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Hello welcome the Contrarians I am Peter van Onselen thanks very much for your company. Well, I have to say it now I will be saying it again during the substantive part of the program but Wayne Swan is not going to deliver a budget surplus. What an absolute shock that is! I won't be shaving my head, we will be talking much more about this in due course with our panel. I'm joined by Ainslie van Onselen, Dee Madigan as well as Dr Greg O'Mahoney. We will will all be looking specifically at this issue of Wayne Swan and his non-surplus, and we will also be taking a look of course at Mal Brough who continues to be in hiding. He must be a very busy man working locally in his electorate, although plenty of Labor ministers have made the point they have been turning up there and can't seem to find him there. Let's look what is making news..The Treasurer has defended the tiling of the government surplus back-flip. Wayne Swan saying the data that backed up the decision is always delivered to the Government at this time of year. The Opposition has continued its attack arguing is is another breach of faith from a government that can't be trusted. Just a few days before Christmas is this a case of the Government trying to bury a bad news story? Not so says the Treasurer. PThe hard data, the revenue data has been with us for about a couple of weeks and we have been analysing that data. It's always published at this time of the year. There's nothing unusual whatsoever.The economics have caught up with the politics. A $4 billion slump in forecast revenues, for the first four months of the financial year was the last nail in the coffin for the promised return to surplus.We saw very clearly if we were going to have to make surplus this year we would have to take action which is would hit growth and hit jobs.Politically though the backflip has hit the government.Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan are more than 200 occasions without any qualifications, without any qualifications said we will deliver this surplus it is in the best interests of the Australian people.It is never a good thing for a Government to break fundamental promises.A broken promise they had to have.We have had the turbulent and uncertain global conditions in 80 years. They simply don't understand the importance of getting these big economic decisions right. I believe the Australian people will understand that.The Australian people might not, but economists do.The Treasurer's announcement yesterday was simply the right and proper thing to do.China has had a bad year, that means the budget is having a bad year which means no surplus... let's get over it.The Opposition has used the government's backflip to recalibrate inown position. Previously the Coalition said it would deliver a surplus in each year of the first term of government if it wins the next election on the current numbers but Joe Hockey says the numbers are now up in the air.We are not going to make promises that we cannot keep. And therefore if we don't know what the books look like and the books haven't closed, then how can we possibly make those sort of commitments? But the Coalition does know what its campaign theme will be on the budget, another broken Labor promise. John Boehner's attempt to push a fiscal cliff plan B through the Congress has failed. The US House of Representatives will adjourn until after Christmas after Republican leaders conceded they could not gather enough votes to pass their tax bill designed to avert the fiscal cliff. But Democratic Congressman, Chris Van Holland krt sizing the op -- criticises the oppose ing leaders saying they shouldn't have walked away.We are engaged in the House on this floor today what has become a ridiculous political stunt which will actually take us much closer an a country to going over the fiscal cliff.We are wasting valuable time, the Speaker should be engaged with the president of the US in negotiations rather than having walked away from those negotiations with the President. The US House speaker had pushed a plan B that would have raise the taxes on families with net incomes over $1 million.Annually while extending other tax breaks. The White House had threatened to veto it. Republican Congressman, Paul Ryan stressed the danger of going over the cliff.We don't just have a fiscal cliff, we have a fiscal abyss in front of us.And that is the debt crisis that is on our horizon. Failure to address this debt crisis means not just 47% of Americans but every American gets hurt.Every American gets a lower standard of living. Every American, especially the next generation receives a lower standard of living if we don't fix this mess. Americans have less than five full days to find away around the cliff. A navy leading seaman has appeared in a Darwin court charged with being the alleged mastermind of a weapons theft at Darwin's Larrakeyah barracks last month. It is the second person to be charged over last month's security breach, and the 26-year-old has been remanded in custody until February 27. Sky News Darwin report er Dan Bourchier has the details.Matthew Evans has fronted the Northern Territory Magistrates Court for his alleged role into the barracks last month. Police alleged 26 yoldz leading seaman with the Royal Australian Navy was the spearhead of the campaign, to break in assault and steal weapons from a patrol boat. He's charged with one count of aggravated robbery, two counts of possessing or using firearms while unlicensed and two counts of possessing or using prohibited weapons. His case has been adjourned. Northern Territory police say the arrest comes after a lengthy investigation.Yesterday morning a Northern Territory police arrested a 26-year-old male who was subsequently charged with the aggravated robbery and stealing of the 14 firearms from the Royal Australian Navy back in the early hours of the 30 November. The prosecution will be alleging that the 26-year-old male is a current leading seaman, serving member of the royal Australian Navy.At the time of the offence he was stationed at the HMAS Coonawarra base, and a current serving member of the patrol boat fleet.Northern Territory police say that on 30 November one or more people broke into lar a Kia barracks where he made their way on to HMAS Coonawarra on to a patrol boat where a member of staff was assaulted and tied up. Before they made their way to the armoury and stole 14 weapons. It kicked off a major investigation here in Darwin and prompted thevis admiral of the navy to -- the Vice Admiral of the navy to call for an immediate investigation into security no not only on patrol broughts but naval fas ills it -- boats but naval facilities across the country. Mr Evans will face the Northern Territory Magistrates Court on 27 February. Intent senator Nick Xenophon has renewed the call for the pardoning of customs whistleblower Allan Kessing it followed an allegation yesterday @ a culture within the agency allowed fers to import drugs into the country. He says the government should report previous reports by Mr Kessing who was convicted in 2007 of leaking the documents to the media.I would say he's been endemic for at least the last 20 to 30 odd years has become intensified as the profit motive has risen and the fact there wouldn't be one ring, don't imagine just because of the news in the last day or two that it's all going to be over and done with, there are any number of groups working within the airports with different motives and different agendas.Peter Slipper sexual harassment case has taken another turn with former staffer James Ashby Connecticut firming he will lodge -- confirming he will lodge an appeal against a Federal Court ruling and lodge action against Fair Work Australia.The sexual harassment allegations against Peter Slipper may have been flown out of court nine days ago, but this case -- flown thrown out of court nine days ago but this case is far from over. Ash ry -- James Ashby emerged to announce he will appeal last week's decision by ate Federal Court to throw that sexual harassment case against Mr Slipper out of court, over an abuse of process.But the former staffer wasn't finished there, adding he and his legal team will commence proceedings in the Fair Work Australia tribunal.The only matter that's been heard over the past eight months was Mr Slipper's abuse of process case. Later today we are planning to file James Ashby's sexual harassment case with Fair Work Australia. With the aim that the whole evidence and that the witnesses can be tested in open court at the appropriate time.As to the abuse of process case, an appeal against that decision will be lodged in mid January when the courts resume.Today was supposed to be a chance for Peter Slipper to recoup some of the money he spent defending himself. But the cost decision has been delayed until February next year, after a surprise decision by Justice Stephen Rares to disqualify himself from the case citing an overlap and possible conflict.

And in sport, paceman Mitchell Starc says he's doing everything he can to avoid falling victim to Australia's injury curse.He starred in the dying stages of the first Test against Sri Lanka, making the most of his chance with 7 other bowlers on the injured list.Injuries are unfortunate and they seem to go hand in hand with fast bowling so I'm looking after myself doing all I can to stay on the park. And make sure I'm recovering well and preparing well and unfortunately those things do happen. So can't worry too much about the other guys doing but we are all preparing the way we can and hopefully stay on the park. I'm not doing anything too different to everyone else, I'm making sure I'm doing my recoveries and look after my body. Get to the gym when I need to and hopefully stay on the park as long as I can. I have had a good run so far which hopefully will continue.He's a certainty to play in the second test starting on Boxing Day. And Sky weather:

That's all the news for now.Thanks. We will take a commercial break. When we come back Wayne Swan's foolish ways. We have only got 45 minutes but we will get through as much as we can.

I will shave, shave, shave my head. My head if they achieve a surplus. A surplus. This time in 12 months. An actual surplus. I will shave my head. This will be really embarrassing if it happens but I will do it. I will do it. I will - I will - I will do it. Thanks for the footage there. Welcome the Contrarians, I am Peter van Onselen we have Wayne Swan but we don't have a surplus. We have got another deficit coming shortly. We will not devote the entire 45 minutes to Wayne Swan's stupidity in predicting he will be putting a surplus in place and then the added stupidity of continuing to stand by and continuing to talk about it like there was nothing but certainty guaranteed, rolled gold certainty that he would be delivering this surplus yet here we are yesterday, he had to stand up in utter, utter humiliation and announce, guess what, what will be happening is exactly what commentators have been saying since the get-go, me included there was no chance he will deliver a surplus. Zero chance and he won't be delivering a surplus he will be delivering a deficit. The bets we will be having shortly with the panel whether it's a 10, 20 or 30 billion deficit. But it won't be a surplus. Let's get it out of the way quickly because the Government is trying to spin this as best they can. They accepted they utterly stuffed up the politics of this but tell us the economy is strong. That's true. Peter Costello did leave the economy in a strong shape, I agree with you about that they say the strategy to dump the surplus was a good one. I agree. The dumb strategy was to stick by the political strategy of claiming that you will deliver a surplus when economists were lining up by the dozen to say that that was a silly approach and that the economy given the global problems as well as the revenue write downs domestically meant that the surplus wasn't going to happen. So I agree with the Government about that. At the end of the day Wayne Swan, Europe's treasurer of the year, apparently, is somebody who has now created an enormous political problem for the government. Because Tony Abbott is allowed to come out and say here we go again. Another broken promise. I'm not sure whether Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey will deliver the surpluses that they claim, but we will find out about that if and when they win the next election. But Wayne Swan, Penny Wong, the Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese on 'Australian Agenda' on Sunday je one lined up until they were blue in the face to tell us they will deliver a surplus and it doesn't matter if not delivering the surplus is the right thing to do economically, it doesn't matter ifover all elements of the economy haven't been that bad because I actually think and we can talk about this on some respects as far as the substance goes, Wayne Swan does have things he can crow about it he has punchered it by another example of poor situation -- butchered by another example of the poor situation of politic -- the lefties will go nuts saying you are unfair to Swan, rehabilitating on about him too much, here is the problem, all journalists feel this when you talk to Labor MPs off the record when you talk to sources close to Wayne Swan off the record, they have been telling us, mate, mate, there's no way it's going to be anything but a surplus. Trust us on this. I remember them saying the same thing about the mining tax which they altered. I remember them saying the same thing about the ETS which they dumped. This is utter embarrassment as far as I'm concerned Wayne Swan has just made a complete joke of himself. Let's see what the panel have to think about this and wider issues. Dr Greg O'Mahoney, Ainslie van Onselen and Dee Madigan, someone who thinks Wayne Swan should be Prime Minister. He can stuff everything up then in the.I have never been in favour of the surplus as I have said. And I think linking your political credibility to an economic forecast is as we have seen inherently dangerous. I do understand why though, I think that the ALP did not sell its handling of the GFC well at the time because it was seen as being supporting Kevin Rudd who had just been deposed. So trying to sell their performance economically retrospectively is virtually an impossible task and they have tried to do it a couple of times. So I think this forecast was a way to short cut that to say - because polls were still showing that the Liberal Party was the preferred economic manager in the eyes of the voter so they needed to get over that and that's why this came up.They just knifed him in the back, Kevin Rudd.Exactly.-- I think... An absolute de#3w5shgle. You are basically -- debacle. You are saying they should have taken credit for the financial management during the GFC but they cooperate because that is crediting Kevin Rudd.That's my guess to what it is done.And Wayne Swan I remember him jumping up saying we will deliver the surplus ahead of time, aren't we great. Julia Gillard even claimed credit Greg O'Mahoney for the surplus. She was talking about it like it had already been delivered what an embarrassment.It is and one of the big problems Swan needs to face up to. He said toot he's said it a number of times and this is not about political outcomes. He said on the nation, in the never-never, 12, 24 months time we will be back in profit makes mode and I agree, it is not good enough. If these guys were directors of a public company, saying a week ago or a month ago it was going to turn a profit next year and now saying it will lose, $10 billion or $20 billion they will be facing a class action or loss of their positions.The way you receive due credit when you provide something more than somebody was anticipating over promised and jnder deliver has been the mantra of this govr, particularly Wayne Swan he's done it time and time again with the budget.I was taught by miest while mentor exactly that, under promise and over deliver and it is far worse if you over promise and don't deliver and that's exactly what Wayne Swan has done and I'm curious in Dee's response today because I remember last time I was on the show with you you were quite committed a surplus would be achieved.Yes, I thought...I remember saying it would be a minor miracle in commodity prices and we have seen that miracle in commodity prices but it will see not happen.You did as well, whether it bass smoke and mirs.We thought they would -- mirrors.Dee Madigan and I thought Wayne Swan would cook the books and he has been for a long time but the problem is, this is the problem, this is why I'm just so sarcastic when talks about Swan because he has been using the forward estimates, he's been diminishing the credibility of the surplus projections for a long time, and you can get away with it for so long when you can keep on fudging the figures going forward but eventually the day of reckoning comes. And that day of reckoning has come for Wayne Swan. Because can you only fudge them for so long. This is a bloke who has delivered nothing but deficits since he's been Treasurer.Let's put it in context. $150 billion since 2008. Just staggering figures. I have to say, I was half expecting to turn up today and ehear you say I am not sure Wayne Swan has got it right I still think...No, can I say something though.Can I say this the only thing that makes me doubt that they will deliver a deficit is that Swan now says they will. That's the only concern that I have for the prediction. I'm more worried about my hair now than I was when Swan was promising the surplus because everything he says the opposite happens so now he's said it will be a deficit there is a serious risk he might find a way to accidentally deliver a surplus.The real issue is about perception and the government credibility. In terms of the economy.You are eccon?In terms of the economy the market didn't blink at this. Economically it is the right thing to do and he hasn't underdelivered in terms of the economy. We still have one one of the strongest economies.It is the clear travesty, he did not deliver on his promise. The economy is one of the best in the world in spite of him not because of him. See we are the lucky country, Donald Horn's these a lucky country run by second rate politicians. Wayne Swan fits the bill.Do you not think the stimulus in the GFC helped our economy? Some of it did not all of it.Wayne Swan wasn't saying we have got the best economy in the world that is a given. Everyone knows that. What he was saying in February this year we have our colours nailed to mast we are producing a surplus in 2013, 2013 and that's what we will do. His colours are certainly nailed to the mast and that mast is going down.Yes, he shouldn't have promised it but in terms of what he's delivered for the economy, not what he's promised not words in terms of action actions.He did because he needed to politically to get over the line of the last election so a false promise that has not been kept got them over the line at the last election. This is a joke. And Wayne Swan is a joke.The promise was made in good faith.Give me a break! If it was made in good faith it was a strange promise because if you look at what Labor did well in the GFC it was the sim plus package it was being flexible when the country needed it. Having done that it was truly bizarre, that they pledged in stone this commitment to a surplus.It is so silly because, exactly. The last time, if you want to give them credit for the stimulus and the way they approached it they had the flexibility and guts you could say to go into deaf sit to make sure that the economy didn't go into recession. Full credit for doing that. Did they go too far? Maybe but it was panicked types I can understand that and I'm far more for giving than the Opposition the way they prattle on about it now but having done that to turn around and when we are on the edge of the flif again in the US, -- fiscal cliff again in the US, Wayne Swan turns his brain on and says we will deliver a surplus no matter what. Guess what utter stupidity.Abbott said the same thing and Hockey came out today and said the Coalition wouldn't be delivering.Which is laughable in Steph itself but you see this is a difference -- lastable in itself. This is the same when John Howard, I remember a cartoon that had Kevin Rudd belly flop and get 10s there the judges and John Howard did the per per pirouettes and land perfectly and get fails. Wayne Swan is running the economy like he is running the Queensland Labor Party still. An embarrass many.Martin pack inson has been saying all year this revenue short fall is not a temporary revenue shortfall, it's a permanent one and even now Wayne Swan is saying it's a Timry patch-up, thing also get better -- temporary patch-up.They don't know how long it will last for.Dee has the rosed colours glasses on. We are are not talking about a narrow miss, we are not talking about a marginally, 13 billion, 28 billion is what the leading economists are saying and a week ago, leading figures in the Labor Party are saying no we are committed to the surplus.The one he delivered the actuals he delivered was around 50 billion. That one was originally projected to 12 billion. What a absolute shock his wafer thin $1 billion surplus will be a $20 billion deficit.The tragedy is a deficit like that is a good outcome for this government, when you look at the size of the outcomes of the last four or five years. It is a bit of an ordinary show.I am more concerned as to where we go from here because we have seen the government go from the Kaynsean approach, at least based on philosophical underpings by Kevin Rudd and we have seen Swan become a grinch and slash and burn spending.He hasn't slashed and burned by that much. Hang on, I have got to stop you there his definition of tighting things so to only allow, 2% or 3% growth in real spending each year. If you your spending has already been bubbled up after the GFC, when your revenue has gone down to then only allow that bubbled up spending which allows a huge deficit to continue growing by 2% to 3% per year, actually guess what, if you want to be a grinch cut.So you are saying he did have integrity in the budget in No. It was a very senior member...He was can youing spending wherever he could -- cutting spending wherever he could, including the 10% spending cut in defence, which saw defence spending in the 2011-2012 budget 1.5% of GDP which is the lowest it has been since the late 30s to say he hasn't slaushed and burned I think.He has come out to say he will not make it because cuts are starting to hurt. Defence people can wear with the next is education and hospital.The truly bars things is the mining tax. Here is the man who launched it, say it will redefine the rev nighs in this country and then abandon -- ref knews within the country and aabandon it within weeks. It hasn't been. A lot more to get through in relation to Wayne Swan. And in falling short of the mark. We will continue on this subject for a little while. We will be back in a moment.


Welcome back. We will continue to look at Swan's failure his hum illation and disgrace shortly but first let's look at what is making news.

The Government and Opposition have gone on the attack over the revelation that a budget surplus won't be reached in the 2012-2013 financial year.The Treasurer defended the timing of the surplus back-flip but accused the Coalition of twisting economic facts.But the Opposition argued that it's just another broken promise from a Government that overspends and can't be trusted. America's chances of avoiding the so called fiscal cliff on 1 January have nose-dived following the failure of house Speaker John Boehner to get enough support from Republican members to pass a tax plan. He says it is now up to President Obama and Democrat Senate President Harry Reid to come up with legislation to avert the fiscal cliff. Senator Reid declared earlier the Senate will adjourn until after Christmas leaving less than five full days to find a way around the cliff. And navy leading seaman will remain behind bars until at least February after facing a Darwin court. The 26-year-old was charged over the theft of weapons from a navy patrol boat in the Territory. Late last month.12 automatic pistols and shotguns were stolen from a patrol boat when it was moored at HMAS Coonawarra. A 40-year-old man was earlier charged over the incident. A day after Federal Police arrested 8 people at Sydney Airport it's been revealed drugs may have been imported through the airport into Australia for years before authorities took action. Convicted whistleblower Allan Kessing says he raised concerns about security at Sydney Airport when he worked for Customs in 2003. It comes as Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare vowed to weed out any corrupt Customs officering and says more arrests may be made.The NSW ambulance service will take a zero tolerance approach to violence against paramedics over the Christmas new year period. The announcement of the policy comes in the wake of the assault of six paramedics over the past two weeks. The services acting chief executive urged people to have a sense of responsibility, and warned anyone using paramedics as punching bags they will be referred to police. In sport, the chances of Wild Oats II breaking its own Sydney to Hobart race record are improving. Favourable weather condition s have been forecast from boxing day.Becoming hot across the south. Showers and storms in the east and north.

Welcome back. I'm joined by Greg O'Mahoney, Ainslie van Onselen and Dee Madigan. Keep the tweets and I mails coming. It's interesting you have the right wingers lampooning Swan as well as the reasonable people who sit in the centre and the lefties who are trying to find ways of defending Wayne Swan. The same people that were always attacking John Howard, when he distinguished between core and non-core promises because he was breaking promises and now somehow finding logic to defend Wayne Swan's decision to break the surplus xhment. I find that odd. I was very critical of Howard over core and non-core promises but I'm critical of Wayne Swan over his silly surplus projection and his failure to meet it in an e enormous way.. You were talking about the mining tax, I did a story about Wayne Swan surfing somewhere up the coast and he was so resolute about the mining tax and my inside story with sources close to the Treasurer told me how he was not for turning on this issue. There was no way he would change from the original Rudd mining tax he believed in it he was passionate about it and he was going to go all the way to the wall until of course he got offered the Deputy Prime Ministership and he back-flipped immediately.What is your view?I think it was one of the really ordinary events of the last five years and has been a lot in Australian politics. I think the way he fronted the cameras and celebrated the original mining tax was as a revolution in taxation is the most significant piece of tax reform in living memory and weeks later to stand before the same cameras and embrace the complete dilution of that policy as a good outcome for all stakeholders was embarrassing. I don't think he's been held to account for it in the last six months he's revealed it hasn't turned a dollar.Put your beer bottle under the desk, but the other thing, this isn't the only time Wayne Swan has had a horrendous backflip. We have got the mining tax, this is a bloke that spent three years as Treasurer and Shadow Treasurer loyally apparently serving credit card and then in February he then -- Kevin Rudd, and then he said in February he never held Labor values. If Wayne Swan really believes that Kevin Rudd never held Labor values then what does that say about the duplicitous patheticness of Swan to serve him as his Treasurer for three years, someone who is a Labor leader who he doesn't even think ever held Labor values.Maybe he didn't believe in deficits enough. Maybe Labor values believing in a big multi-billion deficits.Wayne Swan is making up for that.He reminds me of the emperor who suddenly discovered he has no clothes on.He has had that for five years.He has never realised it. He's finally woken up to convince people in his press conference he was being realistic and he has the new policies to adopt being fiscally conservative or not, it is - I don't know he has no credibility. I don't really consider what he has to say but what I am worried about is where we are going to from here onwards. Where we are going for the opposition for matter.Being a grinch he has had his foot on the brake as far as spending goes. What now that he's admitted to a deficit, he will put the accelerating on spending as Rob Oakeshott is encouraging him to do.Another election victory buying his way to perhaps? Do you think he's Prime Ministerial material? You famously said that you thought he was Prime Ministerial material.Rather than Rudd that was the comparison. I think what he does... He at least has Labor values even if he serves someone who doesn't.Come on, you asked Malcolm Turnbull what he thinks of Tony Abbott. People in a political party are different and that's the way it is.Is there a press release saying that?When it comes to Wayne Swan, it's what he does that, I don't think he was right to promise the budget surplus. I have said it. I have #234e6r been a fan of it. Having said that -- never been a fan, having said that I think it is what he's done rather than what he said. I stand by the fact he's a very good Treasurer and our economy is in good shape. Our employment is low, we have low levels of debt. Prices are going up. We are in a pretty good place.If you set up a business you think of Swan as your CEO.I would do whatever I to rekrutd him. Particularly you talking about him like a jilted lover it is fake. The point I wanted to make about...I was going to say, the economy has survived in spite of Wayne Swan. I mean, he has no core competency in in area and should truly just give..I think people should grateful he gets to keep his hair because of Swan.Invite the Swans to dinner at the Peter van Onselen household.I think the Liberals haven't done a great - they have not got a lot of traction in the last 48 hours on this.A pox on both houses. I'm tees off on the government and Wayne Swan in familiar because he has humiliated himself. No matter what you think his economic management you think he's been the best economic manager since Keynes as Dee does or you think he's been a complete disgrace, who has embarrassed himself like Ainslie did, the issue is the Opposition, Joe Hockey coming out and saying we will deliver a surplus in the current financial year, if we win the next election if they called a snap election at the start of 2013, is beyond silly. I mean he's in Swan-esque territory saying that.Today he said he wouldn't. He said today... I didn't see that.Can I say he didn't - it wasn't called a back-flip in 'The Australian' he recast his position. So once a back-flip and one say recast.They are both back-flips in my judgment but you have Christopher Pyne saying they would have delivered five surpluses over the last five years and no-one in the treasury side of the party being prepared to copy that. So there isn't a great deal of economic credibility on the Coalition side. Tony Abbott does like to say that half of his front bench were ministers when John Howard was Prime Minister, that is true but in fairness Greg O'Mahoney that's the half that John Howard didn't really trust to do anything. The other half were the withins that really did the heavy -- ones that did the heavy lifted.It wasn't the highlights package of Howard's economics team that is currently surrounding Tony Abbott.If I had to put my money on it I would rather back them than Swan and his team. Surely if there is a comparison.Wayne Swan running the show.Joe Hockey you would rather Joe Hockey than Wayne Swan? As I said I would rather an empty chair than Wayne Swan running the show.We will move on. There is so much more we could talk about with Wayne Swan, but the gift that keeps on giving Mal Brough Peter Slipper, James Ashby. This is on appeal so no doubt the resident lawyers and barristers in the House are going to have to be somewhat cautious in what they have to say but Mal Brough, he's missing in action. He's a guy that loves the media. I always found it so easy to get in touch with Mal and he would come on the show and talk to you about his political ambition and policy interests and all of a sudden, I tried to get him on Tuesday, no response. I tried to get him on Wednesday no response. Today, no response. And I have invited him for Sunday as well but still sadly no response. What do you reckon it could be that he's driving Mal Brough way from the cam this week?Busy Christmas shopping.Electorate. Grass roots campaigning. He did a lot of that in 2007 which is why he lost his seat. What else? What's going on?I think the - it is interesting what the other Coalition members might have known about it, I don't know if you have interviewed Tony Abbott about it but I think it is very qualified statement, as to what he knew about this before it all broke. I think Christopher Pyne's comment that he was doing nothing more than passing the time of day with Slipper's staffer that Sunday night, there has been an element of disbelief about this, a party that's been so hell bent on bringing down the Government was presented an opportunity in this disaffected staff member, and this bizarre situation of a speaker with so much hinging on his numbers and staying in ta role or not they wouldn't take advantage of that. And it does seem that as least one of them was right at the nerve centre of the process.We also still don't know who is funding James Ashby and his appeal.Isn't that a simple case of he's not - this is a law firm that only gets funding if it actually has a victory?No, I think - the other one there was costs and things involved.We don't know that's the issue. Whether there is contingency offending with Harmers workplace lawyers we don't know. It is not onto record. But what distinction does that make.I think it makes a lot of difference.It is the Liberal Party?If is it is linked to the Coalition.Do you feel sorry for Slipper?No not particularly no because his text messages were vulgar in the extreme, his attitude towards women as expressed in some of those text messages is evident... Do you think that renders him not worthy of being in the speakership anyway quite apart from what happens in the case?Yeah, obviously careful of what I say but no, I don't - you know I'm glad he's not Speaker anymore.Greg? I would have to agree with that. I think you have got to feel sorry... I thought you were a Peter Slipper fan.He's let me down. It's a tragedy when you look up to a man for so long and right at the cusp of doing so many wonderful things he abandons you like he has but he and I haven't spoken now for a while, it hasn't been easy. No, I'm not at all. I think those text messages were more than enough to make sure he never played a role.To can the Justice.Have you read it because Tony Abbott is happy to comment but he doesn't bother to read the judgment.Someone was tweeting it to him line by line.I read Slipper's text messages or 300 pageses of him. Managersliper 's conduct in some of the text -- Mr Slipper's text messages are capable of being sexual harassment but then in the interlocutory applications to dismiss the abuse of process was he looked at the conduct of James Ashby and his Confederates as he likes to call them post the February allegations of sexual har hasment and whether they were -- harassment whether they were politically motivated and found they were obviously, will be subject to appeal.I'm shocked that the justice in this case, I realise it's on appeal but I'm shocked the justice has been so skatszing about Ashby with the conspiracy a cocked up conspiracy in terms of what's been alleged by the judges comments. I'm surprised by that because he seem like an intelligent well rounded individual when which was across the machinations of politics when he told Peter Slipper he should try to become Speaker so he wouldn't have to contest his seat. Slipper thought who do you need advising me now I am Speaker. Ashby.I'm not sure it was that kind of stuff he was after. That...Careful.But the text messages there was that sort of a flirting weird...Evidence of a massage?There was doseHave you ever been massaged by an employer.I don't think had was an employer time.At the time of the massage he was an employee.I am glad the panel is really raising the tone. We will take a commercial break and we will come back and continue talking about Mal Brough. Missing in action. Back in a moment.

Welcome back. I'm joined by Greg O'Mahoney, Ainslie van Onselen and Dee Madigan. We have been talking about Swan and his really surprising breaking of a promise to deliver a surplus, and we have been talking about Mal Brough who is missing in action. A guy who normally loves the camera. Can't find him, can't get him. I don't know where he is. He doesn't answer his phone. He must be busy. Scruff Bucket on twitter tells us it is Christmas he must be out there. A few tweets and e-mails keep them coming in. Ainslie you have been accused of being straight out of Liberal school.Well, I'm conservative by nature I guess. So? I didn't know that.Another question for you Ainslie son Twitter. This say serious question, why did the Justice still step away from the appeal case because of a conflict. Is this normal practice?They have got it wrong on a number of count there's. An appeal is heard by separate judges. What Justice Rares has stepped away from is hearing the application by Slipper that he filed yesterday for costs. So... Why would he do that.Last week in the judgment he ordered costs in the cause so normally when you win the application as Slipper case you get costs but it is #k09s on the scale and the resume of thumb is 65% of the actual costs you may get back. That's the rule of thumb. What Slipper has sought an exceptional order which is that Ashby pays his in indemnity costs so all his Inu cured costs and the lawyer acting for Ashby Harmer pays those indemnity costs on Ashby's behalf.This legal moment on Contrarians, Ainslie you are a lawyer what crime has been broken if Brough told Ashby to take action? I think what Zoz means by that is what is the big deal if bruf bruf told Ashby to take action? -- Brough told Ashby to take action?The judgment reveals actually in fact Ashby and his friends were considering action long before Brough was involved. So Mal Brough actually only became involved around 289 March. I think Tony McArdle from the Queensland LNP was involved a little earlier than that. Earlier in the month. Brough did three things basically. He encouraged Slipper to produce the diaries of - sorry, encouraged Ashby to obtain Slipper's diaries from 2009-2010.Is that legal? It at least unethical for the person working - Mal Brough can do what he likes if he's trying to sort of in a sense hurt Slipper in a political context but I would have thought Ashby working for Slipper shouldn't be doing thatThey were obtained sur eptishsly and they were obviously conscious.Isn't that... A bad look for Brough.Is that not a crime if you ask someone to do something for you...If it is in the public interest to have those issues disclosed there is various wide riders and qualifications but it may have involved dealing with security harassment which has not been -- sexual harassment which has not been tested at this point that's why Ashby has made the application for Fair Work Australia and appealed so he does get a trial on the merits. The second thing that Brough did was encourage Ashby to get a lawyer to seek legal advice. And the third is assisting I think one of his friends, Karen Doehn in getting a job. He passed his CV on to Clive Palmer.It is not every day we get someone on the Contrarians who has read the judgment. We have got a bit of time left. At the end of the day looking back, 2012 it's been a pretty inspiring year in federal politics it is one of those years that thinks you I'm glad I am koring this and I spend -- covering this and I spend my life following politics and commenting on it and it gives you hope for the 2013 election year. This can only go up at the very least?I agree. It's the sort of leader where a lot of Australians living abroad will be wanting to get home as quickly and possible and celebrate the wonderful political scene we have at the moment. People will be voluntarily turning out to vote inspired by the performance of both sides.Who are the big losers of this year. The union movement is number one by a mile. It's just got hit from pillar to post, month to month of this year. And I know you are very close to Paul Howes and he's a lovely guy but he can't be high-fiving strangers goes into Christmas. It's been a very difficult year for the European Union movement. I think Tony Abbott has had a -- for the union movement. Tony Abbott has had a tough year. His polling has been negative recent recent ly against ate government failing in the key measures you expect a Opposition Leader to be as ending in terms of popularity and authority. He goes into the Christmas break having lost that and looking desperate and not finding any real traction at all in the last 24 hours on the big budget back-down.Who are the three standout performers for the government this year? Performers? Don't give yourself thinking time.Penny Wong, Julia Gillard, and Bill Shorten. I was going to say.What a surprise. Penny Wong who yesterday just had to explain how she couldn't deliver a surplus. Julia Gillard...But no,... Why didn't Wayne Swan do that? He didn't get the sentences lined up in the right order.But if you think about it yes there's been, NDIS, there has been gone skwi, there has been -- Gonski, and carbon price, are the things lost a little bit with the scandal that's happened this year, there has been plenty of good stuff happening underneath. Take me through the clause in Gonski that says none of this is binding.What do you mean? There is a clause, I think it is clause 11, I might be wrong, that says none of this is binding.I'm sure that's a legal thing. There will be...Education reforms that will happen from it and they will help Australian schools and Australian standards go up.What we need in the country is more non-binding legislation. I think if we could get it right in 2013, aspirational government. Is a wonderful thing.Flexibility we talked about it earlier and how important it is.It's never been done before, it is because they were trying to put an achievement down that isn't one. A little bit like Julia Gillard trying to claim credit for the surplus that hasn't been delivered. NDIS, I am happy to say they arele really making progress for this, I didn't think they would for one, and hats off to the government for doing so.FOFA.Financial institutions regulations. That's a big one too.I'm surprised the Labor talking notes were containing that.I don't have any Labor talking notes.Not today. So much more coherent for it. What's your view Ainslie van Onselen, do you expect it to be an inspiring year in politics or do you think it will be personal the way it was this year?Probably personal. I don't think any love that was between Abbott and Gillard has well and truly been lost. So... They can't stand each other now.I am looking forward to the Liberal Party adverts which will be quoting Gillard and Swan, I guess, verbatim on how they were going to promise this beautiful surplus which never came.The Liberal school, I will counter that by saying the Labor advert needs to be a 30 seconds of a photo of Tony Abbott and I reckon that cold cost the Liberals the election.Who will be the candidate for the Labor Party at the next election? Yes on balance I would say so but you can't rule out the Labor Party being the brutal organisation it is whether you like it or loathe it it can change leaders like that in an instant. And there is always the chance that if the polling goes south, or if they think enough of them think they will lose their seats and they can't win, and they panic out of pure self interest they make a last minute shift, not even at the start of the year but even towards the end of the year.The party for a decade.You are chatting to the guys all the time is that on the cards close to being on the cards at the moment No, I don't think so. The people that are sort of rattling the sabres now are the Rudd supporters. Rather than the great bulk of people that are continuing to stand by the government. We are behind Julia Gillard I should say. We are out of time. Last show for the year. Greg O'Mahoney, Ainslie van Onselen and Dee Madigan thank thanks one and all for every time have you come on the program in 2013. Hope to see you again in 2013. Thanks for your company. Even for those of you who would tweet in and e-mail or slam me or more often the panel we appreciate you contributing your thoughts to the program. Be sure and tune in for the last show I will be doing for the year, 'Australian Agenda' we will have Dr Craig Emerson and Greg Hunt as the the political guest. Paul Kelly will be back as well. See you then. Live Captioning by Ai-Media