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This is PM Agenda.Hello, welcome to the program. This afternoon Fair Work Australia has confirmed proceedings have commenced in the Federal court against Craig Thomson. In this statement a Fair Work Australia says the claim is largely based on the extensive investigation into the national office of the HSU. Craig Thomson has issued a statement saying I have always main taped my innocence in these matters, I continue to do so. While I'm disappointed I'm not surprise that had Fair Work Australia has decided to go ahead with its claims. He says clearly Fair Work Australia has felt pressured into responding this way given the political process which is a part of, and Mr Thompson says after spending several years, more than one million dollars n a report that was then totally discredited by KPMG it clearly shows that Fair Work Australia is simply trying to save face. As I said Fair Work Australia doesn't believe it's doing that at all. It's alleging 37 breaches of the rules imposed on offices under the registered organisations and 25 alleged breaches of HSU rules, so confirmation that Fair Work Australia has commenced proceedings against Craig Thomson. We're going to have more on that with our panel a little later, Bruce Hawker and Graham Morris, and Eric Abetz. In the next 10 minutes or so. The Prime Minister and Opposition Leader on the world stage, Tony Abbott in Indonesia, the Prime Minister is in India, trying to strengthen, bolster the strained relations with India. Our political reporter Laura Jayes is in Delhi. The Prime Minister paid a visit on to the troops on the way, though, didn't she? She did. She hasn't quite arrived in Delhi yet. She made that lightning visit to Afghanistan. It came directly after the Bali commemorations 10 years, she did attend there in Bali. She really conveyed and took that message from Bali to the troops on the ground. You'd have to say it was more a message for the Australian public, explaining why and emphasising and reiterating why we did join the war in Afghanistan, some 10 years ago. Now, she was telling this message to troops on the ground that have shared in their fair share of tragedy over the last decade. It comes six weeks after the shocking green on blue attack, the insider attack, when three of our Australian troops were gunned down. This is increase increasing in incidents for all coalition troops. It is something that NATO has been unable really to quell over the last few months. Julia Gillard took that direct concern to Hamid Karzai, he assured our Prime Minister that everything that can be done is being done at the moment. She met with the President in Kabul, she also met with the major general John Allen, who assured her that troops, coalition troops are poised to fill the transition time line, are on track to really do that transition, hand over major security role over the next two years, particularly in the obz began province -- Oruzgan Province. Most will step back intierl from kpat roles. Most of the troops will remain inside the wire except for Special Forces. Julia Gillard's visit was timely because of the 10 year anniversary of the Bali bombings, also it comes at an important time for Australia's role in the Oruzgan Province, moving into that transition period in just a few months, Kieran. Thanks for that from Delhi, we will chat to you throughout the evening. We will have more on the Craig Thomson matter in a moment. Let's recap the day's headlines from Jacinta at the Sky News centre. To Indonesia where Tony Abbott is expected to promise a know-surprised approach with the coalition's dealings with the country when he met with Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in Jakarta today. He's in the country with a number of senior coalition MPs to discuss among other things ways to to kpat people smuggling, he remains unwavering in his commitment to turn back the boats despite opposition from the Indonesian Foreign Minister. The coalition has a policy approach which would ensure that the boats are stopped full stop. It's true, tried and tested. It's worked in the past. No reason why it can't work again in the future.Over the weekend more than 300 asylum seekers arrived in Australian waters on four separate boats.A man will be sentenced later this week after pleading guilty to charges relating to last month's violent protest in central Sydney. Cameron Price filed this report from Sydney downing Centre Court. In the weeks after the violent protests in Sydney last month police used media footage and public tip-offs to track down those responsible. The first of those appearing in court today, Benjamin Homam pleading guilty to affray and resisting arrest. His defence says he was caught up in the emotion of the protest and sorry for his actions, Omar Halaby pleading guilty to malicious damage smashing the windscreen of a police car. He has offered to pay police $500. Abdullah Traljesic, pleaded not guilty to riot related charges, lawyers for the two men said they were not responsible. Sky News, Sydney. Three people have been killed in a single car accident in WA's southwest. The crash happened 175 kilometres south of Perth. Volunteer fire cruise are still at the scene, a rescue helicopter was dispatched to the accident, after turned around when am blas ambulance officers confirmed all three of the vehicle's okay pabts have died. The Pakistani school girl shot by the Taliban has been sent to the UK for medical treatment. Hundreds of thousands took to the street of car rarky Holding a candlelight vigil for the child activist. Calling for greater education for girls. The shooting has been denounced worldwide. Vass sint that, we're going into federal court action filed by Craig Thomson by fair work, this is the opposition's response. Detailing chapter and verse the find thags were initially in the Fair Work Australia investigation, plus some more.That's a very important fact, given that Mr Thompson has sought to discredit the fair work investigation, and claiming that it had been discredited. In fact there are now even more allegations against Mr Thompson than were in the original investigation.The Labor Party needs to do two things, one, they've got to ensure that no support, no extra support is given to Mr Thompson in relation to this matter. We know that they funded his lawyers in the past, they've got to rule that out, ensure that no support is being provided to Mr Thompson with Labor Party members' funds. The second thing that Labor need to do is to, with the Greens, agree to the release of the treasure troof of documents that sits in the Senate secretariat as we spoke. We as a coalition have tried to get the release of those documents by the Senate only to have it voted down by the Green ALP majority in the Senate. What are those? They're the documentation, six, seven volumes of documentation which under pins the Fair Work Act investigation. Fair Work Australia provided those documents to the Senate secretariat at the same time they provided the report into the investigation. Those documents have been sitting there for some time. The coalition has been through them, and if I might say Senator Wells has done an exceptionally good job in doing through those documents. We're not allowed to say anything in relation to those documents, because they haven't been released by the Senate. Can I also say that Senator Michael Ronaldson would normally be with me at such an interview, he is, as we spoke in Senate estimatesIn civil matters, is there a presumption of innocence in civil matters? The presumption of innocence usually provides to matters criminal. What I would also invite Fair Work Australia to do is to fully corporate with the ongoing police investigations that are taking place as we speak into Mr Thompson.Senator, what do you think of Craig Thomson's statements this afternoon saying that he felt fair work had clearly been pressured into responding to these charges? After four long years one can hardly claim that Fair Work Australia have been pressured into doing anything in relation to this matter, and indeed the fact that since their initial investigation Fair Work Australia have agreed that there are now even more matters worthy of prosecution in his case, is indicative that there was just a wealth of information that Fair Work Australia has now finally come to grips with, and we have now had the proceedings filed in the courts. Senator under the constitution...Eric Abetz Senator in the opposition, if you want to keep watching that press multi view. On PM Agenda, a quick break, we will be right back.

This is PM Agenda, thanks for being with us today. Julia Gillard is in ind yachlt her first visit there as Prime Minister. The Government is hoping to make progress in talks towards a save guards protocol which would enable the export of uranium to - no when when they draft something we will have a look at it it. The right place for that work to be done is the joint standing committee on treaties which analyses international agreements, the treaties committee can't get to work until there is an treaty on the table, India is a nuclear weapons state, it's in the midst of nuclear armed Pakistan, a volatile situation to be interjecting the interests of the Australian uranium sector. The point is you haven't seen the save guards protocol. You don't know what the Government is going to negotiate with India. They argue it will largely be similar protections to what we would get from the nonpro life racial treaty. Which hasn't prevented the nonpro life racial of uranium. I struggle to work out what safeguards provision would pass that would prevent Australian uranium going into poorly manufactured Indian plants sitting in a tsunami prone coast, it happened in # 004 when people were killed when a tsunami flattened Nadu. How is the safeguards procedure going to prevent, the officials say we need to lock in sources of uranium for civil nuclear power so domestic uranium sources go into nuclear weapons. How is a safeguard agreement going to manage that kind of displacement where we sell them uranium for fuel, they use their own uranium for weapons. I'm profoundly opposed to the expansion of the nuclear industry anywhere. You have hundreds of millions of people without regular suppliers of electricity. That is poverty. Absolutely. Why shouldn't we be playing our role to help that? This is a catastrophic in providing energy. Nuclear power stations are the most profoundly expensive and unsafe way of generating electrical current we have come up with. They can be clean, in terms of the impact on climate change. Staying with India, though, around the Power plant which is in rack is Stan, you have 15 years of longitudinal health studies any nuclear power plant no matter how regulated and well run laechs a certain number of gases into the air, Tridium neek clear water, they have increases in cancer, childhood mortality, in mutations, all sorts of other exotic diseases, these are not plants you would want to live next to. There are tens of thousands of people dominating in Nadu at the moment. I wish the Prime Minister would visit and see the reality. You wonder why some people look at the Greens and say this is hypocritical when you want low emissions technologies to be pursued, this country needs to pursue development. That this is a lower emissions technology. These plants just burn money. Can you imagine if the Prime Minister had rocked up in Delhi announced a major new collaboration between Australia and the Indian renewable energy tech deployment sector? That is something the whole country can get behind. The Indian have a vibrant and renewable energy sector more appropriate in a village scale that people need electricity for, as well as good solar resources in the west. It won't provide the base of the Power? It will, they're built solar plants in Spain to run around the clock. I can't understand why we're not building them in Australia. We will get there. That will be a big campaign for us. As far as the Indian context is concerned they have an abundance of renewable energy resources. You can build some of these solar plants that can run 24/7 for much less than the price of building a nuclear plant. Senator Ludlum, we appreciate your time. Thanks very much. While Julia Gillard is in India, Tony Abbott is in Indonesia. To enhance the relations with our northern neighbour, including a closer relationship in encouraging development across that vast archipelago. I spoke to an export in the field of development, an aid, Professor Stephen house, from the ANU, co-author of the Government's review into aids, one of the eminent experts on aid and development in Australia. Well, of course Australia engages very heavily with Indonesia on development issues at the moment. Indonesia has become the largest recipient of aid or development assistance from Australia. And it's been a massive increase over the last 10 years, 10 years ago we gave just over 100 million a year to Indonesia in aid, now it is over $500 million. It has grown rapidly. It is a huge program. Aid is only one part of the broader development agenda. I'm sure there are a range of other areas where we would engage more meaningfully with Indonesia, and one of those that comes to mind is in relation to the G20, now the premiere economic policy-making body for the world. Australia, Indonesia are both members of the G20 club. We have a lot of interests in common. I'm sure by working together we'd be able to help push the G20 agenda that's favourable to both koub trees. Tony Abbott refers in this speech to Indonesia's challenge of managing the daunting developmental challenges across its vast archipelago. One of the things I've noticed in the US presidential race is Mitt Romney talking about making aid more commercial, helping boost productivity in a sustainable basis. Is that something that you think a future Australian Government could do more effectively is to encourage the aid, not just to be handouts, so to speak, to Foster that economic productivity on a sustainable footing? I think the aid program already has that is as an objective. Everyone knows that development is not only about better health and education outcomes, it is also about higher incomes. For example, one of the largest programs now or projects within the overall Indonesia program is a large road, maintenance program. You know with better roads comes better connectivity. I think what he might be referring to, what I know his shadow Foreign Minister is very keen on is actually involving the private sector more in the delivery of aid. So traditionally aid is seen in the range of governments or nongovernment organisations. Increasingly with micro finance and the spread of mining companies becoming more important as a result of the resources boom the development worlt increasingly is looking to the private sector, looking to see what the Government could do to help Catalyse delivering outcome with aid support. The whole issue of public/private partnership is one I know the shadow Foreign Minister is talking about, it hasn't been taken very far from the Australian aid program. It's the sort of thing you would expect to see emphasised by the coalition side of politics. I know in Indonesia there is also the issue of donor crowding where a number of countries are now contributing through developmental funding to Indonesia. Is it important to Australia, given Indonesia's importance to us as such a close neighbour and strategically important country, that Australia keeps its profile very high there in terms of its aid contribution? Look, I have no doubt that the aid program is a big plus for the relationship. I know some people argue that it takes up too much attention, it's a distraction, and it's an unequal relationship. But when you talk to people who are actually involved in the delivery of aid, or in the broader foreign policy establishment, in fact Australia is one. Bigger donors in Indonesia, the second biggest, often referred to as the donor of choice. Australia seems a pragmatic donor, we respond to requests from the Indonesian government. We don't try to dictate the a gend A you see the Indonesian government increasingly turn to Australia on a whole range of domestic policy issues, whether it's how can we improve our tax collection, improve the social safety net, they're looking for Australia to provide not only funds but expertise. So I think that does build a lot of goodwill which in a pretty difficult relationship, which has a number of issues on which views differ on either side, I think, you know, well, the aid program does have its contentious issues from time to time. Overall the fact that such is such a big donor in Indonesia, also a very pragmatic, helpful donor, I think that's a huge plus for the aid program. Frankly, I'd expect to see that grow rather than diminish under a coalition government. It's been critical of the aid program for spreading itself too thinly around the world. Again the shadow fin ster for Foreign Affairs needs to focus on our own backyard. When you think about what it means forever the aid program it's going to be an aid program with perhaps less focus on Africa, morpho cussed on Southeast Asia and Pacific which will be good for Indonesia. As one of the authors of the Government's review into aid, are you comfortable with that redirection, the message you're hearing from the coalition? I think it's a balancing act. You have to recognise, you know, there are two forces that push you in different directions. If you look at where the poorest people are, you can't ignore Africa, they have about half a billion very poor people there, but if you look at where can we make a difference? That makes you look in the backyard. You know in Africa we're always going to be a very small donor, in southeast Asia and the Pacific, we're either going to be the most important or second most important donors. It's a matter of getting the balance right. What we suggested in Africa we should operate with a light touch, largely through other organisations with an established presence, whereas in countries like Indonesia we have the depth of knowledge, the scale of commitment, and the long-term presence to really make a difference and to take a lead with our own interventions, our own projects, so I think we are going to stay as a global aid program, but we have become spread too thinly, so to that extent I agree with what the opposition is saying, and I think some rebalancing, refocus of effort towards our own neighbourhood, obviously it's good for our neighbourhood, I think it will be good for the aid program. It will help us consolidate and avoid the sort of management overload or kind of fragmentation that you can get if you spread yourself too thin that. Can lead to ineffective aid. Professor Stephen Hosu, thank you for your time on PM Agenda, much appreciated. You're welcome. From the Crawford School of Economics at the Australian national university. A quick break, when we return Peter Lewis with the weekly essential media poll, the panel Bruce Hawker and Graham Morrison and crossing to Washington, David Speers has a feature interview for us. Stay with us.

This is PM Agenda, thanks for being with us this morning. Coming up Peter Lewis from essential media with the weekly poll, Bruce Hawker, Graham Morris, first let's check the latest news headlines with with Jacinta Tynan in the Sky News centre. Fair Work Australia has commenced proceedings in the Federal court against Craig Thomson. According to a statement issued by FWA the claim is largely based on the findings of its extensive investigation into the national office of the Health Services Union. The claim includes 37 breaches of general duties, 25 alleged breaches of union rules. Prime Minister Julia Gillard has surprised Australian troops with a secret trip to Afghanistan, the Prime Minister met with military commanders and thanked soldiers for their hard work in the wore torn country, she said president Karzai who assured her the planned handover of power in 2014 is on track. Tony Abbott is set to meet with Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in Jakarta. On the subject of asylum seekers Mr Abbot remained determined to fulfil his commitment to turn back the boat despite opposition from the Indonesian Foreign Minister, 300 asylum seekers arrived in Australian waters on four separate boats. A young man charged over last night's violent Islamic protests in Sydney CBD has pleaded guilty, 23 year-old Benjamin Homan apologised to the community and police on charges of affray and resisting arrest. September violence was sparked by an ante Islamic film which triggered riots across the world. The Pakistani school girl shot by the Taliban is on her way to the US for medical treatment. The shooting has been denounced worldwide, offering 100000 for the capture of her attackers. The Roosters horror NRL series has claimed another victim with CEO Noyse sacked. Brian Smith was shown to door after the Roosters failed to make the finals. A cool change in the south, warm in the east.This is PM Agenda. To kick off, chat to our panel in a moment, beforehand to Peter Lewis from essential media. Peter, interesting numbers in your poll this week let's look at the primary vote, Labor primary vote down in a month in which we saw a steady climb. We have had s them increasing 1% a week, down to 36%, this is still within the margin of error, coalition stable on 47, Greens 9%, independents 8% that washes out the two party preferred steady at 53-47 to the coalition. The number I'm most interested in today Peter is the personal ratings for the Prime Minister and the opposition leader, both of them up, for both males and females. Interesting given the week we have had. An interesting story, counter intuitive mainly, the Prime Minister has had a real recovery in her personal approval rating up 6 points 35 to 41 disapproval down three, a nine point turn around. Interesting here that the big shift has been in men who have increased their support by 9%, disapproval down 6%. That is very interesting. I suppose it looks like the base has been, well, if anything the base has been em boldened on the preferred Prime Minister rating Julia Gillard is in front on that? Correct, preferred Prime Minister Julia Gillard up 43% to 36%, that's her best position in well over 12 months. Again the male vote here split 40-40 between the Prime Minister and the opposition leader with females at 47%, 33% in favour of Julia Gillard so a big difference in the gender vote on preferred Prime Minister.And Peter, just finally, on the US presidential race, no surprise there. No, look we always say that the centre line in Australian politics is a little bit to the left of that in America. These numbers really bare that out. Barack Obama has got the support of 63% of Australian voters, Mitt Romney just 9%, lucky for mit we don't get a vote come election time. It is indeed. Peter Lewis from Essential thanks. To our panel, Graham Morris former Chief of staff from John Howard, from Barton daek son, and we have Labor strategist Bruce Hawker from campaigns and communications, Bruce, good to see you, the Craig Thomson matter, no criminal charges immanent out of the Fair Work Australia action in the Federal court. As this is pursued, regardless of Which Avenue the stench continues for the Government? WhyYes, look it's not good news for the Government, hasn't been at all ever since this story came to light. It's going to continue to be in the spotlight, I guess it got a little bit more worrying for the Government because there will now be a court case. That means there is going to be a lot of costs associated which Thompson is going to bear himself. The big question is when those sorts of expenses start being carried by him. I suspect it had been a hill way down the line yet. The HSU is also looking to take action. This is a story which is not welcome for the Government. They just need to push on through it. He's no longer a member of the government, an independent. Of course the Government does depend on his vote for survival in the parliament.Indeed it does. Graham Morris, this comes despite that negative assessment by KPMG its audit of the Fair Work Australia investigation? Look, we will see if we can stay out of trouble here. Look, as I understand it Craig Thomson the max numb penalty would be about $200000 if everything was proved, plus pay back any amount of money that is owing to the trade union that has been misused. Now, that is a lot for one individual to carry. It will be interesting to see if the Prime Minister insists that no Labor Party official bank rolls this.The way that the Prime Minister is going on these sort of things with her judgment she probably thinks it's not a bad idea for former colleagues of hers, or at least anybody, to get a trade union credit card, and pop into a brothel, and have a cup of tea.Look, her judgment on these sorts of things has been awful. We saw last week with Peter Slipper the same sort of thing, where women are on the wrong side of an argument and the Prime Minister getting it wrong. I walked past the Prime Minister's office during all of this debate. There was this awful awful smell coming from her office. I asked a lot of people, Nicola rockson, Tanya pleb second what was that smell. They said "mate, Graham, that's what hip crassy smaels like" that's ha they would have said had they been there. The Prime Minister is getting herself into an awful pickle of judgment on these things, she has to come out and say "Labor will not fund this man any more". It would be likely that Labor would say that? It is absurd to suggestion that she would condone that activity going into brothels for a cup of tea as Graham says, if that were to be established by an inquiry by any court case. That is yet another incidence of over reaching on the part of the opposition on this issue. It's not what her position would be at all. On the other issue, though, I think it would be very difficult for people within the Labor Party to be providing substantial financial support for Craig Thomson just because of the notoriety that it would attract, I think that's where the difficulty potentially lies for him in this latest stage in the court proceedings, because now expenses will start to flow to him. I think it is hard to move, but for Evans sake let's not start prejudging this or blame the Prime Minister for any of this stuff. We're going back to the events we saw a week or two ago. That doesn't do credit for anyone. Do you accept that's over reached, Bruce said his assessment. How can you say the Prime Minister condones it, that sort of behaviour, it's a bit rich? She put up with Craig Thomson for several years knowing a lot of this stuff, she tut tutted. An allegation, where is due process in it all? Yes, for a long time there she supported him. Then she decided it wasn't in her political interest, then she shifted him side ways. We should explain for the viewers why this cost thing is important. Anyone who is charged with an offence and convicted of something with more than a year's gaol cannot sit in the parliament, but nor can anyone who is bankrupt, they can't sit in the parliament. This court case starts on December 7th, December 7th, a very important day. We will just see who is going to pay for what, what are the charges actually are. Let's move on, the essential poll, Bruce Hawker what did you make of it? Those approval ratings were interesting, particularly the rise in support forever the Prime Minister and the opposition leader on both among males and females? I thought it was a curious result to be frank with you. I think it is good that her support amongst males has increased. It's a little bit counter intuitive, you would expect amongst men of a certain age, around about Graham's age, for example, there would be less enthusiasm for the Prime Minister and the position she took last week than amongst younger men and certainly amongst all women. It is curious, interesting and good news. It shows her personal appeal continues to increase and it's higher than that of Tony Abbott. Having said that, you know, the polls are still bad for Labor frankly. We need to have a number with a four in front of it before we can feel comfortable about the election election. We have a way to go there, but this is a better result than we have seen in recent times, so Labor will take that any day, but not build too much expectation around it just yet. Graham, what do you think of the poll? Bruce's response to it, what do you make of it? What impact will the gender wars have, do you think, the events of the last week, given what we have seen a bit of a disconnect between the general analysis out of the press gallery, the mainstream media and, you know, the online reaction? You know, some people were saying "hey, look at the overseas reaction to the Prime Minister's speech." I'm sure the Prime Minister is very very big in vens wail la, it's Brisbane, Sydney Melbourne and Perth where she has a problem. If you had a look at the speech last week people overseas saw the speech, she said "oh yeah, strong speech." What was it about? She was defending a man in the sexism debate, who was very flamboyant in his description of female bodily parts. You think, oh PM don't do it. All of a sudden we had always of these Labor women running around defending the Prime Minister's stance, it was awful bloody hip crassy. We have seen the numbers in this essential poll what do you make among men the approval is up? It was a pole rarising speech, a polar rising speech. At the end of it I looked back and thought which profession, which workplace is better than many, when it comes to sexism? The press gallery in parliament house, the staff in parliament house and the parliamentary system itself, the politicians, you know, people are normally treated as equals. I think we have to be a fraction careful here that the Prime Minister's little campaign and some of her hen much Wimbledon doesn't end up demeaning women we go the other way, instead of treating everyone as equal someone cops abuse, we put people on a pricey little pedestal again. That's not what everyone wants. This building is build around parliamentarians, staffers who are all equal. Bruce, I want to ask you as well, you can respond to that. I will ask you about the point that Graham made it was polar ising. It has been pole rarised on gender lines, improvement for Julia Gillard among men and Tony Abbott among men. The same with be said for female voters. It is curious, it doesn't ring quite true to me. Having said that I think it was a very strong speech delivered probably on behalf of the wrong person, so, I think she took Tony Abbott to task. Of course there was the issue of Slipper and what he had done in his texting with Ashby, so that's always going to be a problem area. I think we're all better off being past it now and getting into other areas. I don't think that last week was the greatest week for anyone. Certainly wasn't a great week for Tony Abbott. I do think that we are better off moving past that. In response to the points that Graham makes, I don't think there is any suggestion that women in the parliament are anything other than very robust members of the parliament. They are copping a fair whack from time to time and they're giving as good as they get. I don't think we need worry about the thing getting too politically correct at all. I don't think that is ever going to be a problem in our parliament. I think we could do a lot to lift the standards frankly, but I don't think that is going to happen when we have the sort of opposition we have at the moment which is going for the jugular at every opportunity. Just finally on the overseas visits, this is going to dominate our coverage over the next few days, Bruce, a couple of minutes left, quickly your thoughts the flm India, that is a relationship over looked for too long? I think so, you look at the opportunities for Australia in India trade wise it is fantastic. We have shared parliamentary and cultural traditions that go back to the colonial days, we have sporting Links, we have a lot of things that make India a very solid place for us to be doing business. Of course it is one of the Tigers of Asia, so it's high time we were in there and working harder to get a really strong trade relationship with them. I wish her all the luck in that. Tony Abbott is in Indonesia, Graham, promising no surprisew that relationship, that doesn't necessarily mean that Indonesia is going to like everything he has to say, particularly on turning back boats? I think that is true. He's quite entitled to say if I win this election this is what I'm going to do, he ought to do it face-to-face, in fact both of our leaders are the doing the right thing this week in what they are trying to do off shore on behalf of the country. I hope they get it right. Thanks for that, I appreciate it. We will take a quick break, when we get back dafld Speers has filed a feature story for us from Washington DC as he covers the presidential race.

Welcome back to PM Agenda. The US president Barack Obama and rerm Governor Mitt Romney are both in lockdown preparing for the second presidential debate due lunchtime this Wednesday. David Speers is in Washington covering the presidential race. He's filed this report including an interview with a respected electoral analyst.In a sign of just how important campaign debates are in US politics both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have taken time out from the actual campaigning over the last few days to prepare for their second debate. The first debate was comprehensively won by Mitt Romney, engine joig a big bounce in support in the polls since then and in the state-based polls, in the key swing states, Ohio, Florida and Virginia. Barack Obama over the weekend has been at a golf resort in Virginia, doing debate prep with John Carey who ran for president helping him posing as an opponent Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney has been in the swing state oh highy with Senator rob Port man helping him out to build on the momentum he has enjoyed. The pressure is on president Obama. His senior a advisors are saying he will be more aggressive, coming out swipging, taking the fight to Mitt Romney far more. Whilst the polls have shown an prument improvement for Mitt Romney there was a poll out of those who cast their votes already, pre-poll and post kal voters, 39 to 51 for Barack Obama. It's becoming increasingly popular to vote earlier in politics. I spoke to a leading electoral analyst about this, also about how the election system works here. It is foreign to many of us in Australia. To work out how the system of electoral colleague votes produces a president in the end. Where does the system come from, John fort from the bipartisan policy centre explains. The electoral colleagues one of the two differences in our two systems, explain to us how it came into being, whether it actually works? First you have to understand we really don't have one nation election, we have 51 different elections in the states and district of Colombia. Each state comes up with its own election results assigning the votes to lek tors based on population. It came about partly because our system was a state based system. There were concerns of the small states wanting to be represented better than the large states, it was a kprom mice, we felt like we dont hold a national election. Today we have an election which potentially could have the popular vote go in one direction and the electoral or college street go in the other direction like we saw in 2000It is popular for Mitt Romney or Barack Obama to win the popular election. Is it likely to happen to one than the other? When George Bush lost the popular vote winning the college vote the speculation was in the other direction. A number of close swing states end up in one candidate's camp, the votes are wracked up in the not so close states by the other. It is close to tell. It is likely we will have that scenario than a close election less than 1% in the popular vote as we had in 2000. There is a move to change this system to better reflect the popular vote. 60 or 60% of the people are not happy with the system. Nor the most time we always thought we could amend the constitution to change it, majorities in the state and national legislature. There is a movement trying to do it through the back door, with each state agreeing that its electricitiors will go to the winner of the national popular votes. If enough states agree to do that we could have a not a formal change but informally to elect the vote winner. A number of states have past it. It becomes more difficult to get to that number of majority lek tors, easier than the old route but not there. I want to ask you about early voting, it has become more popular here, postal and going to the polling station to vote before election day. You said as many as 40% could could vote earlier y in this election. That's a big number. What impact does that have on the campaign. We have had a very big change in America, if you looked at America 1980 you would have seen 5% of people voted by mail, close to 40% will vote that way by mail. Oregon and Washington state have 100% of people vote by mail. It doesn't show an increase in turnout, that more people would vote as it becomes easier. It effects the way that campaigns operate, getting to voters earlier, not run the negative messages in the same way they did. Difficult for pollsters to work it out. It changed our system state by state in a quiet way this reform has snuck up on us. Finally the political system it's been commentary it's become more polar rised and aggressive. We used to watch on from Australia, seeing same parties arguing with each other, different issues, is that going to be happening less and less? We have a system people are elected individually, they can go back to the district and get elected even if the party don't like them. We are not quite like a parliamentary system where there is great discipline. We have moved to a different system parties with different ideological views, it is strongly in the interests of members of congress to stay with their team and not work with the other party. Our system is one where we have two teams, Farah part, without very much people in the middle to broker deals. U ksz s s politics, becomes more partisan during campaign season, every four years. The second debate by the way is taking place two days from now, it will be Wednesday lunchtime Australian time, thanking place in front of a crowd of undecided voters at Long Island New York. You can watch it live and full on Sky News, midday eastern daylight time on Wednesday. David Speers as always will be all over it for us, he'll be reporting right throughout the week, in fact right up to the leadup to the vote in the first week of November. Thanks for your company on PM Agenda, the news is next.

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