Christian voices get louder as election looms

The major parties are dodging the big election issues, according to some Christian groups. Christian voices are clamouring to be heard on issues such as climate change, poverty, housing and youth unemployment, but Anglicare Australia says the vision for social inclusion with which the previous government began has been absent from this campaign.   "Elections should pay attention to who is and isn't getting a fair go," said Kasy Chambers, Executive Director of Anglicare Australia. "Yet, as ACOSS pointed out through its campaign launch today, housing and homelessness are not the agenda for this election campaign... Right across Australia people on benefits and pensions - including single aged pensioners, refugee families, people who are ill and out of work - simply can't afford private rental even with Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA). Anglicare Australia calls for the CRA to be increased as a matter of urgency."

Cardinal Pell Says Green Party Like Watermelons: Green Outside, Red Inside

SYDNEY, August 11, 2010 ( - A row has erupted after Cardinal George Pell of the Archdiocese of Sydney, Australia criticized the Green Party, which supports abortion, euthanasia, and same-sex "marriage," as "sweet camouflaged poison" that represents an "anti-Christian" point of view. The archdiocese stood strongly by the comments after Green leader Robert Brown implied that Pell lied about the party's position, and claimed to be more in touch with Catholic and Christian sentiment than the Cardinal.  When asked by young adults about how to vote in the upcoming elections, Pell recounted in a column Sunday that he did not endorse a specific party but encouraged his audience "to examine the policies of the Greens on their website and judge for themselves how thoroughly anti-Christian they are."   The prelate also pointed out that Green leader Robert Brown helped author a book in which it was claimed that "humans are simply another smarter animal, so that humans and animals are on the same or similar levels depending on their level of consciousness." The book was coauthored by Princeton University philosopher Peter Singer, a notorious supporter of infanticide and euthanasia.

Criminals keep public housing while in jail

SERIOUS criminals are keeping their taxpayer-financed public housing while locked up in jail as desperate families remain on waiting lists for years.  The Herald Sun can reveal houses and units in Victoria are routinely kept empty so inmates can return once they finish their sentences.  Prisoners guilty of drug trafficking, sexual abuse or serious assaults are among those who pay just $15 a week to keep their homes if their jail term is up to six months.  Under special circumstances prisoners can also seek an extension.

Man behind the launch of Kylie Minogue says pop music is 'sexualising youngsters'

THE man who helped launch the career of Kylie Minogue yesterday condemned modern pop culture for "sexualising youngsters".  Mike Stock - one third of the legendary pop factory Stock, Aitken and Waterman - said the music industry had gone "too far", reported the Courier-Mail.   "It's not about me being old-fashioned," he said. "It's about keeping values that are important in the modern world.  "You can't watch modern stars like Britney Spears or Lady Gaga with a two-year-old - 99 per cent of the charts is R'n'B and 99 per cent of that is soft pornography.

Labor's $334m to give trades apprentices a start

Apprentices in occupations with skills shortages will be offered a $1700 tax-exempt bonus under a plan to be unveiled by Labor today.  The $334.2 million plan is aimed at helping them get started with tools or utes or pay their registration and insurance.  The Prime Minister will bolster her jobs and education election pitch, offering a wide-ranging package to keep the economy strong and to encourage apprentices to stick it out and get their qualifications.

Coalition pledges $120m for schools technology

SCHOOLS would be able to apply for technology grants direct from a Coalition government without going through the states.  Under the Coalition's education policy, to be released today, an Abbott government would establish a $120 million school technology fund for a range of information and communications technology, not just computers.  The fund would replace Labor's computers in schools program, which provides a computer for every student in Years 9-12.   And a Coalition government would resurrect the Australian Technical Colleges, a Howard government initiative for trades training, to replace Labor's trades training centres in high schools.

Pension row as Libs duck review

WAYNE Swan has seized on a Tony Abbott promise to index defence pensions.  Mr Swan has insisted a Coalition government would poke an $8 billion hole in the nation's finances with the plan.  And the Coalition has conceded it cannot cover the full long-term cost of the change, promising it will cover the liabilities by making investments in the government's Future Fund.  The wrangling over the Coalition's pension plan came as the opposition complained to the Australian Federal Police about this week's leaking of Treasury documents that questioned the accuracy of the Coalition's savings assumptions.

Woman sentenced to death by stoning 'tortured before confession'

A lawyer for an Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning has told a British newspaper she was tortured for two days before confessing on state TV to being an accomplice to her husband's death.   Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani's lawyer told the Guardian on Thursday that his client, a 43-year-old mother of two, was forced to give the interview, which was recorded in Tabriz prison where she has been held for the past four years.  "She was severely beaten up and tortured until she accepted to appear in front of camera. Her 22-year-old son Sajad and her 17-year-old daughter Saeedeh are completely traumatised by watching this program," lawyer Houtan Kian said on the newspaper's website.

Greens fury at Labor vote deals

LEAKED internal emails have revealed bitter divisions within the Greens over its controversial preferences deal with Labor.  The Age has obtained dozens of emails by senior Greens that also reveal the party has an ''attack response group'' based in leader Bob Brown's office, which has canvassed using legal threats to ''frighten off'' critics.   The emails, from July 18 to August 2, lay bare the party's divisions after a secret backroom preferences deal with Labor's campaign director Karl Bitar became public at the start of the campaign.  The Greens candidate for the marginal outer Melbourne electorate of McEwen, Steve Meacher, was livid after being told by a party campaign co-ordinator that his seat was one of 54 included in the deal.