ACL compiles a daily media monitoring service of stories of interest to the Christian constituency relating to children, family, drugs and alcohol, marriage, human rights, religious freedom etc. Visit the ACL’s website each day to see what’s of interest in the news. Please note that selection of the articles does not represent ACL endorsement of the content.



 



Children & Family

Aussie fathers focusing on their kids

Lisa Cornish - News Limited Network

Family comes first for a growing number of Australian dads as they put their kids ahead of work. Experts believe changing attitudes towards the roles of men and improved support from workplaces have spurred the trend – with kids the big winners. “Traditionally, the relationship of father and child has been strained because of long working hours,” Diana Sayer, from Relationships Australia, said.


Roxon's dilemma touches a nerve

Amy McNeilage - SMH

To be appointed Australia's first female attorney-general was a dream come true for Nicola Roxon. Yet just over a year into the job, and at the peak of her career, she has decided to call it quits. She wanted to spend more time with her seven-year-old daughter, an emotional Ms Roxon told reporters in Canberra. It was clearly a difficult decision, over which she said she was ''very torn''. If she stuck around beyond the election, her daughter would be in high school by the time her term ended. The announcement came as a shock to many. But it is a predicament to which most parents in full-time work can relate.


Donor Conception & Surrogacy

Sperm donor privacy 'not protected'


Farrah Tomazin - The Age

The legal status of contracts promising anonymity for people who donate sperm has been thrown into doubt by new research suggesting such agreements may not be binding. As the state government awaits the findings of an inquiry into whether donor-conceived children should know their biological parent, a new study has raised questions about the notion of so-called contracts designed to protect the donors. In an article recently published in the Journal of Law and Medicine, University of Newcastle law professor Anne Rees examined agreements between hospitals and men who donated sperm in previous decades.


Men want kids on their own

Jane Hansen - The Sunday Telegraph

A growing number of men are tackling fatherhood on their own, turning to overseas surrogates to create their "dream" families. Support group Surrogacy Australia said single men were longing to be dads and were not deterred by a commercial surrogacy ban brought in during 2010 to curb the exploitation of poor women. "I just wanted to be a dad as long as I could remember," the public servant from Petersham said. Mr Docker said he had not broken the law because he began the process before the state ban on commercial surrogacy came into effect. "It was now or never, go it alone or don't do it at all, so I only just scraped in," he said. Mr Docker, who is gay, said there was no other way for him to pursue fatherhood in Australia.


Drugs & Alcohol

The boozer stripped bare: abstaining in a world awash with grog

Jill Stark - The Age

I was morning-after roadkill. My head felt as heavy as a waterlogged sandbag. Being conscious hurt. When I woke up on New Year's Day 2011, the hangover was so horrendous that I worried I might not survive it. Something had to change. So I vowed to give up drinking for three months. My tilt at sobriety came after 20 years of partying that had left me physically and emotionally spent. It was ironic, given my job. Sunday Age readers may remember an article I wrote at the time, in which I outed myself as the binge-drinking health reporter. During the week I wrote about Australia's booze-soaked culture. At the weekends I wrote myself off.


Euthanasia

Euthanasia laws to change


Rosemay Bolger - The Examiner

Tasmania will again attempt to go it alone on major social reform with plans to legalise voluntary euthanasia by the end of the year. Premier Lara Giddings and Greens leader Nick McKim yesterday released their proposed model for ``voluntary assisted dying'' and called for public feedback on it, but said now was not the time to debate whether or not voluntary euthanasia should be an option.


Death bill bid for 2013

ABC Tasmania

Tasmanians are being encouraged to comment on a long-awaited discussion paper about voluntary euthanasia. Premier Lara Giddings and Greens Leader Nick McKim have released the discussion paper that spells out requirements for terminally ill patients.


Homelessness & Poverty

Homelessness key election issue, peak body


Katie Robertson - The Sunday Times

Instead of blowing $1 billion-plus on a new football stadium, at least half that sum should be spent on fixing WA's housing affordability and worsening homelessness. That is the key pitch of the WA Council of Social Services to political parties ahead of the March 9 poll. The peak body, which represents 300 welfare and community services organisations, will this week launch a five-week campaign to make sure the issue is paramount in the minds of voters.


Human Rights

Mark Dreyfus sees free speech risk in privacy law


Chris Merritt - SMH

Incoming attorney-general Mark Dreyfus has expressed personal concern about the risk to freedom of speech from legislation that encourages people to sue each other for invasions of privacy. Mr Dreyfus, who is replacing Nicola Roxon as the nation's first law officer, said countries that had created a statutory method of suing for privacy had failed to achieve the right balance with freedom of speech. "Legislating in an effective way to protect privacy while at the same time not unduly affecting freedom of speech has proved to be a very difficult task," Mr Dreyfus said.


Marriage

Gay marriage moves closer in France


AFP

Deputies voted 249-97 in favour of article one of the draft legislation, which redefines marriage as being an agreement between two people rather than necessarily between a man and a woman. Although the proposed law still faces at least another week of parliamentary scrutiny before a final vote scheduled for February 12, the ease with which it cleared the first hurdle indicated it is almost certain to emerge unscathed from the debate. The article was supported by deputies of the ruling Socialist Party, who enjoy an overall majority in the Assembly, other leftists and Greens as well as at least one member of the UMP, the main centre-right opposition force.


Politics

Labor slumps as campaign starts: Newspoll


Dennis Shanahan - The Australian

Labor support has slumped back to levels seen at the end of last year and Tony Abbott has surged against Julia Gillard as the nation's preferred prime minister after the start of the record-breaking seven-month election campaign was marked by chaos and confusion in government ranks. As Labor MPs returned to Canberra last night for the first sittings of the parliamentary year - and as senior ministers publicly expressed support for the Prime Minister and her tactics - the latest Newspoll, conducted exclusively for The Australian at the weekend, puts the Coalition in a clear, election-winning position.


Tasmanian MLCs prepare to tackle the hot topics in 2013

Isabel Bird - The Examiner

North and North-West MLCs appear to be sticking to their 2012 positions on same-sex marriage - one of the critical issues they will decide in the next few months. This year the Tasmanian Parliament will sit for 42 days to deal with legislation tackling same- sex marriage, anti-discrimination and dying with dignity. The MLCs yesterday refrained from openly commenting on how they would vote.


'Jobs for mates' crosses Parliament

Farrah Tomazin - The Age

The Victorian state government has appointed dozens of Coalition backers and former MPs - including one of Ted Baillieu's relatives - to plum positions on boards and agencies around the state. Despite Mr Baillieu slamming the former Labor government every time a so-called ''jobs for mates'' scandal emerged, little appears to have changed since the Coalition came to office two years ago.


Iemma calls for more ALP reform

Sean Nicholls, Matt Wade - SMH

The former premier Morris Iemma has welcomed a raft of reforms to the NSW Labor Party, but has called for consideration of further changes, including whether MPs should be given a free vote in Parliament to counter the power of the factions. On Sunday the Opposition Leader, John Robertson, announced a six-point reform plan, including a ban on the practice of factions ''binding'' their MPs to vote as a block on an issue.




Tim Mathieson and Margie Abbott have key campaign roles

Rosie Squires - News Limited Network

It's the hairdresser first bloke versus the childcare worker and loyal wife in a battle experts predict will be key in the marathon election campaign. While Labor works to ensure Prime Minister Julia Gillard's partner Tim Mathieson stays gaffe-free, Liberal campaign bosses will be striving to make the most of Tony Abbott's wife Margie without overexposing her. "Partners are very, very important in election campaigns," veteran Liberal strategist Grahame Morris said.


Prostitution & Sex Trafficking

Christian group launches social media campaign against sex trade during Super Bowl


Alex Murashko - Christian Post

A Christian advocacy group against the commercial sex trade and human trafficking has launched a social media campaign to coincide with the millions of people who will be interacting online during this Sunday's Super Bowl in New Orleans. Shared Hope International says there were 12.2 million Super Bowl related posts on social networking websites during and after the game. "As a matter of fact, the halftime show alone garnered 862,000 comments," officials stated.


Refugees

Coalition to hand ASIO power over refugees


Daniel Flitton - The Age

ASIO will have unfettered powers to brand refugees a security risk to Australia under a Coalition government - condemning more than 50 people presently held in detention to a legal black hole. Refugees given a negative assessment by the security agency will lose their only form of appeal to the secret finding, with the Coalition pledging to scrap a review introduced by Labor last October for a retired judge to examine their case. ''I also do not believe that ASIO rulings should be reviewable,'' chief opposition whip Warren Entsch said in a letter responding to a campaign urging the release of refugees held with the adverse assessments. ''The current processes that ASIO go through are already incredibly sensitive and we rely on them absolutely.''




UN labels Manus a legal affront

Paul Maley – The Australian





The Manus Island processing centre set up by the Gillard government has been labelled an affront to international law, with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees accusing Australia of arbitrarily and unlawfully detaining transferred asylum-seekers. The UNHCR has handed down a scathing report on the Manus Island facility, describing the living arrangements as "harsh" and the conditions for the 34 children there as a "particular cause for concern".












Religious Freedom & Persecution

Muslim persecution of Christians: November, 2012


Raymond Ibrahim - Gatestone Institute

Reports of Christian persecution by Muslims around the world during the month of November include (but are not limited to) the following accounts. They are listed by form of persecution, and in country alphabetical order, not necessarily according to severity.


Kerry calls for release of imprisoned Christian pastor in Iran

Elizabeth Harrington - CNS News

Newly confirmed Secretar of State John Kerry condemned Iran’s “continued violation of the universal right of freedom of religion” and urged the release of an American Christian pastor imprisoned for his religious beliefs. In a written response to Sen. Marco Rubio to questions during his confirmation hearing last week obtained by the American Center for Law and Justice, Kerry, a liberal Massachusetts Democrat, said he is “deeply concerned” about Saeed Abedini, who was sentenced to 8 years in prison for his Christian faith on Sunday.


Algerian convert fights proselytism verdict

Morning Star News

The attorney for a Christian shocked to learn that he had been convicted of pressuring a Muslim to leave Islam said after an appeals hearing on Wednesday (Jan. 23) that the verdict was utterly unfounded. Mohamed Ibaouene, 36, learned on Dec. 11 that he had been convicted in absentia on July 4, 2012 by a court in Tigzirt, sentenced to one year in prison and fined 50,000 dinars (US$635). His appeal hearing this week took place in Tindouf, where he held a position with an international business concern, and where a machine operator approached him to ask if he was a Christian.


Other

Peak lawyers group drops religious ceremony


Noel Towell - Canberra Times

Canberra’s peak lawyers group has dropped its traditional religious ceremony to mark the beginning of the city’s legal calendar. Instead, the Law Society of the ACT will host a secular event on Monday, February 4 at the Australian National University with Judges, Magistrates, and senior lawyers in robed procession at the beginning of the ceremony.


Ex gay warns scouts boys imitate leaders

Michael F. Haverluck - WND

Just as details emerged of growing financial and political pressure on the Boy Scouts to reverse a century-old and Supreme Court-approved policy barring homosexuals, the president of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays issued a plea to the Scouts to seriously consider the dangers of giving in. “Please do without some corporate funding if you must, cut your budget and protect the children in your care,” urged Greg Quinlan, a former “gay.”


Dawkins debates ex-Archbishop in UK

Ben Kendall - AAP

Prominent atheist professor Richard Dawkins has described religion as "redundant and irrelevant" as he took on the former Archbishop of Canterbury in a debate. Speaking at the Cambridge Union debating society, Dawkins argued that religion hindered scientific endeavour by "peddling false explanations". Dr Rowan Williams offered a counter argument, saying that religion undoubtedly had a place in the 21st century and that the issue was not whether it should exist, but what our attitude towards it should be. He added that modern attitudes towards human rights had their foundations in religious traditions.