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It's 4 p.m. In Canberra, 1 o'clock in Perth, I'm David Speers, welcome to PM Agenda. Our top stories this hour, areas of NSW still under threat as two emergency warnings issued for fires burning around the Blue Mountains. A pilot confirmed dead after his plane crashed while water bombs in the state's south.

Welcome to the program. Well, we've just heard an update from the Rural Fire Service in NSW about the latest situation there. Conditions were looking better earlier today but late today two new bushfire emergency warnings have been issued with conditions flaring again. Two emergency warnings been issued for the State Mine fire and the Mount Victoria fire in the upper Blue Mountains, the communities of Mount Irvine, mount Wilson, Mount Tomah and Berambing have been put on high alert. The Rural Fire Service has confirmed that a pilot has died while water bombing west of Ulladulla in southern NSW. 61 fires continue to burn across the state. 23 of those are at the moment uncontain the. As we just saw the Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons was talking about the contractor, this water bombing pilot, he was a 43-year-old father, he says, with children. His plane went down in some fairly rugged bushland when he was going in to water bomb bomb. Some turbulence he says struck the plane and when ambulance crews could finally get into that rugged terrain, that's when they were able to confirm that this man had sadly die I die $.It was a tragedy for the firefighting community of course but first and foremost we're acutely aware that it's a tragedy for this man's family. As I understand it he's a 43-year-old man, he's a husband with young children and we're all acutely aware that there's a family suffering tonight or today because their dad hasn't come home.

We're also feeling for the firefighting community.As I'm sure we all are. Earlier today the Rural Fire Service confirmed the outcome of its investigation into what started that State Mine fire, concluding that it was defence ordinance. Well this afternoon we also heard from the acting chief of defence air Marshall Mark bin Scin on this. Me says the defence investigation is still under way. It is still ongoing, they have not reached their own conclusion on this. But he did tell us that there was so-called demolition training happening on the day we're talking about here, Wednesday of last week. There were, he points out though, light winds at the time, only 23km/h. He does acknowledge that a small fire started at the time but beyond that he is still being fairly careful about what he says. At the moment we're ascertaining the facts. That's what we're doing our inquiry into that particular fire for our specifics. What I do know, and I saw the report when I got up here this afternoon that the commissioner has provided me which was only finalised today, which has identified that that fire did lead to the State Mine fire.For more let's go to Sky News reporter Kenny Heatley at rural fire service headquarters. We heard that update from both men there. Give us a better understanding of what the situation is this afternoon, Kenny. David, well basically we had a lot of success yesterday in the Blue Mountains area. The Rural Fire Service holding back those large fires from impacting on those communities in what you may remember was a very hot, dry and gusty day, even though temperatures were about 10 or 11 degrees cooler today we've seen some very strong winds creating some very difficult conditions for smaller aircraft. So as we mentioned before, 61 fires burning across NSW, 23 uncontained. Those two emergency warnings in place. Now that's the State Mine fire and the Mount Victoria fire which earlier had joined up a few days ago. But they've issued those two together because it's a little less confusing that way. There's also a large fire spreading through the Putty ry area heading aggressively towards the east and caused the closure of mount putty road, affecting some transition fires. Back to the State Mine and Mount Victoria fire, earlier it did cross the Bells Line of Road and could be possibly impacting on Mount Wilson, also communities around Berambing, Mount Irvine, these are communities to the west of Bilpin. They're saying it's too late to leave, shelter from the fire if you're in the area. I did mention some install e aircraft were having difficulties because of the strong winds this afternoon. They are expected to ease but two air crane which are the only aircraft which can work in winds this strong have been sent into the area. It's a little uncertain how much success they are having at the moment. Three strike teams have been sent to Mount Wilson to really tackle this fire. So that's the biggest concern at the moment. In the Blue Mountains and also the Minmi fire around the Lake Macquarie area proving to be the challenge, causing some disruptions for travellers travelling north on the M 1 motorway.We'll catch up with you again soon. We were looking at some pictures from Springwood. Let's go live to Cameron Price who's at Springwood. Cam, what are the conditions like where you are now?David, good afternoon. Well certainly Kenny was talking about the wind easing off. They have over the past 20 minutes to half an hour. But there is still a lot of work here tackling this blaze that's in the valley. Just some spot fires that have been popping up this afternoon, there's a lot of water bombing aircraft in the airing tackling those little blazes as they come up. You can probably hear overhead of some those helicopters as they go about their run. It's been a hive of activity in the air. But certainly not on the ground. Firefighters are keeping a pretty close eye on things at the moment. This fire remains under watch and act, not an emergency warning like the fire up towards Bell, the State Mine fire which was under an emergency warning at the moment. There is a lot of concerns because that fire has moved into bushland that has as yet not been burned. It's bushland that hasn't been subject to any hazard reduction or back burning.s here at Springwood, residents, they're not too worried at this stage. They're out in the street keeping an eye on these fires but it's condition-wise certainly nowhere near what we experienced yesterday. We're going to stay in our homes, not evacuate.Let's home conditions remain on the improve. Coming up later in the program we're going to be looking at the debate whether climate change has anything to do with these fires and the history of bushfires at this time of year. We'll be talking to Christine Milne who is insisting there is a global warming link to what we've seen this week. Meanwhile the Government has taken the step to axe the mining tax. Draft legislation to repeal the MRRT from July 1 next year. This was embraced by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Treasurer Wayne Swan at the time. The battle with the big miners was one of the straws that broke the back of Kevin Rudd's prime ministership. Then Julia Gillard steppeded in, she was under a great deal of pressure to strike a quick deal watering down the tax and promising to refund the miners. The state royalties which the states not surprisingly jacked up, and also depreciation rules which ensured the big miners would end up paying very little. In its first year the tax only raised 10% of what it was meant to. The only problem is Labor committed to spending the proceeds when it thought the proceeds would be a whole lot higher, so things like the Schoolkids Bonus, superannuation, tax benefits and benefits for small business as well. That is why the now Government says this mining tax must go.The mining tax is a signature policy failure of the Labor Party in Government. It was originally intended to raise $45 billion. It looks like it's going to raise just over $4 billion. The problem is that Labor committed to a whole lot of spending. So this is about fixing the budget bottom line.The Greens and we'll hear from Christine Milne on this too shortly, don't want to see the mining tax go. In fact, they're going to move amendments to increase the rate and the spread of the mining tax. That means Labor is crucial for the Government here if it wants to repeal this tax in this Senate before the new Senate comes in after July next year. What is Labor going to do on this? Here was the Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen. This is concerning legislation indeed. Obviously we'll look at the detail and have a shadow cabinet conversation. However we have a fundamental view in the Labor Party that the minerals of Australia belong to all Australians and there's an obligation on Government to ensure that wealthy spread -- wealth is spread right through Australia from the mining boom. More on that a little later. Will Labor indeed stand in the way of repealing the mining tax. Let's check some of the other top stories this hour.In other news investigations are under way into a fatal light plane crash near Mount Hotham in Victoria. The experienced pilot was flying solo when the Cessna went down prompting a search andries cue mission. For more details, Sky News Melbourne reporter Greg Thompson. JaoThe single engine plane was found in rugged terrain around 20km west of Mount Hotham, it departed yesterday morning and was due to land at Mangalore north of Melbourne but didn't. The plane was a rents from consistency trele aviation in Mangalore and the man from euroa was a regular. It was been reported the man was a retired firefighter. His family has been notified by Victoria Police. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has handed the investigation over to the Australian Australian Transport Safety Bureau and a report is being prepared for the Coroner. Australian cricket legend Richie Benaud is being treated in hospital for chest and shoulder injuries after a car crash in Sydney's east. The 83-year-old was driving home from hitting golf balls when his car mounted the nature strip and hit a brick wall in Coogee. He says he was more worried about his beloved car, a 1963 Sunbeam Alpine. He'll be recovering at the Prince of Wales Hospital for a few more days. Children as young as 10 have tested positive to sexually transmitted infections according to new Northern Territory health data. That comes as a national report finds a dramatic increase in the number of children, particularly girls aged 12 to 15 with chlamydia. More than 100 Northern Territory children have tested positive for sexually transmitted infections in the six months leading up to last December. In data relead by the Northern Territory health department 7 children aged under 10 testified otested positive to gonorrhoea and chlamydia. Another four children tested positive to the two diseases and there was one further case of syphilis. The Northern Territory's branch of the Australian medical Association, said that the children had to have been sexually interfered with. It comes as a reported was released here in Darwin indicating that 10% of girls aged 12 to 15 tested positive to having chlamydia. Another report indicated some some 83,000 Australians tested positive for chlamydia in Australia last year. That's an increase on many years before. Doctors believe one in 20 Australians have the infection. Doctors and medical professionals have called for greater tested and well as greater debate around health, particularly for children.A quick look at the weather around the nation. Showers easing in the south and moderating fire conditions in NSW with widespread early frost tomorrow. David that is it from the news headlines. Back to you.Good thanks Helen. We'll catch up again soon. After the break we'll be talking to Greens leader Christine Milne about the biefrss, is there any proven link with climate change and also the Government's plans to repeal the mine tax. Stay with us.


Is there any proven link with al the mine tax. Stay with us. Welcome back to the program. As is fairly predictable with any natural disaster these days there's an inevitable debate about whether climate change has played a part. The Greens say undeniably yes. The Prime Minister while accepting the science of climate change says bushfires have always been a part of Australian life. Labor says now is not the right time to discuss this. But it does seem to be the only time the impact of climate change or natural disasters is discussed. Let's look at some of the facts. What started these fires? Some were allegedly lit by kids. One according to the rural fire service investigation was sparked by defence artillery training or a demolition exercise. But fires can be sparked by all manner of things. The real question is what fuels them to become a big problem. This is a much harder question to answer. To suggest that climate change is the cause is difficult to prove with any single event. The reality is we've often seen bad bushfires at this time of the year. There have been devastating bushfires in NSW in the spring months of September, October, November that we're in for decades and decades. I won't bore you with the list. Some have covered much more territory than the fire of last week, some have claimed much more lives sadly. But the Greens do believe there is a direct climate change link with this week's fires. I spoke earlier to the Greens leader Christine Milne. Senator Milne, thank you for joining us. Can I start, what do you believe has been the cause of these bushfires NSW has been witnessing for the last week?There's absolutely no doubt that there is an underlying warming trend. We've had the hottest winter, the hottest year in Australia, the hottest decade and the climate science has shown very clearly that when you have an underlying warming trend then any weather event, heat waves are going to lead to more extreme weather events like more extreme fires. So it's the intensity of the fires and the scale of the fires that are influenced by global warming. And that is what the scientists are saying and that is why we should be responding to this by saying let's do what we can to bring emissions down and to build resilience and a disaster fund for the future.But is there really any evidence that these fires are related to climate change at all? I mean, whether they were started by defence live ammunition testing or kids playing with matches, this could have happened 50 years ago. Absolutely, of course anyone lighting a fire, whether it's a lightning strike or a match or defence ordinance is what actually sets the fire off. The thing is though, how intense it is and the extent of the area over which it burns is influenced by the background conditions, and that is the point. The climate scientists are saying when you have a very dry period over a long period of time and higher temperatures, you get more fire danger days and more intensity and that's what the issue is here. It's intensity and fire danger days and the science is saying that we're likely to ski a trebling of days in the highest danger index by 2050. That's why we need to be reducing emissions. There's been a lot of criticism for the Greens for raising this issue. Other politicians argue that it's best not to debate this while the fight is still going on against these fires. But can I just ask, do you see bushfires, floods, cyclones as an important tool, if you like, to bring up this conversation?I raise the issue of extreme weather events and the need for Australia to be prepared for them every day. I don't just wait for an extreme weather event. You might remember with Cyclone Yasi I had been saying for some time you will see with warming waters off Australia, you'll see more intensity in cyclones and last summer I had a Senate inquiry into Australia's preparedness for extreme weather events because I knew that this would continue to happen. If you really care about people and their home and the community, then what you have to do is say let's try and prevent this happening in the future to the same extent. Saying let's not talk about it, let's just leave it means you're prepared to condemn other communities to the same thing again and that's not leadership.Again, when it comes to the intensity of the fire, we have seen more intense fires in the past, Ash Wednesday, for example.There's no doubt in my mind that the climate scientists in NSW have been saying this quite clearly. In the Blue Mountains, on the central coast, you're going to see these higher temperatures drying out over a long period of time and more fire danger days and that's exactly what quay've experienced. When you've got those extreme fire danger days that's when the arsonists come out, that's when you have fires start. But the intensity of those fires is the issue. I think we need to get beyond in Australia every time there's a major weather event for the deniers to come out and say it's not climate related. Let's accept we're living in a warmer wetter world. We're going to see more extreme events, the real debate we should be having is are we ready for it? Have we built resilience? Do we have a national disaster fund that can mitigate too against these extreme events and reduce the costs to lives, people, communities into the future? That's the debate we should be having. And the reason we're not is people like Tony Abbott want to think of these things as one-offs so they don't have to acknowledge the world has changed and we have to prepare for it.Can I turn to the mining tax. The Government has released draft legislation to as promised repeal the tax from July 1. Do you agree that this tax in the way that it was designed and the over commitment of the funds that it was meant to raise, that it has been a dud?Look, I certainly agree that the mining tax has not raised the money that it should have raised and that's because there were several design flaws in it. And the Greens identified those design flaws from day one when it was first introduced. We moved to close that loophole with regard to giving the money back to the states. So we certainly agree it's a flawed tax by design. But what you do to fix that is to go and amend it so that you actually raise the money. The parliamentary budget offices had a look at the proposals that the Greens had for pixing the mining tax and said we could raise more than $20 billion by fixing the flaws and that's what we should be doing. I don't think there's any excuse for saying to billionaire miners "You don't have to pay the mining tax, you can maximise your profits from the minerals that the people own and at the same time then go and say to low income earners "We're not going to give you the tax breaks on superannuation" and to people even worse off, people on Newstart for example, we're even going to take away your $4 supplement per week and then say to small business "Answer what's more we're going to make it harder for you to do business". It's rewarding the rich at the expense of everybody else. What is the true position underlying your stance on the mining tax? What is your view of mining in Australia? Do you support any mining in Australia?Yes, we do but I don't support fossil fuels for example David. I don't support the massive expansion in the Bowen base yin and the Galilee Basin. I don't support the gas expansion. Big increase in emissions from mining. If you're serious about clining they have to stay in the ground. But the point is with other minerals they have to pleat the environmental standards that are put in place. The whole debate here is about getting the money from mining operations and we have said we should have a sovereign wealth fund, put some of that money into the fund so that it funds health, education, the future jobs when the mining boom is over. That's always been our position.To be clear here, coal mining and coal seam gas and other gas extraction, you oppose.I said we should not be opening up new coal mines, not expanding existing coal mines, we should not be expanding coal seam gas. If you're serious about global warming, two-thirds of the current fossil fuel resources have to stay in the ground. Now if you don't want that, if you want to extract coal and coal seam gas then you are going to be putting massive emissions to atmosphere wherever they're burnt and that means you've accepted you're not prepared to contain global warming to less than 2 degrees. These are hard debates in Australia but why would you open up the Bowen and Galilee Basins, put all those emissions to atmosphere, destroy the Great Barrier Reef with new coal ports and dumping all that sludge into the reef? That's really the big question for Australia. Do you want to go ahead with the Galilee and Bowen Basins and destroy the reef or don't you? Do you want to accept the climate science?Surely if you adopt that position and essentially breeze mining of those resources where it's at, you're never going to achieve the sort of revenue from a mining tax that you're also suggesting?We've put forward a number of reforms to the mining tax to fix the flaws. I was part of the inquiry that we had a look at that and what we would do is increase the rate of the tax to the 40%, the same as is paid by oil for example. We would stop refunding those to the states, the royalties back to the states. There are accelerated depreciation provisions you would change. And this is on the existing projections, the Parliamentary Budget Office had a look at what we were proposing and said that if you close those loopholes, fix up the tax in that way, you could raise $20 billion over the forward estimates and that's what I think Australians should do rather than say the big miners can be let off the hook, let's not raise the revenue there, let's instead increase the debt ceiling and let's take away from some of our most vulnerable people a small low income supplement and take away that tax break for superannuation. All right, Greens leader Christine Milne, thanks for joining us.Thank you.After the break, we'll talk about some of those very issues with our panel, Steve Lewis from News Corp and Peter Hartcher from the 'Sydney Morning Herald'. Stay with us.

You're watching PM Agenda, welcome back to the program. Our panel in just a moment. Right now let's check the news head lines with Helen daley.Of course we are following the bushfire emergency and firefighters are mourning the loss of a pilot who died after his plane crashed while helping in firefighting efforts on the NSW south coast. The 43-year-old was killed this morning west of Ulladulla. There are also two emergency warnings in place for really the one blaze in the Blue Mountains. For more let's go live to NSW RFS headquarters to Sky News reporter Kenny Heatley. Kenny what are the late evident on conditions? Good afternoon, to you Helen. Those fires have really sparked up this afternoon. We've got two emergency warnings in place. They issued some emergency phone messages to communities along the Bells Line of Road. That seems to be the main focus at the moment. We've got 63 fires that are burning, 24 of those are uncontained and now the fire earlier today crossed the Bells Line of Road to the west of the explorers range trail and has burnt towards the north towards the townships of Mount Wilson, also along the Bells Line of Road and potentially towards the communities of Tomah and Berambing west of Bilpin. Phone messages to people say in Mount Wilson and Mount Irvine it is too late to leave because the roads are cut off in the area. RFS said that people could return to their homes along the Bells Line of Road last night. Communities of Mount Tomah and Berambing, the message is to leave east twarned the Bilpin area. Two air contemporaneous are water bombing in the hope of getting the up err hand. The windses have been strong so it's quite dangerous. The air cranes are pretty much the only ones that can battle in winds as strong as this. The reason why the two fires have been upgraded together is basically to avoid confusion. The Mount Victoria fire and the State Mine fire have been upgraded together because they were joined a few days ago and deliberately as well. A very large fire has spread rapidly this afternoon around the putty area, burning aggressively towards the east. Not affecting any homes at the moment but the current situation with the weather up there, we're in no position to try and contain this fire. It is posing no threat to the communities but it has closed a part of Putty Road. Kenny, what about the death of the 43-year-old pilot. He was a contractor with the RFS but he was helping fight these fires.That's right Helen. It's been a sombre mood this afternoon at the RFS headquarters compared to this time yesterday when we were having a lot of success in the Blue Mountains area with those hot gusty conditions. The 43-year-old male firefighter from central NSW. He had young kids, he had a wife as well. Heaves contracted to work on that fire that has been burning to the west of Ulladulla. Now, that is the Wirritin mountain fire which has bump the over 3,600 hectares. It was an emotional statement from Shane Fitzsimmons from an earlier briefing.It's a tragedy for the firefighting community of course but first and foremost we're acutely aware that it's a tragedy for this young man's family. He is Aihua 43-year-old man, a husband with young children and we are all acutely aware that there's a family suffering tonight or today because their dad hasn't come home.

We're also feeling for the firefighting communities.Now, we do know there was strong winds in the area and possibly a lot of bushfire smoke as well reducing visibility but I think it's going to be a long time before we start to realise the exact nature of what caused this crash Helen.All right Kenny Heatley, we'll leave it there. A pilot is dead after his light plane crashed in Victoria's rugged alpine region. The wreckage of the single engine Cessna was found by a search helicopter around 20km west of mount hoth a.m. The plane had gone missing on Wednesday and never made it to its destination at Mangalore airport about two hours north of Melbourne. Victorian police will prepare a report for the Coroner. Australian cricket ledge end Richie Benaud is being treated in hospital for chest and shoulder vurs after a car crash. His car mounted a nature strip and hilt a brick wall in Coogee in snes' east. He says he was more worried about his beloved car, a 1963 sun beam Alpine. Thousands of Sydney students have returned to campus after an evacuation triggered by a chemical scare. Three towers at the university of technology in Sydney's CBD were evacuated after two phials of highly toxic acid were discovered. Bomb squad officers have removed the phials to be safely detonated. We're taking you now to live pictures of the royals who are visiting Sydney, Princess Mary and Prince Frederik at Government House in Sydney. They're smiling there for the cameras and the media and they're with the governor in the ground of Government House in Sydney. We can see the sails of the Opera House behind. Of course they're here for the 40th birthday celebrations of the Sydney Opera House. Of course the architect Udsen was Danish and they're here to celebrate their countryman. Beautiful say in Sydney. That's where we'll leave it. Always a beautiful day in Sydney.We'll find what the royals have been up to when we check in next.We will. Thanks you. Welcome to you both. I want to start on the bushfire debate. Really what is an inevitable debate it seems these days about climate change playing a role. Steve first to you, do you think the Greens have overplayed the case here? Do you think conversely Tony Abbott and Greg Hunt have under played the role of climate change. Does it have anything to do with what we've seen over the last week?I think it's a much more nuanced debate than what we're getting at prudent. I think it's fairly predictable that the Greens in particular would seek to I guess highlight or exploit the fact that we've got these bushfires which have come very, very early in the season. They're not the only one toss make the linkage between the bushfires and climate change. You say very early in the season. I did look back over the years though and for decades and decades there have been pretty terrible fires in NSW in spring, this time of the year.That's true, that's true, absolutely. I'm not an expert of bushfires, these terrible fires are coming much more frequently than they used to. I think there's also no doubt about that. I can't quite understand the argument that says that there is - that we've got these increased numbers of bushfires, therefore what Tony Abbott has done, which is to rescind the carbon tax, or at least to declare that's the first item of business, that that somehow is going to have some impact on bushfires.That's a good point.The politics of this, as John Howard found out in 2006, 2007, when he was forced to move when we had a terrible drought, when people weren't able to wash their cars in their driveways because of the droughts, John Howard knew that he was snookered politically and he had to move and he had to basically do things like introduce or flag an emissions trading scheme. Even though he said himself that he was an agnostic when it comes to climate change. Tony Abbott is in a different position because he's just won an election, a thumping mandate with his declaration he's going to repeal the carbon tax. Nobody can argue that Tony Abbott doesn't have that mandate. I think these debates are predictable. At this stage I don't think it's going to change the political atmospherics but let's see how it's going to play out.If climate change was the sole reason for these bushfires, the brutal reality is there's very little Australia on its own can do about this, if we had a carbon tax, draks, regardless, we are a bit player in this global debate. Peter to you on this, the point Steve makes is probably a good one though, the impact on the public of natural disasters like that very long drought we saw, can change views on climate change. We saw that with the Howard Government. Yes, that's true. That the politics and the science on climate change have moved out of alignment. A lot of that had to do with Labor's mismanagement of the carbon tax. Part of it had to do with Abbott and the Opposition scaremongering. But the - where this debate is at now David is really people are talking over and past each other. There is an agreed set of facts and I don't think for example Al Gore was even listening to what Tony Abbott said yesterday. Tony Abbott said that climate change, he said this yesterday again, he said dangerous climate change is real and we have to have a strong response to it. So that's an -- so that's an agreed fact. Al Gore and tant can agree on that.As much as they would deny agreeing on that. They mightn't like to be seen agreeing with each other. Everything else that's coming, whether from Adam Bandt, Al Gore, is based on a suspicion that Tony Abbott really thinks something else but that's not his stated position or policy aim. There's legitimate debate about whether draks is adequate. All expert opinion says it's not adequate to achieving the task that Abbott himself has set. That's the legitimate area of debate. But this other stuff is nonsense. Abbott agrees that dangerous climate change is real, therefore he axiomatically agrees that climate change will exacerbate future extreme weather conditions of all types. Egg else is based on what people suspect Abbott thinks rather than his actual declared policy and it's based on emotion and people reacting on old policy positions and old emotions.That debate is one which will be in the frame in the next 6 months, the white paper, the green paper. I want to turn to the mining tax now, Peter to you first on this one, the draft legislation released today to repeal it as promised by Tony Abbott. What went wrongs with this mining tax? Because there was a time when there was some public support for a tax on mining profits. It's very similar to the one we've just been discussing the carbon tax, where a rational market-based conceptual idea, it started out as an emissions trading scheme with carbon and a super profit tax with mining, through mishandling and political bungling became discredited, where a good concept becomes politically discredited and is then discarded. There's been a successful tax applied to offshore gas in Australia for 20 years. There is a perfectly rational sensible policy that the Rudd Government bungled horrendously followed by the Gillard Government further bungling and has now been completely discredited. Among the many design faults, first it wasn't to establish a sovereign wealth you fund, it should have. We've seen the mining fund come and go.By that you mean the proceeds were frittered awayExactly. The second big design flaw, we could go on all day but the second major one was the fact that it was windfall gains being allocated to permanent expenditures. A simple mismatch. The Coalition is right to scrap it. The Coalition would be wise in the medium term to rethink the whole question of minerals super profits taxes, I suspect they won't.It's a good point this was a tax on something very variable, mining profits, as we saw in the first year it only collected 10% of what it was meant to. Steve Lewis, one of the other design flaws was that state mining royalties would be refunded by the Commonwealth. Once this mienk tax goes which presumably it will at some point, some of the states aren't going to lower their state mining royalties, WA and Queensland say none of that, we'll increase state royalties where they are. Thank you very much. So it could be that some miners are worse off.Exactly right. Wouldn't that be the irony of ironies that the mining industry that campaigns to loudly and strongly against this, could actually end up, or some of their members may end up worse off. Let's wait and see. What we're seeing is the new Government coming in and saying we went to the election with a clear policy prescription. We're now moving on that.They can't back off now. Things like the carbon tax and the mining tax, and the company reforms or the accompanying legislation to get rid of things like the Schoolkids Bonus which for a lot of family would have been very popular, offering $400, $800, depending on how many kids, that's gone. People can hardly argue that Tony Abbott didn't give voters plenty of notice that that was going to be on the chopping black if he was elected. I think this is going to be interesting to see how the Opposition play it is. It was interesting when Chris Bowen was challenged, he was careful to say we'll take it up to shadow cabinet, to the party room and see. But in principle Labor does support this sort of tax on mining. It will be a challenge for the Opposition to see how they respond.He did say they believe in spreading the weptds wealth of the mining boom in particular, something we heard from Wayne Swan over the years. Finally I want to get your thoughts on what we've seen this week, not only on that announcement but the commission of audit and the increase in the debt ceiling that's been announced. Steve to you first, are we any clearer on the sort of budget management we're going to see under the Abbott Government?-- We've seen the Government move out of second gear and start to make firm declarations. Things like the commission of audit, again no separate surprise. I don't think there's any great surprise the personnel it they've got in there. Its the big challenge will be what they do with those findings. You can bet London to a brick they are going to get rid of a whole raft of Government agencies, things like the preventative health agency, it will go. I don't think the commission of audit are required to tell you what direction they will take. At the same time I think we've also got Joe Hockey in particular this week basically for the first time starting to run the argument that Labor left the books in worse shape than we had thought and that key institutions like the Reserve Bank are in need of those injections.A big injection.So this has been an important week and let's see how it plays out. Let's see how Labor play it is particularly when parliament comes back.And when decisions are taken next year on the finding of the commission of audit. Peter what do you think about those key announcements?The initial steps from the Coalition on the budget and economic management are the best reasons for regular changes of Government. The sorts of things that they are doing are the prudent resetting of policy, replenishing the Reserve Bank reserve fund, resetting the debt ceiling and setting up an ambitious commission of audit with a very wide and potentially quite drastic remit are important first steps. We don't nose whether the Coalition has the political will to follow through on any meaningful change from whatever the commission produces but so far these are all prudent, sensible and laudable initial steps.Peter Hartcher, Steve Lewis, we'll have to leave it there. Thank you very much for both of you joining us this afternoon.Thanks.Chertion. We'll be back right after this.


We'll SMIT

Welcome back to the program. If you watch this show regularly hopefully you're interested in this next subject, politics and the media. Over recent years we've seen a growth in programs like this on Sky News and elsewhere where politics is discussed and dissected. Not everyone is always happy with the way programs like this and the media more broadly treat politics. Is there too much opinion on our air waves, is politics being turned into info obtainment, are ratings put ahead of the public interestrest? Are these valid complaints. Well Brian McNar is Professor Of journalism at the university of technology. He's been given funding to look at these issues, to investigate them and how the political media has transformed over recent years. After he interviewed me earlier I turned the camera on him. So Brian firstly, tell me about the project. What are you looking at, what are you hoping to achieve?Well we start from the premise that on the one hand we have an abundance of political media around. We have 24 hour news channels, social media, freeze to air ABC commercial. Yet there is a pervasive sense of anxiety about the quality of political media and the extent to which the public in Australia are being served by the journal ismts, by the news outlets. So we want to investigate what is the Australian media doing in the political sphere that's original, innovative, what are they trying to do to engage their audiences. Then we want to ask the public themselves what do they think of the performance, if you like, of the Australian media.So you're talking to media outlets, a range of media outlets as well as the public. How are you actually going about that?Well, our engagement with the public will be through focus groups. We're going to organise 30 focus groups or so all over the country, some rural locations, different states to get a real sense of a representative sense of what the Australian public thinks of its media, particularly in the area of politics.There's probably people who would like to offer their view on some of this. Can they do that or is it a case of you selecting the members of the public that you want to talk to?We will have - we will go to the locations and we'll enlist the help of community, local community leaders, organisations, to guide us in the direction, but no, we would want to get the, a politically representative sample of people for our focus groups.We have seen a lot of change in the political media in particular over recent years. What have been the big changes in your view and have they been for better or worse?I think on balance we can see the changes have been for the better. The media have become I think more adversarial in a good way. They have become more inclined to scrutinise and to expose politicians and other bodies to real scrutiny. The public has an expectation of more openness and more transparency as well, and that is a global trend and it's evident here in Australia too with the recent story likes the expenses scandals of last week. So there is more media. There is more opportunity for scrutiny and challenge and I think that's always good, very healthy for a democracy. There's more opportunities for the public to get involved, I think that's very important, through social media, through Twitter, through studio debate shows and various other formats which encourage public participation. That I think is very important and that is a trend that I think does actually strengthen a culture of democracy if the public feel involved and engaged.Will be interesting to see the outcome of that research. Professor Brian McNar from the Queensland university of technology. After the break we'll bring you an update on the bushfire situation. Stay with us.

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