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Hello and welcome to our first PM Agenda for this election year. I am Ashleigh Gillon. David Speers will be back with you next week in what is going to be a bigger and better program in 2013 with two hours of politics for you every day at 4 pm eastern, that is starting a little later this month. Today we will look at issues still dogging the Government this year, including the lack of mining tax revenue and job losses in the steel sector. Coming up we will chat with the shadow assistant treasurer Mathias Cormann and get the view of the Australian Workers Union on these job loss s we have sewn goo today from BlueScope Steel plus -- seen go today from BlueScope Steel. All of that is coming up first an update on the nasty bushfires still burning in NSW.It has been confirmed a bushfire in north-west NSW has destroyed at least 33 homes, and that number could still rise. The powerful blaze near Coonabarabran burned through tens of thousands of hectares at a ferocity not seen in the state for years.Homes under siege from a fierce fast moving bushfire.I have been doing this for 30 e odd years and I wouldn't say it's the worst fire but it certainly is one of the worst fires that I have seen developed. Certainly in that part of the world.Dozens of properties lost as a cloud of smoke enveloped areas west of Coonabarabran PThe speed it developed and moved was absolutely frightening and had genuine fear for people's lives.Dramatic pictures show the moment a world leading observatory was caught in the bushfire.In north-west NSW.The Siding Spring Observatory in Warrumbungle National Park damaged, after a wall of flames rushed towards it.At least five buildings have received significant damage, principally the lodge which is used to accommodate visitors to the site.100 firefighters spent the night struggling to control the fire which burnt through 40,000 hectares of land.The fire obviously we believe started from lightening, whilst that's the case there is an investigation into the circumstances of that fire to confirm the lightening ignition.There was also then in the proximity of that very, very strong westerly winds.The winds fanned the fire towards the town. Creates kilometres of fire front ripping through home after home on Tymor Road. Early this morning hundreds of firefighters and trucks arrived on site. The full extent of the damage still uncertain. AnAn initial visual assessment shows there does not seem to be significant damage to the buildings that host the telescopes and we do not know what impact the extreme heat and ash might have on the telescopes themselves.NSW seen the end. The battle is far from over.This fire continues to burn. Thankfully not towards the main population centre of Coonabarabran, due to a change in the wind.It now is burning northwards, so there is some concern around some of the other communities to the north of the Warrumbungle National Park.

Returning to the bushfire battle in Tasmania now and it has taken a tragic turn with the death of a Victorian firefighter. Sky News Melbourne reporter Loretta Johns has been following this story and filed this report. The firefighter has been identified as 61-year-old Peter Ronald Cramer. He was from Gippsland in Victoria's south-east, and had more than 30 years experience with the department of sustainability and the planning of management of fires and more than 22 years experience as a CFA volunteerI have spoken this morning to his wife, Julie, and extended our sincere sympathies to the family. DSE is offering them support and assistance at this time.Julie would like to pass on her thanks and express how truly loved Peter was by everybody that knew and worked with him.Our thoughts are not only with Peter's family but all the firefighters that have spent time in Tasmania with Peter over the last couple of days. To lose one of our fine firefighters in this state is a shock to us all. And as Allan has expressed we are certainly working through every way possible to support our crews, and DSE are doing a fantastic job to support the family.It remains un-Clare how Mr Cramer died. He was working in potential lines in the fire and his body was found after he failed to make a scheduled callin. Police are investigating his death but do not believe it was suspicious. 63 other Victorian firefighters on des did employment in Tasmania are due to -- deployment in Tasmania are due to return home tomorrow.Workers BlueScope Steel are reeling by 100 jobs to go by March. It is the second round of cutbacks in 18 months.The work for 2013 for 750 BlueScope Steel workers at the Hastings plant, and the workers are angry, by March 170 of them will lose their jobs here.Most people here today just came back from their Christmas holiday. So the company making that announcement today I think it's a bit gutless.15 months ago the company sacked another 200 workers, and since 2001 the number of workers at the Hastings plant has reduced from 4,000 to 750.The workers don't believe this is the last of it.To come down and look down the barrel of it again, you know, 12, 15 months later, the question is going to be out there on the guys minds and lips is there going to be another one in 12 months.BlueScope Steel says it is reducing production but the workers and the Australian Workers Union blame the company's management for growing too quickly.The union says the Victorian Government hasn't invested enough in infrastructure projects.I call on the premier, Ted Baillieu get off your backside and start looking at some investment in this state.For a long time BlueScope Steel has been a major employer in the Hastings western port area. Many workers know if they leave these jobs it's unlikely they will find another one. A similar story for many workers who have left this plant over the past decade.It has a real impact on the town. A huge impact on the families and is a big blow to the workers involved. BlueScope Steel says it will begin its new production process by March. A father and son have faced court charged over lighting a fire in the attempt to destroy a sophisticated drug lab. The fire then going on to burn out of control in Sydney's south-west. Sky News Sydney reporter Cameron Price has the latest.Police say a fire that was started in the Blue Mountains last week was lit deliberately to cover up and destroy one of the biggest drug labs never have ever come across. Overnight police arrested 55-year-old Peter Martin and his 27-year-old son Jim from West Hoxton on drug offences for allegedly running the camouflaged methylamphetamine lab capable of producing up to $10 million of drugs at a time. Police had been covert ly spying on the operation since December and were planning a raid on the site the day before the blaze began. Police accused Jim Martin of setting a lab and the surrounding national park on fire to hide the operation. It's perhaps the chance that they became aware of our presence somehow, and that spooked them.The Rural Fire Service and national parks and wildlife responded to the blaze. It took six firefighting aircraft and ground crews to get it under control. The bushfire destroyed more than 50 hectares of bushland, and took until last night to fully extinguish.Where the two drug labs themselves were situated is deep in the Blew Mountain -- blue mountains National Park only accessible by foot.The lab was destroyed in the fire but drug squad officers have since trekked through snake invested bushland to collect evidence. The two men didn't apply for bail in court today and it is expect ed they will when their case resumes next week. A 20-year-old man has faced Adelaide Magistrates Court charged with the bashing murder of a man in South Australia's south-east.23-year-old Navarone Hutchins body was found near the town of Keith last Tuesday. Ashleigh Steel has more.Jordan Lee Campbell fronted a court hearing this afternoon charged with the broodal murder of his former -- brutal murder of his former friend 23-year-old Navarone Hutchins. The 20-year-old was extra dieted to South Australia after being -- extradited to South Australia after being arrested in Robinvale last week. Mr Hutchins was reported missing for four days before SES volunteers discovered his body on a dirt track about 5km away from the south-east town of Keith where both men lived. Police say he died from multiple injury s to his head and torso and are still hunting for a murder weapon as well as a number of items belonging to the victim including a mobile phone and a gold chain.Mr Hutchins has been described as a popular and much loved member of the community. He would have celebrated his 24th birthday tomorrow. Egypt has ordered a retrial of ousted leader Hosni Mubarak after seat ing an appeal against his life sentence. The former President was jailed last year for failing to prevent the killing of hundreds of protesters by security forces during the 2011 uprising that toppled his regime.The site of Hosni Mubarak being wheeled in and out of the defendants cage on a hospital trolley a symbolic Iage of the Arab spring. Now it seems the 84-year-old former leader is set for more court appearances.He was jailed for life last June for failing to prevent nearly 900 people being killed during the protests that led to his resignation.The highest appeals court in the country has now quashed his conviction. The judge didn't clarify the legal basis for the retrial, or say when the hearings would start.Mr Mubarak along with his two sons and a family associate also faced retrial over the charges of corruption they were acquit ed off first time around. The former leader was moved from a prison hospital to a military hospital late last year. As his health took a turn for the worse.But this ruling has given his supporters something to cheer about. TRANSLATION: The earlier verdict there was nothing to prove he killed the protesters.It was just the fact that he did not protect the protesters. Nothing more.But he didn't kill them. TRANSLATION: I don't know when we will stop in these many attempts to vilify him.Because he doesn't deserve any of this.He helped us live in security for 30 years.Now we don't feel the security for one day in Egypt. The new politics in Egypt since Hosni Mubarak was overthrown are volatile. Public protests, and sporadic Street violence are common. This ruling risks opening up old wounds as prosecution Mohamed Morsi try ing s to heal his country's broken economy. He will re focus attention on the old regime a un welcome distraction to Mohamed Morsi. Hosni Mubarak was the first ruler to be brought to court by his own people and Egyptians are preparing to mark the second anniversary of the uprising this month. Mr Hosni Mubarak will remain in custody as he faces new charges of receiving gifts worth millions of jiption pounds from the state newspaper -- Egyptian pounds from the state newspaper. Hugh Jackman has won best actor for his role in 'Les Miserable' at the Golden Globe awards. The win see is seen as a major boost to Jackman's Oscar hope s. The Australian star credited the crew and cast of the epic musical for his win, as well as his wife.Three weeks before we started filming we had a terrible day of rehearsal. A humiliating day, you will remember it. I came home to Deb and said it's time. I have got to ring them and tell nem there is someone else to play this role. I thought I had bitten off more than I could chew. My wife talked me off that cliff like she talks me most days. Baby I will say it now in front of the entire world thank you for always being right, baby! 'Les Miserable' was one of the big winners at the Hollywood awards claiming the prize for best musical or comedy. The Iran hostage thriller 'Argo' depresident-elect itted by and starring Ben Affleck won best drama. Directed by Ben Affleck. Affleck picking up win for best director. Samantha Stosur has made a solid start at the Australian Open with the ninth seed through to the second round following a straight set win over Chang. He won in a tie-breaker but looked much more relaxed in the second winning 7-6 6-3. Tomorrow's weather:

Now back to Ashleigh Gillon as PM Agenda continues.Thank you. Do stay with us. After the break the shadow Assistant Treasurer Mathias Cormann will join us. That's next.

Welcome back. Today we have learned for a second quarter the big resources companies won't be coughing up any mining tax revenue to the government. Although there has been a surge in iron ore prices recently the companies profits are still too low to see the tax actually kick in.The Government had forecast a revenue of some $12 billion from the tax -- $2 billion from the tax this year alone. That obviously looks increasingly unlikely. Today Wayne Swan acknowledged that pointing out the hit to tax revenues is part of the reason a surplus is also now unlikely. Have a listen.What we saw in the second half of last year was a very big hit to our profit-based taxes.A hit that was so big that in four month s it accounted for the entire write down of the revenue for 2012-2013 and we said as a consequence of that it will be unlikely we will come back to surplus in 2012. Chirt but we shouldn't miss the fact the Australian compli and underlying fls are still strong.I got the opposition's take on the matter earlier with the shadow assistant treasurer Mathias Cormann. He rejected the assertion the tax is actually working as it's designed by not punishing mining companies when their profits are relatively low. The mining tax is a bad tax which came out of a bad process. We have said all along that this mining tax was a fiscal train wreck in the making.It was never going to raise the revenue Wayne Swan said it would raise. We have raised doubts about this for some time and no doubt that is why Wayne Swan for years and years now has steadfastly refused to release key information about the mining tax. Firstly refused to release the mining tax revenues assumption C and U the commodity production volume assumptions and now he is refusing to tell people how much the mining tax has actually raised so far.This is just not good enough.Labor's mining tax secrecy must stop. People across Australia deserve to know how much or how little the mining tax has raised so far. In particular given Julia Gillard promised to provide monthly updates on mining tax revenue collections when she was trying to get the mining tax legislation through the Senate.The lack of mining tax revenue is just one of many factors of course that led to the Government 's decision to dump the surplus. Was it really a mistake for Wayne Swan to abandon that target? A majority of economists have applauded the Treasurer for adjusting the pledge to accommodate the way the economy is trackingWell, Wayne Swan's problem is that he has been spending too much. Over the first four budgets he spent $172 billion more than he raised in revenue. At the time when revenue was increasing, at a time when we had the best terms of trade in 140 years and of course now that our terms of trade have come off somewhat our economy is growing less strongly than initially anticipated, you know we are not in a strong and resilient a position we should have been and could have been. Wayne Swan should have been able to deliver stronger budget outcomes every single year of the years he's been a Treasurer.So again was it actually a mistake for Mr Swan to abandon that surplus target? Because a lot of economists don't think it was.Well, they have promised a surplus in 2012-2013, more than 200 times and of course they should have stuck and delivered on the surplus promise. But Labor was never serious about delivering a surplus, it was only ever a political strategy. In order to get critics off their back about the fiscal mismanagement in the lead-up to the last election.Considering those conditions you just described will the Coalition then promise to deliver a budget surplus next year if you win Government at the next election?Well, at this stage we don't know when the election is going to be. We don't know what shape the budget is going to be in at the time when the election takes place.So there are a lot of hypotheticals there still.If you look at the last financial year for which we have a final budget outcome, from the period lead-up to the last election when Wayne Swan said the deficit for 2011-2012 for $10 billion the final budget outcome was $43.7 billion the position quadrupled. The short answer senior we will of course announce the detail of -- the short answer is we will of course announce the details of the costing s to the budget closer to the election after treasury and the finance budget has released a pre-election economic and fiscal outlook.Those election costings will they include any plans to increase the Newstart allowance? Do you believe there is any room to move on that at this time?Look I'm not here to announce re e pre-election policy. I note this is yet another issue the Labor Party is deeply divided over.So you don't think the Newstart allowance is too low?We will be announce ing any policies in this area in and areas in the lead-up to the next election. Let me make the point the Newstart allowance of course is not there to provide like permanent income, it's there, essentially as a bridge gap measure as people work to get themselves back into employment. Our focus will be on growing the economy more strongly so that there is more job opportunities out there for people. So that more people can get off Newstart allowance and of course earn a good living.Today it's been a pretty horrible start of the year for around 170 BlueScope Steel workers made redundant today. The company says the redundancies are due to a fall in demand for construction materials, and also broader pressures on the manufacturing sector which we have heard a lot about in recent months. Plus of course the high Australian dollar. There is no mention here of carbon pricing scheme under way at the moment.Considering the Coalition voted against the steel transformation plan, and any short term support last year, wouldn't these steel companies be actually under even more pressure under a Coalition Government?Well, it is very disappointing to see that yet more people have lost their job. And of course the carbon tax clearly pushes up not only the cost of living but also the cost of doing business.We have had from Labor more than 27 new or increased taxes including the carbon tax and mining tax. More than 21,000 new pieces of reslations. So the cost of doing business -- regulations so the cost of doing business in Australia has continued to go up.The company has said the carbon tax has nothing to do with this decision.The suspect individual companies don't really want to pick a fight with an incumbent Labor Government because it be the current Prime Minister is on record saying people who speak their mind on these sorts of matter s could get injured.So you are accusing the Government of bullying BlueScope Steel is that what you're saying 123?The current Prime Minister is on record in the past of saying that if people speak their mind on these sorts of matters they are at risk of getting injured. So I mean I understand why companies are a bit circumspect about picking direct political fight s with the government of the day.Looking at your home state of WA for a second, we have seen a Newspoll out today, head of the WA election in March, do you think that election is in the bag for Colin Barnett or do you expect the polls will tighten considerably as we approach election day?Look, the polls always tighten, elections are invariably close.No election is ever in the bag and of course Colin Barnett and his team will continue to work very hard to ensure that they make every post a win between now and election day. Also from my point of view I hope Colin Barnett is re-elected as premier with an increased majority.Finally on another matter, the 'telegraph' reported over the weekend on the lack of profile that key shadow ministers, people like David Johnston and Peter Dutton, the lack of profile they have. Does it concern you that most Australians have no idea who would hold these key portfolios if Mr Abbott does win the election? You would likely be the assistant Treasurer I wonder how many people our regular viewers would have any idea who you are?I have no idea how many people know me but what I can say is all of us including myself, all of us that are part of the Coalition team we work very hard every day to hold a bad Government to account and to develop a program for better government should we be successful at the next election. So I mean, Craig Thomson is very high profile, I don't think that that helps to further the cause of Australia moving forward. I mean, a politician being high profile actually doesn't mean he is doing a particularly good job and a politician being although profile doesn't mean he's doing a particularly bad job it sometimes depends on the position you are in. As to whether you get more or less profile in a particular role. Mathias Cormann thanks for your time. Hopefully we have helped boosting your profile today. We appreciate it.I will be back. Grahame Morris no doubt will have something to say about the need to boost the profile of Coalition front benchers. Coming up on the panel next Simon Banks is also joining us. Stay with us.

Hello again. We will be back with more politics shortly. First Michael Willesee has an update on the bushfire situation in NSW. The bushfire in north-west NSW has destroyed at least 33 homes and that number could still rise. The blaze near Coonabarabran burned through tens of thousands of hectares, at a ferocity not seen in the state for years. Dozens of farm sheds have also been lost along with livestock, much fencing and farm machinery.It's believed the fire was started by a lightening strike. Victorian firefighter has died while battling a blaze in Tasmania. 61-year-old Peter Cramer from Gippsland died while assisting back-burning operations around the Forcett fire. He was found dead after he failed to call in, the cause of death still unknown, he had been a firefighter for mother 30 years and a volunteer for -- more than 30 years and a volunteer for two decades.Worker at steel company BlueScope Steel are reeling with 1 70 jobs to go by March from its western port mill south-east of Melbourne. About 110 permanent staff will lose their jobs in the coming months along with about 60 contractors, production has been reduced to save on costs.It is the second round of cutbacks in 18 months. Hugh Jackman has won best actor for his turn in 'Les Miserable' at the Golden Globe awards.The Australian star credited the crew and cast of the ep ic musical for the win and also his wife. 'Les Miserable' claimed the prize for best musical or comedy and 'Argo' took out best drama. Sport and Samantha Stosur has med a solid start -- made a solid start at the Australian Open following a straight sets win over Chang. She won the open ing set in a tie-breaker but looked more relaxed in the second eventually winning 7-6, 6-3. And a quick check of the weather:

Thank you Michael. Let's get straight into our panel now. Joining me this afternoon, Grahame Morris and Simon Banks. Good afternoon to both of you. Happy 2013 thaflg of thanks for joining us on the show this year. We will spend time talking about in recent years the mining tax. We have seen today of course that there is again no revenue this this second quarter.Doesn't come as a huge surprise to industry watchers but Simon it makes it too easy for the Coalition to strengthen its attack on the mining tax when no revenue comes in?They will have a crack I'm sure but I don't think as you are saying no-one is surprised that in the second quarter of last year with iron ore prices down around the $85 mark that there wasn't likely much in the way of revenue from the mining tax. What of course has happened more recently is prices have moved back up towards about $150 a tonne, maybe going as high as $1 70. And, that likely will produce revenue and that's exactly what you expect from a profits-based tax which of course what the mining tax is.The interesting thing about the Coalition is they don't oppose mining taxes, they just prefer them to come in the form of straight royalties. Which get paid by companies regardless of whether or not they are making a profit or not.That has the same impacts for the budget bottom line, we have seen both in Western Australia and Queensland, where the recent budget updates that's hit the budget bottom lines too.The difference of course with the mining tax, a profit based tax is just a little bit more volatile. Grahame that is the argument of course from the Government, this is the point that when profits are lower relatively then companies are saved of this burden of the tax. Doesn't that show that the tax is working as designed and it could still turn around for the last couple of quarters? No. Happy election year Ashleigh.No, no, no. We have taken all of that pain. The Government has taken all the political pain. They had this cock amaimy introduction -- Coco meme introduction of the tax which makes us look like a tin-pot African country where sovereign risk all of a sudden getting associated with the government that you can't trust the Australian Government to do the right thing. All for nothing.We were told the you Beaut taxes were going to pay for tax cuts and superannuation increases for public servants. Going to do all of these things. What on ersdz happens to those now -- earth happening to those now? This was an idea cooked up in the back room of the Labor Party by fanatics and it's flopped. It may well at some stage collect some money but so far it has been an embarrassing flop. And something that has hurt our country and certainly hurt the mining industry.Well, politics is certainly back in 2013. With that kind of over inflated, typical kind of Coalition, just out there totally wild and ir responsible rhetoric. The real is, since the mining tax was conceive ed, not in some kind of dark back room, actually conceived by treasury and in fact supported at least in principal by the mining industry itself, this tax far from producing a sovereign risk for Australia, has seen Australia continue to be a premier destination for minerals-based and resource-based investment from anywhere in the world.It is why we have got an economy that's growing at around about 3%, it is why we have got about 5.2% unemployment. We have created about 840,000 jobs under the life of this Government. These are not the kind of sovereign risk disaster complete, you know, Apocalypse stories we hear from the Coalition. This is economies that is world class, performing well and the mining industry of course is one of the top performing sectors despite the over inflated rhetoric we get from the Coalition.It feeds into this broader argument about the surplus. We know that Wayne Swan dumped the target for a surplus, just before Christmas. Do you think that really is something that is going to sink into voters? That's not really at the end game going to be a vote changer is it? Surplus or deficit? Ashleigh, I think it is politically very important. It is a totemik thing in the Australian community now and has been for 15 years that a surplus is good, deficit is bad. Should it be like that though? This should be held up as a really standard bearer for economic credibility?Yeah it should beEveryone from my kids through to the Prime Minister, ought to be able to run a budget and live within their means.That is what life is all about. Otherwise you are sponging and bludging on ore people or getting the next generation to wear your stupidity and we have seen it everywhere.You were talking about Simon was talking about everything is hunky-dory. Know it's not. Small business is crying. Most big businesses in this country have lost confidence. And we have a massive, massive, massive confidence problem on the Prime Minister's desk and on a wall and the treasure's desk and wall and every politician desk and wall it ought to be a big sign that says it is confidence Dumbo and there is no confidence anywhere in the business community to go out there and invest and create the sort of jobs that we will need. Everyone is just really flat and frightened about what's happening. There are...The scarry continues.Some economist s have been saying this is what Wayne Swan needed to do in terms of better good for the economy but broad ly what it does do is feed into the theme the Coalition has been running for a long time now about trust and broken promises and this is just another one.Well I think what most people care about is what it's going to mean on the ground in the economy. And the real question which I think the Treasurer pointed out just before Christmas was that if the Government had continued to cut back government expenditure that was going to have an impact on economic growth. That was going to have an impact on jobs. And we were getting the kind of austerity, the kind of crazy austerity politics the Coalition seems to want to promote. These are guys who keep saying the Australian economy in some way looks like Greece. Or Portugal. Or Italy or one of those economies in Europe that's really a bit of a basket case. Well the reality is we are not. And we have seen what austerity-style Tea Party style politics is bringing to those countries, bringing absolute economic devastation. Well we don't need that in Australia. We don't need this over inflated rhetoric. We need clear sensible, proper economically guided policy. And this is what this government is delivering. That's why we have got 3% growth. 2% inflation. 3% interest rates. 840,000 jobs created over the last five years. These are all very good economic performances. And it's why economist s right across the world rate the Australian economy as one of the top performers, if not the top performer at the moment.Simon, it's not all really peachy, is it. Today we have seen around 170 jobs go from BlueScope Steel, the last thing the Labor wants in an election year is a spate of job losses -- joop absolutely and jobs is one of the things that the Treasurer put a real focus on when he made that statement in December.Look, the reality is in some parts of our economy, and this is the difficulty we have when we have a been of mining boom going off the clock, one end of the spectrum, is it produces impacts in other parts of the economy.And BlueScope Steel made that point them several when is they talked about the fact that certain parts of the economy are depressed. That the very high Australian dollar is making it very hard for them to compete internationally but that very high Australian dollar is a direct product of our economic success. Both in the mining sector and quite contrary to what Grahame said at the start of the interview it's an absolute vote of investor confidence in Australia that we are now seen as a safe haven economy for the first time in Australian history.Our dollar is seen as a safe haven for investment and is that quality which is actually making it difficult for some of these companies. Grahame when it comes to the job losses today is it misleading to continue to blame the carbon tax when the company itself is saying that's not to to blame. There are so many other factors. The high Aussie dollar one of them.I don't think anyone is saying the carbon tax is to blame but it's certainly an influence.You know, if you don't have stupid taxes like that there's more confidence. There is more confidence in the business community. There's more confidence for architects and what-not and jobs for them to go and design buildings so we can use the steel. There is more confidence in mums and dads to go and upgrade their house or buy a new house.These are the sorts of things that are affecting companies like BlueScope Steel and is the carbon tax 100% to blame, no but will the company be a hell of a lot better off if there was no carbon tax floating around, of course they would.Here we go again. More alarmist rhetoric. What you will see from the Coalition right throughout this year is every time there is say job loss, and an attempt to connect it to the carbon tax.Now, here is the press release from BlueScope Steel, as you noted earlier speaking to Mathias Cormann, it doesn't mention the carbon tax at all.There was another press release you might remember from last year where Tony Abbott tried to blame the lack of progress on Olympic Dam on the carbon tax and the mining tax. Despite the fact that the mining tax didn't apply to that project at all, and BHP made it clear the carbon tax was not a relevant consideration and decision. And BlueScope Steel's informed the market today about the reasons for this decision, the carbon tax not mentioned, so what we will get for the rest of this year is more of this kind of outrageous scary rhetoric ever time there is a job loss in some part of the economy and what that means though is the Coalition are not focusing on the real things that are going on in the Australian economy. How to really drive long term growth through productivity enhancing investments in infrastructure and skills, which this Government is focused on but which a Coalition government is committed to cutting.We will be getting the view s take on the job losses very shortly coming up here. While we are speaking about Mathias Cormann, Grahame, I know that you have been having something to say about Coalition front benchers not having much of a profile. We heard Mathias Cormann saying he's not worried if he doesn't have a big profile, it's all about what goes on behind the scenes. Is that poly talk? They like a profile boost. Is it really that important though if voters don't know some of those outside names? It is a bit. Actually Mathias Cormann in the business community has quite a high profile and has been one of the stars in the business community but elsewhere the point I was trying to make is that on both sides of politics we have sort of captain in visibles. We have the silent majority on the front benches. And that means that the two leaders have got to pick up the slack and are fighting themselves, you know to a stand still. Both of them. And it's affecting both of them. And I think there is an opportunity and has been for quite a while for the 80% of the front benchers on both sides to get out there, to lift their profile, to do their job in the media, to do the policy work and get out and make a noise. Otherwise the poor old leader has to bloody do everything. This isn't just a problem confined to the Coalition is it? Arguably most Australians couldn't name many government ministers beyond the key people like Gillard, Swan, Wong, Roxon and probably Shorten.There is probably a few more on top they can name. I don't want to disagreement with Grahame at one level. The modern politics particularly in a election year is becoming in creasing ly presidential. There is a very real difference going on here at the moment. So for example on the Coalition's side I reckon most people couldn't tell you who their health spokes man is despite the fact most Australians consistently nominate health as the number one issue they will look at in the coming election campaign.Whilst Christopher Pyne I think most people would know who he is, very few people would have heard him actually say anything of any mean s ing in relation to education policy. All they hear about him is talking about politics and fear and smear.So the Coalition actually driving a very deliberate strategy to try and narrow the range of issue s. They want to keep it on I guess economic management, the carbon tax, and boat people. That's essentially their strategy for the course of the election campaign.I think from the Government you will see a much broader picture. Why, because the issues that the government wants to focus on, issues like schools which I think you will see Peter Garrett speaking out on, you will see Tanya Plibersek out there on health, you will see Jenny Macklin and others speaking about the National Disability Insurance Scheme.The Labor agenda is a much broader agenda, and ultimately I think much more about the future. And I think that's what Australians will be looking for in this election year. Speaking of election year, of course here in WA it's actually state election year. Mark McGowan could probably use a profile boost in the next few months and will be trying his hardest to do so. We saw a Newspoll out today showing that Colin Barnett the Liberal Party in WA has a clear lead. Two party preferred basis. 58-42. Is there any chance of an upset Grahame or is it in the bag for Colin Barnett? I don't know about in the bag and that poll is certainly higher than I would have thought is - but again in Western Australia you say to the Western Australians it was a really good idea to whack the resources industry, yeah, beauty.And that is - that is adding to the climate of mistrust of the Labor Government in Western Australia.The Labor opposition.And when you look at it objectively, does the Barnett Government deserve to be thrown out? Well, I genuinely don't think the electorate thinks so. And more to the point, is it time for the Labor Opposition to return? And I think there will be a huge no to that one.But again, the Labor Party, another poll at the moment when the Labor Party primary vote is 30%.And this would mean that the Labor Party has not won a serious election since the last federal election. They have lost them everywhere.But, I think Barnett has his nose well and truly in front but no -- not as much as that.I like your very objective view on these things Grahame. Looking at the Labor side of things, I know a lot of Labor shadow ministers here have been desperately hoping the Federal election will be called early so it is before the state poll for obvious reasons. They are worried the voters will punish Mark McGowan for Julia Gillard's unpopularity. Do you think that is likely here in the west? I don't think there is any doubt the mining tax will have a bit of an impact in Western Australia.I mean one thing you need to bear in mind is the last WA state election occurred before the mining tax was even on the Federal agenda back in 2009. So the result back then which was essentially 52-48 in favour of the Coalition, you know you can only see the Labor Party going, gone backwards from there.But I actually think Mike McGowan is running a good campaign if you look at the issues he's focused on. The mining boom in WA apart from a brief stint in the GFC and a couple of wobbles at the end of last year has pretty much continued unabated and that's putting enormous pressure on the services within the Western Australian community, particularly schools and health, and the public transport system in Perth is really coming under an enormous sort of stress because of a lack of investment.So we have got say state government in a sense who has been able to enjoy the largess of a mining boom to be able to spread the benefits in order to try to attract votes. I think the real problem the Barnett G has got it hasn't really invest ed again in the long term drivers, the long-term future of Western Australia in terms of skills and health and infrastructure. That's really obvious areas of weaknesses and despite this massive mining boom that's been going on, almost un paralleled mining boom in WA's history, they are projecting to run a deficit for the first time in 13 years next year.That's quite an extraordinary situation to have reached.That is the debate of course that is going to play out over the next few weeks. Simon and Grahame we do appreciate your analysis in time with us as always on PM Agenda thank you for joining us. We will chat to you again soon and of course here on Sky News we will have full coverage of the WA election campaign. The polling day is early March. So we will be all over that for you. Judges as a side note we have had the essential poll coming through to bring you up to date with that on a two party preferred base, the late est essential poll has the Coalition on 54%, Labor coming in at 46%. That's a slight drop to the Coalition by 1% Labor up 1% there too. We will have of course our regular Essential Media chats resuming next week as well here on PM Agenda. Stay with us more on the BlueScope Steel job losses coming up after the break. Stay with us.

As I mentioned earlier in the program around 170 ones have gone today from BlueScope Steel -- jobs have gone today from BlueScope Steel. They mark the second round of cutbacks in 18 months. This time they have been cut from the western port mill south-east of Melbourne.Joining us from Melbourne is Liam O'Brien from the Australian workers union. Thank you for your time. A tough start to 2013 for these workers but I understand that there is a chance and you are certainly hope ing they will be reinstated down the track?Absolutely right. It's a horrible start to the year for anyone but obviously for these guys. It is only 18 months ago as you said earlier that 200 of the workmates lost their jobs and the 170 proposed to go now will happen mid March, there is a glimmer of hope that potentially workers may be reinstate ed. At the moment we are working on the assumption that's not the case and it will be very sad place down there today as a lot of families deal with the very tough decision about what they will do for the coming months. What's your understanding as to the key factors that have led to this decision? What the company said today is absolutely right.In essence really what BlueScope Steel are doing here are scaling back their operations. They are not losing any functionality, it is designed to meet what the existing market conditions are.We should remember that the steel industry is facing its biggest crisis since the depression and these largely driven by in two main factors. The first being the very high Australian dollar which puts enormous pressure on our steel producers but the manufacturing sector in general. Also the fact that there is weaker demand for steel due to the lack of construction activity, in particular in the state of Victoria but across the country as a whole. Earlier I spoke with the Coalition's Assistant Treasurer Mathias Cormann and he was allege the carbon tax is actually putting pressure on companies like BlueScope Steel but the companies essentially are not keen to rock the boat on that issue with the government. Is there any truth at all to that theory in your view?We have dealt with BlueScope Steel for a very long time and they are not backwards in coming forwards.They are the sort of company that will speak their mind on these issues.I think though in terms of the allegations around carbon tax, or the resource rent tax, complete furphies.Most Australians realise and definitely most of our members and manufacturing workers realise the factors that contribute to the weaken the conditions around here are the high Australian dollar.Australian worker that produce products that compete with the rest of the world can't possibly compete as effectively as they could three or four years ago when the dollar was at 70 cents whereas now we are looking at $1.05. That coupled with some unfair trade practices which the federal government are starting to address through their anti-dumping measures are the real factors behind why BlueScope Steel and many other manufacturers in this country are doing it tough. So if you get the Government to change one thing to help the situation, in your sector what would it be? It is worth noting of course that BlueScope Steel has already received around $100 million in Government assistance.We saw that as absolute essential for the industry. This was an industry facing a major transition. Not because of the carbon tax, but because of the competitors it's facing, in its region, and more globally.Dealing with much more motd earnised plant -- modernised plant. This is the stuff we want to see the transformation package spent on. Producing innovation in production, and process, these are the things that make places like BlueScope Steel more competitive. There is no magic wand here. If we could do that and bring the dollar back to 90 or even 85 cents that will be fantastic. Not just for BlueScope Steel but for manufacturing as a whole.I think really what it's going to be, it's about a suite of measures. It is about the steel transformation package is one, anti-dumping measures is another. These are really important reforms that the industry's desperate to get in place and I think really we would like to see more construction activity in particular in Victoria and that's why we have called on Ted Baillieu to stop sitting on his hands and start doing something with this state. Time's running out to coming up with a proper manufacturing policy in this state. We appreciate you joining us with those insight this is afternoon. Thanks for your time.Thanks very much Ashleigh.That's all we have for this edition of PM Agenda. Don't forget to join David Lipson tomorrow morning pe he will be along at 8:30 eastern daylight time for 'AM Agenda' then I am Ashleigh Gillon thanks for joining us today. Live Captioning by Ai-Media ai-media.tv

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