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(generated from captions) yesterday. Tony Abbott will be meeting with Clive Palmer next week in what's expected to be the beginning of budget negotiations. So far the Government is holding firm on some of its most deeply unpopular measures including the paid parental leave scheme which is gathering opposition from within the Coalition's own ranks. The PM is facing calls that his first budget sends conflicting messages about budget emergencies on the one hand while protecting his expensive pet projects on the other. Entente's political forum I was joined a short time ago from Melbourne by the parliamentary secretary to the PM, Alan Tudge, and from Brisbane by Labor's Jim Chalmers, the shadow parliamentary secretary to the Leader of the Opposition. Gentlemen, welcome.G'day.Hi, Emma.The High Court has ruled that the Commonwealth funding of school chaplains is invalid and yet Tony Abbott says he will continue with the program regardless. Alan Tudge, why is the Federal Government so intent on telling the States what to do in this regard? Well the High Court today found or the High Court found this week that we can't fund the schools directly for the school chaplaincy program but it's been a terrific program. Schools tend to love it because it provides a method of pastoral support for kids at the school and so we want to ensure that the program continues in some way or another. So we are very committed to this program and it really makes a difference, not only for the kids but the broader family and community and we want to ensure that we can still deliver it.Jim Chalmers, what's your view?I spend a fair bit of time with the chaplains in my area as well. I had a big dinner with them a few Fridays ago. They have a positive role to play in our schools. Labor's issue is with making the chaplains come from an exclusive group rather than from a broader group of counselors and others and so we do have a positive experience with them but we think they should be drawn from a broader pool. When it comes to the payments to the States, our number one priority in this area is to make sure that the PM doesn't use this as an excuse to claw back even more money from the States. He's already clawing back $80 billion from schools and hospitals over the next 10 years and so we want to make sure that this High Court decision doesn't give him a reason to have a look again to swing the axe at State payments.Specifically back to the issue of chaplains specifically, Alan Tudge, is it appropriate in a secular country like ours to be telling the States and their schools that they can only draw these counselors from the ranks of clergy? Well, we're saying to the schools that they can choose a chaplain from whichever domination, whichever religion they like, but it was specifically designed as a chaplaincy program way back in the, when was it, in the early 2000s from memory and we want to ensure that it remains that way as a school chaplaincy program. Often there are welfare programs in place elsewhere in the school or indeed in the broader community but this is a unique program in that it specifically provides for chaplains and we want to ensure that it continues that way.OK, on the future of financial advice reforms, what's become known as FOFA, Labor strengthened the laws to prevent small investors losing big time like they did in Storm Financial and Opes Prime and the like. As assistant treasurer Arthur Sinodinos tried to wind back some of those changes, now the Finance Minister has done a backflip. Why, Alan Tudge? I disagree with your assertion that the Finance Minister has done a backflip. What these measures which we've announced today will do is ensure that mum and dad investors can get financial advice which is high quality, which is in their best interest and most importantly is affordable and we want to ensure that those 3 things can be delivered.Can I just pull you up on that for a moment? In what way is it not a backflip to on the one hand Arthur Sinodinos was arguing for commissions to still be allowed on general advice given by financial planners and banks and now today Mathias Cormann tells us that commissions will no longer be allowed on general advice? No, commissions were never allowed for financial planners.As a matter of fact they were, on this very program 3.5 months ago Arthur Sinodinos made it very clear that the Coalition was going to allow commissions on general advice.But general advice it is still the case in this package that an individual can be offered general advice by a company selling their particular product and that company can pay their sales force to sell their particular product. For example, if you go into a bank and in that back branch an employee offers that person an insurance product then of course that bank can still provide incentives to that sales person.Mathias Cormann said he was clarifying the Coalition's position. Did you see any significant shift in the Government's policy that it took to the election?What the Government announced today and what was revealed in the newspapers, the combination of the 4 pillars issue and the future of financial advice, was a recipe for less consumer protection and less competition in the financial services industry. When we need more of both. And it's typical of this government. Given the choice between siding with the most powerful interests in our economy or siding with the little guy, they always side with the most powerful interests. Instead of looking after the consumer protection, they look after pensioners, people on low and middle and fixed incomes. You mentioned before Storm Financial that was crucial to the thinking that went into these very sensible reforms to try and protect consumers in the financial services industry. These changes that the Government made should have been dumped entirely when the Minister was dumped. And we will continue to stand up for the little guy and the Government will continue to stand up for the most powerful interests, the big fees, the big money in the banking system.So just to confirm, Alan Tudge, because there was some confusion this morning when the Finance Minister, Mathias Cormann, announced these what appeared to be changes or clarifications, call them what you will, you are telling us that for general advice commissions will still be allowed to be paid? No, for general advice for a company selling its own product through its own staff, then they can provide general advice and sell that product in a broad way provide information and provide incentives to that work force.But you would appreciate that there is the potential for banks and others to drive a truck through that kind of loophole? No, but as soon as they start providing specific advice to an individual on their specific financial circumstances, then it goes over the threshold into providing very specific advice and it can't offer other products under that situation either. So of course if you go into an ANZ Bank branch then that sales person can offer you an ANZ insurance product, for example, and talk to you about the attributes of that insurance product. But a financial planner cannot offer a product and get a commission on that product which does not belong to them and indeed that commission is hidden. That is expressly prohibited in providing specific advice and getting specific commissions and having conflicted remuneration. They're two very different things and even Bill Shorten himself, when he introduced Labor's laws, expressly differentiated between those two things.Let's talk about the budget. Jim Chalmers, Labor is opposing most of the measures. You wrote a book bemoaning poisonous politics and negativity. Do you have anything positive to say about the Government's economic agenda?Look, thank thanks for the plug for the book, it's called Glory Days, Emma, thank you for that. This is the most damaging and divisive budget in memory from probably the most damaging and divisive PM in memory.So you're continuing the very negativity which you lamented in the book you wrote?Well, I think that when you're making a budget there's lots of stuff in the book about budgeting and I think when you are budgeting in constrained fiscal circumstances you need to make the right calls and you need to have the right priorities. You need to come to these things in a well motivated way and what the Government's done is they've gone to pensioners. Joe Hockey stood up in the parliament the other day and said this Government is the best friend pensioners have ever had. He should knock on the doors of a few pensioners in my areas, they will give him a serve if he says that. They say to pensioners we don't have enough money, we will have to cut your pension. At the same time they say we've got $21 billion set aside to give $50,000 to the wealthiest mums to have a baby. We have conflicting priorities in this case and it's important we have a rigorous contest of ideas because there's a big difference between Labor and Liberal when it comes to this budget. We don't believe in the extravagant paid parental leave scheme, we think that would be a good place to start if there was an actual budget emergency rather than this budget emergency conthat they keep telling the Australian people about. We think it's unfair. There's not a whiff of fairness in this budget and we'll contest it fiercely.Alan Tudge, on this program, Nationals Senator John Williams said he hadn't struck one person who thinks Tony Abbott's paid parental leave scheme is a good idea. Is it a good idea? Well, it is a good idea, Emma, and if I could very briefly also respond to Jim. The point that you were making, Emma, is that Labor has become, in essence, the whinging department these days. They're complaining a lot but they're not providing any alternatives. What the Labor Party left was a financial disaster for Australia.Your own party is complaining, that's the point of question.We're repaying $1 billion a month just in the interest on the debt presently and it would have grown to $3 billion a month in interest of Labor's debt. So we have to get control of it, we've put in a plan to get control of it. Labor has not offered one alternative to get control of the budget, not one, Jim, and we look forward to the day when you do start offering alternatives. But in relation to -At this point I will draw you back to the question and specifically the fact that your own party members are voicing concerns.The paid parental leave scheme will provide for the first time it will make maternity leave, parental leave a workplace entitlement rather than a welfare entitlement. And what that means is that if a person takes time off because they have a child, they will get their salary replaced just as if you take annual leave or sick leave. Now, this already occurs in the public sector, Emma. This already occurs in public institutions like the ABC, it occurs for staff in my office and indeed for many big businesses. But it doesn't occur for many small er businesses and so we think that if it's good enough for the public sector, if it's good enough for bigger businesses, it should also be good enough for people who work in smaller businesses and they will be one of the big beneficiaries of this.Alan Tudge, Coalition Senator Ian Macdonald told the Senate arguments backing the PM's paid parental leave scheme don't make sense and are inconsistent with the Government's claim of a debt crisis and that the age of entitlement is over. Now, do you share his confusion about the way senior members of your Government are going about selling this budget to the public on the one hand saying we're in a crisis and then on the other hand saying now is the right time to replace a woman's salary? Well, the paid parental leave scheme is fully paid by a levy on the top 3,000 companies. So it's fully funded, separately done. The rest of the budget measures, as you know, there are many savings measures, there are some additional other measures to ensure that we can get control and get on top of Labor's debt and deficit disaster. We inherited a financial mess. We were not responsible for it but we take responsibility for fixing it up and that's exactly what we're doing, Emma.Jim Chalmers?Just firstly to respond to Alan's point. The Government inherited a AAA rated budget. It's never been AAA by all three in Australia's history apart from under Labor under the last government, set that to one side. Senator Macdonald makes some very good points. He's also saying what Mr Of Alan's colleagues are saying privately. This policy is a stinker. It should have been dumped and the reason it should have been dumped and the reason that community is lining up to reject it is because it gives the most money to the people who need it the least. It gives the most money to people who need it the least and if Tony Abbott can't even convince his own colleagues that this is fair, he's got Buckleys of convincing the Australian community.But the thing is, Jim, the members of your office, the members of the public service have such a scheme already in place. If members of your staff, Jim, have a baby they will get their salary replaced. Exactly the same for the members of the public service. So are you going to be advocating that those schemes be disbanded all together? Or will you support our paid parental leave scheme which, in essence, just offers to the entire population what is already offered in the public service?I don't support your paid parental leave scheme and neither does the vast majority of the Australian community for one good reason, it's not fair. It gives the most money to the people who need it least.But why is it good enough for your staff?Your party room knows it, the whole country knows it.But it's not good enough for the hairdresser or the butcher or the baker or the cleaner.It's not fair that the people who have the most money get the most support under your PPS scheme. It goes against everything I believe in.They do in your office and in the public service today. If it's good enough for them why isn't it good enough for the hairdresser, for the cleaner, for the workers out in the street.This is what the Liberal Party says when they don't want to address the core issue people who don't need it get the most. The whole country thinks it's unfair for good reason.Jim Chalmers, a review of the 2013 federal election campaign was released today. With your own people saying that the way Kevin Rudd handled that campaign was chaotic. Now for all the talk of double dissolution triggers this week would Labor have the capacity to launch an effective campaign so soon after the disaster of the last one? Of course we could. Campaigns are always bruising things.They're always bruising events and it's right that Jane and Milton, Milton, by the way, is one of our smartest strategic thinkers. It's a very big favour Milton and Jane have done in writing this review. It's important that we review it and learn the lessons of it. Campaigns are always bruising. In my experience, I've been working with the party's office and leader's offices for more than a decade. The offices are always full of good people, well motivated trying to do the right thing. It's good we have this review because we need to learn the lessons of the last few years, not just the last campaign but the last few years to get ourselves into shape to contest the next election.And the review identified government debt as one of the issues that eroded support for Labor. You were one of Wayne Swan's chief advisers. Do you now accept that the Coalition wouldn't be having such a tough time right now if you had kept a better handle on spending?Look, we handed over to the Coalition a AAA rated budget, one of the best in the developed world. I think it's a furphy this whole budget emergency thing is basically a con.The level of debt is not a furphy, is it? You're in fairy land, Jim.We had a thing called the global financial crisis.How many times did you promise a surplus? I think it was 600 times. You left $667 billion of debt.Are you finished?Let's let Jim Chalmers have a go.It's a AAA rated budget. It's one of the best in the world. Most countries would swap places with us. When Joe Hockey became Treasurer he doubled the deficit within a couple of months. They're spending $21 billion on an unfair paid parental leave scheme. I think most of the Australian people, certainly the smart commentators know that this whole budget emergency thing is