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(generated from captions) This program is not captioned. This program is live captioned by Ericsson Access Services. Malcolm Turnbull sells the Government's changes to the temporary migrant workers scheme.We will no longer allow 457 visas to be passports to jobs that could - and should - go to Australians. Britons to go to the polls three years ahead of schedule. Australians avoid injury from a chemical attack on troops in western Mosul. Australia's booming organic industry struggles to keep its credibility against fake organic claims. Hello. Brigid Glanville with ABC News. The Prime Minister has declared that migrants must embrace Australian values as he flags more changes to the nation's immigration system. Malcolm Turnbull has been spruiking the Government's decision to abolish the 457 visa for overseas workers. Businesses who want to bring in labour will have to pay more for the privilege. And new arrivals will face a more difficult path to citizenship. Here's political reporter Stephen Dziedzic. The principles might not have changed... We are putting Australians and Australian jobs and Australian values and Australia's national interest first... .. But the Prime Minister's language on immigration has shifted. Australia must continue to attract people who will embrace our values and positively contribute, regardless of their nationality or religious beliefs.The Government announced yesterday it would scrap 457 temporary work visas and replace the program with two new, more tightly restricted visas. Most business groups have already come to terms with the changes, although some sectors are cautious.Of course we want to accept - we're willing to employ Australians. It's common sense, as we said earlier. At the moment that isn't a possibility. We hope it doesn't become more difficult in the short term and we hope the benefits long term are tangible.But the Government has set its course on immigration. There will be fewer people coming in and it will be harder for businesses to sponsor workers who want to come to Australia.The maximum age will be reduced from 50 to 45. Competent English will be mandatory, no exceptions, and the pathway to permanency will begin at three years, not two years. And the Coalition wants people to value permanent residency and it could make new applicants wait longer to get it. They'd also have to improve they'd embrace Australian values.People who come here - we expect that they integrate, that they abide by our laws, all of that, which every Australian, I think, would accept as common sense. The ALP says the Coalition's announcement is nothing but a conjob. It's crunched the numbers and says only one in ten workers currently in Australia on 457 visas would be excluded under the new system. But the broad contours and direction of this debate are clear. Immigration to Australia is becoming harder and not easier. The High Court has declared Lucy Gichuhi is free to replace Bob Day as the South Australian senator in the Federal Parliament. The court has thrown out a Labor challenge to her eligibility based on her citizenship. Joanna Crothers has more from Melbourne. The High Court declared Lucy Gichuhi as the senator for the seat of South Australia, replacing Bob Day, after lots of legal argument that was raised about questions over her citizenship. She's from Kenya and Labor's legal team raised arguments about whether she still held this Kenyan citizenship. However, a solicitor for the Commonwealth said that Kenyan law states that once someone was over 21 and had taken up citizenship in another country that their Kenyan citizenship was wiped out. This is, in fact, what's happened with Ms Gichuhi's case. Labor's legal team submitted a further argument asking whether she'd done enough to denounce her Kenyan citizenship. The High Court said that this case had been going on long enough and if these arguments wanted to be raised, they perhaps should have been three months ago when it looked like lie Li that Ms Gichuhi was, in fact, going to be r selected to replace former senator Bob Day. The High Court then dismissed Labor's application to go on and argue this case and declared Ms Gichuhi as the new senator to replace Bob Day. Theresa May has called a shock snap election, saying it's the only way to deliver Britain the security and certainty it needs. Voters will go to the poll on June 8, less than a year after the controversial Brexit vote. The British Prime Minister says they wants to have the mandate to get the best deal during the negotiations to come. From London, Lisa Millar reports. It was a withle-guarded secret, barely a whisper before Theresa May delivered the stunning announcement. I have just chaired a meeting of the Cabinet, where we agreed that the Government should call a general election to be held on 8 June. She had been adamant that she would not go early. The next election wasn't due until 2020. But now I have concluded that the only way to guarantee certainty and stability for the years ahead is to hold this election and seek your support for the decisions I must take. Every vote for the Conservatives will make me stronger when I negotiate for Britain with the prime ministers, presidents and chancellors of the European Union. The last general election was two years ago and it's not even 12 months since Britain voted for Brexit.Not another one! Oh, for God's sake! I can't... Honestly. I can't stand it.I'm actually quite shocked really.With everything Theresa May has been saying, I wasn't expecting anything at all but, yeah, it's just come out of the blue.Theresa May says she came to this decision only recently and reluctantly, but her backers would have told her that the stars were aligned. She's riding high in the polls and a Tory victory would give her another five years to clear any Brexit hurdles. The Opposition is weak and divided. We want to put a case out there to the people of Britain of a society that cares for all, an economy that works for all, a Brexit that works for all.Seven weeks to go until British voters deliver yet another verdict. Australian military advisers in Iraq have been caught up in an Islamic State group chemical attack outside of Mosul. It targeted a unit of Iraqi troops working with Australian and US advisers in an area outside Mosul. Here's defence reporter Andrew Greene. The task force that has been in Iraq and also operating into Syria at times has been in place for a couple of years now. It consists of 780 Australians, roughly, mostly involved in that air task group as well as the training of Iraqi forces in Task Group Taji. We have a number of Special Forces soldiers, about 80 at last count, who are part of a secretive operation to advise and assist the Iraqi military as it continues to make advances against the Islamic State group. Now, we do know that these Special Forces soldiers are currently helping in the battle to retake Mosul. We know that the coalition-led effort to help the Iraqi government forces has already recaptured the eastern part of Mosul, but there continues to be heavy fighting in the western section of that city and that's where we understand Australian forces are getting very close to the front line. They're not exactly up at the front line, but when an incident like this happens, we start to learn a bit more about precisely what's going on. Otherwise, we simply wouldn't be being told what's going on. Typically, we're learning more about the Australian forces from the Pentagon than from our own Australian military and what the Pentagon has confirmed to the ABC in recent hours is that there was a low-grade chemical attack on an Iraqi government unit, which was being assisted by both US Special Forces and Australian Special Forces. Now, subsequent to the news from the Pentagon, we have heard from the Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, who has told the ABC that there was no direct attack on the Australians but they subsequently, um, did help out with some assistant for the Iraqi troops. So the way the Prime Minister phrased it in the visit he'd been given was Australian forces were not affected but they did render assistance to some of the people who may have been hit by this chemical attack. Again, we don't know what sort of chemical weapon. We know ISIS has access to chlorine and mustard gas weapons. They're considered rudimentary and not sophisticated weapons. We can say the fighting is still intense in western Mosul, certainly from the reporting we get out of western Mosul - it sounds like there's still daily exchanges of even chemical weapons. There was certainly a report in the past couple of days that the Islamic State forces had tried to use chemical weapons against government troops and now we subsequently learned there was a similar attack that was targeting a group helped by the Australians. The fighting was, as we know, in the western part of the city but the eastern part took about three months to retake. Coalition efforts there were difficult but they did manage to capture the eastern part of the city. As for Raqqa, again, the fighting continues across the border in Syria and we won't expect to see those two cities fall for some time. But certainly the coalition is up-beat. It believes Islamic State is on the back foot and victory is inevitable. Just when it will happen, we're not entirely sure. We're going to take you live to the New South Wales Central Coast where Opposition Leader Bill Shorten is speaking to the media... Because there's a real problem where Australian gas is not going to Australians and Australian businesses first. Happy to take questions on this, or other matters. questions on this, or other matters.
CSR is to be congratulated for committing to expansion of the Central Coast operation. But no business can withstand 25% price increases in gas year on year and for other companies, they're facing larger increases in gas contracts. We are in a crazy situation, where, whilst we produce enough gas to meet Australian demand in electricity and manufacturing and for domestic consumers, but our problem is we are selling more of the gas that we need in Australia to export overseas, so we're not producing enough currently to meet all of our export commitments and all of our domestic demands. And when it comes for standing up for Australian jobs and Australian manufacturing, the answer is very clear - you've got to back Australia first. You've got to back Australian jobs. You've got to back Australian manufacturing. Mr Turnbull needs to be unrelenting, tough and strong to make sure these gas producers are not selling gas which belongs to Australia and Australians overseas in preference to standing up for Australian jobs. The secretary of the Department of Defence has resigned. Dennis Richardson will step down next month after almost half a century in public life. He's previously been the secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, ambassador to the United States, and the director-general of security. He worked in the departments of immigration and Prime Minister and Cabinet and served aspirins pal adviser to Bob Hawke in the early nipties. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has praised Mr Richardson -- '90s. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has praised Mr saying he's made a significant contribution to Australia's security and foreign policy. In Jakarta, voters head to polling stations today in one of the most bitterly fought elections the city has seen for a new governor. More than 64,000 police, soldiers and security officers have been deployed across the capital as a precaution. Indonesia correspondent Samantha Hawley joins us now live from Jakarta. Sam, how much of a security threat is there right at the moment? Well, I think given the number of police and soldiers deployed across the city, it gives a good sign that police are concerned there could be unrest following this poll today. As you mentioned, it's been bitterly fought. It's been fought largely, but not only, of course, along religious lines, along the lines that one of the, um, candidates, Ahok, the incumbent governor, is a Christian and the other is a Muslim. Now, of course, some Muslim groups have been urging Muslims in the capital not to vote for a non-Muslim leader. They say the Koran says a non-Muslim should not lead them. So this has been a bitterly fought campaign. The bulk of security that's been placed across this sprawling city would suggest to you that police are concerned but also hopeful, of course, that this will go smoothly today, and very shortly, at this polling booth in central Jakarta, the president, Joko Widodo, will arrive to cast his ballot and he has urged for calm across the city, that voters should be able to go about their democratic right without intimidation and without any obstacles placed in their way.From polling booths that you have been to today, are you getting a sense of a fear or intimidation amongst voters? Not the ones I've been to but of course there are more than 13,000 polling booths. This is a massive city. More than 7 million people are eligible to vote. The concern was that some of the members of these groups, these conservative Islamic groups, would turn up at polling booths. Police are warned against that and had also made a decision to place one police officer and one soldier at each of the polling booths, something that they didn't do during the first round, again suggesting that they are concerned about security. But so far, everything has been going smoothly. It's actually incredible that so many people in this city can vote in such a short time, Brigid. They start voting at around 7:00 and the polls close at 1:00pm, so a very short time to vote and we should have an idea, at least from exit polling, of the result by nightfall. And also, as you pensioned, there's just - in -- mentioned, just in itself in Jakarta, everyone knows how bad the traffic is. There must be a number of polling booths so people can walk to a polling booth rather than sit in the car.Well, yes. That's right. In housing streets, there are three or four polling booths. Some are just tarpaulins. The one behind me is a little bigger because the president, of course, will vote here. Traffic is not too bad today because it is a public holiday, allowing people to move around this city a bit more freely as they, I guess, exercise their democratic right, a right that they have only had for two decades and a right, I can assure you from talking to them today, that they thoroughly enjoy. Now you mentioned that, of course, this has been a tight race and largely run on religious grounds. Take us through the main points of the Christian and the Muslim candidate.Well, of course, the major problem for the incumbent governor, Ahok, who was incredibly popular for a long time, for his cleaning-up of this city, for improving infrastructure for instance, for even opening up bus lanes and ensuring only buses were in that bus lane. He's been popular for that. But of course during this campaign, a charge of blasphemy was laid against him for comments that he made about the Koran, so during this campaign he has also been appearing in the North Jakarta district court on trial for blasphemy. He faces up to five years in prison for that. Of course, his supporters and himself say that those charges are politically motivated. His opponents say they are not. But some of his opponents do say that Muslims should only vote for a Muslim leader and not a Christian. As I mentioned before. And that is why this election, for the first time, is really being fought along those lines, but of course other things as well, of course the functions of this very big, strauling city, this chaotic city, which often moves very slowly. These things come to voters minds as well but religion has played a part here.Just finally, what are the opinion polls showing?Polls are showing that this is too close to call. Opinion polling in Indonesia is notoriously unreliable, but all of the polls that have come out, pre-polling that has come out, is showing that this really is very, very close, too close to call, whether or not the exit polling shows the same things, we'll know in the hours ahead. Polls close quickly at 1:00pm local time. We'll have an idea of who may have won by nightfall.

nightfall.
Donald Trump has signed an executive order to tighten the H-1B visa program during a visit to a tool manufacturing plant in Wisconsin. He told factory workers 789 review is part of his "buy American, hire American" policy.Together we're going to do everything in our power to make sure that more products are stamped with those wonderful words "made in the USA".The President says the system is currently open to widespread abuse by undercutting local workers. But his order to review the program falls far short of a campaign pledge to end it altogether. 32 people have died and more than 20 others injured when a passenger bus plunged into a Raveen in the northern Philippines. Officials say overleading may have caused the bus to lose control. A survivor says he saw the driver stepping on malfunctioning brakes as the vehicle of speeding downhill. Transportation officials have suspended the bus line's operations as they begin an official probe into the crash. The royal commission into youth detention in the Northern Territory has resumed and will look at the evidence of former Don Dale detainee Dylan Voller. A former guard at the centre has appeared and he denied he humiliated Dylan Voller by encouraging him to perform degrading acts. Reporter Ben Millington joins us now from Darwin. Ben, what have you heard this morning?Well, Brigid, this morning we've heard from a former guard, and there were allegations he took videos and posted them to Snapchat, including daring some detainees to eat what looked like animal droppings and also using some pretty foul language to the detainees when they were trying to go to sleep or using the bathroom. Now, today, it was put to that former guard that in Dylan Voller's evidence, he says that the garden couraged him to skull a whole lot of milk and said that he would be a bad skuller and that when Dylan Voller skulled the milk, he found out that it was full of salt. He also said that the guard flicked snot into the mouth of another detainee and said that he was encouraged to eat things like shaving cream and tooth paste in order to be rewarded with chocolate and drinks. Now, um, it was put to the guard that given the previous history that's been presented to the commission of him taking videos of these types of incidents that it's not a far stretch to imagine that what Dylan Voller is saying was correct but the former guard denied these events ever occurred saying that if he did these things he would just simply admit to it but that he didn't do them and that Dylan Voller is making them up, basically.And, of course, the royal commission was sparked by... After the ABC's Four Corners program. What's been said about that today?Well, one of the incidents in that program was of two guards, one of them being the man giving evidence today and another man, Ben Kelleher, going into the cell of Dylan Voller when he was housed in the back cells in the behavioural management unit in Don Dale. Now, the lead-up to this incident - Ben Kelleher worked very closely with Dylan Voller and tried to help him, apparently, but Voller, you know, allegedly said that he would rape Ben Kelleher's children, which got him very angry and he wanted to have a talk to Dylan Voller. They went into the... He asked the other guard to go into the cell with him while this talk occurred. And Ben Kelleher went into the cell, wet tissue paper and threw it at the camera to try and possibly cover it up. This footage was seen in Four Corners. He failed to cover it and then had an aggressive conversation with Dylan Voller. The evidence we went through today was initially Conan Zamolo - the former guard - said he believed Ben Kelleher tried to clean the camera lens because detainees often covered the lens with food and other substances but in a statement tended to the commission today, he admitted that this wasn't the case, that he was dishonest the first time he talked about this and he know admits that, um, Mr Kelleher was, indeed, trying to cover the camera. It occurred to him that possibly Mr Kelleher was going to be violent towards Mr Voller, which he denied, but interestingly in his evidence today he said that he wasn't in fact - he's now note sure whether Mr Kelleher was trying to clean the camera or cover it up. So there was contradictory evidence evidence given between his statement and what he said to the commission this morning.We'll leave it there. I'm sure we'll speak again when Dylan Voller appears tomorrow. The Australian organic industry continues to grow, but it's struggling to keep up with demand both at home and overseas. Australian organic says there's huge potential for growth, but tighter labelling laws are needed to ensure fake organic claims do not damage the industry's reputation. National rural correspondent Dominic Schwarz -- Dominique Schwarz reports. This is part of a burgeoning organic industry which in Australia next year is estimated to be worth $2 billion. Over the past year, Australian Organic exports rose nearly 20% but demand still outstrips supply, both globally and here domestically. For example, the grain industry faces chronic shortages. The other major challenge is food labelling. In Australia, to sell a product as organic, you don't have to have it certified as such. Producers and processors in the industry want legislation to change that. They say this would reduce consumer confusion and protect against possible fraud. And now to finance. Here's our reporter, Alicia Barry. Alicia, a rival bidder for gaming company Tatts.Yeah, that's right, Brigid. A consortium has launched a new $7.3 billion offer for the company. It's an attempt to upend a merger that is in the work between Tabcorp and Tatts and its rival -- between Tatts and its rival Tabcorp, which is worth $11 billion. So whether or not this one succeeds is certainly going to be watched very, very closely. But as I say, certainly an attempt to, um upend that bid. And this consortium, called Pacific Consortium, has been circling the group for about 12 months with a number of failed bids, so it certainly is something that will be watched closely by the markets today. And the iron ore price is in free fall at the moment.Certainly is. It's down around 30% over the last two months and it fell another 4.8% overnight. Traders are very worried about a glut developing in China. Of course this is one of Australia's biggest commodities exports and it certainly did have a big impact on miners listed in London overnight. And to the markets, has the falling commodity price hit the markets?It certainly did initially but some of the big miners are now bouncing back. Mining and banking stocks have been weighing down the Australian share market for a second day this week. Geopolitical tensions and weaker commodity prices were the main factors keeping traders out of a buying mood. The All Ords is down around a third of a per cent now or half a per

Thanks, Alicia. A quick look at the national weather

That's ABC News for now. I'm Brigid Glanville. Thanks for watching. Captions by Ericsson Access Services.

This program is not captioned. This program is live captioned by Ericsson Access Services.

Today at the National Press Club, the Deputy leader of the Nationals, Fiona Nash. As the Minister for Regional Development, Senator Nash is looking at ways the Government can invest to secure the future of the regions, particularly in partnership with local communities. Fiona Nash with today's National Press Club address.

Good afternoon and welcome to the National Press Club and today's Westpac address. I'm Chris Uhlmann. If you want to join our conversation online, our hashtag is NPC and Twitter handle is at press club aust. It seems we have talked a lot in the last year about innovation and the jobs of the future but if you look at our top 10 exports, eight out of the 10 spots are held down by agriculture and mining. We are great innovators in those areas but the story is often lost behind the decline of rural and regional Australia. So, for a different perspective today, we are joined by Senator Fiona Nash who is deputy leader of the Nationals and Minister for Regional Development to talk about investing in the future of the regions. Please make her welcome. (APPLAUSE)

Thank you all and thank you very much, Chris, for that very kind introduction. Can I firstly acknowledge my very good friend and partner in leadership, Barnaby Joyce. Also my colleagues are here, Dr David Gillespie and Andrew ghee. Canavan was on his way. I want to acknowledge my fabulous secretary Mike Murdoch and the previous director of the National Party and the current director of the National Party and to you all, thank you for coming along this afternoon. It is great to have the opportunity to put rural, regional and remote Australia firmly in the minds of Australians. Our cities and, indeed, our nation exist because of our regions. Our regions supply the milk city people put on their cereal. The cereal itself, the cheese on their toast, the toast itself, the electricity which runs the toaster, the meat and vegetables for dinner, the gas which cooks that dinner, the fruit and cream for des dessert, the water they shower in and most materials which built the house they live in. When city people wake up in the morning, they should thank regional Australia for their way of life. The Australian economy is largely driven by its regions. Regional Australia is responsible for 67% of our exports and 45% of domestic tourism. Many of the stocks traded by city trading houses are created in the regions. Mining and agriculture stocks, for instance. The vast majority of regional Australia is humming along. There are, of course, some challenges but the overall story is very positive. Unemployment in regional Australia is 6% compared to 6.1% in the capital cities. Regional youth unemployment is 12.4% compared to 14.2% in the capital cities. Unemployment in Warrnambool in south-west Victoria is 2.9%, in the Pilbara it is 3.1%, in Darwin it's 3.2. In the southern outback, it is 3.5. In the Darling Downs and Maranoa in Queensland, it's 3.8%. Again, I recognise that unemployment is different in different towns but the overall story is very positive. Mackay region has 171,000 residents and produces the highest gross regional product per capita in Queensland at 133,143 dollars per person for a total of $22 billion. Mackay is Queensland's economic powerhouse. Investing in regional Australia is like maintaining the alternator which charges your car's battery. It's essential to keep your car running. Strong regions means a strong nation. In Coomera in southern New South Wales, where I was just a couple of weeks ago, Jane Kay runs Bird's Nest, a global online clothing business which employs 140 people, 130 of whom are women. Stuart Anderson from the northern New South Wales Rivers crowdfunded a beehive which dispenses honey on tap. Six months later, their company, Bee Inventive was receiving orders from 130 countries. The Productivity Commission report into regional Australia is due out tomorrow. It says great things about how well our regions are doing. There are so many amazing things happening in our regions and yet, for most metropolitan media coverage, you'd never know it. An analysis of front page stories about regional Victoria in Melbourne's two biggest metropolitan papers, in the six months to November 2016, revealed 80% were negative, 15% were neutral and just 5% were positive. The same analysis of regional coverage in Sydney's major two papers found that 70% of the regional front page mentions were negative and only 25% were positive. The negative stories were about individual domestic violence incidents, murder, drug use and natural disasters. Reading only this coverage, why would anybody move there? It's as if regional Australia is our nation's best kept secret. The way we talk about rural, regional and remote Australia is important. The regional tone needs to change from a negative one to an accurate one. I'm determined to help lead that change. I don't say negative stories in isolation are false but the failure to report the overwhelmingly positive news from regional Australia produces skewed views. We can't have 16 million capital city Australians getting their information on regional Australia from negative reporting and Farmer Wants A Wife. There is an unconscious bias about the way people think about rural and regional Australia and government investment in it and ignorance on our regions to support Australia's life style. Cities receive huge government investment which is never labelled a handout or pork barrels. Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport analysis found Melbourne and Sydney recover just 28 and 25% respectively of public transport costs. That's $4.5 billion a year taxpayer subsidy to keep Sydney and Melbourne from grinding to a halt. Yet I have never read a story which said capital cities were hugely reliant on government handouts. The Productivity Commission in the past few years, Melbourne's MCG and tennis centre received about $100 million in government subsidies. Yet when we use a few hundred thousand to improve a country sports ground, often the lifeblood and economic heart of the town, it's labelled pork barrelling. When the leader of the National Party Barnaby Joyce announced $25 million for a cancer centre in Dubbo, four hours drive from Sydney, we were accused of pork barrelling. I was Rural Health Minister and I'm proud of that investment, providing essential services to regional people is good government. It's not pork barrelling. The third of us who live in regional Australia should not be ashamed of expecting a decent level of service. As I travel rural Australia every week, it's so obvious that great communities have great leadership and great local leadership. I look at communities like Winton in Queensland where the mayor up there is an amazing person and this tiny little community has a dinosaur museum which is extraordinary, the walting Matilda centre, developed an app to guide people to local tourist sections. I look at Victoria in Shepparton where the mayor is doing an incredible job with local leadership, recognising culture and attraction are so important to regional communities and driving things like that down there with the art museum. Tiny little Winton in Queensland and shepart yoin in Victoria are different towns but the local leadership and local drive is the same from both those men in those communities. Government can't fix everything and nor can community which is why we need to invest in partnership together in the future of the regions. Local communities also need confidence. When government invests in community, it breeds confidence. It shows that government thinks that community is worth investing in and then local businesses and families invest too. Partnership investment with local leadership drives real lasting confidence. That's the way I designed the building better regions fund and also the $220 million regional jobs and investment packages. These packages in these local communities choosing forward-looking investment priorities and we fund the projects which best align with those local priorities. The Productivity Commission report backs the approach of enabling and partnering with local leadership. It also notes that a one size fits all approach doesn't work for the regions, which is something I have said support a long time. I have always wondered why people same life in the big cities is fast paced. Being stuck in traffic isn't fast paced, nor is waiting for ages in a taxi queue or bank queue or waiting to find a parking spot. In the regions, comparatively, you get to work in five minutes. That's fast. Parking 10m from the door of your favourite restaurant is fast. There's time outside work to have a life. Some might think it's the difference between living and merely surviving. That's why I find it amazing that many Australians have never considered the switch to regional Australia. City people hear about the sense of community in the country but I doubt they truly understand what it means. What it means is this: It means you can send the kids to the neighbours for half an hour while you go to see the doctor. When you have a road side breakdown, somebody stops to help you. When you embarrassingly discover you have left your wallet in the car as you pay at the local bakery, they say "Get me next time, mate". When your dog gets out he is brought back by the guy down the road who says "I reckon this little guy belongs to you". When you return to work, your sister-in-law or your parents look after your kids. Investment in regional Australia can help fix overcrowding in the cities. My good leader has made a number of comments about this. I'm sure people have horror stories about the M7. Building new roads or rails in capital cities costs multi pl more because the bulldozers require houses and digging tunnels. The more people move to the country, the less it costs the nation. Work by the Department of Planning in regional Victoria revoled 50,000 in housing in city cost $4 billion in government infrastructure. To house those people in regional New South Wales cost $1 billion. For every 50,000 who choose to live in the country, governments save roughly $3 billion in infrastructure costs. Being good doesn't necessarily mean big. It means being a community of choice. In March, the regional Australia ministerial taskforce had its first meeting chaired by the Prime Minister with myself deputy chair. Issues affecting rural, regional and remote Australians cross many portfolios so across-portfolio ministerial taskforce is the best way to tackle it. The taskforce aims to build on what we've already done and we've already done a lot for regional communities and just a couple of things I've had a hand in are as Rural Health Minister I redirected $50 million in incentives for doctors in big cities to doctors in small country towns. Along with the Justice Minister, I drove the creation of the National Ice taskforce, addressing drugs, an insidious problem in our regional communities. Also its report. Under Malcolm Turnbull, the Coalition delivered a historic $300 million investment in drug and alcohol education, prevention and treatment. The AFP said at the time "We cannot arrest our way out of this problem". In keeping with my belief that local knowledge is best, the 31 local primary healthcare networks each invest their share of the funding into the best local measures. Local drug action teams have also begun to roll out now. During the election campaign, I announced we'd create Australia's first rural Health Commissioner who will also create a pathway to train those country health professionals who have far broader skills than the typical GP. The good Dr Dave, Minister Gillespie, has oversighted more than $28 million in investment for 26 regional health training hubs to expand the numbers of medical students and graduates training in regional Australia and we know how important training our medical students in the regions is. He's also announced $26 million for an additional three university departments of Rural Health. The Coalition has a solid track record of delivering for the regions. Barnaby Joyce has led the renewal and expansion of the National Party to 22 members with five now in Cabinet. I can remember when we came into the party room and it's very different now. His proudest achievements as part of the National Party - stopping the carbon tax, building the inland rail and the soon-to-be delivered multibillion-dollar regional investment bank. Barnaby and I have worked together for 13 years, sometimes it feels like 26!(LAUGHS) But I think our friendship has been a great basis for an extremely effective Nationals leadership team. We are so proud to lead our fantastic team of Nationals. They are just terrific men and women. We are very proud to be part of this Coalition Government that's continuing to deliver for the regions. We will have more to say about initiatives coming from the regional Australia taskforce in due course. Now on to communications. The Coalition's delivering 765 new and improved mobile phone towers giving coverage to 32,000 homes and businesses across regional, rural and remote Australia while Labor never built a single tower, never attempted to and never spent a cent. Further, reliable broadband has the potential to help transform regional Australia. Way back in 2004, Barnaby and I coauthored a report into regional telecommunications in Australia. As Regional Communications Minister, I have oversight of the fixed wireless network and the sky muster satellite, although both are delivered by the NBN Co which has its own board. The regional rollout of the NBN is already 70% complete and fixed wireless is a great success story. Some 171,000 homes and businesses are now connected to fixed wireless. Fixed wireless has the highest satisfaction rating across the NBN and delivers 50 megabits a second download but NBN has recently announced it will move to 100 megabits download and 40 megabits upload. Businesses outside Wagga have doubled exports to China and employing more locals. At nara court, Peter and Linda say fixed wireless helps their sons and Lisa runs an online business selling craft. There are great things happening because of Sky muster. The most recent of the 70,000 to connect are on the second sky muster satellite which Labor had only intended as a back-up which we repurposed. The sky muster trial on a Qantas jet is testing mobile receivers which the Royal Flying Doctors Service can have in their planes which can potentially have paramedics sending live data to a specialist on the ground. This is ground breaking trial stuff. The trial also tests mobile technology for receivers on tractors, utes and bush machinery. Sky muster's 101 beams cover every inch of Australia providing broadband to people who literally never get it otherwise. People in mountains, valleys and stations miles from towns. It's remarkable and our data and cost is hugely better than, say, the US satellite. NBN Co's data shows the sky muster service has stabilised with 80% less network outages than September last year. It was recognised there were some problems by NBN and they've moved to fix them. The customer satisfaction stats are trending upward and contractors are using better installation processes. The average sky muster customer uses 23 gig bites of data a month. A $70 plan gets you 40 big bites off plan. However, a small percentage of customers are using all their data. Last week, along with the extremely capable Communications Minister Mitch Fifield, I met with the NBN Co board on rural issues and particularly around the data issues. We know how important data is to business and NBN tells us it expects retail business plans offering extra data within a year. NBN is also checking whether its early projections match reality and this, along with other initiatives, is likely to deliver an increase in data to all users. NBN will report to me on this as soon as possible. I recognise how important this data issue is for regional Australians. NBN already offers larger plans to schools and distance education students and is working to offer more data to rural and remote medical centres. The sky muster satellites were ordered by Labor but, as I said, we are making adjustments to get the best out of them. In the hills near Apollo Bay in Victoria, customer Wendy Stewart no longer commutes three hours to Melbourne to work and her daughters no longer go to town to the internet cafe. South of Longreach, Chase Smith used to attend class by phone and had to post a USB stick to school and wait two weeks for feedback. Now he sees his class mate on video link and receives marked assignments back the same day. Broadband can help change lives in other ways, too. Mental health is a significant issue in rural and remote areas. Lack of easy access to a nearby psychologist often means mental health issues go untreated. It's difficult and sometimes impossible for rural and remote Australians to attend face-to-face counselling. Today I announce rural and remote Australians will, for the first time, have access to psychology through teleconferencing paid for by Medicare. This will mean rural and remote Australians can use Skype, FaceTime or video calling to access psychologists and psychiatrists all over Australia from their home or a local medical centre. Many Australians who are going without mental health treatment will now receive it. I thank the Health Minister Greg Hunt for recognising the importance of this issue to regional Australia and for delivering the very first outcome from the regional Australia ministerial taskforce in such a short period of time. For those wondering, high definition video conferencing requires internet speed of just 1.5 megabits a second. A typical sky muster plan delivers enough data for 66 hours a month of high definition video conferencing. Ladies and gentlemen, my vision is to help build sustainable rural, regional and remote communities that our children and our grandchildren either want to stay in or come back to. If we attract the brains back to the bush, we'll go a long way to creating sustainable communities into the future. To do that, we need to create more careers as well as jobs in the bush. This requires long-term vision well beyond the next election. Which brings me to another priority of mine - decentralisation. I congratulate our Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce for leading the debate and fighting so hard for regional Australia on this issue. To me, decentralisation is about fairness. Rural, regional and remote Australians deserve the careers, flow-on benefits and jobs offered by departments and their agencies just as much as capital city Australians do. But government decentralisation is only part of the puzzle. Corporate decentralisation we also have to focus on. It's been a huge success in some areas. Mars in Albury has been a huge benefit. In Albury, they say to find people willing to move from Sydney was "Really easy". Agriculture has a fantastic future in this country and it is great to see even the big corporates are starting to recognise this. Last week I had a very productive meeting with business groups about corporate decentralisation. Jennifer Westacott from the BCA and Peter Strong from the Small Business Council has been offered to facilitate meetings with companies regarding decentralisation. We need to identify what the barriers are and find solutions. There was a suggestion a database listing the strengths of the regions as they relate to business would be helpful. This would include local work force skills, intellectual capacity, local infrastructure, natural advantages like, say, climate for a wine region or access to reliable irrigation water, and established local businesses and industries which an arriving business could work with or service. Businesses interested in establishing in regional Australia could look up which part of the nation is best suited for them and save costs as rents, rates and set-up costs are far cheaper in the country. Corporate decentralisation is a long-term project. If intend to work hard on it. Additionally, the Prime Minister last year tasked with a whole-of-government policy. Moving government functions to the regions means more people in our towns, more people in our shops, more volunteers for the local fire brigade. Well-managed decentralisation is a smart tactic in the housing affordability battle as it relieves pressure on capital cities and creates the lure of quality careers in the country. Decentralisation means more career opportunities for our children in the bush so that they can stay in the region they grew up in. A report to the Canadian Parliament noted "Lack of connection with regional realities is the trend among public servants. They view the world through the prism of statistics". That report called for a rigorous and transparent frame work to consider moving more departments to the regions. That's what I'm delivering and I'm approaching this methodically and strategically. There are some departments and functions which are not appropriate to move away from Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. However, there are countless successful examples of government decentralisation, including the New South Wales DPI in Orange and the GRDC to Dubbo, Centrelink and ASIC call centres in tral gone, the transport accident commission and soon the NDIS in Geelong. Late last year, I was in Bathurst, hopped into a taxi chatting to the fellow driving the taxi, the central mapping authority has decentralised out to Bathurst in 1976. He was still living there and he loved it. Today I announce that by midyear I will, in consultation with others, create a criteria for government ministers to assess which departments, functions and entities in their portfolio are suited to decentralisation. All portfolio ministers will be required to report back to Cabinet by August on which of their departments, functions or entities are suitable. Departments will need to actively justify if they don't want to move, why all or part of their operations are unsuitable for decentralisation. The Minister for Finance will, in consultation with others, develop a template for business cases for decentralisation to ensure a consistent approach across government. Relevant ministers will be required to report to Cabinet with those robust business cases for decentralisation by December. It's important for government to lead by example and invest in rural, regional and remote Australia. Creating long-term careers and breeding confidence in those communities and we're doing it. Ladies and gentlemen, rural, regional and remote Australia is great already. It can be even greater. I look forward to helping it build strong and sustainable regional communities that our children and our grandchildren either want to stay in or come back to. Thank you.(APPLAUSE)

Straight to questions. Our first is from The Weekly Times.Thank you for your speech, Senator. I wanted to ask you about communications which you spoke about in some detail there and some of the good aspects that are happening but it's also been quite detailed from some of the rural and regional communities, the problems they have had and still are having with data amounts, speed of connectivity, black spots, that sort of thing. They describe it as a bit of a divide between the city and the country in terms of this digital innovation. I wonder some areas are experiencing very good internet and connectivity. Do you think there is a risk that if the rollout isn't even across the country, we risk having a further divide of the have and have notes within regional areas themselves where some can take advantage of that and race ahead of other regional areas and how can we address that? With the amount of problems that have been brought to everyone's attention about the rollout, are you happy with the way it's rolled out and what else can be done better?Thanks, Natalie. Firstly, we are never going to get the same things out in rural Australia that you have in the cities. They're apples and oranges. They're different places to live. There are challenges in regional Australia but, in the city, you are not going to buy 100 acres for $250,000. The first point we have to recognise is you are not going to get exactly the same things in rural Australia that you do in the cities. The speed you are going to get out in the western parts of Queensland is not going to be the same that you get in the CBD in Brisbane. I think rural Australians are pretty pragmatic. They get that. They know they are not going to have a heart surgeon on every corner out in the regions but they want access to a reasonable level of healthcare. As I am travelling around and talking to people in the regions, I'm not talking about the numbers of speed, I'm talking "Can you do what you want to do in the regions through your internet connection?". By and large, most of them are happy with the service they've got. You don't necessarily hear in this game from people who are terribly happy with something the Government has done, they tend to be fairly quiet and get on with their lives but I do recognise there is a cohort, albeit smaller than those that are happy, that have these had concerns around