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Good afternoon. Welcome

to the program. I'm David

Speers. It's true governments shouldn't be

driven by polls, but when a government is in the state

that this Government is, it's

inevitable that every poll

will be watched closely and

will affect the nerves of

rattled back benchers.

Today's Newspoll was bad news

for Labor. Their primary

vote has slipped back down to

28%. Even some of Julia

Gillard's more pragmatic supporters agree if it goes

much lower than that, she

will have to go. Coming up

on the program we'll be

talking to one of the Labor

MPs who backed Kevin Rudd

back in the February

leadership contest. He says

today's Newspoll figure is a

real kick in the pants.

We'll also discuss the

meeting today of the

cross-party working group of

MPs on asylum seekers. Are

they getting any closer

during this parliamentary

recess to finding a workable solution, some common ground

on fixing this issue? We'll

discuss that. It wasn't all

a bad day for Julia Gillard,

though. She did manage to

spend some time with the

actor Hugh Jackman and check

out the set of the latest

Wolverine film he's about to

start shooting. We'll show

you some of that and the sort

of role Hugh Jackman reckons

Julia Gillard might be able

to play in that film. All

that coming up. First a check of the top stories this

hour. Back to the news

centre. David, thank you. Hello, everyone. Prime

Minister Julia Gillard says

governments focused on reform can't afford to be obsessed

with opinion polls. The

latest Newspoll puts Labor's

primary vote at 28%, the

lowest in three months and

only two points off the

record low set in September

2011. Ms Gillard lags behind

Tony Abbott as preferred PM.

But the Prime Minister says

government is about governing

and is about getting the big

things done to set our nation

up for the future. This

teaches us that if you want

to make those big reforms,

you've got to stick to your

guns, stick to your guns on

those big reforms, and you

can't afford to be obsessed

by the opinion

polls. However, the

Opposition says Labor's vote

has failed to climb back up since Prime Minister Julia

Gillard announced the carbon

tax. What we see now is that

the Australian people

recognise that not only was

this carbon tax a breach of

faith, but it doesn't even do

the job, it doesn't reduce emissions, emissions go

up. But Labor insists acting on climate change is the

right thing to do and the

slump in voter support can be

put down to the deadlock over

asylum seeker policy. Julia

Gillard has defended trade

union officials, saying the

disgraced east branch of the

Health Services Union was not

reflective of their good

work. A report into the

branch has revealed

extravagant salaries,

excessive credit card claims,

misuse of union funds,

nepotism and poor governance.

The report, prepared by Ian

Temby QC, found more than $20

million in questionable

payments were made to

suppliers without any form of

tendering. The overwhelming

bulk of people who work in

trade unions representing

their fellow workers are

decent people doing a great

and professional job. The

release of the Temby report

into the HSU east branch

operations is deeply

disturbing and troubling for

the 99% of trade union

officers, officials and

organisers who are working

incredibly hard every day for

their members and for

workers' rights broadly.

There is no doubt that there

has been endemic corruption

within the Health Services

Union now for many, many

years. The ACTU President

insisted officials in other

branches of the HSU were accountable and trustworthy. The 24-year-old

suspect of the mass shooting

in a Colorado cinema has

appeared in court for the

first time. Family and

friends of the victims were

in the front row, as James

Holmes sat in the dock

looking stunned. James Holmes

was being walked through an

underground tunnel to the

courtroom. Also walking in,

the families of the victims,

heads down, holding habdz, a

woman on Crumps, a couple arm

in arm. This is what they

saw, James Holmes, his hair

still died that fiery comic

book coloured, his eyes at

times exaggerated wide open,

offering an almost stunned

expression, other times

seeming to struggle to keep

them open to stay awake. You

have a right to be advised of

the charges. Almost immediately questions from onlookers and viewers

watching on television, was

the suspect on some sort of

medication? There was

moments he went from one

extreme to the other, his

bulging eyes, suddenly his

head dropping. We asked Brad

Garrett to watch with us to

tell us what he was seeing.

He's not in this courtroom

mentally, he's elsewhere.

He's in some alternative

reality that he's created. I

also think there's a

combination of the reality of

what has happened to him has

set in, as to what it's done

to himself as well as to the

victims. Immediately after

James Holmes was in court,

the prosecutor was also asked

if he was on something. We would have no information about that. The other

question she faced, will she

pursue the death penalty?

She said she'd ask the

victims' families first. If

the death penalty is sought,

that's a very long process

that impacts their lives for

years. David Sanchez his

daughter barely escaped the

theatre, her husband shot in

the head in a coma. This

morning his daughter asked

him to go to court. She

confirmed that this morning.

When it's your own daughter

and she escaped from death by

mere seconds, I would say, it

really makes you angry. What's the appropriate

punishment? Death. They were

not the only families

watching. The suspect's family reiterated their

hearts go out to the victims,

that attorney saying this

about James Holmes' parents,

who watched their son go from

this when he was 18 to this.

I think everyone can imagine

how they're feeling, anyone

who's ever been a parent. As

the courtroom scene unfolded

today, word of one family's

blessing. You remember that

mother and daughter both

shot, her six-year-old

daughter not surviving.

Ashley was pregnant when she

was hit twice in the abdomen,

tonight her family telling us

that unborn baby survived. Construction

workers have walked off the

job at 22 Lend Lease building

sites along the east coast of

Australia in a two-day

strike. Members of the

construction union voted to

take the action after pay negotiations with

construction company Lend

Lease broke down. The union

says there are concerns about

wages, job security clause

and provisions for

apprentices. In Melbourne,

the stop-work has halted

construction at the Epping Market redevelopment and a

number of sites at Docklands.

It's also stopped work at the

high-profile Barangaroo site

in Sydney. A shopping centre

in East Sydney is being

inspected by structural

engineers after a beam

supporting a customer carpark

collapsed. No-one was

injured in the incident, but

the surrounding area has been

evacuated, with fears of

further collapse. Sky News

Sydney reporter Cameron Price

has the details. This is the

moment Westfield East gardens

was cleared out. Amateur

footage shows shop keepers

and morning shoppers told the

centre was at risk of

collapsing and they needed to

evacuate. Outside the food

court, a nine metre concrete

beam collapsed on to the

carpark below, taking with it

machinery and airconditioning

room it had supported and sparking fears more of the

roof and centre could

follow. The beam has come

down and is now sitting at an

angle of about 15 degrees.

Above that is a 10 metre by 3

metre bessa block structure

containing plant room and a

cold storage facility, along

with toilets. That's been

several damaged. There are

large cracks in the carpark

and the potential for a major

collapse is very real. Former

NSW Premier Kristina Keneally

was caught up in the drama,

tweeting "Part of the centre

has collapsed, all inside

being evacuated".

Authorities creating an

exclusion zone three blocks

in every direction, causing

traffic chaos and impacting

local businesses. We have

evacuate ed between 500 and 600 people this morning. We

did that with the assistance

of the Westfield staff. That

evacuation of people went

quite smoothly. The reason

for the collapse is still

unknown. It's unclear if overnight rain contributed,

but engineers inspecting the

structure aren't taking any

chances and can't say when

the centre will reopen or

when those with cars in the

carpark can access their

belongings. To be honest,

today and in the hours ahead

it's about trying to make

sure the place is safe and

secure and our customers and

retailers, readily back into the centre as quickly as

possible. Locals have been

urged to avoid the area. The

first witness has taken the

stand in the trial of Lloyd

Rayney, the Perth barrister

accused of killing his wife,

Corinne. Her father Ernest

de-Silva fought back tears as

he described how his

daughter's marriage had

soured. The couple separated

when she was allegedly

murdered after a dance class

in August 2007. Mr Rayney

denies the charge. The trial

is set to last for two months

and will feature up to 190

witnesses. Syria has acknowledged for the first

time that it has stockpiles

of chemical and biological weapons, but the Government

says the weapons would only

be used against external aggressors and not against

the rebels trying to topple

the Assad regime. The United

Nations Secretary-General,

Ban Ki-moon, has urged the

Government not to resort to chemical weapons as the

violence across the country

escalates. It would be reprehensible

reprehensible if anybody in

Syria is contemplating use of

such weapons of mass destruction like chemical

weapons. I sincerely hope

that the international

community keeps an eye on

this so that there will be no

such things happen. At least

four people have died in

bushfires raging across

north-eastern Spain. Flames

forced around 150 French

tourists out of their cars,

with one family forced to

jump offer a seaside cliff.

The father and one of his children plunged 50 metres to

their deaths. Local police

say the family of five became

separated from the rest of

the group with no way out.

The mother is in a critical

condition. Two other

children suffered non-life

threatening injuries. A

quick look at sport now, and

positive news for St Kilda,

with star defender Brendan

Goddard revealing he wants to

remain a one-club man ahead

of his 2 o-00th AFL match

against the Western Bulldogs

on Sunday, Goddard said

contract talks are

progressing along nicely.

It's obviously in the paper

about the contract talks with

the club. As I've said all

along, we've been in constant

talks with the footy club,

they're the discussions we're having at the minute. I

think my intentions are

pretty clear. Mean time, the tribunal will hear two cases

tonight, Melbourne's Jeremy

Howe will try to clear his

name after smearing blood on

an opponent, while Richmond's

Steve Morris will contest a

charge of engaging in a

melee. Tomorrow's forecast,

a colder showery change

spreading across the south,

mostly sunny in the north.

It's 12 past 4 eastern time.

Back to David Speers in

Canberra as PM Agenda continues. Vanessa, thank

you. After the break, the

cross-party working group of

MPs across the political

divide looking to try to find

a solution on asylum seekers,

they've met today here in

Canberra. We're going to

take a look at what progress,

if any, they did make,

whether they're any closer to

finding a bi partisan

solution to stop boats trying

to make the journey to

Australia. We'll take a look

at that and also the fallout

from the Newspoll results

today, which have Labor

falling further backwards,

down to a 28% primary vote.

What does that mean for Julia Gillard? Stay with us.

Good afternoon. Welcome to

PM Agenda. I'm David Speers.

There is a jumpiness in Labor

ranks at the moment amongst

MPs supporting Julia Gillard

and those who would rather

see her go. We know that

Kevin Rudd has guaranteed he

won't challenge again, and there's no indication he's

about to break his word on

that, and we know that Julia

Gillard isn't about to fall

on her sword and hand over

the leadership to the man

that she replaced. However,

when a Newspoll comes out

today showing that Labor's primary vote has fallen,

again, back to 28%, less than

one in three Australians

willing to back Labor at the

moment, well, there is a lot

of chatter going on in Labor ranks about what this means

and whether a change in

leadership would help,

particularly in the run-up to parliament returning next

month after the long winter

break. Questions were put to

the Prime Minister today

about this poll and whether

she can turn things around

and how she explains to her

back benchers as well as

anyone why they are in such a

dire state. Her argument was

very much on this, the only

poll that counts is the one

on election day and the

reason Labor is struggling is

because it's undergoing tough

reforms. Labor history

teaches us that if you want

to make those big reforms,

you've got to stick to your

guns, stick to your guns on

those big reforms, and you can't afford to be obsessed

by the opinion polls. There will

will be the poll that

matters, the election day in

2013, and on that election

day Australians will have a

choice, a choice between a

negative, destructive Liberal

Party with absolutely no

plans for the future, or

Labor, that has got some big, hard things done that set us

up for the future and has got

a plan to make sure our

nation keeps getting

stronger, keeps getting

fairer, and keeps being a

winner in the world in which

we live today. Will you be

leading the Labor Party on

election day? I most

certainly will. She most

certainly will, says Julia

Gillard. Clearly she would

prefer not to be talking

about the polls every other

day and she might have

thought she'd get a break. When she did tour the set of

the new Wolverine film being

shot today, an opportunity to

rub shoulders with one of the biggest Hollywood stars,

Australia's very own Hugh

Jackman. The Federal

Government is tipping in

money to have this film shot

in Australia and there were

plenty of good photo

opportunities there for the

Prime Minister today. But

perhaps what she didn't

expect was this line from

Hugh Jackman when he joked about Julia Gillard perhaps

having a role in the film.

It's not a traditional role,

it's a stunt double role for

myself. We just did a quick

audition. She's incredible.

I don't know if you know of her martial arts background.

This movie is set in Japan

and she really is very handy

with the sword. Handy with a

sword, a certain nervousness

from the Prime Minister

watching along as Hugh

Jackman made those remarks.

Coming up, we'll take a look

at what these polls mean for

the Labor leadership. Is

there really going to be any

push to get rid of Julia

Gillard this year, next year,

at all? Meanwhile, today the

cross-party working group of

MPs met again to try to find

a solution on asylum seekers.

You may recall this meeting

of MPs across the political

divide started in the final

week of parliament, a meeting

of back benchers essentially,

trying to work from the

trying to work from the

grassroots up a bipartson

solution the frontbenchers

haven't been able to find.

Today they gathered again and

heard from a number of agencies - the department of

foreign affairs, the Navy and

the UN high commissioner for

refugees. We're not being

told exactly what the advice

was from these various groups

on what the Parliament should

do, but we do know there are entrenched position s, that

the Government is insisting

that Malaysia be part of any offshore processing solution,

the Coalition insisting

Malaysia not be any part of

any offshore processing

solutions and the Greens be insisting there be no

offshore processing at all. Well, after their talks

today, the various MPs -

there were about eight of

them here in Canberra today -

say that good progress was

made and they have agreed

that there needs to be a

durable, humane way forward

and that there needs to be

some form of regional

architecture for the

assessment and re settlement

of refugees, but of course regional architecture can

mean different things to each

of these parties with their

entrenched positions. One of those who took part in

today's meeting and also a

Labor MP who we should point

out did back Kevin Rudd in

the leadership contest back

in February is South

Australian Labor MP Nick

Champion. I spoke to him a

short time ago. Well, look,

I think today's meeting is

really about hearing from

experts in the area, which is

obviously an important thing.

These are people who are used

to dealing with the

complexities of this problem,

this issue, and it is a

worldwide problem, it's not

just something that affects

Australia. So it's good to

hear from the experts. I

think the real progress that

was made is that really, when parliamentarians, if you

like, leave their party affiliations at the door and

try to create the space for

people to be statesmen rather than politicians, I think

that creates, if you like,

the public pressure and the

political pressure for the

executives of both parties,

including the Greens in that,

to actually come to some

grand bargain on this issue

to resolve it. The advice

that you did receive today

from the Foreign Affairs

Department, from the Navy and

from the UNHCR - did they go

to whether Malaysia was

preferable to Nauru at

all? Look, they did talk

about that. They talked

about the merit s of various

policy positions. Obviously

the UNHCR does have - I don't

want to speak for them, but

they did say that the

Malaysian transfer agreement

has some virtues because it's

based in south-East Asia,

where they see a big part of

the refugee issue being.

Obviously Pacific Solution s,

there are virtually no

refugees in those countries,

so there was some evidence

given about that. Presumably

the Navy and Foreign Affairs Department, being arms of

government, were talking

favourably about the Government's preferred option? Well, obviously with

the Navy and DFAT, I don't

want to go terribly much into the detail. They were good

enough to give us off the

record briefings and I think confidentiality should be

observed in those cases. When

you say there was progress

made amongst the MPs who were

there and all sides were represented, are you

confident, though, that, at

the end of the day, common

ground will be found on a solution? Well, look, what I

think we have to do - at the

moment there is, if you like, constituencies for everybody

to appeal to in division, if

you like, or each party's

respective kind of policy

approach. There's votes to

be won by sticking to your

guns. What we've got to do

in this country is create a constituency where people get votes, politicians get votes

and rewards and kudos for

making compromise s and grand

bargains. I don't know if

we're any closer to that now

than we were yesterday -- It

was anyone's -- That's how I

see things. We had the situation in the last

parliament where we had the

vote. Obviously people then

got to nail their party

positions to the mast. What

we hope during the break is

that a different, if you

like, political dialogue

emerges, and that's one that

says, well, compromise is a

virtue, a grand bargain is a

virtue, sitting down with one

another and making a few

compromises -- To that end,

though, are you willing to say whether you would be

willing to vote for anything

to compromise on your

position here? Well, look, I

think there is great virtue

in, if you like, deterrence in the short term and

compassion in the long term,

and I think, in terms of a

regional solution, many of

the things that Judi Moylan

says, that Adam Bandt says,

do have some merit. We saw

that even in Tony Abbott's

approach, where he late in

the day offered to lift the

refugee quota to 25,000, I

think. So there is some

virtue in doing that over

time as part of a regional

framework and processing

people in places like

Malaysia. But at the end of

the day -- And trying to

emulate some of those things

we saw around the time of the Vietnam War and dealing with

those refugees. But at the

end of the day, how

negotiable is Malaysia? Well,

I think Malaysia has a number

of virtues in the short term

in terms as a deterrent to

stop the boat. My main issue

with, if you like, stopping

boats from leaving - I've got members of the royal Australian air force in my

electorate, they fly out of

Edinburgh, but they patrol

the northern oceans, and

they're put in harm's way,

frankly, by having to

intercept these boats, having

to, you know, do things in

the course of their duties

that are inherently

dangerous. It's the same for

Navy personnel. They're my

concern, that there are very

real danger s in the boat s

coming. We want to reduce those dangers in the short term. Therefore Malaysia must

be part of any solution? That's what my

party believes. And you

believe that as well? Yes, I

do, I believe that 100%. This

is one of the issues hurting

Labor in the polls. Let me

ask you about today's

Newspoll, Labor at 28%

primary support. How did you

feel waking up to that this

morning? Well, look, just on

this issue in the polls, in

the last Newspoll, where they

did issues-based polling, you

saw Tony Abbott's - what

people think of Tony Abbott's

handling of immigration fall

10 points in a single poll.

What does that tell you? It

tells you when he votes with

the Greens in the Senate to

frustrate the Government and

the Government's attempts to

provide a short-term

deterrent to this issue, the

Liberal Party isn't absolved

of responsibility of this. I

think the more pressure

that's put on the Liberal

Party on this issue, it won't

do them any good in the

polls. I think the days of

this being a simple issue of

win/lose for them, them

winning, us losing, is fast dying. But on the general

number -- Well, look,

obviously it's a kick in the

pants. You know, you can't

disguise it as anything but

that. It's pretty much

Labor's baseline vote. You

would want to be reaching out

to the rest of the community,

to those voters who voted for

us only five years ago in 07

and winning those people back. You're not doing that

at the moment. Well, look,

I'm on the record as saying

that we need to get back to

the issues where Labor wins

votes on, and they're issues

surrounding work. That's, if

you like, Labor's link to the Australian psyche, always has

been. The sooner we get back

to talking about the Fairwork

laws, the sooner we get back

to talking about the social

wage, where we look at

Medicare and being able to

get into the dentist and

being able to look after

disabled kids as being part

of people's living standards

- as soon as we get back to

those issues, we'll start

winning votes for the Labor

Party. Is it it just the

issues, or would a change of

leader help? You know I'm not going to answer those questions. They are

questions for the party room.

I said my piece in February.

I abide by Caucus's

decision. But do you believe

in your heart that Julia Gillard can turn this around? Well, I'm on the

record - you know I was on

the record, I did an

interview with you at the

time, in February, and I made

the points in February -- Do

you still hold those views

from February? Well, I don't

resile from the views I

expressed then. They're different from what Caucus decided? I'm a member of the

Labor Party and the one thing

I'm bound by is Caucus

decisions. - good, bad or

indifferent, I'm part of the

collective, I'm part of the

club. But if Caucus changed

its mind, would you welcome

its mind, would you welcome

that? Well, I don't foresee that happening any time

soon. Really? No, I don't. So

Julia Gillard will stay as

leader? Well, Caucus made a

decision on this and that

decision is it. Nick

Champion, thank you. Cheers. Nick Champion, Labor

MP, talking to me just a

short while ago. We'll take

a quick break. After that

our panel joining me this afternoon, Kerry-Anne Walsh

and Christian Kerr. Stay with us.

You're watching PM Agenda.

Our panel in just a moment.

First a quick check of the

news headlines. Here's

Vanessa. The Prime Minister

has brushed aside today's

falling poll numbers, saying

it's never easy to make major

reforms. Labor's primary

vote has fallen to below 30%

for the first time in three

months. At a media

conference on the set of the

new Wolverine movie in

Sydney, Ms Gillard said the

Government was focused on

getting important work done

and not ob saying about poll

numbers. The Prime Minister

has also defended trade union

officials, saying the

disgraced east branch of the

health services union was not

reflective of their good

work. A report into the

branch has revealed

extravagant salaries,

excessive credit card claims,

misuse of union funds and

poor governance. The report

found more than $20 million

in questionable payments were

made to suppliers without any

form of tendering or

contract. The man accused of

killing 12 people in a

Colorado movie theatre has appeared in court for the

first time. James Holmes sat

shackled in the dock in a

jail suit with his hair dyed

bright red. At times he

appeared dazed and puzzled,

mostly looking straight ahead

and sometimes closing his

eyes. It's alleged he opened

fire at a packed cinema in a

midnight screening of Batman

in Aurora Colorado. Workers

have walked off at Lend Lease sites on the east coast as

part of a two-day struck. Members of the construction

union are voting to take the

action after pay negotiations

with the construction company

broke down in March.

National Secretary Dave

Noonan says there are ongoing

concerns about wages, a job

security clause and

provisions for apprentice s

to work on Lend Lease sites.

Authorities say it's lucky a

partial collapse of the

Sydney shopping centre didn't

happen during peak trading

hours. Emergency services

were called to Westfield

Eastgardens at 7am, after a 9

metre steel pole that

supported the carpark roof

collapsed. Police say it

could have been disastrous if the incident had happened a

few hours later when the

shops were open. In sport,

Geelong will tackle Adelaide

this Saturday without veteran

Matthew Scarlett. The Cats defender accepted his

one-match ban for striking.

Richmond's Stephen Morris

will front the tribunal

tonight to fight his mis

conduct charge. He'll be

joined by Melbourne's Jeremy

Howe, who's accused of wiping

blood on to the shorts of

Port Adelaide's Tom Jonas.

The weather - a colder

showery change spreading

across the south, mostly

sunny in the north. Vanessa,

thank you. As we mentioned

earlier, today's Newspoll bad

news for Labor. Yes, Tony

Abbott's satisfaction ratings

went down and so did the Coalition's primary vote a

little, but the fact Labor

has gone down now to 28% means they'd face a wipeout

on these figures. There has

been little improvement since

the February leadership contest between Julia Gillard

and Kevin Rudd. Let me play

you just a little of the

reaction across the Labor

divide today from MPs who support Julia Gillard

strongly, one who supported

Kevin Rudd back in February,

and one, Joel Fitzgibbon, who

is said to have defected in

the months since February to now back Kevin Rudd. Have a

look at some of the reaction

today. What I believe about

the opinion polls is that

they will tighten up in the

next 12 months as we get

closer to an election. It's

hardgoing when you're trying to introduce change and

trying to get things done.

We have a Prime Minister who

leads, who doesn't follow

opinion polls, but embarks

upon reform this country

needs. It's much easier to

do things that are simple or

not do things at all, but this Government prides itself

on wanting to reform this

economy and bring about

change for our future, and we

have in a Prime Minister

someone willing to do that.

She will be Prime Minister at

the next election. In fact, Joel Fitzgibbon did not

comment on the polls, my

apologies on that, today.

Let's bring in our panel

political commentator Kerry-Anne Walsh and

Christian Kerr from the Australian newspaper. Thanks

both for joining us. What do you think about the poll

today, Kerry-Anne? It's not

the worst they've had. I

think they went to 26 -- They

did, but it ain't pretty.

Well, it ain't pretty. Look,

I don't like the polls. I

don't like the constant focus

on the polls. We're not in

an election period. It's

been one of the greatest

growth industries, polling,

over the last three, four,

five years. All it does is

make polling companies rich.

And almost corrupt, if you

like, the policy-making

process and the way people

view their politicians. All

of that is true, but they are

a reality and there's not

much you can do about

it? Well, they're a reality

as much as people who report

on them make them a reality.

Sometimes the obsession with them I find is completely

over bearing and out of

reality to what really is

going on in the Government

and the way the Government is

trying to operate and the

Opposition is trying to

operate. I mean, equally if

the focus was on Tony Abbott

and his popularity, which is

pretty dismal too, well, then

there would be a focus on his leadership, whereas there isn't one at the moment

within his party. Christian,

are we too focused on the

polls and is it just the

media or is it the

politicians as well? No, I

don't think we're at all too

focused on the polls. I'm

going to have to disagree with Kerry-Anne. We are not

in a formal election, but ever since that last election

we have been on the cusp of

an election. We are in an

extraordinary situation, unprecedented for more than

two generations, of a hung House of Representatives.

The voting public know very

well just how fragile and how

vulnerable this Government

is. I think it will probably

go full term, but we can

never really say that it

will. I think we have to pay

a lot more attention to the

polls at the moment than we might normally 15 months out

from a general election. So write about nothing else but

the polls, you reckon? Bring

on more polls? I think polls

are very important at the

moment. I think it's

fascinating too, look at Tony Abbott's preferred Prime

Minister figures. He's not

popular, but people know this Government could fall any day

and it looks as if they've

held their noses and they're

prepared to vote for him,

even though they don't like

him. What about Kerry-Anne's

point it corrupts the

policy-making process?

There's something in that,

isn't there, because it changes the bargaining

position of all parties in

the Parliament if Tony Abbott

is so far in front, well,

what's going to put pressure

on him to budge on something

like asylum seekers? If the

Government is so far behind,

what does that do to their

policy? The Government could

make a good case, though,

won't be as bad in the polls as this Government is. That's the simple fact here.

This Government talks about

reform all the time. Shutting the parliamentary

canteen half an hour early,

they declare that a major

reform. It's just obviously

one of the ghastly focus

groups and it's ringing

hollow and it's completely

unconvincing. All right. I

didn't see it on the front

page of the Australian. Not

with standing your criticism

over focus on polls, what do

you think might happen on the

leadership? Really? Who

would know what's going to

happen on the leadership. I

was just looking at some historical material today

going back to when she became

Prime Minister and every

month or every other month

there has been massive bursts of leadership speculation

about her lasting another

month, her lasting another

two months, her lasting

another three months, her

lasting until the footy

finals, her lasting until the

killing season in December,

which is usually the time

that leaders get mown down,

and she's still standing. So

I don't think that anybody knows what's going to happen.

I tend to agree that she is

going to see it through, but,

at the same time, you do have

that whole heartbeat away

from a bielection, or lack of

heartbeat away from a bielection, as the case may

be, so anything can happen on

the floor of Parliament. In

terms of within the Labor

Caucus, is Kevin Rudd going

to be accepted back by all

his colleagues or is he going

to lose half the frontbench

if he does, just months out

from an election, all those

sorts of things are wild cats. You're absolutely right

in saying no-one knows what

will happen here. As one of

Julia Gillard's very senior

cabinet supporters said to me today, she is at the moment

being subjected to what he

called political terrorism.

Now, is there something in

this? Kevin Rudd laid low

after the February contest.

Do you think the Rudd camp,

for want of a better word, is

now undermining her again?

Well, it has all the

hallmarks of it, yes, for

sure. You know, guerilla

tactics, you know, those in

the guerilla army, they dig

in and they're prepared to

battle it out for a long time. This is just pure hit

and run stuff. It's a little

bit of sabotage. But it's

the small bomb, it's not the

big bomb, it annilihates

everything. They're crawling

through the jungles in their fatigue s hiding at the moment. Let me ask you about

a few other issues today,

this leaked internal report

on the Health Services Union,

which has confirmed a lot of

what we've read in the media

about Michael Williamson, the

former boss of the union, for

example that he was paid

almost $400 annually, 4.6 million of union funds went

to a company he part-owns,

$1.5 million went to refurb a

Sydney warehouse for his son

to use, his wife was paid

about $385,000 for archiving

documents at the union.

Excellent clerical salary. That's right. None

of this is a terrible

surprise now to us, but it is

disgusting, isn't it? Well,

clearly they didn't have very

good processes and procedures

in place and there were

certain individuals who were

just about like kids in a

lolly shop gobbling all the

dough up. It's one bad

apple. This is the thing,

yes, it seems to be a pretty

extreme case of poor

behaviour by a union

official. The Government

politically, and the Labor movement I think more

generally, need to make the

case this is one rotten

apple, this isn't what

happens in other unions.

Bill Shorten made that point

today, along with pointing

out what the Government is

now doing. Take a look. I

truly believe that whilst

we've seen at the HSU east by

some officials is a

completely abysmal state of

affairs, the Australian trade

union movement, the 2 million

people who belong to unions

served by their delegates and officials - I believe the

Australian trade movement are

the vast majority is honest,

it works hard to protect

people's jobs, to get people

pay rises, to ensure productive relationships at work, cooperation at works,

and to ensure that people

have safe jobs and better

conditions. I do not believe

the events we are seeing

unfold, the very sad and

sordid saga we're seeing

unfold, is representative of

the trade union movement, the labour movement at large. Christian, the

challenge for the labour

movement is to make that

case, isn't it, to say this

is just isolated? It's a very

big challenge, actually, form

the trade union movement and it's a particular challenge too for the Prime Minister.

We saw last week, when Alan

Jones jumped on it and spent

half an hour talking about

the AWU sleaze allegations

from the 1990s that had the

potential to entrap the Prime

Minister suddenly the stakes

I think really changed. I

think that issue has gone

from being one on the margins

to something that's just slowly moving towards the

centre and where there's just

more and more awareness of

this actual claim, even

though they're old. They're

just mounting up

again. They're old and discredited. But they're tricky for the Prime Minister. Allan Jones interviewed somebody who was

sacked from a radio station

because and your paper

offloaded -- This is the

interesting thing here. It's

not. You don't want to be

dogged by something like that

in an election year. The

other thing I wanted to point

out about the Temby report on the Health Services Union is

it doesn't find much to blame

Craig Thomson for in all of

this. That's right, yes. It

was interesting Bill Shorten

today, though, didn't rush to

Craig Thomson's defence,

they're maintaining the line let due process run its course, those matters have a

way to go. The ALP itself

would be smarting somewhat,

just to put it very mildly,

given Williamson's high

profile within the party at a

senior level in NSW. He's

not the only Labor figure in

NSW who's been found wanting

over the years for various in

discretions. It just makes it

harder for the Government to

make workplace relations the issue to fight the next

election on. When the union

movement has a stench hanging

over it thanks to the HSU. I

guess it's also the fact that

the labour movement or unions

itself have fallen out of

favour with ordinary working

people and that's the

bigger-picture problem. Good

to talk to you both. Thanks

for that. After the break

we'll look at the Climate

Institute report out today,

fewer people buying the

argument that man-made

activity is to blame for

global warming. Stay with us.

You don't need another

opinion poll to tell you the

carbon tax is un popular

across the country, but the

latest Climate Institute

national survey also reveal s

that belief in whether human

activity is causing climate

change has also waned over

the last year. For more on

this, I spoke to the chief

executive of the Climate

Institute, John Connor. I'm

joined by the chief executive

of the Climate Institute,

John Connor. Thanks for your

time. You've been doing

these polls for about five

years now. Most people still

believe climate change is

occurring, but fewer accept

it's caused by human activity; is that right?

What do you put that down

to? Yes, we're seeing around

two-thirds still think

climate change is real and

around two-thirds that humans

have a role in that. But not

the central role The portion

of that that say humans are

the main cause has dropped

over time. It's around 20% of Australians say it's the

main cause. 20% say it's the

main cause of -- 49% say it's a mixture of human and

natural cycles as well.

Human agency there, we have

two-thirds. That's

diminished. We also find

that what has been quite a

toxic political debate and we've also had a lot we've also had a lot of

countering voices, both of

those have been driving that.

So people have been confused

by the differing opinions. But clearly those

people - this includes the

Climate Institute as well,

who are trying to convince

people climate change is

man-made - that message isn't

getting across. No, I think

what this year's research

shows particularly is that

this has been a heavily

politicised space over the last year, last year, the last five

years. There's been a lot of

scares around the cost of

living and these things have

taken over. We knew this was

always going to be the choke

point, one of the low points,

just as you get some of these

reforms in, we were keen to

do that now, to make sure we

have the benchmark as we go

on in the years ahead. The

whole basis for doing

something, be it a carbon tax

or a direct action plan, is whether you think climate change is happening and change is happening and

whether it's man-made. If

only 20% think human activity

is the main cause of climate

change, that's a real worry.

Well, it's a question about

how that moves across that.

That number is still there.

But, yes, the amount that

think climate change is real

is important. But it's also

volatile. What's going on in

the US right now with those

terrible drought s and the terrible drought s and the

fires over there - we've seen

belief that climate change is

happening move from 52 to 70%

in a couple of years. It's

tied to natural disasters? People's opinions

change with these things. At

the moment we've had a snow

storm, if I can use a bad

expression. Political fight

that's obscured and confused and we've probably gone backwards because of

that. Fewer people say they're concerned about

climate change, but when you

ask them about specifics -

whether it's damage to the

Great Barrier Reef, hurting

our food production, our

water resources - that number

does rise dramatically, they

are worried about the

specifics. What does that tell you about how the

Government perhaps should be

selling this issue and its

carbon tax? Yeah, I think

what the research shows is

there's an underlying

resilience. People concerned

about it as an abstract concept, it's gone down.

When they're asked about

impact on Great Barrier Reef,

plants and animals, food and

water security, we're still

talking about three-quarters,

almost 80% of Australians

concerned about these things.

That points to underlying

resilience, I think, as does

the fact that more than two-thirds are still looking to the Federal Government for

a leading role in climate

change. Frankly, I was

astounded by that after this

debate and only 11% saying no action. They still want Australia to play a leading

role? Well, we asked about

the players in the Australian economy, the Federal Government, the State Governments, business and

others. So it's not necessarily in that

international sense. The

media as part of that, which

didn't get a good wrap? The

media, I'm sad to say, got

the worst wrap of all, when

we netted out approval ratings. They weren't seen

to have a leading role. Most people thought they should

play some role and thought

they were doing badly in

that, frankly, David. There

is scepticism about the Opposition's alternative,

too? It's interesting, when

we asked credibility of their

plans, the Government has

twice the credibility of the

Coalition, but we're talking

28% versus 14%. Interestingly, when asked

should they repeal and would

they repeal the carbon laws,

less than half, 48%, said

they should and 44% said they

would. It's quite soft as

well. Look, people are

thoroughly disenchanted with

the political system and the political players right now.

That's very clear. I think

the underlying message here

is there's resilience, people

expect action. Sadly, this

is not going to go away,

particularly if you look at

the global physics, this is a

physics problem, not a

political problem. It's

going to keep re emerging and

I think that's the cautionary

tale, the main message for

political players. John

Connor from the Climate Institute, good to talk to

you. Thanks for that. Thank

you. Before we go, we began

the program talking about

efforts from a cross-party

working group of MPs to find

a solution on asylum seekers.

We've just had news through

in the last ten minutes or so

that a vessel did request

assistance. It issued a call

for assistance north of

Christmas Island this

morning, HMAS Broome provided

assistance. 160 were on

board, now on their way to

Christmas Island. That's all

for today's program. We'll

be back after this break with

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