Reward people for staying married

Couples who say "I do" should receive federal government cash bonuses but the union of same-sex couples should not be legally recognised, pro-marriage lobby groups say.   The Australian Family Association (AFA) together with the National Marriage Coalition (NMC) are lobbying for August 13 to be officially designated National Marriage Day.   AFA vice-president Mary-Louise Fowler says the date is symbolic because it's the anniversary of the passing of the Marriage Amendment Act 2004, which defined marriage as "a union between a man and a woman".

Marriage coalition declares breakthrough as Coalition announces marriage education voucher plan

Last night, 12th August 2010, at the annual National Marriage Day celebration dinner held in Sydney, The Shadow Minister for Families, Kevin Andrews, announced a new policy to support and strengthen Australian marriages.   The Coalition Government, if elected, will provide a $200 marriage education voucher for those couples wanting to be better prepared for marriage. Gerard Calilhanna, a spokesman for the National Marriage Coalition said, “This is a major breakthrough for marriage. We have been waiting for this for a long time.    The Marriage Manifesto, which was released to both the Labor and Coalition governments in 2007 at the National Strategic Summit on Marriage, Family and Fatherhood on 18 September 2007, says (Point 8, page 8), “Support Marriage and parenting education programs considering marriage or seeking to improve their family relationships by: introduce a $200 voucher system for marriage preparation courses available to all couples planning to marry.” These policy proposals are now coming to pass.”

Brown wants conscience vote on gay marriage

Greens leader Bob Brown has urged Federal Labor and Liberal leaders to agree to a conscience vote on same-sex marriage.  Senator Brown made the call as gay marriage rallies were held across the country for a campaign called Equal Love.  The protests marked six years since the Federal Government amended the Marriage Act to exclude same-sex couples.

Papers back Julia Gillard, voters want Tony Abbott

AUSTRALIA'S Sunday newspapers have backed Julia Gillard to win the election, saying Labor deserves a second term.  But voters don't seem to agree, with the latest opinion poll suggesting Tony Abbott will win the 17 seats he needs for an election victory.  Although most of the sundays criticised Labor for its poor performance at state and federal level, they were willing to give Ms Gillard an opportunity to show what she could achieve as Prime Minister.   Suprisingly, the paper that has hit Labor the hardest, The Sunday Telegraph, praised Ms Gillard as someone who could make the "big calls" and would not be "cowed by the news polls".

Record number of young WA girls are having abortions

A RECORD number of young girls in WA are having abortions and some are still in primary school.  The Sunday Times can reveal 44 girls aged 14 or younger terminated a pregnancy last year.  It is an all-time high for the age group and more than double six years ago when 20 girls had abortions.  The Health Department collects data on girls having abortions aged up to 14 because they are considered outside the "reproductive age group".

Labor ahead but regional swings set to decide it

Labor has retaken the lead in the polls but whoever wins the last week will win the election.   That was the view of strategists from both sides yesterday as the focus of the election campaign turned to Queensland and NSW.  Depending on how the results of the latest Herald/Nielsen poll are analysed, an election held today could range from an increased Labor majority, Labor being returned with a reduced majority, to a hung parliament.

Three gay couples wed at protest rally

Three same-sex couples have staged illegal marriage ceremonies in Brisbane as part of a rally protesting the major parties' "archaic" stance on the issue.  Organiser Kat Henderson told AAP between 600 and 1000 people marched "loud and proud through" Brisbane's CBD calling for marriage equality.   "Sixty per cent of Australians support same-sex marriage rights, (we) have the broader support of the community," she said.

School policy fractures Greens

THE Australian Greens are internally fractured over their policy to remove millions of dollars in funding from private schools.   In an internal Greens email leaked to The Sunday Age, party leader Bob Brown's senior adviser Prue Cameron complained on August 3 that the policy was making the federal election campaign more difficult.   Last night Senator Brown backed away from the policy to reduce private school funding to 2003-04 levels.   ''That is our party's policy. What we have argued, though, is that circumstances have changed since that policy setting was made a number of years ago,'' he said.