ALP plateaus as Coalition slips in key states

Dennis Shanahan  - The Australian
Julia Gillard's promise to build a rail link in Sydney and intensive campaigning in Queensland has not shifted Labor's support in battleground states.  But the Coalition has suffered a slight fall in its standing in the two states where the election will be decided, with Tony Abbott's low-key campaign launch in Brisbane last week failing to help it in Queensland.  According to the latest state-by-state analysis of Newspoll, conducted exclusively for The Australian, Labor's vote in NSW and Queensland remains well below the 2007 election level going into the final week of the campaign. Despite a concentrated effort last week in marginal seats in both states, its primary support was unchanged at 39 per cent in NSW and 35 per cent in Queensland.

PM agrees to town hall forum

Dennis Shanahan, Lauren Wilson  - The Australian
Julia Gillard last night gave in to Tony Abbott's demands for a people's forum at the Bronco's Leagues Club tonight.  But the Liberal leader rebuffed the Prime Minister's final demand for a debate on the economy.  After days of wrangling over the style and site of a people's forum and an economic debate, with the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader accusing each other of cowardice, Ms Gillard announced last night she would participate in a town hall-style meeting in Brisbane similar to the one held in western Sydney last week. But Ms Gillard said Mr Abbott should front up for a debate with her on the economy before the forum.

Hoping Goldilocks seat ends up just right

Lauren Wilson - The Australian
When the Coalition sat down to plan its final-week assault on marginal seats around the country it took a good look at Eden-Monaro.  And it had  enough of a whiff of victory to send Tony Abbott to the sprawling NSW electorate one more time.  The race for the bellwether seat will be tight, and votes remain for the taking in the final days of the campaign.  According to the latest marginal seats Newspoll, the Liberal Party could expect a swing of about 1.3 percentage points in the seat. The Liberals need a 2.3-point swing to snatch the seat from Labor and its incumbent MP Mike Kelly, so the Opposition Leader yesterday took the chance and devoted an afternoon to the voters of Eden-Monaro.

Poll has Abbott reeling

Phillip Coorey - SMH
Labor is clinging to a four-seat majority just three days from the federal election, according to 28,000 voters sampled in the most comprehensive public opinion poll undertaken in Australian politics.  The JWS Research poll, which has been obtained exclusively by the Herald, shows that if the election were held last weekend, Labor would have lost 15 seats and gained six, handing it a net loss of nine seats.  Labor notionally holds 88 seats, meaning it would have been reduced to 79, a majority of four in the 150-seat Parliament. The Coalition would have 68 seats and there would be three independents.

Court again suspends California's gay weddings

Maura Dolan - SMH
SAN FRANCISCO: California's same-sex weddings have been called off again - at least until next year. A US federal appeals court has put gay marriage in the state on hold indefinitely, interrupting the wedding plans of scores of couples who were preparing to exchange vows when a temporary hold was set to expire today.  The brief order by a three-judge panel of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals prevents an early showdown on the marriage question at the US Supreme Court. Supporters of same-sex marriage said they would not appeal Monday's order.  A US District Court judge decided on August 4 that California's Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage, violated the Constitution and later ordered same-sex marriage to resume today unless a higher court intervened. The panel's decision gave no explanation for overturning the judge's order directing the state to once again marry same-sex couples.

Union bankrolls Greens

Ben Schneiders  - The Age
The Greens have received their largest-ever political donation with a disaffected Victorian blue-collar union giving $325,000 to help the party win the seat of Melbourne and its first Victorian Senate spot.  The Electrical Trades Union's Victorian branch - which until last month was affiliated with Labor - recently gave $125,000 to the campaign to elect Greens candidate Adam Bandt in the marginal seat of Melbourne.  A further $200,000 has been donated to help Richard Di Natale become the first Greens senator for Victoria.  The donation dwarfs previous amounts given to the Greens - in 2007-08 its national office declared total donations of just $170,000 - and comes as the party has won support from other blue-collar unions. It is believed the Victorian branch of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) has donated about $50,000 to the Greens' Senate campaign.

Sex Party man claims bias

Jason Gillick  - Cranbourne Journal
An Australian Sex Party candidate says he has been discriminated against by a Christian school in Clyde North after an offer to address students was retracted by the principal.  Hillcrest Christian College is understood to have invited all candidates in La Trobe electorate to address the students with the ASP's Martin Leahy, Labor's Laura Smyth and the Liberals Jason Wood all accepting.  Mr Leahy said former Casey councillor and year 12 teacher Rob Wilson sent him the original invitation, which he accepted.  He claims he received another email days later, saying there were too many speakers.

The party of moderation steps lightly in the footsteps of Plato

Clive Hamilton - The Australian
Are the Australian Greens the party of libertines? Sydney's Catholic Archbishop Cardinal George Pell thinks so, dubbing their influence poisonous.  The Australian Sex Party agrees, recently expressing indignation that the Greens could betray their principles by endorsing candidates (including myself) critical of pornography.  Both the sex industry and moral conservatives see the Greens as the political torchbearers for the liberation movements of the 1960s and 70s. Yet a consideration of what it actually stands for suggests that, rather than being the party of extremes that its critics want it to be, the Greens are the party of moderation.