 14,000 serve

personnel, a budget of over

$14.4 million, currently

leading the world's multi

lateral maritime operation

for training, as we speak,

doesn't have the capacity or

the wit or the professionalism to implement

a policy of turning boats

back where it's safe to do so

I think that's a poor

reflection on people's views

of our navy. What about

Indonesia? You talked about

the importance of getting

this relationship on a better

footing. We know they don't

like this idea of yours to

turn the boats back. What we

did last time, we had an excellent relationship with

Indonesia, and this policy operated during that time.

Our policies aren't theories,

they're facts, lived experience, things that have

actually happened as opposed

to the conjecture of the

Government that we hear on a

daily basis. The two can't be

equated. We're very confident

in our policies always have

been, for one simple reason,

they worked and the

Government knows they worked

and they won't return them to

policy. Just to be clear do

you think you could change

Indonesia's mind on this, on

turning boats back? We will

work closely and cooperate

yile with the Indonesian

Government and do so in a way

where the mega phones are put

away that this Government has

worked with and work with

this problem across the

spectrum. The fornts Minister

for Indonesia has always made

an important point about having measures that operate right across the spectrum.

One of the things I've been concerned about for a long

time is the way the

Australian Government has

taken the Obamaie process off

course, tried to turn it into

a mini UN when its primary

reason was to have it

focussed on regional border protection initiatives which

is where we need to get the

focus back to. Scott

Morrison talking to us

earlier. We're going to have

more on this whole issue

tonight on 'The Nation' here

on Sky News. We'll be joined

by representatives from the

Greens, Labor and the

Coalition to see if there is

any common ground to be found

at all on this asylum seeker

stalemate. 8 o'clock eastern

here ones Sky News 'The

Nation'. We're out of time

for this afternoon's program.

We'll have more on this

breaking news this afternoon

that South Korea now will not

proceed with scientific whaling. A win there for

Australia and the diplomatic

pressure that has been

applied by other countries as

well on South Korea. More on

that. Thanks for your company. Sky News after the break.

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