Perils of deadlock on show

David Charter - The Times / The Australian
They are bastions of Western democracy but have been devoid of functioning governments for months. In crises marked by a breakdown of trust among politicians and popular disenchantment with mainstream parties, both Belgium and The Netherlands have been unable to form new administrations almost three months after elections.   Talks on forming a minority right-wing government in The Netherlands supported by Geert Wilders and his Freedom Party collapsed last week in The Hague when the controversial anti-Islamist walked away from the negotiations. In Belgium, the most popular party in the Flemish north was the right-wing separatists of Bart De Wever, while the next most successful party - the Socialists in the French-speaking south - hold diametrically opposed views on almost every main topic. Both Wilders and De Wever are seen as maverick upstarts on the political scene and both are mistrusted by the established parties, yet both have become unavoidable in coalition discussions.

Minority Government presents new opportunities for Australia to meet MDG, says Christian movement

Micah Challenge Australia - Christian Today
Micah Challenge Australia calls on independent MPs, Mr. Windsor and Mr. Oakeshott, to use their unique opportunity in this minority Government to push for a stronger commitment by Australia to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).   Both Mr. Windsor and Mr. Oakeshott have expressed support for Micah Challenge and for Australia reaching the internationally agreed aid target of 0.7% of Gross National Income. Both have also expressed strong support for the MDGs alongside the priorities for their regional electorates.   National Coordinator of Micah Challenge John Beckett said "Mr. Windsor and Mr. Oakeshott are in a unique position to move debate in Parliament beyond party politics. But, despite strong support from both of them, we were concerned that they did not mention international issues as part of their framework for deciding which party to support."

Police officer Bill Crews' life was dedicated to law and order

Kara Lawrence, Mark Morri and Henry Budd - The Daily Telegraph
He was following in his father's footsteps. His life and police career were filled with promise. But at the age of 26, Constable William "Bill" Crews is dead after a gun battle with an alleged drug dealer. Tributes flowed in for the former country boy turned city cop who died in hospital early yesterday on the eve of being best man at a mate's wedding this weekend. Constable Crews and five other officers thought they were conducting a routine drug raid on Wednesday night in Bankstown. Instead they walked into an ambush as Phil Nguyen, 55, who was allegedly dealing drugs from the block's underground carpark, opened fire.

A 27-year-old Chester Hill man, Geehad Ghazi, (Jihad Warrior) appeared at Bankstown Local Court this morning in connection to the murder.

Sex-change test to go all the way to the High Court

Debbie Guest - The Australian
A quest by two female-to-male transsexuals for recognition of their sex change is expected to head to the High Court.  The High Court is expected to test whether a person with the capacity to bear children can be legally considered male.  Tackling fundamental issues of gender and identity, West Australia's Supreme Court of Appeal ruled last week that the transsexuals could not be legally considered men. They want gender reassignment certificates. The pair -- whose names have been suppressed -- appear male to the casual observer after having double mastectomies to remove their breasts and taking regular testosterone treatment.

Neutral? Rob Oakeshott 'asked Labor for state cabinet seat'

Imre Salusinszky - The Australian
Rob Oakeshott has previously sought positions in Labor cabinets, casting doubt on whether the independent MP was fully impartial as he considered the claims of Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott to form minority government.  The Australian has learned that Mr Oakeshott, then a state MP, approached former NSW premier Morris Iemma in 2007 and asked to join his ministry. He was emboldened by persistent rumours of a cabinet reshuffle and the fact that Mr Iemma had recently appointed another independent, Northern Tablelands MP Richard Torbay, as Speaker.   According to a senior Labor source, Mr Oakeshott told Mr Iemma he might resign from parliament if his request were not met, warning that his seat of Port Macquarie would probably revert to the Nationals.

Rodney Pople's art is erotic, exotic and designed to shock

Elizabeth Fortescue -  The Daily Telegraph
It's the latest art exhibition designed to shock - hard-core porn superimposed on a renaissance painting of the Madonna and child.  The works by Sydney artist Rodney Pople go on exhibition in Paddington next week with a warning on the gallery's door they "may offend".

Contrast with :    Stephanie Rice dumped by Channel Seven and Jaguar after 'anti-gay' Twitter comment.

GetUp! bankrolled by unions

Deborah Snow - SMH
The union movement has emerged as a key financial backer of the advocacy group GetUp!, with six unions pouring more than a million dollars into its election purse in the past three weeks alone.   GetUp! has splashed nearly $1.5 million on TV advertising since the campaign began, meaning the unions have effectively supplied two-thirds of its advertising budget.   The organisation's director, Simon Sheikh, refused to name the six unions yesterday, saying they wanted their identities kept secret until after donor returns are filed with the Australian Electoral Commission.

Contrast with :  Corporate and union donations to political parties should be banned, says GetUp!