Greens hit back at 'out-of-touch' Pell

The Greens have retaliated after Sydney's Catholic Archbishop Cardinal George Pell launched a scathing attack on their party.   In an opinion piece in the Sunday Telegraph, Cardinal Pell labelled the Greens "anti-Christian" and "sweet-camouflaged poison".   Cardinal Pell also claimed the Greens policies are expensive and will not help poor people.   But Greens leader Bob Brown says Cardinal Pell is just dog whistling.

Gillard jets north as Coalition readies campaign launch

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has put some distance between herself and two former Labor leaders as she takes her campaign to marginal territory in Darwin today.  Back in Brisbane, where the focus was on Labor's leadership woes yesterday, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott will attempt to regain the election limelight with the official launch of the Liberal Party's campaign.  Ms Gillard will announce funding for 1000 more school chaplains, an initiative of the previous Howard government, two days after she met with the Australian Christian Lobby.

God and the election

Traditionally, God doesn’t make much of an appearance in Australian elections.   God may be everywhere to be seen in political scenes of other countries, but He is much more discrete in Oz.  And traditionally, day to day politics doesn’t make much of an appearance in this blog even though I am a member of the ALP and have an abiding interest in the quotidian political cut and thrust.

Atheist 'Real Julia' courts Christian vote

The past week of the election campaign has been dominated by jokes about the 'real Julia' and the 'fake Julia'. With the party's efforts to retain government falling apart, Labor leader Julia Gillard vowed to throw away the rule book and to be herself.  Could this turn out to be a campaign run on an authenticity platform? The truth is that most commentators did not notice any significant difference between the two Julias. It just became clear that she would now do 'whatever it takes' to stem the rising tide of support for Liberal leader Tony Abbott.

Greens' policies more Christian than Cardinal George Pell, says Bob Brown

AUSTRALIA'S Catholic leader Cardinal George Pell has taken up the rhetoric of the extreme right and his views do not represent mainstream Christian thinking, Greens leader Bob Brown says.  Senator Brown says Australian Greens' policies are much closer to mainstream Christian ideals than the Sydney Archbishop's ideas.  He was responding to criticism of the Greens by Cardinal Pell in an opinion piece published in News Ltd newspapers yesterday.  Cardinal Pell wrote the Greens were hostile to the notion of the family and the party would allow marriage regardless of sexuality or gender.

Mother of doctor killed by Taliban says daughter was humanitarian, not missionary

THE family of a British doctor killed along with eight foreign aid workers in Afghanistan has rejected claims that she was preaching Christianity to Muslims.  Dr Karen Woo was among 10 people shot dead in the remote north-eastern Badaskhshan province on Friday.  Her body and those of seven others arrived back in Kabul yesterday for formal identification as police hunted for their killers.  The 36-year-old British medic, who was due to marry this month, was murdered along with six Americans and a German as they were returning from a medical camp.

Confident Abbott playing it safe

TONY Abbott has signalled he believes the Coalition is on target to win the August 21 election.  Mr Abbott yesterday shifted his campaign into small-target mode with a formal election speech lacking a single new spending promise.  The Opposition Leader has warned supporters to expect a fortnight-long campaign of "fear and smear" from Labor.  And he appealed to Greens voters for their second preferences to prevent Gillard government attempts to win with "irresponsible" spending pledges in marginal seats. "By sandbagging marginal seats, this bad federal government hopes to chisel its way to a dishonourable victory like the South Australian and Tasmanian Labor governments did earlier this year," he said.

Julia Gillard to reward good schools with cash bonus

A RE-ELECTED Labor government will pay schools bonuses of up to $100,000.  The rewards will be paid if schools can demonstrate increases in attendance and improvements in the literacy and numeracy standards of their students.  And school principals and communities will be free to decide how they would spend the money, provided it added to school resources.  Under a $388 million policy to be released today, Julia Gillard will announce primary schools would be eligible for grants of up to $75,000 for literacy and numeracy improvements, as well as lower absenteeism.

ALP in front by a nose for last weeks

THE election remains on a knife edge, with Labor just back in front using Greens' preferences as the campaign heads into its final weeks.  But the Coalition remains well clear of Labor on primary vote support, and more people are coming to think the Coalition will win on August 21.  Tony Abbott officially launched the Coalition's election campaign yesterday with cautious confidence, while Julia Gillard has started setting out her agenda for the future. Both believe the election will be decided in the last two weeks of campaigning.  According to the latest Newspoll, taken between Friday and last night exclusively for The Australian, the Labor government has again squeezed in front on a two-party-preferred basis, using preference flows from the 2007 election, 52 per cent to 48 per cent.

Libs go hard on people-smugglers

TONY Abbott has promised automatic jail terms for people-smugglers and people who harbour illegal immigrants.  This triggered warnings from legal experts that the tough Coalition policy could see innocent people jailed for trying to help the homeless.  As his immigration spokesman, Scott Morrison, flew to Nauru to inspect the island's offshore processing centre, Mr Abbott was centring his pitch for re-election on strong border protection. The Opposition Leader vowed to impose mandatory jail sentences of 12 months to 10 years for people-smugglers and for Australians who harboured illegal immigrants.

Website under fire for ads selling sex

WASHINGTON: Craig Newmark was all over Twitter on Friday, as he is most days, talking about an operating system for mobile phones and Bart Simpson in summer school and reminding his 24,000 followers to vote to end world poverty.  He engaged with friends and strangers alike. MC is still waiting to hear from him.  Mr Newmark is the founder of the worldwide classified advertisements website Craigslist. MC is a 17-year-old girl who says she was repeatedly sold for sex through ads on Craigslist. In open letters published as ads in US newspapers, she has beseeched Mr Newmark to shut down Craigslist's lucrative ''adult services'' section, which police and childrens' advocates say facilitates prostitution and child trafficking.