Controversial artist Bill Henson is at the centre of a new storm, with school groups touring his Melbourne exhibition, which includes provocative photos of teenage girls. Child protection advocates and parents' groups have expressed concern school children are visiting the exhibition, which includes a series of naked images of a young university student striking sexual poses and provocative shots of a younger teen. Hetty Johnston, of child advocacy group Bravehearts, said: "I have seen a book of his works; let me tell you, they are disgusting." Caulfield Grammar VCE students yesterday visited the exhibition, though the school would not say whether parents approved the excursion.
Greens leader Bob Brown is under mounting political and diplomatic pressure to pull his hard-left senator-elect Lee Rhiannon into line as she intensifies her support for a radical boycott of Israel. Ms Rhiannon, who will take her Senate spot on July 1 when the Greens take the balance of power in the upper house, yesterday drew condemnation from Labor and the Coalition after expressing regret that the NSW Greens did not campaign harder for a boycott of Israeli goods and services at last weekend's state election. Trade Minister Craig Emerson said last night the policy was disgusting and he feared it represented an extremism that would make its way to Canberra.
It’s a telling reflection on the Greens’ woeful campaign at last Saturday’s NSW election that the one politician they may have helped elect is the founder of the One Nation Party, Pauline Hanson. The Greens were meant to cruise into office in the Lower House in New South Wales in at least two seats. Given how badly the former Labor Government had been going, and how strongly the Greens’ primary vote had been standing up in the polls, they could and should have been expected to return more than just a couple of MPs. Instead, their campaign crashed and burned. And it did so in a way which may have caused enduring acrimony with the Labor Party. Needless to say, with federal Labor having the most precarious grasp on power courtesy of a formal coalition with the Greens, these tensions in our biggest State have the potential to strain this arrangement
A Catholic school has kiboshed a "curing homosexuality seminar" set to be held at their Caboolture college. The meeting sparked outrage on Facebook, with a protest page set up against it. But the group holding the meeting has accused Catholic Education of discrimination over the decision. A statement released by Brisbane Catholic Education says St Columban's College at Caboolture "immediately" withdrew permission for its hall to be used as a venue by the Miracle Christian Center when they realised what the meeting was about.
Last month it was medicinal marijuana, now the ACT Greens want answers about the drinking of kava for cultural purposes. The cross-bench party has issued a series of questions to the Government over its attitude to the potent brew traditionally enjoyed by South Pacific Islanders. The drink which has sedative qualities is made from the root of the kava plant and used in South Pacific cultural practices.
GetUp! has successfully mobilised hundreds of thousands of Australians - to sign online petitions. Progressive causes need members who'll do more than tick a box, says James Arvanitakis. I saw a tweet on my Twitter feed from someone about a discounted pair of jeans. "They were $70 a pair. Just got some for $30." It was followed by the hash-tag #ThanksGetUp. It made me giggle so I did a search by that tag and found dozens of tweets thanking GetUp! for everything from improving their remote control to organising Lionel Richie’s hit song ‘All Night Long’ to follow a Hall and Oates medley. We’d be mistaken to make too much of a hashtag but this one sheds some interesting light on perceptions about online activism. The implication is that organisations such as GetUp! can be mocked for the claims it makes about its successes — even as it provides little evidence of them.
PAULINE Hanson is leading the count for the last New South Wales upper house seat. The former One Nation leader is ahead by about 0.05 per cent of a quota, followed by the Greens' Jeremy Buckingham and Labor's Andrew Ferguson. Tomorrow, the Electoral Commission will begin the slow process of data-entering votes where people indicated preferences above the line as well as below-the-line votes.
The Greens are poised to win their first lower house seat after pulling ahead in Balmain. Jamie Parker now leads Labor's Verity Firth by 203 votes, with 89 per cent of the vote counted. The Coalition's James Falk leads on primary votes but the second-placed candidate is expected to win the seat with the distribution of preferences. Pauline Hanson remains in the lead for the last upper house seat by about 0.05 per cent of a quota, followed by the Greens' Jeremy Buckingham and Labor's Andrew Ferguson.
Towards the end of 2007, the Australian Human Rights Commission put out a call for public submissions on the subject of Freedom of Religion and Belief in the 21st Century. The level of public concern surrounding this issue was revealed when the AHRC was overwhelmed by nearly 2000 submissions from religious institutions, non-religious organisations (atheist, secular, rationalist and humanist) and from many individuals. Initially scheduled for release at the end of 2008, a meta-analysis of the submissions and nationwide public consultation process has only just been published. Given the wealth and diversity of input, the involvement of some of Australia's leading academics, and the length of time taken to produce the report, I expected something really 'meaty' with some decisive recommendations for action. Instead, by trying to please everyone, the result is a disappointingly shallow and, at times, biased, analysis concluding in a number of rather vague and half-hearted recommendations.
The federal government will review a proposal to adopt a controversial school model in which privately run schools operate wholly on public funds. The chief executive of Christian Schools Australia, Stephen O'Doherty, said it had pitched for the so-called charter school model to be introduced in Australia in its submission to the government's review of schools funding. The model would involve the government funding new independent schools that hired only Christian staff but were open to all students. It could also apply to other religious and non-religious not-for-profit groups.
Taxpayers are secretly forking out millions of dollars to woo other countries to back Australia's bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council. A delegation of 23 UN ambassadors - from Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific - quietly slipped into Australia last month for a 10-day junket costing at least $300,000. They flew business class from New York and enjoyed five-star hospitality in Sydney, Hobart and Canberra, meeting Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd. The Government has allocated $13 million over three years to try to join the likes of the US, China and Russia on the UN Security Council.
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