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This is PM Agenda Hello and welcome to the program. The nation's most senior Catholic Cardinal George Pell says the church will fully cooperate with the royal commission into child sexual abuse.Cardinal Pell says we think it is an opportunity to help the victims and it's an opportunity to clear the air and to sprakt fact from fiction. He maintains the church is not the principal culprit, he's accused the media of a persistent campaign against the Catholic Church. We will have more on this later in the program. There has been bipartisan support for this royal commission and I will be speaking to the national Senate leader, Barnaby Joyce is my guest. Also today, the Defence Minister Stephen Smith on the AUSMIN talks with the arrival of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In parliament and today my panel from the 'Australian Financial Review', Laura Tingle and from theally 'Advertiser' Mark Ke in ny. First

First theThank you.Yes, the head of the Catholic Church in Australia, has welcomed the Prime Minister's royal commission, into allegations of sexual abuse and cover-up. Cardinal George Pell says the church shouldn't be scape goated. It comes as questions are asked about the broad scope of the enquiry with claims it could drag on for a decade. For once in politics there is almost universal agreement, the protection of children is too important for a partisan spat.We support it, we encourage is. We want it do its work well.We welcome the announcement by the Prime Minister that there will be a royal commission.This is one of those occasions where they are no politics in this.The Prime Minister will contact Tony Abbott to discuss the terms of reference expected before Christmas.Into not just the sexual abuse of children, but allegations of widespread cover-up and protection.It will be a big thing to do, an extensive enquiry.The head of the Catholic Church in Australia, says the handling of abuse claims has been distorted by one sided media coverage.We are not interested in denying the extent of misdoing in the Catholic ChurchWe object to it being exaggerated.We object to being described as the only cab on the rank.I Think the coverage reflects the anguish and horror what the victims experienced.The enquiry is much broader than just the Catholic Church. Schools charities scouts and sporting groups, even state governments and police will come under scrutiny.But some have suggested that if it drags on for too long it could lose focus in the process.I'm not going to pre judge a timeframe, what we have got to do here is get the terms of reference right.It will be expensive, it will take a lock period of time but it's well worth doing. The shadow Attorney-General says there should be an indicative time limit but it can't be enforced.Because if the royal commissioner uncovers avenues of enquiry that need to be explored well they have to be explored. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Perth ahead of foreign policy and defence talks led by the Prime Minister. Ms Clinton arrived this morning amid heavy security and much fanfare. Sky blues political reporter Ashleigh Gillon was there and she joins us now.A fairly big welcome for Hillary Clinton.Yes, there was a big welcoming party there from the premier of WA Colin Barnett, the Defence Minister Stephen Smith, the Foreign Minister Bob Carr all there to welcome Hillary Clinton to Perth. For these AUSMIN talks the Australia-US ministerial meeting. This is a meeting that happens every year . One in Australia, the other year in the US. We will see today preliminary talks kicking off with Hillary Clinton this afternoon with the Prime Minister Julia Gillard who is also in Perth today. A little later this afternoon the US defence secretary, Leon Penetta is also going to be arrive ing here for the AUSMIN talks.Now, earlier today we saw Hillary Clinton touching down on that 757, the American air force jet, you can see those pictures there. She will be attending a number of events here in Perth, going to a university this afternoon in Kings Park to the war memorial tomorrow before also heading off to the beautiful Cottesloe beach for a sun downer tomorrow so there is a lot going on but really the defence talks is what this is all about.It will be a big focus on the US' renewed interest in this Asia-Pacific region, as you know we have American troops rotating through the Northern Territory, there is also going to be some discussion as to how in the future the United States might be keen to use the Indian Ocean obviously with the rise of India and China, this part of the world is becoming increasingly important to the United States.The Prime Minister Julia Gillard held a news conference a little earlier and I asked her what sort of expanded presence she foresees for the United States when it comes to the HMAS Sterling base off Perth and also what sort of access she envisions the US wanting to some of the Australian air bases in northern WA here is what the Prime Minister had to say.A Big decision we made last year was about Marines, coming into the Northern Territory for training. We are involved in further talks for what will be medium term plans, not short term plans. About cooperation on ships and also cooperation on aviation. But I do stress these are medium term plans. This meeting will be very focused on stock taking where we have got to after last year's major announcement with President Obama. When the Prime Minister says medium um term plans she clarified later she is envisaging this furthered cooperation, and US use of Australian resources to happen a few years down the track. So this certainly isn't happening in terms of next few weeks or months. This is a medium to longer term plan. As for Hillary Clinton she of course is really bringing a bit of star power here to Perth. She is one of the most popular fashions of the Obama administration -- faces of the Obama administration but not for long. She will be stepping aside from her role as secretary of State early next year. There is a lot of speculation in the United States she may be spending the next few years preparing to perhaps go for the role of the Democratic candidate for President in the year 2016. There is a lot of wishful thinking centring around that. The Prime Minister was also after that news conference whether or not she has tips for Hillary Clinton if she plans to become the first female leader of the United States and whether or not she will be giving Hillary Clinton a grilling on her political ambitions when they catch up a little bit later today. Here is what the Prime Minister had to say on that.Look, I'm looking forward to meeting again with Hillary Clinton we have had the opportunity to meet on a number of occasions, and spend some time together just her and me. So that's been very valuable for me.And I'm looking forward to having another chat. We will have the opportunity to have some discussions one-on-one as well as the more formal discussions about our defence cooperation and our cooperation in foreign affairs questions. The local media in Perth will get an opportunity to put some questions to Hillary Clinton tomorrow. I doubt she will be giving too much away though when it comes to her political ambitions for 2016. I think if there are any they will be kept under wraps and certainly not announced here in PerthYou might be on to something there. We will leave it there. The career of champion of jockey Damien Oliver is in tatters after he was formally charged with betting on a rival horse. While Racing Victoria has defended its handling of the case, amid allegations it was too slow to act.Racing Victoria has been forced to defend its habling of the allegations -- handling of the allegations and timing of the charges which come the week after the Cup carnival wrapped up.Integrity is the first and fore-most and we will deal with these issues as they arise. Why do you think we have been putting the compliance teams over the walls of stables an find people breaching rules and bringing the cases during this time. I refute the allegations. There is no grounds for it.Champion jockey Damien Oliver is facing two charges over a $10,000 bet he placed two year ago. Loom rumours were rife on the eve of the Melbourne Cup that Oliver had admitted to the allegations but Racing Victoria maintains that admission only came yesterday. Sh aI will be going to say we can stand down people on the base of a news report or a rumour or a suspicion. We follow due process we are bound by the rules of evidence.And racing authorities deny a deal was done to allow Oliver to ride in the Spring Carnival.As I said, the investigation will go forward next week, the charges will be laid and heard. I'm not aware of any deals being done. It goes ahead next week.Racing Victoria issued a statement saying Racing Victoria and its stewards are independent of the government and its integrity systems must be allowed to operate without interference from the government but he goes on to say, I wish to assure all racing stakeholders that I will have further comments to make at the conclusion of the enquiry. The bet in question was placed on rival horse Miss Octopussy in Mooney veil in 2010. Oliver's mount finished sixth. But that horse won the race.He will face racing headquarters on tufrs next week if he's found guilty he will be banned for up to 12 months and that could be the end of the 40-year-old's year.He has been suspended pending Tuesday's hearing. Two former NSW premiers have given evidence to a corruption enquiry today, former premiers Morris Iemma and Nathan Reese faced questions over whether they were pressured to keep former resources minister Ian MacDonald in cabinet. The states anti-corruption commission has heard claims MacDonald gave inside information about mining opportunities to his friend and colleague Eddie Obeid. The tip-offs allegedly earned the Obeid family profits of $100 million. Israel has fired tank shells into Syria for a second day.After a mortar round hit the Israeli occupied half of the Golan Heights. Into the exchange xam hours after an appeal from -- came hours after an appeal from restraint from all sides from Ban Ki-moon. An Israeli source confirmed troops had returned fire but only after a mortar round from Syria hit the central sector of the strategic plateau causing no casualties or damage. The attacks have highlighted international fears that Syria's civil war could ignite a broader regional conflict.A brief look at sport and Australia's bowlers are doing their best at an unlikely victory on day five of the first test against South Africa at the Gabba in Brisbane. The Aussies earlier declared with a lead of 115 runs in an effort to pull off a miracle.A new day another milestone for Michael Clarke. That is the highest score of the Gabba.Mike Hussey reached triple figures.Misses. But he didn't add another run to that total before finding Du Plessis and cover at after Clark reached 250 he had enough. Australia declaring with a lead of 115 runs.Australia's bowlers warmed to the task.Yes! That will do it.And Pattinson almost had a second.He's dropped that.The Victorian quick overstepping the mark giving Amla another life. Grahame Smith wasn't as fortunate.He's out. Taken! What a beauty.The Aussies thought they snared Kallis soon after.Is it? Let's review it.But another unfavourable review left them with no challenges for the rest of the innings. There was no disputing the next chance. The Proteas dished up and Amla gone for 38. Tomorrow's forecast:

Now back to Kieran in Canberra as PM Agenda continues. Thanks. After the break I will be joined by the national Senate leader Barnaby Joyce.

This is PM Agenda. Thanks for your company. Australia's top most senior Catholic Cardinal George Pell says he welcomes the royal commission into child sexual abuse. He says it hopes he helps the victims and that it helps clear the air but he's told the media today that his church should not be seen as the only culprit.I think what is important for the person in the public to realise that because there is a persistent press campaign against the Catholic Church's adequacies and inadequacies in this area, that does not necessarily represent the percentage of the problem that we offer.In other words that because there's a press campaign focused largely on us it does not mean that we are large ly the principal culprit.As I mentioned at the start of the program there is bipartisan support for the royal commission. The Opposition Leader Tony Abbott a devout Catholic supports the enquiry.I support what the Prime Minister announced yesterday, I am pleased that we were able to say earlier notice day that should any royal commission any wide ranging royal commission be announced it will be holy supported by the -- wholly supported by the Opposition and that remains the case.I understand that the terms of reference have yet to be finalised, the royal commissioner or commissioners have yet to be chosen. But I think this is a step towards healing. The Prime Minister says the royal commission and the terms of reference will be established by the end of the year. But she may be takens it's impossible to say just how -- maintains it's impossible to say how long the enquiry will take.I'm not going to pre judge a timeframe, what we have got to do here is get the terms of reference right, I think it's very important we work collaboratively on that and we are prepared to do so and we have hit the ground running on that today. We are already reaching out to the people we need to have discussions with. We will work to get the terms of reference right. And for more on this I spoke to senior Coalition front bencher Senator Barnaby Joyce from Brisbane earlier today. Nationals Senate leader Barnaby Joyce thank for your time. It is crucial this royal commission has bipartisan support because it could run for five, possibly more years?Of course it stands without reason that you can't have an enquiry into paedophilia that is supported by one side and not the other. But on that basis it must be open and honest with its terms, we must make sure that this is not some partisan witch-hunt. A child that's been abused in one institution has just the same rights as a person who has been abused somewhere else to have their claim investigated.And I will be very interested in making sure that people who have been also in Government institutions such as jails, in other organisations, that have occurrences of documented paedophilia, that these are investigated. That these are properly ventilated and I think that on that basis it's going to be broad, wide ranging in-depth and no doubt quite long.Given that the extent of the enquiry that you're talking about and indeed the Prime Minister talks about with the institutional responses, it is very broad in its scope, it's going to be very traumatic for a lot of people isn't it, the fact that this is going to go for a long, long time. They will need ongoing support through that process you would think?Well I think that people who have been traumatised have a right to have their claims investigated.And I remember distinctly trying to get table documents pe containing to Annette Harding and her rape at the John Austley detention centre which was basically swept under the carpet and people tried to keep that one hid be and I'm sure there is -- hidden and I'm sure there is many instances such as that and they want their day to what they strongly believe and in her case rightly believe has been a complete miscarriage of justice and it is vitally important, but it can't turn into some partisan witch-hunt otherwise it diminishes the whole context of what it is.It must be broad, wide ranging, it must be honest, it must be transparent and it must give every person who feels that they have been - had to deal with the affliction of someone assaulting them, child being assaulted, that they get their day in court. And I suppose it's going to be a very hard time for many, I agree with the Prime Minister, some may want to have it publicly held and some may want their concerns noted but they want to stay private about it.And that's why it's going to be something that has to be handled so carefully.When you talk about a partisan witch hundred of hunt are you talking specifically -- witch-hunt are you talking specifically about this if enquiry turns out to just focus on that one church that you referred to, the Catholic Church?Yeah, well no organisation is a criminal organisation. There are criminals within organisations within many organisations. But we have got to be really careful we don't start saying well every lady who has ever taught at a Catholic school has some how got some connection to a criminal act. Because they haven't. And you will create - collect the ire and disgust of so many because institutions such as the Catholic Church are overwhelmingly good institutions. They build hospitals, they build the schools. The teachers that are there, 99.9% of them are extremely decent people. And we have got to be extremely cautious that we don't start casting an err against them that they are somehow associated with an action which they would have absolute disgust with and many instances they will be the first ones to take it to court. And that's the same with all the things. We can't start saying that every person in the boy scouts is evil. Every person who has ever worked in a jail is evil. Any person who has ever been part of a state school is somehow impugned with a wider ranging guilt. We have got to make sure we are looking for the criminals within the organisations not casting the aintersection that the organisation is criminal. -- aintersection that the organisation criminal.Cardinal Pell says public opinion remains unconvinced that the Catholic Church has dealt adequately with sexual abuse. Ongoing and at times one sided media coverage he says has deepened this uncertainty. Do you think he's right on that?Well, I don't believe that any person has an almost omnipitent knowledge of what happened within their organisation. It is not possible. I do believe Cardinal Pell is an overwhelmingly decent person who will try to do the right thing. I think that I believe he's walking down that path at the moment in a very difficult circumstance to try and make sure proper transparency and process takes place here.And we have got to support him on that. But I think if we just think it's all about Cardinal Pell then we are really, really doing the wrong thing by so many people because there are a lot of people out there who will be saying I have nothing to do with the Catholic Church and nothing to do with Cardinal Pell but I was definitely sexual assaulted and I want to have my issue heard and if this becomes a particular enquiry about a certain corner of a problem then you are not assisting it. In fact you're part of a further kor-up.Public opinion is unconvinced, whether when it comes to the Catholic Church and its handling of these matters do you think that the church hopes this might be a positive in the end that it can put this sorry chapter behind it?I don't know whether you ever put any sorry chapter behind anything. You just try to do things better than you did before. Unfortunately history is going to be cursed with criminals for as long as man kind is on the planet so what we have got to deal with is the process of more properly facilitating a mechanism of flushing these people out. But I don't think unfortunately we are ever going to get rid of them and it goes right down to the mechanisms that promote paedophilia. We have just had a debate lately about sensorship on the internet where people said we want want any of that, we don't want to sensor out paedophilia on the internet and a couple of days later we have a royal commission being health into paedophilia. I think we have to look at the -- held into paedophilia. We have to look at the mechanisms that prop promoted it, the mechanisms that covered it up. That took part in it. All of these things need to be investigated if we want to properly deal with the issue.I think you eluded to this a bit earlier I want you to get to elaborate on this point if you can, obviously this is a tragedy at many levels, obviously the breach of trust for the victims damaging so many lives and that is - it's a tragedy no question about it but it's also a tragedy isn't it for many of the clergy who dedicate their lives to social service and do so many great things on a daily basis that many of us would never touch in terms of their just how difficult they are. So it's an enormous tragedy for them as well because in some respects getting tarred with the same brush as these, as you say criminals.Exactly. You look at the for instance the nuns who started the hospitals who devote ed their life to look after the sick are we going to tar them with the same brush? What about the people who work with the Talbert hostel who devote their life picking up people off the streets. What about brothers and priests who have never done anything wrong but given up their life, poverty, chastity and obedience, we don't tar them with the same brush? Will we say every person who has devoted their life looking after the poor and tried to live a decent life, let's make sure we respect them for what they have done and not fallen into the trap of saying well, by association and very, very flimsy association, we are going to say that you were like them? No, the vast majority are overwhelming decent people and we will really be doing our whole nation a disservice if we ridicule those who have given up their lives for the sake of serving others because of the actions of a criminal few. On a very different matter to conclude, I would like to ask you about the polled to. The nis poll, Tony Abbott's approval rating -- the Newspoll Tony Abbott's approval down to eye record low, 27%, the Coalition points to the character attacks against him recently but surely it's got to be a worry doesn't it?What a sad state of affairs when if polls are being scrutinised and reduced to sort of an X factor approach to politics, that all it is, it's about personal technical politics and trying to -- personality politics and trying to sully the reputation of someone or create a mechanism that demeans a person. Is that what our nation's about these days?Is that where we are off to?I'm looking forward to a debate that talks about building inland rail from Melbourne to Gladstone of creating, building dams of doing things of moment that take our nation forward. But if all politics is now part of - and you're part of it too Kieran, the whole lot of us - the politicians the fourth estate if we turn this into some sort of glamour cartwheel of personality politics then really is our nation off to?I look forward to a proper debate about big issues that will take this nation forward.And we have got to get away from all this crap that has been dealt with in the media lately. And I am not saying that we are not part of it, unfortunately we have been part of the problem but we have got to move on.Now, obviously the polls are tight, and that's a sign that an election is not that far away and I hope when that comes we are having real debates about concrete issues about where our nation is going.Malcolm Turnbull on Friday of last week told us on Sky, was asked about the lessons out of the US election for the Coalition he says the lessons are that for everybody if you turn - if you run off to the extremes in politics which is what the Republicans did, some of the candidates were saying some really bizarre things which resulted in them losing. You lose the credibility of the middle ground and elections are won in the middle ground. Do you think he's right on that?I don't think it's a thing that is peculiar to American politic, I think that's, ubiquitous trait of the human condition, people are generally want to seize same debates they can relate to and don't really participate much in the peripheries of debates but I don't gather - I like watching American politics but I'm an Australian and I see Australian politics through the Australian medium and we are by nature, because we have compulsory voting amongst other things, someone who we have to live in the middle. And from wisdom comes moderation which may be an advantage to Australia. Senator Joyce I appreciate your time as always. Thanks for that.You're welcome. A quick break on PM Agenda. When we return, Laura Tingle from the 'Financial Review' and Mark Kenny from the Adelaide advertiser.

This inspect PM Agenda. Thanks for being with us. Coming up my panel, Laura Tingle and Mark Kenny. First the headlines with Vanessa Trezise.

The Kath like hierarchy has welcome aid royal commission into child self abuse. Australia's most senior Catholic Cardinal George Pell says the church will fully cooperate with the enquiry but he also welcomed the commission as a chance to determine if claims of abuse within the church had been examining rated.He denied the Catholic Church had knowingly transferred priests suspected of child abuse to other parishes.The commission announced by Prime Minister Julia Gillard yesterday will focus not only on the Catholic Church but also on children in state care and schools. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Perth ahead of high level defence and foreign policy talks with Australia's leaders tomorrow.Mrs Clinton was greeted this morning by a high profile delegation, including Defence Minister Stephen Smith and Foreign Minister Bob Carr. This evening she will launch the Perth US Asia centre which will focus on strategic and economic relationships between Australia, American and Asia.US secretary of defence, Leon Penetta will also attend the AUSMIN talks led by Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Racing Victoria has defended its handling of betting allegations against star jockey Damien Oliver. Saying it acted as quickly as it could. Oliver has been stood down from racing after he admitted to placing a $10,000 bet on a rival hours.The bet took place -- horse. The bet took place during a race he was riding in Mooney Valley in October 2012. The 40-year-old faces being banned for riding from at least one year.Two former NSW premiers have given evidence tie corruption enquiry today. Morris Iemma and Nathan Reese face questions over whether they were pressured to keep former resources minister Ian MacDonald in cabinet. The state's anti-corruption commission has heard claims MacDonald gave inside information about mining opportunities to his friend and colleague, Eddie Obeid. The tip-offs allegedly earned the Obeid family profits of $100 million. An anti-royal protester Sam Brakenov says he was planning to throw a bucket of horse manure over Prince Charles and his wife before he was arrested yesterday.76-year-old Brakenov pleaded not guilty to a charge of preparing to commit an assault on the royal couple when he appeared to an Auckland District Court today. He was granted bail on the condition he stay at least 500m away from the royal couple. And in sport, Australia's bowlers are doing their best to deliver an unlikely victory on day five of the first test against South Africa at the Gabba in Brisbane. The Aussies earlier declared with a lead of 115 runs and an effort to pull off miracle. Weather tomorrow:

With me now, Laura Tingle from the 'Australian Financial Review' and Mark Kenny from 'The Adelaide Advertiser' welcome to the program. Laura first of all this royal commission, it will run for years potentially five, maybe more. It's going to be a long, long time. It's crucial there was bipartisan support for this and there is.Is. And not just bipartisan support but support from the cross benches, support from the major states. I think this is one of those issues where it's pretty hard to say no this is a really bad idea.I Mean the fact that it's taken so long to get here, I don't know if you remember Andrew Murray, the Democrat who was behind earlier enquiries into institutional treatment of children, when he was in the Senate, he made a speech 10 years ago saying all the things that were being said yesterday about this. It's just gone on and on, and I think it just really - during the course of the afternoon yesterday you just saw this inevitability build, everybody coming out wanting to be on the record as supportive of it even before cabinet had finished discussing it.That's the point Mark, it's been such a long time coming that it's obviously going to be an ongoing traumatic process for so many Australians, given the longevity of what this commission entails.I Think that's true and to some extent there in lay a difficulty. It is as Laura says something ha now enjoys cross party support, pretty well everyone has now come out in favour of it even the Catholic Church has had to say it supports it, noting it is much broader than just the Catholic Church.But, it is open-ended. It's open in a whole range of directions. We don't know how far it's going to reach back, we don't know how long it is going to go for. We don't know what its terms of reference will be, we don't know how many people will be doing it, we don't know its measure methodology. There is a lot of questions to ask and questions to be answered before Commission and then we will have this long process and I think there in lay some danger as well because I think there is a chance for this to become a kind of almost kwazy permanent type -- quasi permanent type commission that is running off. It will cost a lot of money. The cost is not a big issue I guess given the weight of the injustices we are talking about here but its ability to sort of bring home the change, I think remains to be - remain's core challenge for.Yeah, you make a valid point because tragically it has been just so - just such a widespread problem across our society. It is awful, I suppose what is the other option you have got to do it?I suppose so. The Government has, was faced with as Laura says this inevitability that's been building for a long time and reached a very critical point. You can feel it yesterday and when the Opposition came out and said that it would back a royal commission, as long as we are not limited purely to the Catholic Church, you had lots of people come out, a lot of Labor backbenchers coming out yesterday as well as independents and so forth so there is a hell of a lot of support for it but the Government had a choice then how it will do it. It could not have stopped short of a royal commission and looked credible on it. Overwhelmingly the logic was there for a royal commission. But it did have then within its range of options I suppose, to go for a tight royal commission, if it could, if it could identify some terms of reference that it believed would limit the scale of this thing. Or it could go for this kind of catch all and at this stage we have got it basically doing everything now. I think that's where the danger lies.There are dangers but I'm not convinced that by the time the Prime Minister announced the decision yesterday she had any choice other than to go broad. You didn't want to look like you were just targeting the Catholic Church, or churches because there are all these other institutional questions and the focus of what she was talking about was as much or more so about the institutional response about all the people who turned a blind eye to this as much as it is about the actual incidents of abuse themselves.And I think when you go there you have got to go abroad because -- broad because it goes right across the structures of all sorts of different institutions.I Think she gave a a potent argument about why it was good not to did do the terms of reference in detail yesterday. I mean particularly given this Government's history of launching forth making pronouncements declare they will do something in a particularly way, only to find people say we don't want you to do it that way, particularly given the sensitivities of this issue there is really good reason to discuss it. It may be during the next few weeks they actually find a way of pairing it back because it does become a bit of an unmanageable beast at its broadest but we have to wait and see.I think they are valid points and I think it will be unreasonable to ask the government to yesterday in the space of what was relatively few hours of short cabinet meeting to come out with the terms of renchts of reference and it would have caused exactly that problem you talk about but there is the scope within the huge parameters there for the role commission to be compartmentalised possibly to do a staged process, to look at the scope of problem, what is the actual problem. Perhaps then release a series of interim reports or findings may be that's the way to go.So the Government's still got I think a task ahead of it and we may come out of this with a very workable, very measure rabble royal commission process -- measurable royal commission process but it is going to be tough and it is going to be tough getting the right personnel as well.I just think it was always going to be and that's why it's taken so long. It is a good thing that it is finally happened. That's the bottom line.I want to ask you before we go, we are almost out of time, only a minute or so left but I want to get your thoughts. The Newspoll today, Mark, Tony Abbott people say the Coalition saying it is about the personal attacks against him. Is it too simplistic to say that, this drop in his approval rating?I think it is true but I think it is also something that Tony Abbott courted to some extent. He played this highly aggressive, highly specialised Opposition Leader role where he focused, put everything on the carbon tax, the government, Julia Gillard always said when July rolled around and the sky didn't fall in he would be exposed. And that's aeffectively what's happened and it is try true there is this irony, we see this relentless negativity claim the government's making being done by a process of relentlessly pointing out how negative Tony Abbott is which is a negative campaign in itself but yes it's working.It is working Laura isn't it? It is working but Labor's big problem remains the prim revote. It seems to be consolidated around 36%, still two percentage points below 2010. They are going to want it above that well above that before they are feeling confident about going to the polls.Before any champagne bottles popped. A quick break, we are back with Stephen Smith.

This is PM Agenda. Thank you for your company today. The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Perth for the annual AUSMIN talks. Prime Minister Gillard will lead the discussions accompanied by Foreign Minister Bob Carr and the Defence Minister Stephen Smith. I spoke to him from Perth a bit earlier in the day. Thanks for your time. First can I ask you in general terms what do you hope comes out of these AUSMIN talks?Well, it will be another reaffirmation of the very close alliance that we have with the United States.This is the formal ministerial consultations we do each year, we will cover the range of global and regional security issues, but from a selfish point of view as a member for Perth, as a Western Australian, it's also a great opportunity to show case Perth and Western Australia not just to secretary Clinton but also defence secretary Penetta but that will also expose the modern Perth, the modern Western Australia to a range of people in the United States and that's a good thing. There are reports that the AUSMIN talks will agree to an even closer strategic partnership in the Indian Ocean, will that see any change to that announcements President om baa made last year in his -- Obama made in his pivot to Asia?I have seen that in reference to one of the newspaper reports today. People should not get ahead of themselves, we need to take this step-by-step. One reason we are meeting in Perth is not just because I asked secretary Clinton if she would come to Perth but because Perth has HMAS Sterling our Indian Ocean port and as India rises, as the importance of the Indian Ocean rises, as the importance of the Indian ocean rim rises Hayes Stirls will become strategically -- HMAS sterling will become strategically more important and one thing we will discuss, that's the start of the discussion not the end, is the extent to which down the track we may be able to see greater US naval access to our Indian Ocean port HMAS Stirling south of Fremantle. We are taking that step-by-step as we are all other aspects of the so called United States global force posture review with Marines rotating through Darwin and prospect of greater US aviation and access to the Northern Territory air fields.When you say we shouldn't get ahead of ourselves on that progression, access to HMAS Stirling greater access for US warplanes and so on is that partly to try not to aisle enate China?No, what we are are doing with the US is not aimed at China or any one particular country.The US presence in the Asia-Pacific has been a force for stability and investment and prosperity since the end of World War II so what we are doing is enhancing our practical cooperation and already that's had good regional impacts because with the rotation of a small number of Marines through Darwin, we have already agreed with the President of Indonesia that we will have a regional exercise, Australia, US and Indonesia, on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.So, there are very good regional implications and impacts for we are doing. When I say we are taking it step-by-step we are following absolutely precisely what I said and the Prime Minister said we would do when we announced these initiatives when President Obama was here in November.Our first priority has been to the rotation of Marines through Darwin, we have had the first year of 200, 250 Marines, that will grow over a period of five or six years to 2500 and we will have a conversation about enhanced aerial and naval access but we haven't come to any conclusions those fronts and that's precisely consistent with what we said when President Obama was here. You have said that - have you played down concerns US concerns about Australia's military budget, but there have been a number of reports now, Kurt Campbell the senior representatives of the US administration in this region, the US leadership dialogue mid-year, concerns out of that as well about the cuts. Would you look to try at at least placate Secretary of State Clinton and secretary of Defense Panetta that concerns are misplaced? If we have a conversation about defence funding and defence expenditure, I'm sure it will be precisely along the same lines I have had conversations with secretary Penetta, both before our budget and after our budget which is, we are all facing different circumstances, the United States is taking half a trillion dollars out of its defence budget over the next 10 years so we are all facing these difficulties and so far as our restraint and difficulties are concerned we are protecting our overseas operations, we are making sure that there is no adverse impact on what we do with the United States.And we are protecting our core capability. Indeed since the budget we have announced the acquisition of the air warfare capability Growler which is the most significant air force, force protection capability we have picked up since the F-111 and the Opposition, the Liberal Party were critical of that.Ambassador Beazley tells me when he got off the plane his conversation with Kurt Campbell was that he was feeling very aggrieved that they had been very badly misrepresented and misconstrued in his comments.So the assertion that somehow there is a conversation here about Australian defence cuts is as I said on the weekend just a nonsense.We are going through the same difficulties that the United States, the UK, New Zealand, Canada, and comparable countries are going through. Just on a couple of other related issues, if I can, I want to ask you about David Petraeus controversy in the US, the CIA chief has had to resign from the post amid scandal. How much of a loss is that to the US national security establishment? Well, we obviously work very closely with General Petraeus both in his position as commander ISAF in Afghanistan. We knew him well and therefore we were working closely with him as director of the CIA.The loss of any significant personality is a loss, but the acting director of the CIA is also well-known to us, so we will continue to work very closely with the American agencies and the American administration.Irrespective of changes in personality.We have well developed extensive relations and knowledge of their senior officials, so whilst his loss is obviously regrettable, so far as we're concerned our relationship with the CIA as one of the agencies we deal with will continue in a positive and productive manner. Did the US election result with no change in the White House, does it make the ongoing strategic direction of the US alliance more certain? Don't have to adapt or shift to accommodate a new presidency or new administration?Well, obviously any Australian Government deals with the administration which the United States electoral process delivers.So in our case, in my case we have dealt with Republican administrations and now the Obama administration.So we deal with whichever administration emerges from from that process. If you like from a selfish Australian point of view the fact there is continuity, conneutity in the President and in his administration, does make life easier from our perspective because you don't have to go through the quarter of a year or half a year where your meeting new officials, engaging and continuing to have the discussions that you do.So from that perspective continuity is a good thing but we deal with whoever the administration appoints to a particular position and we deal with whatever administration, US electoral process delivers. Minister one final question, I know you have got to get going but Secretary of State, Clinton is her last AUSMIN what do you make of the prospect of Hillary Clinton run for the presidency in four years?That's entirely a matter for her. I have seen the speculation, she's been a first class Secretary of State. Her first trip was to our region, to Japan and China she made it clear in engaging with the Asia-Pacific and engaging in the Indian Ocean rim was very important and she's left a significant mark. She's a significant United States figure. What she does in the future is of course a matter for her but I think all Australians would wish her well. She's made a substantial and significant contribution and we wish her all the best for the future.Thanks very much.Thanks. Thanks very much -- We will have full coverage of AUSMIN over the next couple of days with the Perth team. Ashleigh Gillon and Mike Hopkins so comprehensive coverage of the talks between Hillary Clinton, Stephen Smith, Bob Carr and Leon Penetta and Prime Minister Gillard leading the talks over the next couple of days.That's all for PM Agenda today, thank you very much for your company. The news is next. Live Captioning by Ai-Media