Charters' basic flaw: they never move beyond the aspirational

Mirko Bagaric and Peter Faris – The Australian

Nobody doubts that some interests that are loosely labelled human rights are desirable -- the more the better. Yet rights charters should be rejected because (counter-intuitively) they are ineffective at conferring rights to humans. And when charters do confer rights, it is nothing more than a fortunate happenstance. Rights are important. So important that their content and application cannot be left to the whims of the innately unpredictable interpretive techniques of former lawyers.

Charter review brings out boilerplate submissions

Chris Merrit – The Australian

It's beginning to look as though some of Victoria's leading community organisations are trying very hard to hijack the review of the state's Charter of Rights. Unless some of these organisations calm down, Edward O'Donohue and his parliamentary committee will be deluged with a mountain of boilerplate submissions all saying much the same: "We love the charter." There is nothing wrong with organisations lobbying for political outcomes. Deluging politicians with template submissions might be crude -- and possibly ineffective -- but it is part of the normal political process.

Family life a tough job for working dads

Stephen Lunn - The Australian

The squeeze is on for fathers, caught between longer working hours and the expectation they spend more time with their young children than their dads did with them. That work pressure on fathers is distorting women's preferred working lives, as mothers are forced to either scale back hours or work full-time while continuing to do most of the caring and housework, making them the most time-pressured group in the nation. A new study by the Australian Institute of Family Studies notes "the amount of time fathers with preschool children spent in paid work increased by 5.7 hours per week between 1997 and 2006".

The mothers' load - dual-income families replacing stay-at-home mums

Letitia Rowlands - The Daily Telegraph

In an ideal world she's there to help with homework, take the kids to afternoon sport and ensure that wayward teenagers stay out of trouble. But the stay-at-home mum is becoming a threatened species, with only a quarter of couples with children living in a single-income household. As families struggle with the rising cost of living, more parents than ever have decided the luxury of having one partner out of paid work is not one they can afford.

Petition hits ABC for shift to Right

Caroline Overington - The Australian

More than 1000 people have signed an online petition complaining about the ABC's political coverage, with many saying a tough interview by 7.30 anchor Chris Uhlmann with Greens leader Bob Brown is evidence of a lurch to the Right. The petition to "get the ABC back to its charter" appeared on a website owned by lobby group GetUp! some weeks ago. It says the ABC has become a "mouthpiece for political conservatives" and is "a sad version of (Rupert) Murdoch's Fox News". Many of the signatories say Uhlmann is the problem. Uhlmann pushed Senator Brown hard on Monday, as to whether he wanted to phase out the coal industry, and how he'd counter the associated loss of jobs, industry, investment, and income, if that were achieved.

When good dads go bad, and bad dads turn murderous

Anthony Sharwood - The Punch

It hasn’t been a good week for disaffected fathers. Most weeks aren’t. Since Mick Fox disrupted half of Sydney to protest his custodial battle, we’ve seen the shocking case of Paul Rogers, who fatally gassed himself and his daughter Kyla, while the awful case of Ramazan Acar goes through the courts. As we all know, custodial battles over children are the common thread in these and many similar cases. But why do men snap? At what point does frustration boil over into mass scale public nuisance… or even to murder? Let’s take a small picture view and a big picture view. The small picture, with a focus on the ass that is family law, comes from Barry Williams, president of the Lone Fathers Association. The wide view comes from social analyst Richard Eckersley, who regularly measures Australia’s pulse through a thing called the Wellbeing Index.

Fake pot known as Kronic is a very chronic concern

Richard Noone - The Daily Telegraph

A synthetic cannabis that mimics the effects of marijuana is being sold legally at a growing number of adult shops, tobacconists and herbal retailers. Health experts fear users of the drug, with the street name Kronic, face the same adverse effects of cannabis including heart palpitations, severe hallucinations, delusions and psychosis. The legal weed, potentially up to 100 times stronger than regular cannabis, has been available online in Australia for about two years. But after reports emerged of its widespread use in the mining industry - where it does not show up in on-site drug tests - retailers have rushed to cash in on its increasing popularity.

Don't ban religious teaching, let's broaden it

Matthew Lesh - SMH

As a cultural Jew who attends an Anglican school, I am not the most likely supporter of religious education, however, it is important to realise that religion is a major factor in society. Many choose to insult and demonise religion simply because they do not hold faith, while others believe that religion is irrelevant to their lives and understanding of the world. But an understanding of religion — and a wide range of religions at that — is vital to education. Religion is a part of society, education is the introduction of children to our society, and we are leaving out an essential part of education by not investigating religion in schools.

It's plain to see what's behind the smokescreen

Jessica Irvine - SMH

First it was the grocery giants, then the petrol retailers, then the banks and the mining companies. Now it's the turn of Big Tobacco to unleash a campaign of mass confusion on the Australian public in an attempt to undermine government reform of an industry. Leading this latest blitzkrieg of bluster, the boss of British American Tobacco Australia, David Crow, held a press conference to spell out the various ills that will beset this world if the government is successful in having all cigarettes sold in plain packaging. According to Crow's vision, Australia will be swamped by a tsunami of illegal imports of cheap ''chop chop'' (stop the boats!). Tobacco companies will be forced to slash prices to compete, meaning cheaper cigarettes and more children puffing on fags. Besides, he went on, if you do it, we'll sue you, and where's the evidence it will work anyway?

Chaplain joins religion row

Jewel Topsfield – The Age

The chaplain at Melbourne's most prestigious Anglican school has spoken out against the way religion is taught in Victorian government schools, saying their classrooms should not be used for ''conversion''. Reverend Ron Noone, of Melbourne Grammar, used the school's newsletter to express support for a review of the controversial religious instruction program conducted in state schools by the Christian group Access Ministries. ''The state school classroom is not the place for conversion or proselytising, and while Access Ministries would claim that's not what they do, I'm afraid that is their default position, and when challenged they will revert to that stance,'' Reverend Noone wrote.

Demonising porn use unleashes more evil

Joel Tozer – The Age

My primary school scripture teacher tried to warn us of the evils of pornography. She'd just written a book about her son's schizophrenia in which she describes finding "poor Danny's" stash of smutty magazines. Almost like recounting the death of a loved one, she told the class of six or seven children about her backyard burning "of the devil's images". Danny, poor boy, was made to watch the well-thumbed pages turn to ash. In the opening pages of her new book, Pornland, Gail Dines - a self-styled porn expert and guest of the Sydney Writers' Festival - shares the advice she gave her son on pornography. "I said [to him] that should he decide to use porn that he was going to hand over his sexuality - a sexuality that he had yet to grow into, that made sense for who he was and who he was going to be - to someone else."

Stop this man ruining the nation

Editorial - Herald Sun

In a bizarre attack yesterday on what he called Australia's "hate media", Greens leader Bob Brown lashed out at critics of his party's carbon tax demands. The "Murdoch media", he said, was trying to drag down efforts to give Australia a more secure future. Not so, Senator Brown. The Herald Sun makes no apology for being at the forefront of this criticism. We are against a carbon tax and we believe it is our job to question just how how much you want to tax Australians.