Gillard's conflict on euthanasia more than justified

Jim Wallace - Online Opinion
Prime Minister Julia Gillard is right to be conflicted about changing the law so that killing a patient becomes an alternative to palliative care. "Intellectually, you would say, people should be able to make their own decisions," she said this week. "But I find it very hard to conceptualise the sort of safeguards that we would need if we did say that euthanasia was legal. So I am conflicted on it in that sense." The last time there was a public discussion about what "safeguards" might be embedded in a euthanasia bill was last August when Australia's leading euthanasia activist, Dr Phillip Nitschke, fronted a parliamentary inquiry in Tasmania where, you guessed it, the Greens were pushing euthanasia. Nitschke's testimony ( pages 100-115) should be required reading for every politician considering their vote in the upcoming Federal Parliamentary debate on Greens Leader Bob Brown's euthanasia bill.

Sex trade laws under review

The ACT's prostitution laws will be reviewed for the first time since being introduced 18 years ago. The review has been partially prompted by a letter from a coroner who conducted the inquest into the death of 17-year-old Janine Cameron who was found dead in a Fyshwick brothel two years ago. The Government will move a motion in the Legislative Assembly next month referring the Prostitution Act 1992 to a committee. Attorney General Simon Corbell says the coroner's comments will form part of the terms of reference for the review.

MPs uncover shocking abuse of disabled

Gemma Jones - The Daily Telegraph
Abuse, mistreatment and a lack of services for disabled children and adults have been uncovered by a NSW Parliamentary committee. The Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care was yesterday attacked by parents during the review of services the Government provides. Mother Carolyn Mason, whose daughter was attacked in a care home, told the committee: "I feel group homes will become a haven for abusers and paedophiles." The horrific sexual assault of a 21-year-old disabled woman in a government home in November 2008 was also revealed in a submission.

Late trading to start November 1

Rebecca Lawson - PerthNow
Perth shoppers will be able to shop later into the evening when extended trading hours start on November 1. Premier Colin Barnett made the announcement today after laws were recently passed in parliament, which gives shop owners the choice to stay open until 9pm on weeknights. “For working couples, couples with young children this will be a great boost to their freedom of choice as to when they go shopping,” he told reporters today. “In the lead up to the Christmas period, it will also be a much needed boost to the retail industry.

Processing ban on Afghan asylum-seekers lifted

Paul Maley and Lanai Vasek - The Australian
Labor has ended its six-month suspension on processing Afghan asylum claims. This was despite ongoing indications that security conditions in the war-torn nation continue to deteriorate. The opposition has seized on the decision to accuse the government of instituting the freeze in April as a political fix to cool public concern about border security before the August election. And The Australian has obtained Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade advice to the government suggesting many of the Afghans are not fleeing persecution, but are economic migrants.

Speaking volumes to silence doubters

Giles Whittell - The Times
Obama has been forced to reaffirm his religion to satisfy Christian voters. In the land of the free, settled by nonconformists fleeing religious persecution, dedicated to liberty and the pursuit of happiness, President Barack Obama has been reduced to a confession that his mother did not go to church. Instead, he became a "Christian by choice" Having been cornered by a powerful constituency of doubters on the subject of his faith, Obama believes he has no choice but to spell it out: he was not raised a Christian, which does not mean he is an unbeliever or a timid, European-style agnostic. Or a Muslim.

The Tasmanian government will seek advice on whether it should review the state's criminal code

Matthew Denholm - The Australian
The decision comea fater after 100 men who had sex with a 12-year-old prostitute escaped prosecution. Attorney-General Lara Giddings said she would seek the advice of the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute after widespread outrage from child rights advocates and the community. On Tuesday, police announced no further charges would be laid in the case, despite many of the men having been identified via phone records and investigated. Neither police nor Director of Public Prosecutions Tim Ellis SC has provided reasons for the decision, although Ms Giddings said she was seeking advice on whether this information could be provided. It is thought Mr Ellis concluded there was little chance of a successful prosecution because of a lack of admissible evidence and defences available under the Criminal Code. Section 124 (2) provides a defence to child sex charges where the accused can prove they had "reasonable grounds" to believe that person was over 17. Another section refers to "honest and reasonable, but mistaken, beliefs".

Threat to pokies as money laundries

Vanda Carson - SMH
Criminals poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the state's poker machines last year as the devices emerged as a last refuge for money launderers, police and hotel industry sources say. Crime gangs favour hotels in Sydney's west and south-west when they need to convert large amounts of illegally gained cash into legitimate-looking funds. ''The big money comes from money laundering,'' a hotel industry source said of pokies. There has been a crackdown on laundering at racecourses, through TABs and the property market, but pokies can still clean $10,000 in minutes. A hundred $100 bills are fed in, then the money is reclaimed from the hotel in the form of a cheque, which appears to tax and other authorities to be a ''win''.

Private schools say Pike lacks 'interest'

Farrah Tomazin - The Age
A new class war has opened before the state election, with private schools accusing the Brumby government of being so preoccupied with public education that needy students in the non-government system are being overlooked. With less than two months before the November 27 poll, independent schools have criticised Education Minister Bronwyn Pike, claiming she is less interested in governing for all schools - not just the public system - than former Labor education ministers John Lenders and Lynne Kosky. Michelle Green, head of the Association of Independent Schools of Victoria, said Ms Pike ''hasn't done anything where you would immediately see she was incredibly supportive to us''.

Greens MP warns Labor on unions

Julian Drape - The Age
Greens MP Adam Bandt has used his maiden speech to Parliament to warn Labor that unions are no longer prepared to unquestioningly back the ALP. He also called on politicians to stop fanning fears about refugees or risk creating an ''isolationist and dark future''. But his central message was a call for stronger action on climate change. ''The scientists have spoken,'' the new member for Melbourne said. ''It is now over to politics to craft solutions.''