Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant the accuracy of closed captions. These are derived automatically from the broadcaster's signal.
Sky News On The Hour 4pm -

View in ParlView

(generated from captions) For a brief moment, politics was set aside.The fish decided that it had had enough!I would like to turn on sky and listen to you knowledgeably commentating. Delivering unrivalled live coverage, this is Sky News. This program will be captioned live by Ai-Media

This is PM Agenda. Hello and welcome to the program. Today another chapter in the HSU scandal with Michael Williamson facing another 28 charges. The controversy once again spilled over into Parliament and featured during Question Time. I will have reaction from Eric Abetz and the cabinet minister Stephen Smith. I will be discussing with the Defence Minister the latest Afghanistan update. Also on the program, my panel of journalists today and they will also be checking in with David Speers in Washington on the latest on the storm and its impact on the presidential race. Tracey Spicer is standing by and the Sky News headline. Millions of Americans are without power or public transport after superstorm Sandy taught through the eastern United States. Many people have been killed by a crushed by falling trees. Many areas of New Jersey are flooded. President Obama has declared a major disaster in two states and said that the crisis is not over yet. Sandy is heading towards eastern Canada. The streets of New York always look like movie set but what they are going through now is a real-life disaster story. The images are surreal. They were warned that stamp -- Sandy was a storm of record proportions but no one expected this. Much of the city is under water. It has been devastating and deadly. Wherever you look, there are signs that the world has been turned upside down, even some of Manhattan's links to the outside world, were blocked. This is the battery I learnt -- battery Island link. Rescuers were fighting fire through water, just one of the countless challenges for emergency services. By morning, it was hard to believe that any houses stood there at all. Elsewhere, floodwater did this to an electrical transformer.What the hell is this?Something just exploded. And one of the iconic images of Sandy a crane continues to dangle precariously over the streets below from a luxury apartment block. Much of the city is without power. The subway system has suffered the worst damage in its 100 year history. Even the bits that are not flooded passing trains go nowhere. Mass transit remains at a standstill.In addition to the lives that we have lost, he damage across the city has been extensive and it will not be repaired overnight. The two biggest challenges facing the city is getting a mass transit system back up and running and restoring power. It was not just you -- New York. It impacted thousands of coastal areas, particularly in user -- New Jersey. This crew filmed from inside a building. Police told them to leave and there was little left afterwards. In point president, more devastation. This is where the storm came to shore. This is what happens when a hurricane and meets an icy cold front. One week away from a critical presidential election, Sandy's impact is being felt. The candidates have called off campaigning but not be totally -- not the photo Ops. Mitt Romney was photographed handing out supplies, President Obama was being regal.We will do anything that we can to get supplies to you and we will make sure that any need is being responded to. I have told the mayors and be governors that they can call me personally at the White House.He will head to New Jersey to see the damage and meet those affected. Sandy has thrown everything at them, a storm which no American can remember seeing and they would happily never see again. Foreign Minister Bob Carr has spoken, saying no Australians are among the casualties. He has announced that the government has offered any assistance to the United States with the enormous clean-up.There were no reports of Australians in terms of lost of life, injury or anything else. This is fantastic event the combination of the hurricane and the cold front. The flooding of Manhattan and the power outages I am enormously relieved that there are no Australian casualties and no reports of Australian is being seriously injured or going astray. We have offered assistance to the US for clean-up. We have approached them overnight and offered a string help. We are experts at cleaning up after bushfires, floods and storms and we are ready to put our expertise at the service of our American friends.Michael Williamson, the former ALPA president, has been hit with another 28 charges in relation to his time as head of the Health Services Union. The Opposition claims that it is Julia Gillard's problem. It was Michael Williamson's first appearance in court and detectives came with a surprise. Detectives today laid an additional 28 charges against Mr Williamson. 27 charges of fraud, involving up to $600,000 worth of funds. The other was alleged money- laundering of $400,000, bringing to 48 the total number of criminal charges now levelled against him. They carry potential jail terms of up to 15 years and there could be more to come.The investigation will continue.I do believe that there will be additional charges laid against this accused and at least two others. The Opposition says that the former ALPA president helped garner support for Julia Gillard at the 2010 true.The Prime Minister cannot escape from the fact that she is linked to Michael Williamson and they go together like carrots and peace and fish and scales.She cannot have been expected to know what he was up to, this is just then taking advantage of the situation.I have them in the Labor Party for 20 years and I have never seen Michael Williamson in the Caucus.Another union, the CFM EU is facing claims that a charity set up for drug and alcohol rehabilitation directed up to $1 million for unspecified union activities, described as safety initiatives.Union bosses are acting like warlords over these fiefdoms and using the funds of union members for their own personal purposes.The union to mass outright -- denies outright any mishandling of funds. The Victorian secretary of the construction union has declared that a speech by Tony Abbott falsely proclaimed him as an industrial bug. He made the allegations in the Supreme Court of Victoria. The case focuses on a speech by Tony Abbott made in February this year. John says that the speech gravely injured his credibility and reputation. He says that the Opposition leader has accused him of visiting the homes of union members in a bid to intimidate them. They told the court that parts of Mr Abbott's defence should be struck out, saying that he had not tried to substantiate the remarks in his speech. Mr Abbott is fighting the claim by arguing that the statements are true. He says that he has a history of threatening behaviour going back two decades as well as convictions for contempt of court. Mr Abbott's lawyer

: The judge, David Beach, has reserved his decision.

We now go back to Canberra. Thanks very much. After the break, Stephen Smith and Senator Eric Abetz.

This is PM Agenda, thanks for being with us. 28 extra charges were laid against the former a LP president, former HSU President Michael Williamson. As they have done for - - done before, the Coalition tried to link the Prime Minister with this ongoing scandal including during Question Time today.I remind the Prime Minister that Michael Williamson has been charged with fraudulently misappropriating $600,000 in funds collected from low paid union members. And the Prime Minister praise -- place any provisions in the Fair Work Act to enable the return of funds stolen by corrupt officials, if not, why not?They are the same terms that you supported, so it would seem to me for him to be suddenly opposed to them when he supported them every day in government. Since then, of course, and in light of recent issues, the Minister for workplace relations has brought into the Parliament and the Parliament has passed new laws for registered organisations, particularly relating to transparency.Also in the Parliament earlier in the day, the part -- Prime Minister gave the update on the planned transition in Afghanistan. I spoke to Defence Minister Stephen Smith about that. I asked him about the latest in the William is a matter burst. -- Williamson matter. Thanks for your time, before we get onto the Afghanistan statement, I want to ask you about the extra 28 charges that have been laid against the former president of the ALP, Michael Williamson. For the broader Labor movement, for Labour specifically, this is not a good look, is it?He has been charged with additional offences by the police. It is entirely a matter for the police and the criminal justice system. It wouldn't be appropriate for me to make any remarks other than that.Christopher Pyne says the Prime Minister has to accept that she is linked to Michael Williamson, but they are like carrots and peas, he said today, as the former ALP president.He would say that, wouldn't he? We have seen them engaged in abuse and muckraking, we have a paucity of policy from them and an abundance of negativity. But the reality is the person has been charged and we should let the process proceed. Julia Gillard relied on Michael Williamson's support in the coup that brought down Kevin Rudd and there were MPs that supported in... I have been a member of the Parliamentary party for two decades and I have never seen Michael Williamson in the caucus. The caucus elected the Prime Minister unanimously and then by a healthy margin and I did not seek Michael Williamson in the caucus on any of those occasions. It is spurious and it has no merit. Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party continue to be negative in the extreme, muckraking in the extreme and they have no policy. At the beginning of this week, the Prime Minister launched our White Paper on the Asia-Pacific century, which sets out a pathway for Australia's economic prosperity and for our secure future. We have not heard one word from Tony Abbott or the Liberals on that issue in Parliament this week. We have seen plenty of negativity and muckraking, but nothing about policy or the future of the Australian people. Onto the Afghan statement, the Prime Minister signalled that more troops might be necessary during the extraction and repatriation of our troops. How many more are we talking about?We are just starting to do planning work on that, not so much troops per se, but, engineers and logistics and the like. They are members of the ADF, so they are military.But they are not combat troops?They are not combat, it is not combat advice, it is a doubt planning the extraction and we have an enormous amount of kit and equipment there. Some can sensibly be removed by C17s or C130s, but Afghanistan is landlocked and we will be very reliant on the lines of medication. She made the point that just because we are in a transition process and you can make a distinction between 700 odd personnel being in this task force and three or file -- three or 400 advisory personnel, there will be ups and downs and we need to take it step by step and understand that because it -- transition is on track, but it is a big logistical process.The Prime Minister also said it is likely to be a testing period. That the Taliban is likely to test local forces. By talking about that and the issues that the ADF are likely to face, which he says will be testing times, are we likely to expect more casualties? The Prime Minister has always said in the future we must steel ourselves for more casualties, more wounded diggers and more fatalities, but as we affect this transition to Afghan lead responsibility, then the risks change and become different. So we have one Afghan Battalion operating independently. By the end of the year, we expect all four to operate independently, so that sees the bulk of our training personnel returned to our base at Tarin Kowt. Of course, we have still got special forces in the field and why we will have an advisory role, we will still have combat ready. If there is a ripper -- requirement or until transition is affected. This should be over the next 12 to 15 months, but transition in Afghanistan per se should be by the end of December 2014.And with the special forces you refer to that will continue for how long?We envisage that the special forces operations and presents will continue until transition in Afghanistan generally, so until the end of 2014. And we have made it clear that post 2014 with a proper mandate and in the right circumstances, we will beat prepared to consider -- we will be prepared to consider an ongoing special forces opposition, either for training or counterterrorism work or both. And we have also said we will continue to be available for some high-end training, like artillery or officer training. I am not proposing to identify the number of special forces there will potentially into the future, I would not do that for operational reasons, but we have made it clear about the important contribution that special forces make. We are the 10th largest contributor, the largest non-NATO country bitter and also the third-largest special forces country bitter -- non-NATO contributor.Are you talking two, three, five years, how long will they be there for?The plan is only just commenced. You might recall when I was in Brussels recently... Do you have a sense?In the very early stages of planning, we made the point that the committee had to start detailed planning and we made it clear that under an appropriate mandate, we would give consideration to an ongoing special forces contribution. How long that might be, if at all because it is not guaranteed or certain, how long it might be will depend on the mandate and the ongoing circumstances.Well, let's move on if I can. We will finish off on a subject of not as greater importance, that is for sure, but one of your top -- colleagues Doug Cameron spoke to the media and said he felt ambushed by the Prime Minister in yesterday's caucus when she implied that he might have lit a story to the Telegraph and said that everyone needed to be disciplined in the caucus. What would you say to Senator Cameron on that?He is a big boy and he can look after himself. I don't talk about what occurs in caucus, but let me talk about a couple of general points. If you make comment or ask a question in caucus, it is the Labor Party and you have to expect from time to time that you will get a well-deserved, robust response. That is the first point. Secondly, a general point has been made about caucus reports or caucus materials, which never impresses colleagues if you read about a caucus report in the newspaper before you receive a copy of the report in the mail. And often these points are made robustly, Doug is a big boy and I'm sure he can look after himself.What is the mood light in the Labor Party and the caucus even that things are looking closer in the opinion polls?The mood is looking positive. As you know, from the interviews we have done over a period of time, I have than saying consistently that when we get to October next year, it will be a competition and I think Mr Abbott will be found wanting in terms of the community view on his capacity and judgement. But if you take a line through all the published opinion polls in recent times, they show a trend and that trend is that as we get to the end of the year before the election year, the Labor Party is coming back. And I think that is because the Prime Minister has stuck to her course, stuck to her positive plan, is doing positive things that are important to the nation's future and Mr Abbott has been negative in the extreme and the world didn't end when the carbon pricing mechanism was introduced. And I think the Australian public now understand that they are also looking at him much more closely, with much more scrutiny and he has been found wanting.Defence Minister, thank you for your time. Now for the latest in the local Williamson HSU matter -- Michael Williamson. I spoke to the Opposition Minister Eric Abetz. What we have seen is a very disturbing development with an extra 28 charges being laid against the former national president of the Australian Labor Party and former president of the Health Services Union, Michael Williamson had previously faced a number of charges. We now have an extra 28. I understand that brings a total of 48 charges against him. This is, of course, separate to the 35 civil charges being faced by Craig Thomson. So between them from the Health Services Union alone, two officials are facing 85 judges. These are criminal charges, though. The manager of opposition business, Mr Pyne, says the Prime Minister cannot escape that she is linked to Michael Williamson, but she is only linked to him in the sense that they were a member of the same party. How can the Prime Minister be held responsible for the alleged deeds of someone else?One would assume that the national president of the Australian Labor Party and the leader of the Australian Labor Party, the Parliamentary party, may have had some interaction from time to time, so Michael Williamson was not just an ordinary rank and file member. He was the national president of the Australian Labor Party, he was Labor blueblood, he was Labor royalty...But that still doesn't say that the Prime Minister should know what he does or allegedly does in his day-to-day work.It is hard to imagine that other people within the a LP ALP -- and the trade union boss elite was going on. I understand other people are to be charged, who they will be, I don't know. We will have to see how this case develops. Suffice to say that a scam of the proportion alleged, one would imagine, would have other people involved and implicated in it.But the point that I'm getting at, isn't it a stretch that the Prime Minister is asked to explain why she didn't act to deal with misappropriation of funds when she would not have known?We are talking about a former national president of the Australian Labor Party. One assumes that others may have known.But the Prime Minister, you wouldn't expect that she would know.One would expect there would be interaction between the national president of the organisation and the National Parliamentary leader.But that is still a big stretch to say interaction and then knowing that misdeeds, alleged misdeeds, were taking place.Well, there had been rumours circulating for some time and, of course, we now know that the police are satisfied in relation to those rumours that they have now laid these 40+ charges against Mr Williamson.We have seen reports relating to the CFMEU today, what do you know about this report? And have you been advised of any of the details?The first I heard was late yesterday, the 'Financial Review' would be printing a story this morning, and sure enough, it appeared on the front page indicating another union slush fund being used to siphon money, and when I say slush fund, I should be saying a fund for good reason, for good purposes, namely alcohol and drug rehabilitation, the union using it as a slush fund and diverging funds from it, which has led to people resigning from that particular fund out of concern as to where the money has gone. So what we have seen is the HSU situation, now the CFMEU, we know the Prime Minister still has issues in relation to the Australian Workers' Union scandal from the 90s, we also had the electrical trade union buying a waterside mansion for one of its officials in Sydney and it appears as though every day there is another chapter being published in relation to union slush funds, where the union bosses are acting like warlords over their fight them -- fifedoms and using the funds of members for their own personal purposes and if I was an HSU member today, I would be very concerned that Michael Williamson has now been charged with an extra 28 offences. If I was a member of the CFMEU, I would be most concerned that money is allocated to the rehabilitation of drug and alcohol workers and it is being siphoned off for other purposes. That is only two unions, there are many others. Do you concede that most of them, the vast majority do a good job in representing workers? Overwhelmingly, the unions have played a good and important role within Australia's industrial landscape, so don't get me wrong. But we were promised that when the Craig Thomson issues were first raised that it was just one bad Apple. Now, as the days go by, we see another bad Apple in the HSU with Michael Williamson, we see the CFMEU, the Australian Workers' Union, one wonders what the next delegation will be.Onto the allegation that went through the House of Representatives yesterday on workers entitlements, workers being made redundant and the Commonwealth support for those workers, the Coalition did not support the bill that Bill Shorten put forward. You wanted to cap the redundancy titles to 16 weeks, is that good enough for workers that have been in a job for 20 years, for example?The scheme was initially introduced by the Howard government, so as far as principal goes, we in the Coalition have a very proud record. The Hawke, Keating government led for 13 years and did not put up a scheme such as we did. So what Labour have still to do is increase it further and create a standard, which in fact goes beyond the Fair Work Australia standard by simply legislating that for every year of service, you would get four weeks of redundancy. So if you have been working for, as you say, 20 years, then you would get 80 weeks of redundancy payments. That sets up a huge standard and if that thing becomes an accepted standard within industry, that will act as a disincentive for new employees being taken on. So we have to be careful with the balancing of this.Is 16 weeks appropriate for someone that has been in a job for two decades?In the circumstances, we believe in general terms that, yes, it is and it is in tune with the normal Fair Work Australia standard and that is why we have the proposal as we did when we were in government. What Labour are trying to do now is extended in a way that we are concerned will act as a disincentive to employment and given that unemployment is slowly rising, we don't want to see any more disincentives to employers employing more Australians.Senator, thank you for your time. Time for a quick break. When we return, Lenore Taylor from the 'Sydney Morning Herald' and Mike Kenny. Stay with us.

This is PM Agenda. Coming up is our panel and will also check in with David Speers on the latest on the storm and its impact on the presidential campaign. First, we will check the news headlines with Tracey Spicer. The east coast of America is facing a massive recovery effort after superstorm Sandy tore through more than a dozen states. It has killed more than 40 people in the United States alone and injured hundreds more. Power has been lost across 18 states. Residents are still being pulled from high water. The weather system continues to whip up huge waves in the great Lakes as it travels west and north. New York has been declared a major disaster. In lower Manhattan, the skyline is still blacked out with nearly half the island without power. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have suspended their campaigning to help with the recovery. Michael Williamson had 28 more charges laid against him. They include 27 fraud related charges and one of money- laundering. Earlier, police laid 20 charges including hindering an investigation, by allegedly instructing union members to destroy it documents and computer files. It has been adjourned until January. Mike Baird says that the New South Wales government will not consider billions of cuts to education despite finding out that the Budget is actually in surplus. Massive accounting and data errors led to a $1 billion shortfall. Mike Baird did say that once Federal Government investments are taken out, they are still in deficit. The collar bomb hoax perpetrator has been diagnosed as being in a psychotic state when he entered the family home in Mossman in 2011. The 52-year-old has pleaded guilty to attaching a collar bomb that was a fake to Madeleine Pulver's head. We have been briefed on Afghanistan, saying that we will continue working in the country for the next few years. Julia Gillard says that they are not seeking perfection, just that terrorism will not be able to take root again. Scott Prince will join the Broncos next year. He rejected a deal with Newcastle club Hull in the UK. This is PM Agenda. With me now is Lenore Taylor and Mark Kenny. We have seen the Rudd video, the infamous video of Kevin Rudd and the expletives. The Federal Police I think we can all rest easy and found that there is nowhere to take the case.How often is that the case? These usually never look like getting anywhere. It is a chance to have a look at the video again. We have the bilingual Prime Minister at the time speaking and it was pretty amusing at the time.And it was passing strange. It was edited, he did not say that in succession, they were cut and pasted to put him in the worst possible light. It popped up just as in retrospect it would appear that there was a campaign to draw him out into a leadership challenge earlier than he really wanted to be drawn out. I understand that if the Federal Police really want to they can get information out of YouTube in some circumstances as to how such videos were uploaded. I think the whole thing is a bit curious but we know that the Department of prime minister and Cabinet had an investigation and found nothing and I suppose that is where it rests. It is interesting where this is wrapped up, in the same week as the Maxine McCue book. I have not read the book but there has been wiped noise in the politics of the day. Kevin Rudd saying that we had to be honest about the past that could have been potent at the time. Politicians say that they don't pay attention to the polls but that is not true. If they were not make a neck with the coalition, I think a lot of these would be seen very differently. There is a sense that Julia Gillard is gaining momentum, finding her stride. It is not purely accidental. I think the government has time some announcements right for this final couple of sitting weeks when leadership danger often rises. The River Murray announcement, the Asian White Paper there is a lot of other things to talk about. It seems to be working for them so far. The general point that you make is absurdly right as well. The climate into which these things falls in is really determinative in terms of their impact. Because the polls are looking good to Julia Gillard, because this part of the year, the killing season, where leaders are very vulnerable, with those polls moving in the right direction, it is very difficult to make the eight and that there is need for a change. It looks like the prime minister has dealt for that for the foreseeable future. Doug Cameron said that he felt ambushed by the promised in Caucus yesterday and they do not think there will be much sympathy for Doug but in terms of the broader issue, you would have to say that the prime minister has dealt with this for the pursued the future, at least well into new year.The theory that was around was that if there was going to be a change back to Kevin Rudd, it would need to be this year. He would need to have enough time to rebuild in an election year. Now the Kevin Rudd supporters say that that was never the case. If we want to change leaders, we can do so at any time between now and when the election is called. Some mention the way that Dell Hayden lost the election -- de leadership on the day of the election. But I think that is one of the reasons why this is starting to lose traction, it is just around and around.I don't disagree with that but returning to the point about the polls, if sometime early in the new year Julia Gillard makes a mistake or Tony Abbott comes up with a brand- new strategy or something happens which sees Labor fall back on the polls again, it could very quickly become a live issue again. I do not think we can write it off. As the election approaches, if Labor is in a position where it looks like they have no chance, it will focus them. When I say foreseeable future, I say one or two months!You cannot see very far. And you have mentioned those things they've got going, the Murray Darling and the Asian White Paper but there are some other stories that are running that are not to the government's favour.Another 28 charges for Michael Williamson? Christopher Pyne trying to link the prime minister to it. You do not have to try that hard. He is a former ale P resident.He sat on an industry super fund, has been a big player in the Labor Party over many years and is now charged with $620,000 worth of offences. It is a terrible look for the Labor Party. It means that the Coalition can paint the whole union movement with these various scandals and link that to be Labor Party.It is a terrible look. And another mention in the 'Financial Review' and alleged softening of funds. Every single element of that is gold dust for the Coalition. Certainly the HSU matter.Yes, but it is becoming a little bit of a pastiche. They know that something is rotten in the state of Denmark in terms of all of these issues with the union. The HSU thing stinks although they don't know exactly why, no one knows where the principal is coming from.But don't you think the voters want to hear big visions for the future and that is what the garment is trying to play to?The government's strategy is to paint all of these problems as things of the past, we have dealt with them and they are all over. To some extent they have been successful. They've got the vision for the future as well. But those things will not go away. It is successful in as much as there is no final climax to these crises and when there is, I think they do pack an enormous punch. They do have the risk of bringing a government to its knees.There is one issue that they have neutralised politically, the asylum seekers. It is still a big headache for Labor but the decision of the migration zone, that was introduced to Parliament today. This is a Howard government policy that they opposed so indignantly six years ago, it is a remarkable backflip and turnaround. Now they are embracing it without a murmur.One question the purpose asked -- Caucus asked questions about it. There were more people in the Liberal Party who did.They are so close to the Coalition that they are trying to neutralise it fizzles -- neutralise it.I think that they have blurred the line between the parties. It seems that those on the Labor side abreast of ideas on where to go next. They've rolled back to all of the key ideas of the Howard solution and the Pacific solution and even further except for the one thing in the panel report which was the key element that pulled together, the element that pulled together the punitive reports which was the original processing deal with Malaysia.We have not heard any more about that. But we do not want to get too far about that either.I think at the time it had some potential to act as a disincentive. I do not know if that would be the case now. But you do need to drag these key countries into a regional solution and there is no sign that that is actually going to be achievable. We have only got 1 minute left. I want to get your thoughts with the polls narrowing a bit, there is a trend back to Labor. There are some nerves within the Coalition?I do not know about nerves but there is some questioning of strategy. So some of the focus group people have been saying that the carbon tax is dead. The cost of living as an issue is not dead but the carbon tax is a dead. Going out to a building site and saying how much their power bill has gone up, that is not working and it will work less the more that Labor focuses on all the other things driving power bills up. The COAG meeting in December will be their big phone hourly for the year.The Coalition needs a new narrative and I think people are saying that internally. I think that is correct and it is the flipside of the government situation. When the polls are going up for the government, hits on it seemed to be doing less damage. It's on the Opposition when the polls are looking a bit dodgy also put pressure on. I do not think there is any talk about a leadership change at this point. Not at this point but looking at your strategy, you are 100% right. A quick break and we will be back to check into David Speers in Washington.

Welcome back to PM Agenda and the fallout of super storm standard -- Sandy in the United States, US President Barack Obama has received praise from a political foe for the way he has handled the disaster. David Speers filed this report on the fallout of the storm and its implications just one week out from the election.

Well, Kieran, as you know, this storm has essentially frozen the political campaign here in the United States at least at the candidate level for the last couple of days. Both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney stepping off the campaign trail, focusing on the storm. Particularly for President Obama, who has gone from campaigning mode to leadership mode and rightly so. He has then focused in the White House here in Washington on overseeing the Federal government response to this, making sure that all the support that can be provided is provided to those in need. He did emerge today after those briefings to enter the Red Cross here in Washington, thanking relief workers and delivering this message to the American people.We are going to do everything we can to get resources to you and make sure that any unmet need that is identified, we are responding to it as quickly as possible. I told the mayors and the governors that if they are getting no answers in the Federal government, they can call me personally at the White House. So why he may not -- while he may not be able to get the rallies -- get to the rallies scheduled for him in the final week of the campaign, there is no doubt that these images, this image of the President being the leader won't hurt his campaign. He is able to show authority at a time of crisis. For Mitt Romney, it is a more difficult situation, a more delicate situation. He has not been campaigning today. He did have a big rally planned in Ohio, instead, that was turned into a fund rising -- fund-raising drive, a canned goods drive. People invited to bring food and donate to the storm victims. There were still screens playing campaign messages, but Mitt Romney kept his messages away from attacks on President Obama and only talked about the storm.We have heavy hearts will be suffering going on in a major part of our country. Lots of people hurting this morning, they were hurting last night and the storm goes on. I had the chance to speak with some of the governors in the affected areas and they talk about a lot of people having a hard time.At this stage, Mitt Romney is scheduled to resume campaigning in Florida. President Obama will be visiting some of the devastated parts of New Jersey instead and he will be doing that with Chris Christie, the local governor of New Jersey. This is important because Chris Christie has been a strong critic at -- strong critic of President Obama and a strong ally of Mitt Romney. But he is not only going to be touring these areas of New Jersey tomorrow with the President, but today, he had nothing but praise for Barack Obama and the way he has dealt with the storm. He described the President's efforts as outstanding, wonderful, have a look. The President, himself, has been outstanding so far. We have a great partnership with them. I want to thank the president personally for his personal attention to this. Some Republicans are not entirely comfortable with Governor Christie being so effusive in his praise of resident Obama. But his point is he is not focus on the election at all, he is focused on getting what the people in New Jersey need and some would say, fair enough. And while President Obama and Mitt Romney are not officially campaigning, there is no doubt that what they are doing is done with at least half an eye on the part of the advisers on -- and strategists as to how it is going to impact on this very tight election combat -- contest. What they are both doing isn't going to hurt their campaigns much. There have been criticisms from others in their respective parties as to what the two are doing, but at this stage, you cannot critique President Obama for being the President, for announcing what he is announcing, doing what he is doing and similarly with Mitt Romney, you can't criticise him for holding a fund-raising drive even though some Democrats pointed out it would be better to hold it in an area directly affected by the storm, rather than a battleground state of Ohio. The polls still show it is a very tight contest, neck and neck, so we are yet to see the impact of the storm on the polls, but we will see how it plays out during the course of this week. At the moment, it is extremely tight and we are yet to see what will happen when both men returned to the battleground states, to the campaigning in full over the coming days. David Speers reporting in Washington, we will check in with him tomorrow. That is all for the program, the news is next. Live Captioning by Ai-Media