Children & Family



Kids bonus bill cruises through parliament



Ehssan Veiszadeh, AAP



The federal government has succeeded in fast-tracking legislation that will see more than one million families with schoolchildren receive a cash bonus next month. Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Treasurer Wayne Swan spent most of Wednesday and Thursday talking up the SchoolKids Bonus, which was one of the centrepieces of the 2012/13 budget.



 



Thousands of Sydney children in poverty: Anglicare



Stefanie Menezes, ABC



Charity group Anglicare says at least 26,000 Sydney children are living in households that are struggling to pay for basic necessities such as food. According to Anglicare's State of Sydney report more than 27,000 people sought help with food parcels or to pay electricity and other bills from one of the welfare body's emergency relief centres between 2007 and 2011.



 



New sex, drug offences



Louise Willis, ABC



The ACT Government says it is moving to protect vulnerable children by introducing changes to the Territory's crime laws. The changes have been prompted by concerns from the Director of Public Prosecutions, police and the ACT Supreme Court. The legislation creates two new sexual offences - having sexual intercourse and committing an act of indecency with a 16 or 17-year-old in special care.



 



Education



Teachers plead for help with troubled students



Tanya Chilcott and Andrew MacDonald – The Courier-Mail



Teachers and principals have stepped up calls for help to deal with rising child mental health and behavioural issues as student violence continues to cause problems across Queensland. It comes as bus companies in southeast Queensland consider banning students because of wild behaviour accusations.



 



Human Rights



We came here to learn, but we live in fear



Shuting Dong – The Age



A gang of six teenagers were reported last month to have harassed passengers on a train in Sydney. When they confronted a female passenger, she pointed desperately at two Chinese men sitting opposite her and said "Rob them. They are Asian. They are rich.'' The men, who were international students, were taunted as "Asian dogs and pussies" and assaulted. They were left with broken bones and cigarette burns.



 



Marriage



It takes a brave leader to Barack for gay marriage



Daniel Piotrowski – The Punch



US President Barack Obama has come out in support of gay marriage in a TV interview. The news followed growing accusations that he believed in same-sex marriage but wasn’t expressing that for political reasons. It is, after all, an election year, and the President has been under pressure to toe the line with conservative electorates that could get him over the line in November.



 



Democrats seeking re-election cautious about Obama gay marriage stance



Chris McGreal, Adam Gabbatt and Karen McVeigh - guardian.co.uk



Democratic politicians fighting to hold on to their seats in Congress have distanced themselves from Barack Obama’s support of gay marriage even as the party's leadership said it expects the president's re-election platform to include a commitment to the legalisation of same-sex unions.



 



Uncertain fate for 460 couples in civil unions



Daniel Hurst – Brisbane Times



About 460 Queensland couples are now officially in civil unions – but the Attorney-General remains tight-lipped on their fate. Australian equal rights advocates yesterday reaffirmed their campaign for gay marriage after US President Barack Obama declared his support for allowing same-sex couples to wed. However, in Queensland the future of civil unions – an alternative to same-sex marriage – remains up in the air following the Liberal National Party's election victory.



 



Overseas Aid



What happened to the Govt’s promise to help the poor?



Archie Law – The Punch



The Australian aid sector’s fury at the aid budget cuts announced on Tuesday has been focused on the dollar figure that the Government has (or rather, hasn’t) allocated to foreign aid. But there’s another reason to be angry. Alongside its much-smaller-that-promised aid budget, the Gillard government delivered another announcement. “Australia is deepening its engagement with effective multilateral organisations including the Development Banks,” Foreign Minister Carr blogged proudly on Wednesday.



 



Aid cuts could cripple Afghan peace



Ben Doherty - SMH



The sudden withdrawal of aid money and foreign troops from Afghanistan after 2014, could shock the country's fragile economy and pose a serious threat to security, the World Bank has warned. Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world, with an economy overwhelmingly dependent on foreign aid money. While the average per capita income in Afghanistan has risen to $528 a year, more than three times the figure from 2000, the year before the war began, more than a third of the population still lives in absolute poverty, and three-quarters remain illiterate.



 



Politics



Labor safe for now as Katter demands ruling by court



Phillip Coorey, Kate Mcclymont – SMH



Coalition hopes that the Craig Thomson affair will bring down the Gillard government have been set back with the independent MP Bob Katter saying the courts, not Parliament, should judge the former Labor MP. Mr Katter told the Herald he would not support any vote suspending Mr Thomson from the Parliament, or forcing his resignation, until the matters against the MP had been heard by the court.



 



Budget has no plan for economic growth: Abbott



ABC



Tony Abbott has taken a sword to Labor's budget, using his reply speech to attack the Government's "knee-jerk response" to current economic trends and accusing it of class warfare. The Opposition Leader said Treasurer Wayne Swan's fifth budget did nothing to promote investment and once again called on Labor to dump Prime Minister Julia Gillard.



 



Full-time jobs labouring behind part-time growth



The Daily Telegraph



Part-time jobs are the new "black" across Australia's patchwork economy, but jobseekers continue to feel the pinch. Employment figures put out by the Australian Bureau of Statistics yesterday showed the jobless rate unexpectedly dropped to 4.9 per cent, casting doubt on whether the Reserve Bank will be quick to cut the official interest rate again when its board meets next month.



 



Prostitution & Sex Trafficking



Law Society resists sex law change



ABC



The prostitution of a 12-year-old girl could lead to a significant change in criminal law in Tasmania, but it is being resisted by lawyers. The Law Reform Institute has released a paper which considers the use of mistaken age as a defence. It was prompted by the high-profile case of the Hobart girl who was prostituted by pimp Gary Devine and her mother.



 



Religious Freedom & Persecution



Modern Christians can trump Bible thumping fundies



Stuart Edser – The Punch



Progressive Christianity is alive and well. It hasn’t yet got much of a toe-hold in the Australian imagination. But it will. Why? Because the old language of dogma doesn’t speak to people anymore. Spiritual needs have changed, the church hasn’t, and people have voted with their feet. I wrote Being Gay Being Christian to say that the Christian church’s traditional teachings on gay sexuality are wrong, harmful and unjust. I also wrote it to encourage gay people of faith that their sexuality does not preclude them from having a faith in God.