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Australian Agenda -

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(generated from captions) captioned by Ai-Media This program will be live

Good afternoon, welcome to the program. I'm David

Speers. Coming to you live

from Darwin this afternoon. Beautiful top end weather

Northern Territory election here, it is ahead of the

on the weekend. Tonight,

here on Sky News, we will

have the two leaders, Paul

Henderson and Terry Mills

going head to head in front

of a live audience of

undecided voters as they face off two days before voters

head to the polls. It is a

cliff hanger here in the

Northern Territory. One seat

Government just scraped back majority for the Labor

in, it is relying on the

support of an independent now

in Parliament. Sound

familiar? Well yes, there

are many parallels to the

Labor Government federally

and that is where the action

certainly has been today in

Canberra. It is not quite so

warm in a weather sense but

the politics have been as hot

as ever and joining us

Peter van Onselen in the Sky Ashleigh Gillon in Canberra,

News centre as well and in a moment, Graham Richardson, our Sky News contributor in Sydney will be with us as

well. Today we have seen

Julia Gillard hit back after

about a week in more than

that if you look at what's

been happening in the online

blogging world of accusations against what the Prime

Minister did 17 years ago

when she was a lawyer at

Slater & Gordon. The

accusation has been that she

helped set up a fund that was

then used by her then

boyfriend, a union official, for allegedly corrupt purposes this this caused

quite a kerfuffle in the law

firm an she was pressured to

go. Well, not quite says

Julia Gillard. All week she

has been saying this is just

rumours, she wasn't going to

Australian' newspaper went engage, but today after 'The

and said she set up the trust

fund, she said that is wrong,

they issued an apologise.

Julia Gillard then addressed

an hour or so of questions in

front of the Canberra packed

pes. She said she left due

to friction and tejss amongst

the partnership over other

issues, she said that she

paid for all of the

renovations on her house at

the time. She has got the

receipts to show it. No

evidence that any cor ruptly

raised money was used for those renovations. She also

addressed this issue of

setting up the fund. She did provide legal advice for

setting up what she, herself,

described was a reelection

fund for union officials.

Now, that may raise some

concerns with people but it

is nothing illegal. Nor did

she set up a file as

technically she should have

arguably at Slater & Gordon.

She admits that perhaps she

should have said up a -- set

up a file. But the main

point here is that Julia

Gillard is hitting back as

what she has called smear and sexist allegations against

her. Have a quick look at a

little of what Julia Gillard

had to say to reporters in

Canberra this afternoon. I

assisted with the provision

of advice regarding the

setting up of an association,

the work place reform

association that you refer

to. My understanding is that

association was to support the purpose of the

the reelection of a team of

union officials and their

pursuit of the policies that

they would stand for

reelection on. Well, we are

going to be analysing this

this afternoon for you.

Let's start with Graham

Richardson. He is, as I say,

in Sydney. What did you make

Prime Minister this of that performance from the

afternoon? Oh, belated but

very good. I think many of

us have been pleading with

her to do something like

that. She needed to clear

the air. I think she did a

pretty good job. When she actually applies herself and

decides to swallow the

medicine instead of just

delaying and delaying, she

does it pretty well and I

thought today was a solid

performance. There are a

number of questions that have

dogged her all week on this issue. What involvement did

she have in setting up this

work place reform association, was any money

from the cor ruptly raised

funds used for her benefit,

why didn't she open a file

and then why did she leave

Slater & Gordon. They are

essentially the four or so

questions that have been

surrounding this whole issue

all week. Where do they now stand? I think she has answered them all pretty

well. At the end of the day,

you can't take it much further. Slater & Gordon

aren't going to be saying anything beyond that which

they have said already. And

many of the players simply aren't around any more. I

think this is - she just had

to say something. Now, you

cannot like it but she has

certainly covered herself.

Thinly at times but she has

covered herself. If you look

at the allegations one by

one, yes, it was a slush

fund, she knew that, but she

knew it was a reelection of

officials that were going to

fight for work place reform.

Is this unusual - and I'm

assuming not for slush funds

like this to operate within

unions - and is there

anything wrong with them?

No, pretty well every union

has one. As soon as you use

the word "slush fund", you

say isn't that terrible.

These slush funds don't do

that. But nearly every union

has them because union

politics, usually involve getting challenged occasionally by a team of

points, you need money to

fight that and very often you

will find officials put a

certain amount in in each pay packet... This has been inflated though with money

building companies into a that has come from big

fund that was set up. We are talking about two slightly different things here. We are, except she had no

knowledge of that and there

is no proof that she did.

There is not even a real

suggestion that she did you

know. All she did was set up the association. She never

operated any part of it. So

if she didn't operate it,

didn't see what went in,

didn't see what went out, you

can't say that she is in some

way to blame for the fact

that hundreds of thousands of

dollars went in there that

she didn't know about. And

then the question of why she

left Slater & Gordon. We

know one of the former partners Nick Styant-Browne

has been saying there was

pressure on her to go, they

did an internal probe, they

weren't happy, and she was

essentially sent packing.

Now, she, of course, denies

that and so too have a couple

of others who were around at

the time. Does that clear

that up? Well, it is always

going to be murky. There is

no 100% clearing on it. But

how else do you take it?

Where do you go with it? At

the end of the day, there is

no-one around going to

contradict it bar Nick Styant-Browne and everyone

else is saying what she is saying is fundamentally

right. I don't doubt David that there were

disagreements. Obviously

some of the partners took a dim view that she didn't

create a file but it is

impossible to believe, by the

way, and a lot of people don't understand this, but

union solicitors do free work

for unions all the time. And

they often get very involved

in slinging into their

election campaigns as well.

It is not unusual. And so it

is hardly a surprise that sometimes there weren't files

opened. Free work for unions

is not too rare. What should

have happened, however, is she should have had a

personal record of it and she

has admitted she should have

and she didn't. Peter van

Onselen, to you. The

politics of this, it has been

a building issue throughout,

well, for some time but

particularly this week in the

mainstream media and your newspaper, 'The Australian'

of course has been at the

forefront with breaking some

new developments in this

story, that transcript that

was printed yesterday, the

internal investigation

interview with Julia Gillard

17 years ago was some

fascinating reading but how

do you see this playing out

more broadly politically? I think the Prime Minister has

got herself into a sweet spot

on this finally. She has

given a detailed account, she

has sucked the life out of

the oxygen on the issue by

spending as long as she did

dealing with it. She got all

of the Canberra press gallery

together, they asked

questions until they ran out

of questions to ask and then

they moved on to other

issues. Now, that leaves her

in a position, as she said in

her press conference, where

she can say look, you know,

the best of you are all here,

you have asked your

questions, this surely should

be enough to put this to bed

now. Now, unless there is

something new that comes out

and as Graham Richardson

says, it is hard to really

see how that happens, but

unless there is somehow

something new that kicks this

along, I think she has dealt

largely with the issue.

There will be some unanswered

questions around the edges

but at the core point there

is a benefit of the doubt

principle which I think

rather strongly applies to

her on the nature of the

wrong doings, the alleged

wrong doings, so politically

her timing was very good.

'The Australian' will a lot of legitimately newsworthy

stories that they ran over

the course of this week,

headily Thomas got into

information that frankly, 17

years worth of attempts to get information, hasn't

provided that kind of level

of new information. But it

hasn't led anywhere. We have

got Nick Styant-Browne on the

record saying that she left

under a cloud. Whether that

is right or wrong, you know,

as a journalist, we know that

is newsworthy, he was there,

he was a partner at the time,

if he is making that claim,

you have got to run it.

There was a lot new. There

was the claim by him. There

was new references to comments made at the time by

Mr Gordon. There was

obviously the transcript, the

full transcript, apart from

some sort of client privilege

redacions that ran in the A

plus section yesterday.

These were some pretty

significant finds. Now, that

meant that there was new

elements to the story, there

was legitimate reasons to run

it and it ultimately manifested itself in the Prime Minister needing to

respond to that and what was

good for her politically,

really going to your question

David, was that because there

was an error by 'The

Australian', that meant that

she was able to jump all over

that, use that as the

opportunity for her long press conference which sucked the life out of the issue and

be able to, in a sense, put

Heron line accusers in

particular on the back foot

and also conflate in a way

that it is a little unfair... Conplait as you

said earlier with what has

been happening for some time

on this issue and that has

involved stuff going a lot

further than any of this sexist smear allegations that

she was referring to today.

I just quickly want to go to

Ashleigh Gillon because

Ashleigh while this lengthy

press conference was

underway, something a lot of

people might have missed, it

seems to be an extraordinary

security scare. It was fascinating, while we were watching this press

conference, suddenly those of

us who were watching it here

at Parliament House saw this

hand reaching over, it didn't

look like an official one, it

wasn't anyone wearing a suit,

it was a guy wearing a

jumper, leaned over, placed

some documents on the lecturnnext to where Chris Bowen who was with Julia Gillard and who was speaking together, now, it works out

that this is a guy who wasn't

a journalist, he wasn't one

of the Prime Minister's

staff, he is a guy who came

in through the public

entrance and somehow managed

to find his way not only to the ministerial wing but to

the blue room in Parliament House which is where Julia

Gillard was holding her news

conference. He came in,

dumped a lot of documents, one journalist did ask the Prime Minister during the Q

and E session, what was that

all about, is that breaking news, is it important

information that you are

going to share with us and she looked down at it and

said I don't know what that

is, I can't tell from what it

is from the bundle of papers

in front of me. But then to

bop out of the blue room, security finally caught up

with him. As you and I know

having worked in that

building for years, they have

racked up security year on

year since September 11. It

is a pain getting in and out

of that building now. It is

amazeing this can happen and

mind boggles where they will

go now with security. We are

nearly out of time for this

segment but I want to get

some final thoughts from you.

Does this draw a line under

this issue? Will it go any

further? No, I think she has

drawn a line under it. I

think she did a pretty good

job today. She didn't

flinch. She answered every

single question. And as

Peter said they finally ran

out of puff on it and when

you get the whole gallery to

run out of puff, you have

exhausted them, you have

exhausted the issue. And

Peter, you can't tell us what

is going to be in 'The Australian' tomorrow, what do

you think? I think it will. Unless there are new

revelations in the coming

days or weeks, I think she

has put a line under this and

people will move on.

Obviously other than the bloggersphere. Thank you

Ashleigh, I know we will be

talking to you about some of

the other issues. There have

been, of course, the announcement by BHP Billiton

yesterday, they are not

proceeding with the Olympic

Dam expansion, that has been

dominating in question

Question Time this afternoon.

He reckons the mining boom is

over, or does he, we will

find out more about that.

Stay with us after break.

After the break, we will be

talking to the trade

minister, Craig Emerson.

You're watching PM Agenda. We nr Darwin this afternoon,

if you are wondering why it

is election season here on

Saturday, voters head to the

polls, we will find out if

Labor is about to lose

another jurisdiction since

the last Federal Election, we

have seen Labor lose office

in Victoria, NSW, Queensland, could the Northern Territory

be the next domino to fall?

It is going to be a nail

biter. It is already a hung

Parliament essentially here.

One seat will change it. So

we will find out Saturday.

Tonight here on Sky News we

will have the two leaders,

the Chief Minister Paul

Henderson, the Opposition

Leader Terry Mills going head

to head right where we are in

Darwin, in front of a crowd

of undecided voters, the peoples forum tonight 8

o'clock eastern here on Sky

News. Right now though, we

are going to continue our

coverage of what's been

happening in Canberra today.

Ashleigh Gillon we were

talking before the break about that extraordinary

security scare. Someone

walking right up to the Prime

Minister mid press

conference, it was beaming

out live around the nation,

just recap for us, I know we

have got some pictures now of

just what happened. So essentially in the middle of

this news conference we saw

an arm reach over the podium where Julia Gillard was

speaking, and dumped a whole

lot of papers on the podium

where she was speaking. This

isn't that unusual, sometimes

staffers do pass notes,

rarely in the middle of an

important press conference

like this one today, often it

is an update on whatever the

situation is she is talking about. This time though

Julia Gillard seemed as

baffled as the gathered press

pack who are watching and

they asked her, you know,

what was that all about?

What were those papers for?

Is there anything you need to

tell us? Here was Julia

Gillard's explanation of it.

Look, I don't know who the gentleman was and obviously

I've been standing here since

I've not been able to engage

in any inquiry of the

circumstances. I didn't feel

threatened in any way but in

terms of the passing system

and who has got where in the

building, I will have to deal

with that later. I have got no information. I just saw

him hand it to me and I took

it. There is no doubt it was

a security breach. You need

a pass, as you know David, to

get in not just to the ministerial wing where Julia

Gillard is based and all the

ministers lives in this building but also to actually

get into the room, the blue

room where the Prime Minister

was holding this new

conference. Clearly, they

wanted to have a chat with

this guy and wanted to see

what it was all about. Here

is some of the conversation

as they were escorting him

out of the building. I've

been trying to contact the

police and I have not

received any response.

Please move out of the way

now. Can you please leave

the building now. Yes, sure,

not a problem. I've got him

out of the exit now. Here,

this way. Grab a seat and

wait. I'm not going to be

arrested. I'm not asking you

to be arrested. Leave the

ground. I wrote to the Members of Parliament as

well, I don't know, I have

been threatened after a

contacted ATO just once and I

just don't know what's

happening. You said human

rights... What is your

message to the Prime

Minister? That it should be investigated. Because I find

it strange that I have been

complaining about foreign

defence intelligence threats

for, like, more than a year

and no-one has ever got back

to me. They never ring.

Never write to me. Nothing.

Have you tried to contact the

Prime Minister's office?

Yes, I sent a letter last

week. I sent it by

registered mail as well.

REPORTER: Is there a

particular issue that you are

chasing up? Yes, threats to

my wife and also my child was abducted.

REPORTER: Why? I don't

know, that's why I'm trying

to find. There are probably

some red faced members of the

security team around this

building, David. A novel way

to get the Prime Minister's

attention to the issue you're

pushing. Wouldn't recommend

it, surprised that he was

able to walk out of there so easily without security

chasing him down. Yeah, I

guess lucky for everyone that

no physical threat appeared

to have been present on this occasion. Ashleigh, look,

thank you for that. Let's

bring in our guests this

afternoon. Trade minister

Craig Emerson is in Canberra

in our Canberra studio.

Thanks for your time. Can I

start with that one. What

did you make of this security breach in Parliament House

getting right up to under the

Prime Minister's nose

1234 Well, pretty clear that

no actual harm was done.

Obviously the authorities

will need to review how that

young man got into Parliament

House and then into the blue

room. I'm not an expert on

these sorts of things.

Perhaps the security in the

blue room where the press

conference was taking place

had assumed that he was a

journalist. But it is not

for me to pre-empt reviews

and obviously they are going

to have a look at that.

Let's get to the Prime

Minister's rebuttal today of

the claims that have been

running against her all week

about her past at Slater &

Gordon. She has gone on the

front foot to try and address

the questions she has been

facing. Do you think this

issue has now been put to

bed? Well, that is really a

matter for the media. The

Prime Minister stood up until

there were no more questions.

So that really puts the issue

in our minds to rest. But

there will be a continuation

of pretty despicable blogging

for people on behalf of

people who have very bad

motivations here. In terms

of the mainstream media, they

have been asking for the

Prime Minister to make

statements, I don't know how much more emphatically you

can do that other than to

stand up and ask questions,

receive questions, invite the

media to keep asking questions until they have no

more and that is exactly what

happened. Now, I think that

those in the mainstream media

will have been following the

publication of material in 'The Australian' newspaper

and to an extent in 'The

Daily Telegraph'. It would

be surprising if they had not

thought of the sorts of

questions that they wanted to

ask. I know in Sunday agenda

Paul Kelly and others raised

a number of issues or belevered that they were

raising a number of issues.

I can't see how a Prime

Minister could engage more

emphatically in answering

every question that the media

could think of other than to

stand up and wait and answer

questions until there are no

more. Wouldn't it have been

better though, minister, to

have done this on Sunday

mourn being Paul Kelly and

Peter van Onselen than to

wait until Thursday afternoon

and let this story run as

long as it has? The Prime

Minister has consistently

said that there is no actual allegation of wrongdoing

against her. But we have

seen, unfortunately, the

republication of material that the Prime Minister describes as being

defamatory. This is the

third time. These assertions

have been published and then

republished and now

republished again. So in

those circumstances, you

reach a point where having

reiterated as a Prime

Minister that she has done

nothing wrong and there are

no allegations against her,

that... It is not defamatory

to say that on her own admission today, the Prime

Minister has admitted today

that she was involved in

providing advice in the

setting up of this work place reform association, she

didn't create a file at the

law firm, look, these may not

be serious matters but are

they legitimate areas of

interest when it goes to

judging the character, behaviour an trustworthiness

of the Prime Minister? Here

we go again. You had, as an

organisation, sky Agenda an

opportunity to put all of

these questions to the Prime

Minister. It was exhausted

and now you are asking me for

my opinion on these very

issues... I'M asking whether

they were legitimate

questions to canvas. And as

I say, on the Prime

Minister's admission, she didn't set up a file when

perhaps she should have. I'm

not saying they are serious

matters, as I say, I'm just

asking you whether this was a

legitimate area of response.

I'm just saying this matter

should now be closed.

Whether its closed or not

will depend on news outlets,

such as 'The Australian' newspaper, the daily

telegraph and others. That

is a matter for your news

outlets but I think it is

unusual having had that opportunity, to ask the Prime

Minister any and all

questions that you wanted, to

have me on the program and

then start requesting me

questions. Surely, standing

there, for as long as it took

to answer all questions,

which people would have had

considered over a very long

period of time, is sufficient

rather than asking me those

sorts of questions. All I'm

asking you is whether this

was, given your criticism of

the media here, a legitimate

line of pursuit given also

that we had a former partner at Slater & Gordon claiming

she left under some pressure

from... Here we go again.

Here we go again. Look, I'm

not going to keep this story

go along... you have got 40

minutes of footage. ... use

the footage... I repeat -

look, the media should not be

so precious that when a

minister engages in the mildest possible criticism to

just point out a couple of

facts, now you are acting all

wounded that the media is

being criticised, we get criticised all the time, we

understand that, we accept

it, whether we think it is

fair or not, I have just

engaged in the mildest

possible comment on the

media, now you are saying

"Oh, given your criticism of

the media", I couldn't have

been more moderate and as far

as we are concerned, that

matter is now settled. Okay,

well I'm certainly not

feeling wounded, I'm just

asking a question. Good on

you. I will also ask you... You have got broad

questions. I want to ask you

about Olympic Dam that dominated Question Time this afternoon. Sure. Tony

Abbott says that there were

comments from jack Nassar.

Throughout the course of this

year about Australia being a

higher cost of economy to

bring those business in. Yes, BHP Billiton didn't

mention the carbon tax or mining tax in relation to

this specific announcement

but is there an argument that

Australia has become a more high cost environment with

the new taxes that have been

brought in? Well, let's go

to the so-called new taxes.

We are putting a price on

carbon along with many other

countries around the world

and other jurisdictions. For

the most emissions intensive

trade industries, that $23

per tonne carbon price works

out at $1.30 per tonne. We

could sit back and do what

Tony Abbott has done and that

is said that, yes, climate

change is real, or well

actually maybe it is absolute

crap, but today and the last

few days he has believed that

it is real, but they are not

going to do anything real

about it, other than charge

house holds $1300 each for

their very inefficient

system. So we are

implementing a price on

carbon and we are introducing

and have introduced a mining

tax, a profits based one.

Since that has happened,

there is $270 billion of

investment coming our way,

investment has grown in the

most recent available period

to March of this year by 20%

to be at 40 year highs. What

tbt did, however, is -- what

Tony Abbott did, however,

admitted that he hadn't read

a two page statement from BHP

in relation to the

postponement of that project

and then today, says in fact

he had. So between 3.45 p.m.

yesterday and 7.30 p.m. yesterday, yesterday, he has now claiming he read the statement and forgot all

about it because what he was

asked had he read it, he said

no, there is not a lot of

ambiguity around the world

"no". And this goes to the question of Tony Abbott's

character. He walked in

there with one purpose and

one purpose only and that is

to blame the postponement of

Olympic Dam on the carbon

price and mining tax. He

failed miserably. He

explained again his... Just

finally, we are nearly out of

time, is the mining boom over

as Martin Ferguson seemed to

suggest? Prices have come

off and those price

reductions from very high

levels to still high levels

are factored into our budget.

They are factored into our

forward thinking. But in

terms of investment as Martin

Ferguson has indicated, $270

billion, he has named the

various major projects, you

know, it occurs to me David,

when we talk about $270

billion, these are sort of

becoming pass A sort of

numbers, a project of $20 billion was massive a few

years ago, we are talking

about $270 billion. That is

a mining boom but it is true

that prices have come off

which we fully anticipated.

But they are still at

historically very high

levels. We will have to

leave it there but thank you

for joining us this

afternoon. All right, thanks

David. We are not far from

the RAF base here in Darwin

as you can hear some fighter

jets going overhead. We will

take a break and come back

and hear from the Resources

Minister Martin Ferguson more

on the BHP Billiton decision

and where it leaves the

mining boom in Australia.

You're watching PM Agenda. Live from Darwin this

afternoon. Time for a quick

check of the news headlines.

Here is Susanne Latimore. The Prime Minister has responded to allegations

about her time as a lawyer at

Slater & Gordon. Claiming

she has been the subject of a

sexist defamatory campaign.

Ms Gillard was responding to

reports published in 'The

Australian' newspaper about

her conduct at the firm 17

years ago which she says are

false and defamatory. She

also says the claims were

first published during the

Federal Election in 2007 and

were retracted as apologised

for. Earlier today, 'The

Australian' published an

apology for the latest

report. Security at

Parliament House has found -

been found lacking during the

Prime Minister's conference.

A protestor managed to

entered the room and hand the

PM a document while Immigration Minister Chris

Bowen was speaking. He was

quickly escorted from the

building by security. The

Prime Minister says she

didn't feel threatened by the

incident. BHP Billiton's

cancellation of the $30 billion Olympic Dam expansion

has triggered a political

wharf words between the

Government and the

opposition. Resources

Minister Martin Ferguson has

sought to clarify comments he

made this morning that the

mining boom is over. The

opposition has blamed the

carbon and resources taxes

meantime South Australian

premier Jay Weatherill says it will be difficult for

diploma to regain the trust

of his Government and the local community after

scrapping the project for a

second time. The Government

has introduced new laws to

help prevent travellers #23r

being hit with exorbitant

mobile phone fees. Under a

new set of tight rules,

companies will have to tell their customers exactly how

much it will cost them to

make calls, send texts and

use the Internet while abroad. Communications Minister Stephen Conroy says

he wants to expose the hidden

costs of international

roaming which can sometimes

climb into the thousands of

dollars. Qantas airways says

it will cancel orders for

Boeing 747 aircraft to cut

costs as it posts a $245

million full year net loss.

The loss for the 12 months to

June 30 2012 come pairs with

a profit of $250 million in

the previous year. Alan

Joyce said the aircraft

cancellation was due to lower

growth requirements in this

uncertain global context.

Still, Mr Joys remains up

beat about the airline's domestic business. Quade

Cooper has been recalled for

the wallis for the must win

Bledisloe Cup clash in

Auckland on Sunday. Kurtley

Beale has been relegated to

the bench after a horror

outing in Sydney on the

weekend. The weather

tomorrow: Thank you. You are

watching PM Agenda live from Darwin this afternoon ahead

of the Northern Territory

election taking place here on

Saturday. Tonight, we have

got the peoples' forum here

on Sky News, the two leaders,

Chief Minister Paul Henderson

and Terry Mills facing a

crowd of undecided voters,

then going head to head on

the issues of importance to

voters heading to the polls

in a couple of days. On this

show yesterday, we were

discussing the breaking news

of BHP Billiton shelving its

planned expansion of the

Olympic Dam uranium mine in

South Australia. This was to

be an expansion worth almost

$30 billion, a real

injectiontion for the State,

and national economy. It

would have generated

thousands of jobs directly and indirectly. Now BHP Billiton have gone back to

the drawing board looking at

some cheaper options. They

didn't blame the carbon tax

or the mining tax at all for

this decision. Still, that

is where Tony Abbott has gone

with his political attack on the Government. This

morning, the Resources Minister Martin Ferguson was

trying to put it in context.

But he did acknowledge that

the mining boom may be over.

It's about time Tony Abbott

stopped talking down

Australia, both at home and

internationally, and

recognise how well placed we

are, but you have got to understand, the resources

boom is over. We have done

well. Well, here was Tony

Abbott this morning

maintaining his argument that

the Government must wear part

of the blame for this. The

postponement of the Olympic

Dam expansion is a tragedy for South Australia. The

problem with the taxes that

this Government and the costs

that this Government is

heaping on investment is that

they are making good projects

marginal and they are making

marginal projects impossible.

Martin Ferguson announcing

officially this morning that

the mining boom is over, how

can you have a Government

whose policy is based on

spreading the benefits of the

boom, now that the boom is

officially over? Well, to

answer that question, Sky

News political reporter David

Lipsom spoke to Resources Minister Martin Ferguson

earlier in the day. Martin Ferguson, thanks for your

time. You said this morning

that the mining boom is over.

Penny Wong and others within

the Government disagreed. Do

you stand by what you said?

It is over. The days of

record prices are gone. Just

think about it. Coal was

$23, iron oel 180 to 105 a

tonne, thermal coal, 220 to

80. The days of record

prices are gone. The

difference is that on this

occasion, we had the benefit

of those prices for a short

period, reflected in our

terms of trade. But what we

did, unlike the Coalition s

we have grabbed $270 -- 270

billion of capital

investment. We have actually

now - we are actually now in

a position to consolidate the

expanding capacity to make up

for the drop in commodity

prices. So yes, the boom is

over in terms of record

commodity prices and anyone who understands the mining

industry accepts that. But

unlike other advanced

economies, we are the envy of

the world. 270 billion under

construction in Australia at

the moment. So Penny Wong's

comments saying that the

mining boom still has a long

way to run, so that could

still be correct in the

context that even though

commodities have come down,

we are still seeing a lot more investment, is that what

you are saying? 270 billion

committed capital investment,

this is going to run for a

long time. Go to Gladstone

at the moment. 55 million in

LNG projects. 4,000 jobs.

43 billion investment, one

project, 4,000 on the island

at the moment in

construction. The benefit spreading throughout the

whole economy, creating jobs,

construction, maritime

services, cleaning, legal,

financial, we have got a long

way to go in terms of our huge achievement. The

industry gives us full marks,

on this occasion, Australia

got the benefit of the record

prices for the time they

existed but grabbed capital

investment. So the boom is

over but now you are saying

the mining boom itself, the

broader... The commodity

price boom is over. But not

the broader mining boom? Not

in terms of what we have

achieved. But what about the

future? What about in the

future? The boom in terms of the construction will

continue but in addition to

270 billion committed in

capital investment, we have

got another 230 billion planned investment. Our job

is to consolidate and expand

capacity in terms of the

projects underway, and to

give all of the necessary

regulatory aprovems to enable

those planned investments to

be made in the future. Some

of them will come with an

upturn in commodity price at

some point in the future.

But I don't think we will go

back to the day of net coal

320 a tonne, iron ore 180 a

tonne, but the prices will be

good enough to sustain new

investment at a point in the

future. That is not our

challenge at the moment.

Build what we have got. 270

billion committed capital

investment in Australia

creating jobs and wealth. A

lot of the budget this year

has been about spreading the

benefits of the mining boom.

If commodity prices have come

down so much and that those

days are over, if you like,

how are we going to continue

spread spreading the benefits

of the mining boom,

particularly for Gonski,

these areas that we really

need to rely on further

growth? The Finance Minister

has clearly factored these

issues into consideration.

We understand the impact.

But spreading the benefits of

the boom. 270 billion

committed capital investment.

That is spreading the

benefits of the boom, it is

creating jobs, sustaining

industry in Australia across

a broad section of the economy. Any other country would be celebrating that

success. The Leader of the

Opposition is basically

saying isn't it great Olympic

Dam is not going ahead at

this point of time. Well,

the rest of us are going to

roll up our sleeves and

continue to work with BHP

Billiton, this project will

come Australia's way at a

point in the future. A

project of 30 billion, huge

risk to the BHP Billiton board, with commodity prices

at the point at which they

are. We have got to balance

that risk, position the

project, reduce the cost and

deliver it to Australia. I

will get to the detail of

Olympic Dam if a moment. I

want to ask you again about

commodities prices. If they

have come down, surely the

profits as we have seen

yesterday with BHP announcing

a profit reduction of a

third, or more, that is going

to mean less profits for

mining companies, less

revenue for the Government as

a result of taxes and the

like... Treasury factors these into consideration but

lls you have got to think

about this. Yes, we had the

benefits of commodity prices

in a point in time. We

grabbed the alternative approach of expanding capacity. Build the projects

you have got under way.

Expand capacity which

increases earnings and hence

you balance the outcomes.

More capacity, yes, lower

price, but on balance, you

get the same outcome. That

is where we are at as a

nation. Tick the box. Huge achievement. Accept full marks for what you have

achieved as a country. We

are now concentrating on

building these projects and

expanding capacity. Okay,

more specifically on Olympic

Dam. Marius Kloppers said

that the tax situation had

not changed. He was pointing

to commodities prices and

also capital costs. Capital

costs. And the like. But

surely the carbon tax didn't

help and the mining tax

doesn't help other projects.

Marius Kloppers is not a

shrinking violet. I've been

on the receiving end of his

views during the mining tax

debate. He said yesterday this is a commercial

decision. People ought to

respect his view because he

knows this project inside and

out. Tony Abbott has got no

idea of the project. He did

an interview yesterday

without having read the media

statement from BHP Billiton.

This is about capital costs.

Technology will solve it. We

are an innovative nation. We

are competitive because of

our efficiency in mining.

Jay Weatherill and I have to

now get on with the job of

working with BHP Billiton.

Deliver this project in the

meantime, South Australia is

in an extremely strong

position. I don't think

anyone has dealt with Marius

when he has got a view of us

being overly polite when he

wants to express it. I have

had those discussions. I

have also followed this project. This is the second

one in five years. We have

now got a problem. It is

still a huge asking, 30 billion project cost. The

South Australian budget each

year is 16 billion. Almost

twice the size of the whole

budge pet. Taiz huge

decision. So five years to

get to this -- it's a huge

decision. So five years to

get to this point, you are

still confident it will go

ahead at some point in the

future. When? This mine has

got a life of 100 years.

Yesterday they said it is at

an acceptable level. Our job

is to reduce the cost of the

project. If you want

responsibility for Government

of BHP Billiton, they also

said, and Marius said it in

London last night, he could

not ask more of the

Australian, South Australian

governments, all the

necessary regulatory aprovems

were delivered on time, this

was then their decision as a

commercial decision --

approvals were delivered on

time, this was then their

decision as a commercial

decision. It is about time

that Tony Abbott accepted the

word of marrous cloppers

rather than questioning it.

Thank you. Martin Ferguson

speaking earlier to David

Lipsom. After the break, we

will hear what the minerals

council Hitch Hook has to say

about this decision. Stay

with us. -- Mitch Hook.

Welcome back to PM Agenda.

We are live from Darwin this

afternoon ahead of tonight's

peoples' forum, the two

leaders vying for the Chief

Minister's job? Saturday's

Northern Territory election.

We will be here a little

later tonight in front of a

crowd of undecided people.

In the meantime, I want to

stick with the issue of the

mining boom after yesterday's

announce thepbt that it is

not proceeding with the expansion of the Olympic Dam

in South Australia. We heard

from Martin Ferguson there.

He did declare earlier today

the mining boom is over in

that interview. He was a bit

more newanced in his language

that the commodity priced

boom is over, the terms of

trade peeked 12 months ago

was the point there but we

still have a lot of

investment to come. Well,

what about the industry view

of all of this? Ashleigh

Gillon spoke with Mitch Hook,

head of the minerals council earlier this afternoon.

Thank you for your time. Is

the mining boom over? The

underlying fundamentals of

demand are still there, we

are still seeing

industrialisation and

urbanisation all through Asia, increasing into Latin

America. What has changed is

the supply, so it is starting

to catch up with demand, we

are seeing that at an easy

prices. We are seeing a

whole lot of emerging

economies starting to come

into the chain. Indonesia

has had a six fold increase

volume. Parts of West

Africa, these are all coming

in to building supply

capacity. They are doing it

because they have changed

their policies, they have

changed their institutions,

they have adopted new

technologies, they have

reduced sovereign risk, in

other words the risk associated with governments

in those countries so that

you are seeing global companies investing and

supply capacity elsewhere.

They have all grades, ours

have got declining all

grades, we have got massive increasing cost structure,

nearly twice where it was in

2006 when we kicked off

proper, our productivity is

down and believe it or not, Australian's Sovereign risk

is deteriorating to the point

where we are increasingly an

unattractive place to do

business. So it's a wake-up

call to Australia that while

the demand is there, our

supply is not guaranteed. So

what is it that we need to do

to make Australia more

competitive? We need to

recognise that we are on a

booming platform. The biggest dangers for

Australia, in terms of

vulnerability, is we are

complacent. We think natural

endowment means we have got a

competitive strength. Well,

hello. It is only dirt while

it is in the ground. You

have got to get it out and

get it into a competitive

place and compete for global

custom, whether it is people

skills, it is capital, it is

technology, it is basically

competing for all of the

things that are now we are

competing with, essentially

what is the global village,

so that is the first point.

The second point is that we

need to get off this sort of

platform of economic reform

in you aresha, we are still

back sliding on the sort of

three decades of reform that

have stood this country in

such good stead and extending

global shocks through the

global financial crisis, with

the boom, bust, and the

financial crisis, was very

well positioned. We have

straddled well where the

developing economies are all growing, Australia has been

quite well, we have been well

positioned to supply those

emerging countries, we have a

unique profile of exports in

minerals resources an we have

an open, dynamic and flexible

economy. We are going

backwards. You can't just

leave economic reform on auto

pilot and you can't have it going in the wrong direction.

So we need to be getting our

tax system in order. It's

not. We need to be getting

industrial relations back to

where it was when you did have direct relationships in

the work place and you did have confidence

across-the-board to actually

improve labour and capital productivity etc etc. Let's

look at a couple of those

areas. You talked tax. BHP

said in its statement that

the tax situation in relation

to Olympic Dam hasn't

changed, talking more about,

in the statement anyway,

commodity prices and high

capital costs but the

opposition has seized on the

tax aspect of this,

suggesting that it did play a

big part, the mining tax and

the carbon tax. Is that

over-stating the impact of

those taxes, do you think?

You asked me about Australia

and you've now moved into BHP

Billiton. I'm going to stay

with Australia. Australia is

essentially if you increase

taxes, you describe value.

And when you add a mining tax

on top of a 500% increase in

income tax, company income

taxes and royalties, you

start to add to the spectre

of destroying value.

Royalties are going up, they

actually add to costs. You

have got a carbon tax which

is adding to costs which

flows through. Throw in that the reinstitutionalisation,

the greater ledge itmisation

of union third party intervention in the work

place which means they are

demanding, in terms of

conditions, they are all

about capacity to pay, well,

if capacity to pay is up here

but then comes down here, you

are under water pretty

quickly. Labour costs are

35-50% of building a new

project. Our energy costs

have putting us way ahead of

comparable destinations.

Talking to Ashleigh Gillon a

little earlier. Now, the resources boom which we have heard a lot about yesterday

and today on the back of that

BHP Billiton announcement is

something that's really

fuelling the local economy

here in the Northern

Territory where we are this

afternoon, ahead of tonight's

Northern Territory election

peoples forum Saturday is

when voters will head to the

polls. This strong economy

comparative to the rest of

the country though is having

the sort of pressures that we

are seeing elsewhere rents,

house prices have really been

going through the roof in

Darwin, that is creating a

bit of a housing problem here

which is a big issue in this

election. Some of the other issues we are specking to

come up tonight, when the two

leaders go head to head and

face a crowd of undecided

voters, include jobs, there

are fears that the country

Liberal Party, if it does win

on Saturday, and end Labor's

10 years of broken rule, that

it will do what Campbell

Newman is doing in

Queensland, get rid of a

whole lot of public service jobs, so there are concerns

about that, also crime is a

big issue. The Labor

Government has introduced a banned drinkers register

which the opposition wants to

do away with, expect that to

come up tonight as well. But

this election and perhaps for

the first time in the

Northern Territory politics,

won't so much be decided in

the seats in the urban areas

of Darwin, but in the

regional centres. There's

been a real turn off for

Labor amongst the indigenous

population which has long

been a strong hold for Labor,

a lot of the remote

communities, after 10 years

of effort by Labor but still

struggling, disadvantaged and

poverty in these remote

communities are looking for

change, are looking for some

newer approaches here. So

expect a bit on that tonight

as well. It should be a really interesting forum to

see the issues that come up

an see if any federal issues

come up as well, the carbon

tax, the mining tax, live

cattle exports, the Northern

Territory intervention, Julia

Gillard herself. It will be

interesting to see what

issues do come up at this

forum. People are going to

come along and ask what they

like. Join us here, 8

o'clock eastern time tonight

live from Darwin for the Sky

News peoples forum. For now,

we will say goodbye from

Darwin. After the break, the

very latest Sky News. Live Captioning by Ai-Media