Julia Gillard has failed to keep the lid on recriminations within Labor over its poor election campaign. A former national president describing the internal atmosphere as poisonous, amid growing calls for the sacking of national secretary Karl Bitar. As the caretaker prime minister faced opposition claims that her party was in the grip of a "ferocious civil war", her promise to deliver a stable minority government was compromised when former ALP president Warren Mundine attacked the party as divided, and several beaten Labor candidates vented their frustration about party bosses, who imposed a flawed campaign on candidates. The attacks came as Tony Abbott sharpened his pitch to the three independents who will anoint the next government by saying only the Coalition could provide stability, while Labor infighting was a recipe for chaos.
The toxic unpopularity of Labor in NSW, which was demonstrated at last weekend's federal election, has been confirmed by the latest Newspoll. It shows the state Labor government heading for a wipe-out at the election next March. The results illustrate why the situation of NSW Labor, and the Right machine, has dominated the party's post-mortems and recriminations since election day. To make matters worse for Labor, the gloss has come off NSW Premier Kristina Keneally, wiping out the sole comparative advantage Labor has held over the Coalition for the eight months since the Premier replaced Nathan Rees in a leadership coup. The NSW Labor government's primary support remains stuck at an all-time low of 25 per cent, according to the poll, which was conducted exclusively for The Australian last month and this month. No government in any state has ever performed worse on this measure.
Tony Abbott has warned that the Australian Greens would virtually control a minority Labor government. He said that only the Coalition can deliver stability and "a kinder, gentler polity". Sharpening his pitch to the three independent MPs who will anoint the next federal government, the Opposition Leader has also attacked Labor as unable to provide stability, accusing it of having collapsed into a "ferocious civil war" since Saturday's election returned a hung parliament. Mr Abbott's comments came as he offered independent and crossbench MPs the most comprehensive package of reforms to parliamentary procedures in more than 30 years in his bid to strike a deal to form government. In a letter obtained exclusively by The Australian, the Opposition Leader has promised to consider a tighter question time with shorter answers, more time for private member's bills and a dedicated backbench question time, with greater scope for detail.
Independent MP Bob Katter says he will use his newfound clout to deliver a fair go for rural communities. Mr Katter says these communities have been ignored for decades. Mr Katter has likened the rise of independents in the bush to a revival of the creed of the old Country Party, describing the Nationals as having all but vanished in modern politics, smashed into subservience by the Liberals.
An executive order from Barack Obama allowing embryonic stem cell research has been thrown into doubt by a US District Court injunction. The chief judge in the District of Columbia yesterday imposed a block on the US President's executive order in March last year, saying federal taxpayer funds could not be used to destroy embryos. The decision is a blow to scientists, who thought they had the green light to conduct stem cell research on embryonic tissue in their pursuit of remedies for ailments, such as heart disease, Parkinson's Disease and diabetes. Judge Royce Lamberth ruled that all embryonic stem cell research involved destroying embryos in breach of a US law, the Dickey-Wicker amendment, which bans federal funding.
Division is mounting in the major parties over deals with the Greens. Tensions are at their highest in Victoria, which votes in a state election on November 27. Labor lost the seat of Melbourne to Green Adam Bandt on Saturday, and Victoria's Labor government could lose four inner-city seats to them in November. Now Martin Ferguson's northern suburbs electorate of Batman, previously Labor's safest seat in the country, will shift from being a Labor-Liberal contest to a clash between Labor and the Greens.
An Australian soldier has been killed and several others are wounded after a firefight in Afghanistan. The full details of the incident are not yet known, but the Australian Defence Force has confirmed that next of kin have been notified. Defence Minister John Faulkner and chief of the defence force Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston will release more details at a 9am media conference in Canberra. The incident comes after Brisbane-based privates Grant Kirby and Tomas Dale died when an explosive hit their Bushmaster vehicle in Oruzgan Province on Friday.
A Greens candidate in the coming state election has called for the decriminalisation of prostitution. Richmond hopeful Kathleen Maltzahn, who has worked for decades with women in the sex industry, said on Twitter this week that while she did not believe prostitution should be promoted, it should be decriminalised. "I think ALL sale of sexual services should be decriminalised - at present in Vic, much prostitution still criminal," Ms Maltzahn tweeted. She was unavailable yesterday, but her comments were criticised by the legal sex industry. "They are ill thought through," said Bill Albon, a spokesman for the Australian Adult Entertainment Industry. "You need laws to regulate the sex industry, otherwise you'll have brothels opening up next to Catholic churches, schools and in residential areas."
US pro-life groups welcomed a federal court ruling this week that prevents the Obama administration from carrying out its embryonic stem cell research policy. The "American people should not be forced to pay for experiments - prohibited by federal law - that destroy human life," said The Alliance Defense Fund, according to a Catholic News Agency report. The ruling comes after the National Institutes of Health (NIH) issued new guidelines last year that permitted federal funding for research on stem cell lines that had already been created. On Monday, US District Judge Royce Lamberth temporarily blocked the Obama administration from using federal dollars to fund expanded human embryonic stem cell research while a lawsuit against the NIH policy - filed last year by the Christian Medical Association (CMA) and Nightlight Christian Adoptions - proceeds.
During the Cold War, both sides saw the so-called "Third World" as a battleground for hearts and minds. More and more, the same thing is true in today's ideological struggles over secularism, writes John Allen. This summer has brought some important changes to the strategic map: On July 15, Argentina became the first nation outside Europe and North America to approve same-sex marriage. In two dramatic recent rulings, the Mexican Supreme Court has upheld marriage and adoption rights for homosexuals in Mexico City. Kenyans overwhelmingly approved a new constitution in early August despite objections that it opens the door to liberalized abortion. For cultural conservatives who believe all this is fuelled by Western campaigns to export radical secularism around the planet, Africa usually looms as the great hope for drawing a line in the sand. The latest effort to shore up the African front came during the July 26-August 2 plenary assembly of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), which brings together the Catholic bishops of Africa, and which was held this year in Accra, Ghana.
Same-sex marriage is back on the agenda now that social radicals have the balance of power. Expectations of stable majority government in Australia have been scuppered by a remarkable “Greenslide” in Saturday’s national election. Neither the Labor government nor the conservative coalition won a clear majority, so it is not clear who will be leading the country – the incumbent Labor Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, or the Liberal leader Tony Abbott. A week of intense horse-trading with a handful of independent MPs lies ahead. It will be Australia’s first minority government in 70 years. It was a dispiriting result for Labor, but the Greens are ecstatic. They won one seat in the House of Representatives and four in the Senate. Because of an eccentric provision in the Australian constitution, the new Senators do not take their seats until July next year. But then the Greens will have nine senators and the balance of power. “There is a new light on the hill and it's powered by renewable energy,” says one of the new parliamentarians. What will this mean for Australia? Interpreting the stunning Green gains in this election is difficult, but it is more than a protest vote. The Greens’ leader, Senator Bob Brown, a dour, lanky Tasmanian, told the media that it was a new birth in Australian politics – like the whale calf which had just been born in the waters lapping suburban Hobart, Tasmania’s capital.
Religions may bless marriage, but they did not invent it. Judges may define it, but they can not alter it. Abraham Lincoln once asked how many legs a dog has if we call a tail a leg. The answer, he said, is four: calling a tail a leg does not make it so. We chuckle and move on. But what if people began to argue that a tail really is a leg? They might say that what defines the leg is that it is an appendage of the dog’s body, that it contains bone and muscle covered with skin and fur—just like a tail. Tails just happen to come out of the body at a different angle than other legs. When a tail hangs down low, who can tell the difference? This is an example of defining a thing according to non-essential characteristics. It is like saying that a soldier is “a man who wears a uniform and carries a gun,” or calling a football stadium “a field surrounded by lots of seats.” It may be true in each case, but fails to tell the story.
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February 23, 2018
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