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Senator Conroy -

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(generated from captions) it's sitting on 20. Karl?Thanks for that, Lisa. Well, Barack Obama has won a second term in the White House, but how will this affect us in Australia? For more, I'm joined by Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy. Good morning to you, Stephen. How are you?Good morning to you, Karl. How are you?Were we worried that the Republicans would get in?Australia has a strong relationship with both sides of the political debate in the US. In terms of our overall relationship, now we were not worried. In terms of some of Mitt Romney's economic policies, they were possibly going to impact negatively on the world economy, so we were very relieved to see Obama back in charge, back steering the economy. He's taken the economy through that terrible recession that they had.The issue is that, as you know, he faced this so-called fiscal cliff now -- faces this so-called fiscal cliff now. Massive economic issues there and something needs to be done about government spending. There's talk about lifting taxes in the US. At the end of the day, this is the biggest concern facing him and facing Americans and is the biggest concern alternatively facing the world.Absolutely. That's right. If think were to have taken the Romney approach of slash and burn, would you have seen the American economy potentially contract and that would really have had an impact on the world economy, which Australia would then have been impacted by. So Obama's got a very tough challenge. This is a very big budget deaf silt they've got and it's got to be rend in.Are you preparing for the fact -- - reined in. Are you preparing for the fact - and is Treasurer Wayne Swan preparing for the fact - that they may not meet these expectations? The Reserve Bank's commentary says they see a bit of upside on the world economy. We've always factored in that the economy could be buffeted by international events. That's why we've been working so hard to get back to surplus because we want to be in a position that if the world economy begins to go a bit south again we are well protected from it in the same way we were able to protect the Australian economy and 200,000 jobs last time.For the record, and to have you on the record, are you guaranteeing surplus?What Wayne Swan, Penny Wong and Julia Gillard have always said we intend to deliver a surplus.Intending and guaranteeing it are different things.We're working to it and we'll hake the cuts necessary to make sure we get the economy back into surplus.That's a big N-O.No. I think you're trying to put the word in my mouth, Karl.If you would say to me, "Karl, we're guaranteeing we'll get a surplus - The world economy is very, very fragile at the moment. If in the next six months there's a collapse in the world economy, well, nobody would suggest that everybody's forecasts - and that's all they are -All you need to say to me right now is, "Karl, there is no guarantee."The world economy is not guaranteed by anything but we're putting Australia in a position where we can do what's best for Australians.OK. Let's move on. Last week, Treasury analysed three Coalition policies and the results of those analyses were leaked. Craig Emerson had this to say on Monday. Treasury analysis reveals that a Coalition government would impose a $4.5 billion tax burden on businesses, especially small businesses, in the first year of an Abbott government.So Craig Emerson initially said it was Treasury who revealed the findings. Then Wayne Swan conceded yesterday that he requested the costings, not Treasury and then Treasury Secretary came out and said, "It's not me." So who was it then that leaked?My understanding is that the Treasurer has said that his office requested and then released that but this is no different -Is that cool, though?This is no different - let me read you a press release from 17 May 2002 headed, "Labor's super-bungle." This is a press release by Peter Costello. "The department has carried out a preliminary costing of the Labor Party's policy announced last night." There it is. So Peter Costello, Joe Hockey - this is about the Opposition having a massive, massive $70 billion credibility gap and they are desperate to not have any scrutiny. Remember before the last election Joe Hockey, big story - I'm going to release our costings. It's the Western Australian accounting firm - that firm has been fined for professional misconduct over the Opposition's policies. They are not willing to submit them for independent scrutiny.But you don't have a problem with Treasury being used in this capacity, though?Well, Peter Costello did this. So it is a bit rich - if Peter Costello and the Howard government did this for them to complain when the Labor government does it. It's hypocrisy. Do you concede that in one sense finding out those costings is, in your words, I guess fair enough, the Treasury being used in that capacity, but you're not able to guarantee - you're being critical of the Opposition but you're not able to guarantee a surplus.Well, the world economy is fragile. If the world economy - Europe - was to contract further, America was to contract, and hopefully that won't happen now with Obama's steady hand in charge of the American economy - so we've said we're driving, we're pushing to surplus. That's our intention and we intend to deliver that.Just a quick update on Nauru - can you give us any further information on how the hunger strike is going over there? That was speculation that there were a couple of hundred people that may be refusing to eat. What's the situation?My understanding, the latest information is that the majority of people are taking food and water. There are some who are continuing to refuse food and water. But this is an attempt to try and manipulate the process. It's not going to work.How are you going to solve that, though?Ultimately, these people are now on Nauru, just like they were under the Howard government and these sorts of tactics are not going to impact on the process that we've set in place. We can't have people just deciding they want to come to Australia, jumping on boats, saying they're refugees. They've got to go through the proper process and Nauru now is in place to do with that -- deal with that.Stephen, always good to