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(generated from captions) step on to one of the roles

that are currently off limits

for women in defence. So

we'll get that perspective.

Also talking to Independent

MP rob Oakeshott from his elocaterate where Tony Abbott

has been campaigning today.

Despite the Liberals throwing

a bit at this seat the two

met this afternoon and

there's been something of a

thawing of relations. The

we'll hear about that from

after the break. Rob Oakeshott. Coming up

Good afternoon, welcome

to the program. I'm David

Spers. It's an historic day

for the Australian Defence Force. The Government has

decided to allow women to

serve in all front-line

combat roles. The change will

be phased in over the coming

five years. And it is being

sold as the end of one of the

last areas of gender-based discrimination. Not everyone

is comfortable with the

change. Some retired service personnel fear it could

Australian Defence Force. In affect the performance of the

a moments we'll talk to a

retired arm major who herself

hoped to go further in the

defence force and take on one

of the roletion that's

currently off limits and find

out exactly how many women in

defence are keen on taking

that next step, and what this

change ises likely to mean

within the military. First

we're joined by Defence

Minister Stephen Smith who

has of course driven this

change within the Government. Welcome to the fram. Thank

you. Why is the Government

doing this? Is it about the

effectiveness of the

Australian Defence Force or

about ending discrim naicks.

It's two. Firstly about independenting discrimination because we don't believe it

is right that we should be

making judgments about

people's capabilities and

their capacity and excluding

them from roles simply on the

basis of their sex. Secondly

it's about making sure we've got the best available

people. So our approach

strongly supported by the

chief of the defence force

and the service chiefs is if

you're a woman and you are

physically, intellectual

psychologically capable of

doing a task then that task

should not be excluded from you simply on the basis of

your sex. Are you saying putting women in these roles

and it is only 7% we should

point out of defence roles

that are currently off

limits, things like navy

clearance diving, some of the

special forces roles, is this

going going to improve the

quality of the Australian

Defence Force? We essential

won't allow it to reduce the

quality. If we were arguing

for a reduction of standards

or a reduction of the

requirements, then we would be rightly criticised but

we're not. None of the

physical or fitness strength

endures endurance,

marksmanship, none of that

will be lowered. If you're a

man, if you're a bloke at the moment and you want to get

into the SAS, the commandos,

sniper, and you fail to meet

the physical psychological

tests and requirements then

you don't get in. Currently

if you're a woman you may

well be able to say pass

those requirements, you can't

get in because you're a

woman. So the reason we want

to break the back of this, to

open up all roles for women,

is as a point of principle

there firstly, secondly we

don't want to exclude people

who might be the best at

their task or role. Also this

will open up finally to women

all of the roles, including

the most senior leadership

roles and that's a sensible

thing to do. None of those standards are being reduced

at all. No, and that's why

we're giving ourselves plenty

of time for the

implementation. Your point

about we're dealing here with

7% of current roles exclude

from women, navy clearance diverings, air force defence

guards and essentially

infantry and artillery in the

army. But it's 17% of

employment opportunities. So,

and that's largely because

the bulk of the numbers are

infantry and artillery so

you've got more numbers in

army effectively. It's a

significant point of

principle but it is nearly

20% of the employment possibilities in defence.

But getting back to that

original question it's not

about improving the

effectiveness of the ADF.

This is about the principle.

The argument has to be if

you've currently got a woman

who has got the skills to

perform a role which she's

currently excluded from then

you're not going to all of

the people who could make

your performance better.

We're certainly not going to

allow a dim un use but it

would open up a wider range

of people. One of the roles

that's currently off limits

is the navy clearance diving

the the bio mechanical

difference between men and

women, men can more easily

breathe compressed gas than

women, that's one of the

arguments put, do you see an

issue there? If a woman is

capable of doing the

underwater work, she will be

eligible to do it, or taking

compressed air. The point is

they might be able to pass a

physical test but if there is

a bio mechanical difference

between men and women. What

I can assure you of, just as

you don't walk through an SAS

training course and qualify

to become a member of the SAS

regiment, nor do you walk or

swim through the navy

clearance diver's regime.

You know that the various

arguments that have been put

over the years against this

change. The Australian defence association says

during training exercises the

ratio of incapacitating

injuries runs about five to

one, women to men, that's

during training exercises,

and it's saying, the

association's saying the risk

of dis proportionate female

casualties does have

operational moral implications. I just don't

agree with any of that. What

we are saying is currently as

we've just agreed, there's 7%

of roles excluded to women,

and that's less than 20% of

the employment opportunities.

We're saying on the basis

that an individual woman has

got the physical, mental, psychological capacity to do

a job, then if they can do

the job on merit, pass the

same standards that a man

passes, qualify in the same

way a man does she should not

be excluded. If there's a

higher casualty rate is there a responsibility to

government. We currently

don't have high ore casualty

rates in the airs we're

talking about because women

are excluded. The casualty

rate for women in SAS,

infantry, mine clearance

divers is 0%. What about if

women captured in a battle

zone are more likely to be

sexually abused than men.

This is not compulsion, first points. Secondly women will

only do this while they want

to. Whilst Australia is a

country that says we treat

our prisoners of war and

people we detain in

accordance with international

law, with human rights

standards, we have had in the

past examples in times of

conflict where both men and women have been treated

badly, treated in a degrading

and inhumane way. Regrettably

I suspect that will occur

into the future in some

instances whether it's a man

or woman. The solution to

that is to have countries

abide by the laws of

conflict. It doesn't always

hap of course. It doesn't

always hap but we pride

ourselves with on setting

those standards for

ourselves. Why if this is

going to be a positive is

there a need for a five year

phase in. Because we want to

make sure we get it right.

Secondly, I've made it clear

it's a maximum, it's up to

five years, that's the outer

limit. Because we're dealing

with different categoryings,

with different tasks we're

fully expecting there will be

- it will be a phased

implementation process. The

chief of the defence force is

confident we can get it done

within five years but we'd

rather set ourselves five

years and meet the task properly than to set

ourselves a shorter period

and not meet it What do you

say to some of those in the

RSL and others who can't cop

this, who do think it's going

to see a pretty strong

community back barb against

defers. Time will tell. I

don't believe that is right.

Individuals in Australian society, whatever walk of

life they come from, whatever

their age, occupation will

form a view about this. My

own judgment is that the vast bulk of the Australian

community will see this as a

sensible thing to do because

it's right in principle, but

also because we're

implementing it in a sensible

way with the very strong

support of the current

military leadership and

previous military leadership. Whilst this is an historic

reform and it's taken navy,

arm and air force on average

100 years to get here, we are

going to the last pieces of

discrimination. We're

removing the last barriers,

in principle that's a good

thing to do. But the way in

which we're jiment plant and

equipmenting that,ness a way

in which standards won't

fall. The capacity in the

Australian Defence Force will

continue to be at the highest

levels. We'll also discover

when we look back on this

this is a sensible thing to

do and we'll ask the question

why didn't we do it early

er. Are there many women who

would like to take on the

roles.? She was injured during that service which

forced her to retire. She was

also an elite athlete representing Australia internationally in two

different sports and to top

things on she's an author as

well of the book "Caught in

the cross-fire". Someone who

knows about women on the

front-line. I spoke to her

early ore. Thanks so much for

joining us. Now when you were

in the army you passed the physically demanding navy

divers course, you were also

qualified in fast roping from

sea king helicopters. Did you

want to take the next step I

suppose and take on one of

these roles in defence that

at the moment women aren't

allowed to serve in? I think

I have fantastic opportunities and experiences through my 15 years in the

army. For me the areas that I

got to work in were suffice

to satisfy my career

ambitions and amtion. But

there are probably other

women out there that have

bigger goals and aims and

want to work in different

areas that are today now

being opened up to all women

to work in all the roles

across the Australian Defence

Force. For you it was never

an issue. You never wanted

one of those roles that at

the moment are Jost limits to

women in defence.

Potentially the navy divers

course when I completed that

quite demanding physical

course, I did at one point

have ambitions of going go to

do do the naefr divers course. At that time it

wasn't available for women, I

would also have had to change

services from army to navy.

There were a few other

barriers, but that was a an attractive job, potentially would have liked the

opportunity to go on and do

the clearance divers course

as well. Do you think there

would be many women in defence at the moment who

aren't able to achieve the

goals that they've set

themselves because of the

current gender restrictions?

Certainly its there are women

out there who would relish this opportunity to further their career in different

permitted purely based on areas that current they were

their gender not to go into.

I think there will be some

women that take up this opportunity but it will be up

to the individuals themselves

whether they actually chaoles

to go into those paths and

really it's just a personal

preference. You've obvious ly heard the various

arguments that are being made

against taking this step and

allowing all front-line

combat roles to be available

to women. Some of them are

women aren't tough enough.

Male soldiers might act

differently if a female

soldier is injured or cap

tured during battle. Women

will be more prone to sexual

abuse if captured. Are any of them decent arguments against

making this change? Firstly

I think it's important to set

the benchmarks for each of

these roles. I think if women

have the skill Sets of the

intellectual xalesty and also

the physical abilities to do

these roles and they want to

do these roles then I think

they should be given the

opportunity to do so. In

terms of some of those other

arguments you put forward, I

think in many ways that underestimates the professionalism of our

service men and women currently serving in the

ADF. What about the war in

Afghanistan? Do you think

given we do play a training

and mentoring role, would

women be able to carry out

some of those roles in

Afghanistan alongside the

Afghan national army which is

a very male dominated

culture? I think in in these

roles they will have to

select the most appropriate

person for the jobs. But I'd

like to say that there are

actually a lot of positive

benefits for having a mixed

work force and certainly

Australian Defence Force as that's the case in the

well. From my own personal

experiences one of my overseas missions I was

actually tasked to patrol

with infantry pla taons, this

was based on the cultural issues, these were the fact

that the men in these

countries didn't like our

male soldiers searching their

women, and hence they wanted women out there patrolling

with the guys so we could

step in and do those roles.

Speaking with the women and

children on that level,

that's just one benefit that

I can think of that supports

the idea of having mixed

gender in these roles. Assist another potential

cultural attitude within benefit of this change the

defence towards women. It's

been in the headlines of

course in recent years after

various scandals that there's

some problem with attitudes

towards women in defence. Is

this going to make a

difference? Potentially I

think it will improve some of

those issues. I think there

will be some resistance initially. That's been the

case in previous

circumstances when we first

allowed women to start

serving in the defence force.

We saw cultural resistance

when they wrs allowed to

start serving on navy ships

and submarines. We've already

had some experience of having that cultural resistance

initially. It takes strong leddership from the defence

force to support the women

going into these roles.

Good to talk to you. Thanks

for your time. Stay with us

after the break. We'll be

talking to our panel. Phil

Coorey and Andrew Proben.

Welcome back. Time to

check in on the latest news

head lines. Defence Minister

Stephen Smith has announced Australian women will fight

on the front-line. The

Minister says new combat

roles will be determined by

ability and not gender.

Within five years women will

be able to serve in all

defence roles including the

special forss. The Government

has indicated it's expecting

some resistance in the ranks.

Witnesses have described the

awful moment a toddler was

accidental hit and killed by

his mother as car at their

home on Victoria's Mornington

Peninsula. The little boy was

sitting on the veranda when

the tragedy occurred. At

least 30 people most of them school student have been

killed and more than 50

injured in a bus crash in

pack Stan. The bus was

travelling on a motorway

south-east of Islamabad when

it's believed to have come

off the road and fallen into

a ravine. Some of Australia's

major airports have again

been disrupted with custom s

officers walking off the job

today. A backlog of

passengers didn't take long

to form. Hobart, Darwin and

Canberra are the only capital

cities not affected by the

strikes. Underwater

exploresers have found a

British cargoship. On board

is more than $200 million

worth of silver. The vessel

was discovered off the west

coast of Ireland, 4,700 m

below the surface of the

Atlantic. If they

successfully salvage the

silver the exploriers get to

keep 80% of its value. The

rest will gos to the British Government. It was straight

back to training today for

Dane Swan. Swan says he hopes

his Brownlow win will help

inspire his side in this

week's Grand Final against

Geelong. Cold showery winds

in the south. Warm wet and

windy in the south-east.

Welcome to our panel this

afternoon, Phil Coorey and

brob Andrew Probyn. Women in

front-line combat roles. It's

been talked about for a

Longmire time. To be fair

they serve in most roles at

the moment, 93% of roles.

It's that is final 7% that's

the point that's being

debated. Is this a good move

Phil? If the military thinks

it's okay, they know better

than we do. If they want to

get shot at.? If they pass a

pretty rigorous test. If

they meet the test the

military sets, I can't see

why not. People that get paid

more than we do, and have greater expertise than we

have, we must defer to their judgment. We've heard some

sections of the RSL for example not too pleased about

this. Do you think there will

be much concern? I think

there will be traditionalists

who will be opposed to it.

Also maybe it's the culture

within the defence fortion

might actually push back too.

I tend to think if they want

to do it and they're capable

mentally and physically as we

were told today, then why

not. It's not like we're

going to see suddenly

hundreds of women filling these special forces roles,

you wonts think. If you look

at the overseas experience in

countries where this has

happened it is only a small

number. And the SAS, it's an

incredible difficult band of

brothers to join. It might

not be a band of brothers in

the future, but if you've

been able to pass some of

those tests, same with the

commandos then you are a fine

specimen. How much credit is

Stephen Smith, lee's been

pushing this through, and

then after the... saying he

wanted defence to hurry up

with this. Do you think he

deserves credit for getting

it to this point? We've

heard this before. Isn't this

the third time we've been

talking about this story. They've finally made a

decision. I think it's fine.

Obviously people are going to raise concerns about what

happens to women who get

captured by uncrup lust

enreplies, stuff like that. I

guess no-one's forcing them

to do it, if they know the

risks, good luck. Poker

machine reforms. We've seen

the Government running into a

bit of grief this week. Maybe

the they don't like the

changes, nor does the NRL,

nor a number of the ranks. We

saw Rob McLele land quoted in

a newspaper which your

newspaper picked up.

Expressing his concerns about

this. He's tried to clarify his comments he still supports what the Government

is doing here. Clearly there's a fair bit of

concern. I can't anyone in the Labor Party really

supports this. When you

scratch them and ask them

honestly. Yes,er than

supports doing something

against problem gambling.

This is such a murderous

issue. There's white hot

anger against Andrew Wilkie

over this. Especially in NSW

because they say he doesn't

get the club culture that's

so endemic in NSW, so entrenched. There is an

argument to be prosecute ed,

it is so hard to prosecute

that, especially when you've

got football stars, Eddie

McGuire, and this cashed up

campaign which will probably

surpass that is which the

miners spent. How much was

the miners. The miners spent

22 million. So far clubs have

allocated about 12. You

can't buy the sort of stuff

we heard from the commentators during the footy

the other night? It's okay

if you've got a lot of

political capital but this

Government has no capital at

the moment. It's got enough

on its plate without taking

up an issue which is a State

Government issue, been forced

on them by one man from

Tasmania. At least the

carbon tax you could say

that's something Labor believes is necessary. This

is one of those things where

they are being forced into

doing it. It's difficult. No

matter how noble the cause,

and it is a noble cause, it's difficult. So what happens?

Is be Labor Andrew likely to

amend this at all, water it

down at all? I thought

yesterday was interesting

because you had Jenny Macklin hinting that the preference

would still be a trial. It

was under the questioning of

people like Phil yesterday

where she was saying a trial

would be best. What's the

point of the trial. They're

so desperate the Government

here, we were being

encouraged today by certain people in Government quarters

to look at certain MPs'

involvements in WA footy

clubs. People are for getting

WA doesn't have the pokes and

there is a totally different

culture there. And we are

talking very, very much about

it, sort of more so NSW culture. Some in Labor are

pointing to this trial, as

you rightly point out Jenny

Macklin said yes, we'll have

a trial. We've already made

up our minds. She said the

trial would set the limits.

Everybody oh everyone in

Labor, I must say Peter

Garrett is firm, he's

standing up against the rugby

league people. But other than

that I can't find too many

others in NSW who is think

it's a dand ease idea. Are

where does this fit into a

leadership talk that's been

around in recent weeks and

the idea that Kevin Rudd

could come in and tell Andrew

Wilkie to get stuffed. It

fits into this idea of the

Labor Government being unable

to prosecute its argument.

How on earth is Jenny

Macklin, God bless her, how

is she ever going to come up

against a spin like that. A

footy tax, it's poisonous. Is there a potential for a

new leader to come in and

deal with this? It folds

into that again, Rudd sails

in like the White Knight straight after Christmas,

takes the leadership,

pollings go through the roof,

takes an election, sends will

can I packing. That's obvious

ly a scenario that's being

canvassed. You've got to

remember Rudd either before

he became Prime Minister or

just after, an interview with

Matt Franklin with 'The

Australian' went Jihad on

pokers It was one of his

wars. Some lofty rhetoric in

the past. Having said that

that was then, now is now.

Unless a problem that Gillard

doesn't need. To their credit

they are doing their level

best, saying all the right

things in public. I tell you

this clubs Australia is thoroughly professional and

lethal, this mop, and they're

a cashed up and worthy foe,

for a Government that's on

its knees that's the last

thing they need. Speaking of

Kevin Rudd, he stumbled in a

radio interview today, not a

at the reaction from Tony billing deal but have a look

Abbott. It's obviously I

suppose something that's on

Kevin Rudd's mind. I think

that every day since his

political assassination Kevin

Rudd has thought about going

back into the top job. And I think this is a real problem

for the Labor Party. They've

got a Prime Minister and a

Foreign Minister who aren't

working closely together. A

real problem, a serious

problem. Here's what it was

based on, the stumble

itself. You know something,

I'm a very happy little veg

mite being prvm, being

Foreign Minister of

Australia, your question was

about being Foreign Minister,

then you caught me, as for the Prime Minister I said

before, I said in the United

States I fully support the

Prime Minister. Andrew

Probyn hardly a major gap but

it doesn't take much. What

is it with veg mite and Kevin

Rudd. He's got a thing about

food, veg mite, iced Vovo.

What happened the other day?

He Tweeted. He told us that

they'd found veg mite inside

his bag and that Bob Zelic was Foreign Ministers are

always searched. They take

their luggage out. Oh, what's

that is you've got there,

don't Tweet that. What's

your latest thinking though

on the whole bring back Rudd

idea? Is it still fans Iful?

No, but it hasn't moved

anywhere. I think what has

happened in the last month or

so, he's now entrenched as

the go-to guy should there be

a change. There's still a

reluctance by a lot in the

Labor Party to goo there.

Animosity I think is the big

issue here. Not amongst all

of them. No, and even those

who really don't like him,

some of them accept they may

have to go back there. They

don't want to have to make

that decision yet. There's

still time as they say.

That's still the predominant thought. Meanwhile on the

other side of politics

there's been a thawing of

relations it seems between Rob Oakeshott and Tony

Abbott. Thanks for joining us

this afternoon. After the

break the Independent MP Rob

afternoon. with Tony Abbott this Oakeshott and his meeting

There has been a thawing of relations today between

Tony Abbott and one of the

key Independent MPs propping

up the minority Gillard

Government. The opposition

leader ran into Rob Oakeshott

today. They flew in together.

They hadn't spoken to each

other for about seven months

their regular discussions after Rob Oakeshott broke off

earlier in the year. They

agreed to catch up this

afternoon and have a chat.

And that desist take place,

but only after the Opposition leader spent the day campaigning in the seat

against the carbon tax. And

addressing a forum organised

by the Liberal Party where

there was n't a lot of love

for the Independent local

member. Our local member

seems to be reticent to

answer my emails.

Everybody's a leader of a

party is ins a strong

position, their

personalitieses make a big difference to the country.

The way people think and

we've only got the example of

Julia and yourself and so on.

What I find hard to believe

is that two people, that's

Tony Windsor and Rob

Oakeshott were able to turn

the country the way it went.

And I don't believe. I mean if that wasn't the tail

wagging the dog, what was? Please listen to the people of alls which you have said

you are going to do, because

it's getting dangerously cranky out there at the

moment. S Well, after all of

that how did the talks go

this afternoon between Rob

Oakeshott and the Opposition

Leader. I caught up with Mr

Oakeshott a short time ago.

Rob Oakeshott, thanks so much

for your time. You met Tony

Abbott this afternoon there

in your electorate. How did

that meeting go? Good, we kissed and made up a little

bit and hopefully are going

to talk through a whole range

of issues that need to be you

talk ed through. We ran into

each other at the airport in port Macquarie, decided to

have a cup of coffee, that's

what we did. Hopefully what

it now does is mean 7 months

of no talking means we will

start to talk on a few issues. I think that's good

for everyone involved can and

hopefully leads to some

knows, through the better policy outcomes, who

parliament. We'll just wait

and see. Why did you stop

talking 7 month ago?

Essentially I believe in

relationships that are fair

dinkum. My view was there was

honey being dripped all over

me in Canberra and then

vinegar in the electorate by

the Coles. If people aren't

going to be fair dinkum in

relationships, I'll Spebld my

time in other ways, other

places trying to achieve

outcomes. Hopefully we've

talked through those issues.

It still seems there Heymans

bit of vinegar being dripped

on you. Tony Abbott held a

forum where a number of

people got up and had a go at

you. He was hardly coming to

your defence. Do you think he

was there to help you out.

No, I certainly welcome his

visit. That's part of the

reason I wanted to catch up. Any leader, am I Melbourne

Cup of parliament who comes

to the north coast, even you

David, I'll happily have a

cup of coffee with you. I I

welcome visits from leader to

this area. We've announced record unemployment figures

on the coast today. We're

doing some work for the right

reasons in a policy sense.

Political leaders can help

were that. By all means

political parties have got to

go what they do to win seats.

If we can find time to work

on some policy issues of the

moment, like increasing

employment and some of the

business issues I'm more than happy to have conversations.

The bottom line though if

something happens in this

minority Government with a

change of just one seat would

you be prepared to back an

Abbott Government? Well, we

are where we are, there's a

bit of a sense, I've seen a

lot of commentary over the

last 24, 48 hours about

speculating, about leadership

all over the place. I would

hope most Australians are

starting to look at that as a

bit of a broken record conversation and that there

is a bit of a want to both

get over it in regards the

politics and get on with it

in regards the policy work.

We've got a full policy

agenda that faces Australia

and certainly as a local

member that faces the mid

north coast we've got a tax

and jobs for um, an industrial relations reform

and a productivity agenda

that involves skills and

labour market questions which

are really important

conversations that we need to

be having across party lines

and across politics. I would hope every member of

parliament sees that as their

first and fore most

responsibility over and above

any politics of the moment.

So anyone who aeles up for that conversation, Tony

Abbott, Julia Gillard, anyone

within the policy process,

you know, that's where my

mind's at and that's where I

hope the parliament's mind

can get to some time soon

because I think that's what

Australia wants right now.

Just on one of those policy

issues, industrial relations,

was that something you talked about with Tony Abbott. I

know you've got a lot of

small business, what are they

saying to you about things

like unfair dismissal laws?

I've been quite public about

this for some time. I do

think there is a problem in

the lack of conversation on

this issue on behalf of the

patchwork economy, on behalf of the small business

communities that are feeling

the hit, sectors like the

retail sector, tourism, accommodation, you know, they

are under the pump. And these

are challenges that are going

to be facing Australia for at

least the next five to 10

years. They're issues that

aren't going to go away. So

the way we structured the

Fair Work Act. We as in the last Parliament, I think

there are issues on the

ground that need to be

addressed, tinkered with and

hopefully we can start to, as

a parliament, without waving

the orange T-shirts and the

WorkChoices banner have a

sensible conversation across

party lines about doing some

good work on behalf of the

small business community of

Australia. I look forward to

catching up for that coffee

in Port Macquarie. Thanks for

joining us this afternoon.

Thanks. Finally some talks

resuming between he and the

Opposition Leader tanlet.

That's all we have time for

this afternoon. Stay with us

after the break, the very

latest Sky News. Live Captioning by Ai-Media.

www.ai-media.tv.