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Good afternoon welcome to the program. Good to be back for a big election year.From next week we are moving to a two hour program on PM Agenda, more time for some new segments and more time to explore issues that are going to matter for you, this election year.Today, we will be talking to one of the Government's top ministers, Anthony Albanese, this afternoon about some important issues in his portfolio, transport. But other issues as well. Specifically the Newstart allowance. Pressure is building within the Government for an increase in the Newstart allowance. We will hear from Anthony Albanese on that. We will also be discussing with our panel the election year ahead. What are the big issues that will be shaping this election. What issues should be shaping this election.And also how have the leaders spent their summer breaks.Wisely or not. We will discuss that with our panel coming up.We will also keep you up to date with the breaks news as you can see on your screen with the grass fire burning out of control in Victoria.First a check on that and some top stories this hour. Back to the news centre. Thank you David. An emergency warning has been issued for a fire burning at Rose Lain in Wallan in Victoria. Matt Gallant joins us with the latest.Good afternoon. 35 fire trucks are currently on the scene in Wallan which is 50km north of Melbourne. Fighting an out of control medium fast move ing grass fire burning in the Old Sydney Road area in Wallan moving in a northerly direction towards Darawee road, burning both sides of old Sydney sood and the western side of Rose Lane. The fire is currently 30 hectares in size and is expected to impact Darrerweek Road. Authorities are say ing to be prepared to enact the bushfire safety plan and if you are wanting to leave leave now and if you are staying, take share shelter. It is a risk tohomes and lives so if you are prepared to leave, leave now.Talk to you again soon. US President Barack Obama has been sworn in for his second term as the US President. It was a low key affair but tomorrow he will take the oath for a second time during a national ceremony in front of hundreds of thousands of people. It looks like a rehearsal but that was the real thing. Barack Obama's second term in office has now begun.I do solemnly swear.That I will faithly execute.That I will faithfully execute.The office of the President of the United States.The office of President of the United States.And will to be best of my ability.I will to the best of my ability.Preserve, protect and defend.Preserve, protect and defend.The theThe constitution of the yailts.So help me God.Then a touching show of support from the first family. "Good job dad' said his younger daughter Sasha.I did it.Jet you didn't mess up". The President and vice president must be inewe rated on 20 January, earlier in his residence Joe Biden was sworn into office.The duties of the office of which I'm about to enter.So help me God.So help me God.Congratulations.Thank pup By tradition inauguration s are held on Mondays so this year it's happening twice, with tomorrow a public ceremony the kind we are more used to seeing. There they were rehearsing before the real President repeats his lines in front of a crowd of hundreds of thousands.Thank you.In 2009 there was Obama mania. A lot of hope that change was coming.History was being made. It was a sense America was re inventing itself. But that change hasn't come. The economic problems were far worse than anyone expected. And the President's face cynically destructive political opposition he seemed unable to neutra Elizabeth. The -- neutralise. The expectations of four years ago have never been met. The President's supporters will be celebrating, confident fortunes have turned.First African American to be sworn in as President and he got sworn in the second time.That was some times in doubt in the first term. So I think tomorrow is optimism at least for a day. This will be a more sober affair. With both America and its President more realistic about what can be achieved. But with two election victories behind him, and no more to win, Barack Obama can now focus on securing his legacy. A French sailor who was stranded in the ocean for three days is said to be in good spirits after being rescued by a passenger cruise ship.63-year-old Alain Delord ran into trouble off Tasmania, when his yacht was demasted, and suffered hull damage in rough weather conditions. Three days in rough seas, in the Southern Ocean on a life raft. That's what Frenchman Alain Delord endured after he was forced to abandon his damaged yacht 500 nautical miles south-west of Hobart. He sent down a distress call and lucky for him the Orion cruise ship was on its way to Macquarie Island and responded. After a near 50 hour detour, disappointed cruise ship passengers quickly changed their tune, when they reached the 63-year-old.So, I tell you what what we got him yesterday, I mean there was just a cheer went up along the length of the ship so I think people are feeling a bit better about it now. And it wasn't long before Mr Delord received the all clear from doctors on board. And enjoyed lamb shanks and a glass of red with passengers and crew.It was literally 90 minutes later he was able to relax in his five star suite with marble bathroom and a bed bigger than his life raft.The Australian Government has raise praised all of those -- praised all of those involved in the rescue.I congratulate AMSA but want to acknowledge and congratulate the Orion and all the crew there who participated in this rescue. Alain Delord is expected to arrive in Hobart tomorrow morning. A man wanted over the fatal shooting of a young dad in Sydney's west is armed and dangerous. According to police. Police are hunting a man named Graeme Smith after 24-year-old Joshua George was killed in broad daylight in Claymore yesterday afternoon.Mr George died from a single bullet wound to the chest.Members of the public are warned not to approach Mr Smith, police believe he may be armed and dangerous.At this stage we are still searching for Mr Smith.But at a media release, releasing his identity appealing for public support as to his whereabouts. Also appealing to Mr Smith to surrender himself to police.We do know he was at a party in the Campbelltown area and if anyone has any information in relation to that we are quite happy to talk to them. The 21-year-old is described as Caucasian with a solid build, 170, to 175cm tall with short light brown or blond hair and brown eyes. Detectives are questioning a man over the death of a Sydney woman who was stab ed sel tiles in the -- several times in the city's south-west. The body was found by police paramedics who rushed to the home at Macquarie Fields yesterday afternoon. Officers arrested a 47-year-old man who was quizzedover night about the attack. Police believe the death was related to a domestic dispute. Algerian special forces searching the gas plant at In Amenas in aljeer gentleman following the hostage crisis have -- al-Algeria have found dozens more bodies. The number of people who died during the siege has now reached past 80, including at least 48 hostages.Meanwhile Algerian authorities say five of the militants have been found hiding in the gas plant and have been captured. These images show the remains of the security convoy the militants attacked as they forced their way into the complex. And these are just some of the weapons they used as they overran the site. Note the military style uniforms that the terrorists were wearing. In the middle of it all, this was militant leader Al Niiri recorded as he told at nigh earn army officer precisely what he wanted TRANSLATION: Our demands are so easy if you want to negotiate with us. TRANSLATION: Go ahead TRANSLATION: We want the prisoners, a hundred of them. TRANSLATION: How many?100, 100 TRANSLATION: Continue, continue. TRANSLATION: We are prepared to die. Either we get our brothers or we die.Within hours of the conversation Algerian special forces made their move and these hostages are the ones who escaped. They emerged with their hands up once the four day siege was over. After days of uncertainty only now is there finally some clarity about what actually happened. The attack focused on the gas production area where the terrorists were holed up after being driven out of the accommodation block a mile away. Militant s blew up part of the plant to push back surrounds forces. 15 burnt bodies were later found. The facility was booby trab trapped with explosives hampering efforts to retake it. The siege, 48 hours after the attack on the convoy, took out 11 terrorists.But only after they murdered seven remaining captives.Weapons recovered included machine guns, mortars, missiles with launchers, RPGs and grenades arranged on explosive belts.The operation to dismantle mines and explosives left behind by the militants at the plant continues.So too, the questions about how this ended the way it did. In sport, Australia's national sclekters have named a 12 man squad for the up coming T20 series against Sri Lanka. George Bailey, is skipper, James Falkner has been named as has Ben Lachlan from the Hurricanes. Leading run scorer Shaun sass Marsh.The 12 we have selected are very much the form players of the Big Bash League. However, there wasn't room for Brisbane Heat's Luke Pomersbach. Having a look at tomorrow's weather now. Heavy rain and storms in the north-east. Showers in the east, mostly dry in the south.-- It is 11 past four eastern daiflt time. Back to -- daylight time back to David Speers in Canberra performThank you very much. After the break on agenda agenda, we will be talking to the minister for transport, and infrastructure, the leader of the Government in the House, Albanese .

You're watching PM Agenda. If like me you spent part or much of your summer holiday driving on our nation's roads you will have noticed an increase in the number of trucks year after year. Now, shifting the freight transport load from our roads to rail has been something successive Governments have tried to encourage. Not only to make our roads safer but also to save the economy billions, potentially tens of billions of dollars. Today an important development, from today there will be a single national regulator for both heavy vehicle transport, but also freight rail as well. This is a pretty big deal. It means truck drivers for example will no longer have to comply with different sets of regulations when they cross a state boarder. That can relate to how much they are allowed to carry in their load, where their numberplate sits on the vehicle, all sorts of things. Now they will be a single national regulator.Also today, a dedicated freight rail line has been opened in southern Sydney. This is part of trying to get more trucks off Sydney's busy roads. This is an important development as well and the Transport Minister, Anthony Albanese spoke to me a little earlier about it. Minister, welcome, thanks for your time. Firstly, just give us some practical understanding of what this move from state to national regulators for both freight and heavy vehicles will actually mean.

This is about creating a seamless national economy. Prior to today, there were 23 regulators across rail, heavy vehicle and maritime.Different regulation s to give some practical examples. In Queensland you're allowed 66 head of cattle on the back of a truck.NSW, 60.So what do you do if you get to the border? Offload six head of cattle? There are different signalling means different things in different states on the rail system. In maritime you need different licences to operate different jurisdictions. So for example if you're working in the gulf of Carpentaria as a commercial vessel and you go from Queensland waters to Northern Territory waters, not only do you need to have different relation e registrations but the qualification -- registrations but qualifications of the people staffing the vessel are also not recognised across different jurisdictions. So these myriad of contra decisions different weight allowed on heavy vehicles, different width, for example between NSW and Victoria, different numbers of hay bale s allowed across a heavy vehicle. This is absurd in 2013, it was absurd really, a hundred years ago but it has taken a big efforts to get this done. It will boost national productivity by $30 billion over 20 years. So this is real economic reform, it's not the most sexy issue but I tell you what it is one of the most important microeconomic reform initiatives that could have possibly been done.I doubt doubt this is an important -- I don't doubt this is an important reform. A lot of state regulations when you talk about the number of cattle you can have on a truck, the amount of hay bales would have been based on safety concerns. When you move to a national system what's given the priority here, the safety concern or what is going to be more efficient? How was that determined? Where has it ended up? Look, well that's been the subject of negotiation. But by and large the idea that something is safe to practice in NSW and not safe in Victoria and South Australia is quite simply just not practical.So we have moved forward , it's taken some give and take by state and territory jurisdictions. There are people who would argue that they want to keep doing things in the same way because they have been doing it for years and decades prior.We identified very early on for example, over 600 contradictory regulations just in heavy vehicle alone, that were agreed to be wiped off the table.So most of these things aren't big, most of these things are small but they are dam annoying and for a heavy vehicle driver who has to carry literally almost a metre, if you're operating across the national system of, of paperwork across the jurisdictions, it also of course means almost impossible to comply with everything accurately and to be on top of it, and still be doing your job. Most heavy vehicles are in Australia, of course family-owned businesses. This just adds enormously to costs and it is - has been of real concern which is why it's been welcomed so strongly by industry, be they the Australian logistics council, one of the peaks or the Australian Trucking Association. The Australasian Rail way Association, various maritime bodies are all on board for this. The assistance has essentially been some of the state bureaucracy s but we have worked our way through. There is still no doubt some argy-bargy and some hurdles to leap over. The maritime regulator AMSA which did such a fantastic job in co-ordinating the rescue effort in our Southern Oceans over the last 24 hours will become the national maritime regulator in March.Just getting back to the issue of freight though, a lot of people travelling around the country, or over summer holidays, everyone sees the heavy load that our national infrastructure has to bare from trucks, another announcement you have made today to try and ease some of the trucking congestion around Sydney in particular, is the final opening of this freight rail line. A dedicated freight ratline that will stretch from McArthur around Campbellton to Chellora around Strathfield in semi-. What happens with the freight from there to get --? --? Sydney. What happens with the freight to get to the port. Does this link-up a corridor to get to the port? It does link-up a corridor to the port. This is the new 36km Mario Monti link was the missing link, and it meant that during the peak periods of -- 36 KM link was the missing link it went there was a curfew where freight couldn't operate because passenger rail got the priority. This initiative, this investment, almost $1 billion through the Australian Rail Track Corporation that's been made, will lead to a tripling of capacity on that line, separating passenger from freight rail. That means simply greater productivity, greater efficiency, less trucks on the road. Less urban congestion as a result of removing those heavy vehicles offer the road. Greenhousegreen House gas emissions. If you combine that with the already under construction northern Sydney freightline where the Federal government have contributed some $840 million for that project it will again provide that separation. A lot of work begun around Strathfield that will separate that line. Really improve the efficiency of passenger rail in Sydney as well as the freight rail network. With the Moorbank intermodal project which is designed to again remove in itself 3,300 trucks off Sydney roads every single day. This is a revolution in the way that freight has moved around Sydney. We are taking through investment in the ARTC seven hours off the route between Brisbane and Melbourne. And nine hours we have taken off the east-west route from the east coast to the west coast.Does it mean that freight rail corridor, does it mean more noise for those people living around it? Look, one of the things that we have done is upgrade six of the city rail stations.From between Sefton and McCarthur have been upgrade ed with lifts and the like. That's made a big difference. Noise atenation has been placed in some parts of the corridor where it's been deemed to have been an issue.So inevitably with infrastructure you will always have a complaint and there will always be an issue or two that will have to deal with as it arises.But what we can't do with infrastructure and nation-building is say put it off to tomorrow, that's what kept happening for a hundred years on this issue. We have got on with the job since we came into office in 2007. We have rebuilt one-third of the entire interstate rail freight network. That's been an enormous achievement. Of course we have invested more, committed more, to urban public transport since 2007, then all the years combined from federation in 1901, right up to 2007. So when it comes to rail I think it's been one of the big differences that this government has made, and it's a record of which I'm extremely proud.And the business community are very supportive of.Well, that's an area where you have invested. Let me turn now to an area where you have cut money. We know that from the start of this year some 84,000 single parent, mostly mums, have been forced on to the Newstart allowance. It's cost them up to $100 a week.Today the 'Sydney Morning Herald' reports that some mums are turning to prostitution to make ends meet.How concerned are you about this? Do you reckon this is an entirely fair decision Government's taken? Well, you have got to acknowledge, David, and what you are sleft off is that -- you have left off is prior to the changes being made there will be people who would be in the same situation getting different levels of payments.So there was an inequity there, there is an issue with regard to payments for people and an argument is being had in the community, of course discourse about what the level of payment should be, what is affordable to pay for it, and that's an issue that the Government will of course consider in the context of our budget considerations.Just to be clear, are you saying the Government is considering this decision that's already been taken to shift single parents on to the Newstart allowance? No, no I'm saying the level of payments, which is what the issue is about, is an issue in which there's a public debate going on at the moment.That's the level of the Newstart allowance is under consideration? That's right.What's your view on the Newstart allowance, do you share the views that the Government could be more generous. My position David, as you would expect, is I'm a member of the cabinet and I have a great privilege of being able to put my position around a small room rather than live on Sky News.But it is under consideration by the Government? Well, everything's under consideration, David, in terms of the budget. You know, you consider these items in the Government context, in the context of what's affordable, would everyone like for every payment to be greater? Would everyone like there to be an unlimited amount of funds?Sure but this is a pretty clear cut case of... What we do is we set priorities, we do it in the budget context. The appropriate minister leads that debate.My responsibilities are of course infrastructure and transport, it's a big day for infrastructure and transport here in Australia today. And I am concentrating on those issues. But I will also have of course my say on other issues around the cabinet table.I'm sure you will. Just finally parliament is back in two weeks and another issue we know both the Opposition and Greens will be pursuing, rare for them both to be attacking you on the same issue. It is the mining tax.Why can't the Government reveal how much the mining tax has or hasn't raised? Well, come to my electorate, David, and you will see the Greens, I don't think you're aware that Tories exist. They spend their entire time concentrating on attacking Labor. So it is - I don't find it that unusual.I also don't find it unusual at all that there's a view that the Australian Taxation Office has, that when individuals or companies engage with the Australian Taxation over payments of revenues, payments of taxes, they do so in a way that is private and you don't have releases of details any more than they would release what your interim income is during the year because some journalist from a competing network wants to know what it is. I mean there are...The Tax Office will no doubt... A bit of commonsense...Amount of income tax why can't it reveal what amount is being raised through the mining tax? A bit of commonsense has to apply here and commonsense will apply and privacy provisions and they are a matter for the ATO and the treasury.What's privacy got to do with telling us how much the mining tax is raising? Because David, funnily enough, mining tax is based upon revenue and profits and there is a whole system in Australia of accountability of corporations in terms of disclosures to stock exchanges. You know exactly what the answer to that question is, David, I'm surprised you asked.Labor is foremost concerned about the privacy of the mining giants? No, the ATO and the treasury have process s with regards to priefssy and our taxation -- privacy and our taxation arrangements and the way those arrangements operate according to proper processes, not according to media demandsNothing to do with embarrassment on the part of the government of having spent money that from a tax that hasn't raised anything? Well, David, I'm sure put in an FOI about your - any individual or any company's taxation receipts and how it's going during the year and you'll see what the response is. I mean the Government puts out appropriate accountability, we did so with the mid-year economic forecast, we are doing exactly what every government has done and what you would quite frankly in your private moments, David, concede is entirely appropriate and proper.Minister, for transport and infrastructure, and Leader of the House, Anthony Albanese. Thank you for that. We look forward to talking to you throughout this election year.Indeed. Good to you,.After the break we will have an update on that fire that as you have seen on the bottom of the screen has been burning around the Wallan area in Victoria. Also a new poll out this afternoon, not terribly good news for Labor. Our panel will also join us to look at the election year ahead. Stay wuss.-- stay with us.

You are watching PM Agenda. Time for an update on the news headlines and in particular what's happening with the fire that as you have seen on the bottom of the screen has been burning around the Wallan area in Victoria. Jacinta Tynan.

An emergency warning has been issued by Victorian authorities for a fire in the Old Sydney Road Wallan area. The medium fast moving grass fire is travelling in a northerly direction and is expected to impact on Darrawitt Road and sur ones. The fire is approximately 30 hectares in size and is out of control. There is a risk to homes and lives and people in the area should follow the bushfire survival plans. US President Barack Obama has been officially sworn in for his second term as US President.In a private ceremony in Washington. Tomorrow the President will take the oath for a second time, at a ceremony expected to be attended by hundreds of thousands of people. A day of festivities, parades and fancy dress balls will mark the beginning of his second four year term. President Obama is expected to begin his second term focusing on debt ceiling negotiations and gun control. A French sailor is said to be doing well after spending three days adrift in wild seas south-west of Tasmania.Alain Delord was left clinging to a life raft after abandoning his damaged yacht on Friday. A cruise ship return ing from ant arc ka pick ed up his distressed beacon. The 64-year-old was pulled a board the Orion to the cheers of passenger, and treated by the doctor s on the ship. Following the hostage crisis soldiers have found dozens more body ys. Some have not been identified because they are so badly dig figured.The death toll has reached past 80, including 48 hostages. Algerian authorities say five militants have been found hiding in the gas plant and have been captured. In sport there has been a big upset in the woman's draw with Caroline Wozniacki knocked out by Svetlana Kuznetsova. The world number 75 did it the hard way, overcoming a foot injury to progress in three sets. Tomorrow's weather:

Thank you.Welcome back to the program. Welcome to our panel, joining us this afternoon here in the Canberra studio, Grahame Morris from Barton Deakin and Simon Banks from Hawker Briton.Happy new year.Before we look at the election year ahead what the priorities will be, what the two leaders will be trying to do in the coming months in particular, I want to look back at the summer break.Which is now winding down for all politicians and political travellers as well. Few highlight s for me that stood out particularly, in terms of the images here and how wisely or otherwise, Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott used this silly season as it's often referred to. Of course there was sadly bushfires, too many bushfires burning around the country. Julia Gillard have a look, she was out there touring a lot of these areas, showing concern, compassion for those directly affected by it. Offering what assistance the government could whenever she went.Tony Abbott by contrast was actually putting to use his firefighting skills. He has for a long time been a volunteer, a member of the volunteer bushfire fighter. And he was deploy ed his Davidson brigade was deployed to the south coast of NSW and cameras were there to capture the images as you can see there.One of the Government's ministers, Brendan O'Connor tweeted about this somewhat cynically suggesting it was a political stunt.Even though Tony Abbott has been doing this for a long time. And trains throughout the year for this sort of work.Aside from the bushfires there was also the royal commission into child sexual abuse. The Prime Minister released the terms of reference announced who the royal commissioners will be. That went down pretty well. Everyone seemed to think that was a pretty good line-up she announced there. There were a couple of softer stories relating to both leaders that also stood out I think over the summer break. One was the Prime Minister Julia Gillard pictured on the front page of the Sunday papers sitting on the lawns of Kirribilli House with her dog Ruben in a letter she wrote talking about her prior -- priority s ahead. For Tony Abbott, there was a front page splash not so much about him but his chief of staff. His fem chief of staff battles to get pregnant through IVF and the support that Tony Abbott had provided despite some suggestions he doesn't support IVF and he wrote a supporting piece driving home the point that he's not anti-IVF.So that was the summer as I saw it. Grahame what did you think about the way both leader used the summer period? shWell I think it was a bit of a nil-all draw. We will know at the end of this month if they used it wisely and it just seems to me that both of them needed a break.They needed a break from each other.They both managed to get a bit of time off I should point out.They did.Which is important.And it's very important they used it to think about what they're going to say this year. Why do they want to be Prime Minister at the end of the year.And both of them need to come back refreshed with some ideas.Yeah, look there were a few smarmy little things that happened. Tony Abbott did go out and fight the fire s on the edge of his electorate and his own fire crew he's been for a couple of decades got called out down south and out comes the smarmy army from the Labor Party saying it was a political stunt. I think some of the attacks on Peta Credland was terrible.You don't think that was coordinated as part of a message to soften Tony Abbott's image with female voters?It was an interview sometimes ago in a woman's magazine that sort of got regurgitated.Sort of a funny political climate.But you know there are many, many people around this country who use IVF, you know some five, six seven times, sometimes successfully is magnificent but when it doesn't work it is very, very stressful on the people involved.It's a very personal pain as well.And you know,... Politicians should probably steer clear into weighing into --I used to think Nicola Roxon was a very good parliamentarian, useless minister but good parliamentarian, and her response of this she's become queen of the smarmy army and that is disgraceful.You are giving a nil-all draw how they spent the summer period. What did you think Simon.The most important thing was voters were sick of politics last year as they saw it. That's the truth and they were sick of both sides. Both have took a step back, have pretty much had some time off. Even the PM when she's been back at work for the last couple of weeks has been focused around issues like the bushfires, the royal commission, issues that you either just inevitably have to deal with if you're the Prime Minister of the day.Or issues that were left over from the end of last year.I think that was exactly the right call for her to make. And quite frankly I think it was the right call for Tony Abbott to basically stay out of these - you know out of the public limelight by and large over the last month.The starter's gun on this election year will realistically be fired next week.Both Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard will address the National Press Club, lay out their priorities there.Grahame what do you think both leaders need to do? What's the most important thing they need to do in this election year? Firstly, Tony Abbott.Look I think Tony Abbott has to open at the press club because there is huge expectations but he opens election year at the press club. He did it again last year. Sort of, you know, produced this book. People forget that there... I'm sure everyone has read it by now.A whole bunk of policies there over the last year -- bunch of policies over the last year starting with the press club and ta thank was the outline of what he's on -- that was the outline of what he's on about. Starting from the 31st of this month, listening to his people. They are essentially saying Tony Abbott will start to flesh out the stuff, starting from the end of January at the press club. Not all of it, we have got a whole year to go yet.Starting to offer some detail.To me there are two audiences. One is the press gallery who report what's Tony Abbott is saying. And that's very important.But so too is middle Australia.And it's quite a difficult speech because you want to talk to the gallery and get a run with what you want to say but you also want to start the election year conversation to middle Australia.And I think that's the balance that he's trying to get right. And it's important.What about the PM? What is the most important thing she needs to do in this election year? Is it policy detail or is it more personality character issues?Well, she's got to keep going with the policy stuff because she's got to actually say, all of those things we said we were going to do we are actually doing them. There is a lot of stuff that's sort of put off into the never-never or hasn't been done and it is affecting the one word that is very dangerous for a politician, and particularly a prime minister, and that is the word 'trust'. Somehow or other she has to overcome this problem she's got, you sort of don't trust the PM because she says something today and it doesn't happen tomorrow.Looking at the priorities for the two leaders do you agree with much of what Grahame said? I think that's right. A couple of important things to go and I'm glad Grahame brought a coup of copy of this book in because I encourage people to go and read Tony Abbott's speeches because 12 months ago we were being told that Tony Abbott was going to turn to Mr Positive, remember he was going to start outlining a positive vision for Australia. Read these speeches, and you tell me if this is a positive vision for Australia or not. No it's not. It is by and large a diatribe against the Government and the reality is that is what we will get from Tony Abbott again as much as they try to pre package it as a positive image for the future of Australia oopWhen is the book about Julia Gillard's greater ideas?Like...IThe Prime Minister doesn't need to give speeches to outline her great ideas, she actually just needs to get on and implement them because when you talk about things like the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the Gonski reforms which are absolutely, not only fundamental policy reforms in their own right, but I think they actually define something that's going to be absolutely central theme to this election year.For the PM you're saying it is all about the big policy ideas, education and disability, for Tony Abbott to be more positive? I have to say I'm sure Tony Abbott's going to cast himself as being more positive but the reality is, we heard 12 months ago he was going to be more positive, I don't think any Australian thinks he was particularly positive over the last 12 months. He knows his path to the prime ministership is by trying to destroy this government and that's what he's going to continue to do.I think most objective observers will say there is a fair dose of negative oin both sides of the political fence, certainly towards the end of last year.Does that inevitably mean this election in this election year will be more about personalities and character, a more presidential style contest if you like than we have seen previously? I keep seeing this written. And people saying - but I don't think so. You think back Hawke versus Peacock, Hawke versus Howard, Howard versus Beasley, Howard versus Latham. Kevin Rudd versus John Howard. You know, I think the Parliamentarians would love it if you, David, and all your colleagues said hey, we will run around and with all the ministers and the shadow ministers and we will report what they think.But you don't. You run around with the leaders and this one's going to be no different. I do think perhaps one of the differences this time is the social media.And Twitter and all that.They will not decide the election.But they keep speeding it up.And each election we have things get faster, mistakes are more glaring, and it's getting harder and harder for leaders. And you know damn well, this year there will going to be some mistakes on either side and to me how Parliamentarians handle the mistakes is almost as important as how they handle the message on the good stuff.It's a very good point I wanted to talk about the social media aspect of this election year, Simon, just before we go to a break is it a more risk than an opportunity do you think particularly Twitter?No, at the end of the day I think if you know what you're doing and you handle social media well, it's more of an opportunity for you. Because quite frankly... That's a big difference in relation to a lot of MPs.Grahame's right, the advantage of some of the traditional kind of command and control elements of media management are of course that you get to say what you're going to say.The problem of course I think in more recent years are prior really to the introduction of social media.Is there is a politician you had to come through the filter of media so the media got to interpret and I think the modern media particularly spends a lot more time, even with shows like this, commentating about what people are saying, rather than just reporting what they are actually saying.So the big advantage of social media and I think this is one of the areas where the Coalition has got it wrong over the last couple of election campaigns and from what I'm seeing in terms of them already trying to shut down candidates using social media I think this is a big mistake.They deny they are doing that.They are discouraging their people to get involved in social media for example.They deny that.That's the message that's gone out in the memos to people. Look at what they are doing. Look at the number of conservative people on social media compared to Labor Party where they are actively encourage people to get on.Malcolm Turnbull, Jamie Briggs, Greg Hunt plenty of people on line.Very high profile doing it but they are dis couraging new people have getting involved and that's a mistake. I think you need to spend the time to educate them and get them involved. If all you do is rely upon the media to filter your message to explain what they think your saying to people, well then you're missing the opportunity toy to communicate directly and I think we have seen with the Kevin 07 campaign a few years ago in Australia, Obama's highly successful campaigns, the use of social media to reach over the mainstream media to talk directly to the audience is an incredibly powerful tool and any pod of modern political party that ignored that does so at its peril.I do want to talk about the policies that will dominate the next few months in particular, certainly in the lead-up to the budget, there is a lot of debate about the news start allowance, pressure for an increase there and other issues. We will take a break. Stay with us.

You're watching PM Agenda we are talking to our panel this afternoon, Grahame Morris Barton Deakin and Simon Banks from Hawker Briton. I will bring you up to date with the latest Essential Poll which comes out on Monday. The prime numbers hasn't moved since last week. Despite the Newspoll showing the gap tightening Labor making up ground onto Coalition. This a Essential poll shows no movement. The Coalition 48 primary vote after preferences that means still big margin. 54-46 the lead for the Coalition.In the Essential poll today. A couple of specific questions they have asked as well on this Newstart allowance debate, whether it should be increased. They asked do you think unemployment benefits too generous about right, not high enough. Have a look at this. 25% say too generous, 30% say about right. Only 33% say not high enough. Only one-third believe there is an argument for increasing the Newstart allowance. It would seem according to that poll and then finally, an interesting question, how much trust do you have in the following industries to act in the public interest? Agriculture, tops the list.72% confidence there. Tourism doing very well as well. Then it starts to drop down. Retail, bank ing. Followed by mining. And get this, I'm sad to say the media industry right near the bottom of the list. Only 30% there. And power companies, we have seen power bills soaring in recent years, 18% believe power companies are acting in the public interest. Ah!My brother's a farmer, clearly more credible than me. But, on the political parties and how they are tracking there, the Newspoll had some in Labor, Simon feel we are starting this election year pretty well.The Essential numbers not as encouraging. Where do you think the reality lies? Well, if you look across all of the polls, I don't expect much movement to have occurred over the summer, as you noted yourself earlier this has largely been a politics free zone so you wouldn't have expected much to have moved.If you look at the various opinion polls depending one week or the next they are somewhere between 50/50 and 54-46 and I think the truth lies somewhere.If you look as historically at the start of the election years.Is not uncommon. That tells you quite rightly the Coalition are probably in front at the moment, they are the likely favourites for the election later this year but it also tells you that the Government's firmly on the playing field. And I think too if you look at the kind of policy agenda that the Government will be running, I think more fundamentally what will happen generally in the economy, I think there is a range of factors running in the government's favour.The Newstart allowance, clearly there is some pressure within the Government. Anthony Albanese earlier saying I will save my views for around the cabinet table and that's what expect him to say.But surely there is growing support there in the left, and pressure from the left within Labor to do something about this. Grahame do you reckon the Government will?I think Julia Gillard will look bloody ridiculous in a Santa Claus suit and this is the problem. We would all love to give away money. We would all love to do all these sort of things but you can't if you're not running the economy properly and you can't if you haven't got the money.And we should just take a pause here.Newstart is meant to be a new start.It's a bridging sort of period for people so that they can, you know get out there and have a go.It is not a hammer.It is pretty tough for a lot of people living on what it is, $35 a day?I agree.Wednesday we would all love to trouble it but the money has to come from -- to treble it but the money has to come from somewhere and at the moment it ain't there.The important things about the debate is the anxiety is around particularly younger mothers if you like and having young children and those sort of circumstances. It is not about Newstart generally.So, if the Government is going to do something in this space I don't think you will see any kind of significant increase in the Newstart allowance. I think if you actually have a look at some of the issues going on, I think part of this campaign keeps ignoring the fact that a lot of people also receive other benefits whether it is housing assistance, pharmaceutical benefits, they are not generous, it is a tough life but as Grahame said this is supposed to transition you from being out of the work force and into the work force. I think if you will see anything from the Government in this space it's not just going to be simply giving people a little bit more money, it is going to be a focus around how you can incentive advise and reward them for making that transition extra welfare to work.We are out of time sadly and we will no doubt in the coming weeks and months talk a lot more about the policy agenda and the landscape ahead for the election year. But Grahame Morris and Simon Banks good to talk to you today. Thanks for your company today as well pep we will be back same time tomorrow, see you then. 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