Christian lobby rails against gay advisory body

Richard Willingham - The Age
The Labor Party's plan to fund a gay rights advisory body is a disgraceful act and shows that the government is pandering to a small minority, says the Australian Christian Lobby. The group also said the Greens' claim that many of their policies are based on Christian values is simply not true. The lobby yesterday published responses from all political parties in the state election to 21 questions they believe are fundamental to Christian voters, using its website Victoria Votes. This is the first Victorian election in which the group has published a website for Christian voters, after launching a similar site for the 2007 federal poll.

Eugenics 'rises from Nazi tomb' claims Victorian Bishop Peter Elliott

Tess Livingston - The Australian
The "warped practice of eugenics is rising from its Nazi tomb" in Victoria, a senior Catholic bishop says. Bishop Peter Elliott, head of Melbourne's John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family told mass-goers in Bendigo Cathedral on Sunday: "A seek-and-destroy policy kills little human beings in the womb because they are 'guilty' of Down Syndrome, dwarfism or other imperfection. "They are deemed to be unfit to live for they do not come up to the standard of the 'designer baby' and a healthy, sport-loving race. "It is no surprise that euthanasia is being strongly promoted today. Nor should it be a surprise that this is the policy of a political and ideological force that puts more value on wattle and wombats than people.

Mentally ill need help after ALP failure

David Cappo - The Australian
The sick need support in their homes and to keep them off the street, not just in hospital. In the past year, mental health has been elevated as an important social issue in Australia. The selection of Patrick McGorry as Australian of the Year and his advocacy has been critical to this. While there are many views, one thing is clear; we need decisive and urgent nationwide action on mental health reform. To date, I believe our public discussions on mental health reform have been too focused on the number of hospital beds available. The reality is that mental illness is most often experienced in people's homes or on our streets.

NSW Labor exodus gathers pace as poll looms

Imre Salusinszky - The Australian
Several more NSW Labor MPs are understood to be about to jump ship ahead of the state election next March. Senior party sources say Marie Andrews, who has represented the Central Coast seat of Gosford since 1995, will announce her retirement in coming days. She retained Gosford with a 4.8 per cent buffer in 2007. Throughout her political career, Ms Andrews, 69, has fought battles with local Labor powerbrokers John Della Bosca and his wife, Belinda Neal, who control many of the branches in Gosford. Former NSW premier Morris Iemma intervened to rescue Ms Andrews in the lead-up to the 2007 election, arguing she was a popular and hardworking local member.

Faulkner's rebuke: Rudd did not leak

Dennis Shanahan - The Australian
John Faulkner is the keeper of the Labor flame. He was also the "third person" in the Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard leadership triangle, and he has told colleagues he believes the former prime minister "did not leak a thing" during the election campaign. The man who was seen as an "honest broker" between the former prime minister and his deputy during the leadership change and the election campaign has rebuffed assertions within Labor that Mr Rudd was Australia's worst prime minister and leaked damaging material about the leadership deal and cabinet decisions during the August election.

United Nations names Australia as the second best place in the world to live

SMH
The United Nations has named oil-rich Norway as the country with the best quality of life, followed by Australia and NZ, while Asia has made the biggest strides in recent decades. The UN's annual A-to-Z of global wealth, poverty, health and education highlighted, however, that it is becoming ever more difficult to break into the rich club of nations. Norway - with its 81 years of life expectancy and average annual income of $US59,000 ($59,000) - has topped the Human Development Index (HDI) for all but two years since 2001. It doesn't come in first place in any individual category - average income in Liechtenstein, for example, is a wallet-busting $US81,011 and Japan's life expectancy is 83.6 years - but Norway's all-round performance gives it superiority in the 20th annual rankings on the UN Development Program (UNDP).

Rudd secures human rights dialogue

John Garnaut - SMH
The Foreign Affairs Minister, Kevin Rudd, said China had agreed to resume formal human rights talks with Australia and the two nations will continue to deepen military ties as it emerged yesterday that joint naval exercises involving live ammunition fire in September may not have gone to plan. Mr Rudd told the Herald that the countries were upgrading defence co-operation as part of international efforts to learn more about China's military budgets, capabilities and doctrinal intentions before he met one of the People's Liberation Army's most powerful generals yesterday. China is rapidly developing a blue-water fleet and is intensifying its presence in the South China Sea and other neighbouring waters, triggering tensions with the United States and nations in the region. Mr Rudd said naval co-operation was essential to avoid ''incidents'' that may arise. ''It's actually pretty important that the navy gets to know well their counterparts,'' he said.

Brumby's $493m social welfare package

David Rood - The Age
A re-elected Brumby government would employ 80 extra child support workers as part of a $493 million social welfare package, in a bid overcome the crisis in Victoria's child protection system. The $27.9 million for the support workers, who will visit families and co-ordinate access visits, was announced at a time when the government has more than 40 vacancies for frontline child protection workers. The four-year package allocates $60.3 million for people living with a disability, including specialist housing for 50 people, $52.8 million for older carers of those with a disability, as well as $43.3 million for support workers and specialist help so vulnerable Victorians can find work. But Department of Human Services figures show there were 43 vacancies for child protection workers at the end of September.

First use of rights charter to protect children's testimony

Steve Butcher - The Age
Victoria's Charter of Human Rights has been used for the first time by prosecutors to help challenge a judge's decision that threatened to exclude the trial evidence of two children against their molester. In a historic move, the Director of Public Prosecutions successfully argued that it was against the human rights of the children not to allow their evidence to be heard. The testimony of the children, aged eight and 10, had initially been jeopardised because the three-month time limit to record it had expired by about four weeks, although the initial judge left it open for the later trial judge to revisit the matter.

Gay couples on marriage roundabout

Jacqueline Tomlins - The Age
Go travelling abroad and it's a case of now we're married, now we're not. 'Fill out one form per family please, for transit through LAX.'' I roll my eyes at Sarah and take the form from the steward. There's nothing like international travel for defining who you are: nationality, place of residence, marital status. For most people, ticking these boxes is unproblematic; for us, it's a different story. "Family?'' I say to the steward. ''We're a same-sex family - two mums, three kids, married some places, not others - one form or two?''