Frances Adamson on being secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs

June 24, 2018

Frances Adamson is secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. She was previously international adviser to Malcolm Turnbull, and served as Australia’s ambassador in Beijing between 2011 and 2015.

This interview is published in partnership with The Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

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Attorney-General Christian Porter on a crowded agenda

June 20, 2018

Attorney-General Christian Porter says the response to the consultations for the national apology to victims of child sexual abuse has been very strong with a total of 167 attendees at consultation sessions so far. "There are further consultations coming up in Ballarat, Melbourne, Bendigo, Newcastle and Sydney ... it is a very important process and is going very well," he said.

Porter also says there's "some level of common sense" to suggestions that former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who set up the royal commission, should have a role in the apology. "I do think those things are best dealt with by exchange of letter or meetings directly between the Leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister."

In this interview Porter also speaks about foreign interference laws, elder abuse, the amalgamation of the Family and Federal Circuit courts, and why he rejects calls for change to section 44 of the constitution.

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Brotherhood of St Laurence’s Conny Lenneberg on Newstart, poverty and inequality

May 31, 2018

The Brotherhood of St Laurence has underway a campaign with the slogan “Share the Pie” highlighting the inadequacy of the Newstart allowance. The Brotherhood is also arguing the social safety net more generally is fraying.

Executive Director of The Brotherhood Conny Lenneberg spoke to The Conversation about the inequality created by the low level of Newstart, which hasn’t been boosted for many years.

She also pointed to the systemic barriers - such as disinvestment in the TAFE system and a scarcity of entry level jobs - which contribute to youth unemployment.

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Michael McCormack on Barnaby’s future, latte sippers and other matters

May 30, 2018

With yet another round of the Barnaby Joyce affair distracting the government, the next question will be whether the beleaguered MP runs again in his New England seat at the election.

In this interview with The Conversation, Nationals leader and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack pointedly avoids saying Joyce should do so.

“That’ll be a matter for him and that’ll be a matter for the National party in New England. That’ll be a matter for a branch to nominate him and then that’ll be a matter for the branch members in New England as to whether or not they decide if he nominates or if anybody else nominates,” McCormack says.

“Then it becomes a preselection process as to who they think would best represent them going forward”.

McCormack also speaks about the reception for the government’s tax plans in regional Australia, lashes out at those city-dwellers “sipping lattes” who’d close down live animal exports, and declares “trust me, I am no pushover for anybody”.

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Anthony Albanese on Labor’s National Conference

May 23, 2018

Labor is facing tough tests in coming byelections in its narrowly held seats of Longman in Queensland and Braddon in Tasmania.

Later on, managing the ALP national conference will be a challenge for Bill Shorten who will be anxious to avoid damaging displays of division over controversial issues.

Labor Frontbencher Anthony Albanese is putting on a confident face about the byelections. On the conference, he predicts there will not be a "substantial change" in Labor's refugee policy. On the issue of recognition of Palestine, another sensitive issue within the party, he says "if you support a two-state solution then by definition one of those states will be Palestine."

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Dean Smith on the pros and risks of new religious freedom protections

May 22, 2018

The Liberal party is currently fighting fires on various fronts - from a revolt on the live sheep trade to preselection power struggles.

Western Australia Liberal Senator Dean Smith is putting up another push, as he challenges the decision not to run Liberal candidates in the two WA byelections.

In this podcast he also speaks about the need for rigorous debate on religious freedoms, diversity in the Liberal party, and his opposition to  constitutional reform of section 44.

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Politics podcast: Mathias Cormann and Jim Chalmers on Budget 2018

May 9, 2018

With the government's election focused budget released it's now a tax showdown between the two sides.

Finance minister Mathias Cormann says the government is committed to the whole of their seven-year personal tax relief plan and is determined the three-part package not be broken up.

Meanwhile, shadow finance minister Jim Chalmers says Labor is disappointed with the government's inflexibility on their tax plan. "It's a real shame that they're saying that they will hold those lower and middle income earners hostage for the rest of the package."

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Tim Colebatch on the 2018 budget

May 8, 2018

From inside the lockup political and economic journalist Tim Colebatch speaks to Michelle Grattan about his assessment of the budget.

He says the income tax cuts are “well targeted” and that he can’t see any “significant negatives” from the budget. However Colebatch is “surprised the government hasn’t made more effort to find other sources of compensating tax income or making bigger spending cuts in areas where they thought there was waste”.

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Chris Bowen on the budget and Labor’s policies

May 2, 2018

Ahead of Tuesday’s budget that will unveil the goverment’s tax cut plans, the Coalition is painting Labor as the big taxing party, while the ALP is attacking the government’s push to cut company tax for big business. Meanwhile the Business Council of Australia is taking its message to the public with a grassroots campaign.

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen tells The Conversation he accepts that big business will “lobby on their own path”. “Clearly we have a difference of view with the Business Council,” he says, though not with every member of it. “Some members of the Business Council say they don’t see the business tax cut as a business priority.”

On budget repair, Bowen he says that “getting back to budget balance is very, very important, and not just budget balance but a good healthy budget surplus of at least 1% of GDP.”

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Robert Kelly on the Korean summits

April 24, 2018

Professor Robert E Kelly from the Department of Political Science and Diplomacy at Pusan University is pessimistic about how much the upcoming Korean summits will achieve.

He told The Conversation that the Trump-Kim summit is likely "to be a bust" because the Americans aren't prepared for the negotiations, while the summit between the two Koreas is more important for issues of economic cooperation and military transparency.

On the reunification of Korea, Kelly says while he wouldn't put a timeline on it he would "be amazed if North Korea would hang on in perpetuity - it's just not designed to deal with modernity."

Robert E Kelly will be appearing in Canberra as part of the Lowy Lecture Series on Wednesday May 2 and at the Sydney Writers' Festival from Friday May 4 - Sunday May 6.

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