Minister recalls sister as euthanasia law nears

The Australian

South Australia is poised to become the first state to allow doctor-assisted euthanasia after Health Minister John Hill backed new legislation in parliament yesterday with an emotional account of the death of his sister. Mr Hill supported a reworked proposal by Labor MP Steph Key that provides doctors who assist death in reasonable circumstances with some legal protection. The bill passed its second reading stage and moved into committee. Outside parliament yesterday, Mr Hill said he had been a strong supporter of euthanasia before the death of his sister, 47, from cancer a decade ago, but because of her good experience with palliative care, he no longer supported an absolute right-to-die platform.

Joint trip to Alice rejected by Julia Gillard

The Australian

Julia Gillard has rejected Tony Abbott's offer of a joint trip to trouble-ridden Alice Springs in a late afternoon meeting with him yesterday, telling the Opposition Leader the government would stick with its current approach to solving the crisis. The Prime Minister said she would instead travel to Alice Springs with Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin. This comes despite a growing chorus of indigenous leaders calling for a renewed bipartisan approach.

Anna Bligh weighs up risk of calling early poll

The Australian

Labor is clearing the decks for an early state election in Queensland as Anna Bligh weighs the risk of breaching undertakings to run full term against capitalising on her surge in popularity and leadership upheaval in the Opposition. The ALP state executive, known as the Administrative Committee, will meet tonight to open preselections for the seats of retiring state MPs and unallocated conservative-held ones. Buoyed by yesterday's Newspoll in The Australian showing she had engineered the biggest turnaround in the poll's history, Ms Bligh yesterday seized on mixed messages from the new Liberal National Party leadership over who was calling the shots - "campaign leader" Campbell Newman or the man warming the seat for him, parliamentary "interim leader" Jeff Seeney.

'Unproductive burdens' still have a right to live

David van Gend - The Australian

There was a moment during the last national debate on euthanasia that deserves to be revisited by a new generation of legislators, a moment that crystallised fears that the so-called right to die would come to be felt by the frailest among us more as a "duty to die". It was 1995 and our then governor-general, Bill Hayden, was addressing the College of Physicians during debate on the Northern Territory's euthanasia laws. The scene was significant, since the dual concern with euthanasia is the corruption of the relationship between the state and its most vulnerable citizens, and between doctors and their most vulnerable patients.

Capital's child sex workers all alone

Canberra Times

Canberra's prostitution laws leave police almost powerless to rescue children from sexual exploitation in brothels, according to the territory's police chief. More than two years after a 17-year-old girl died of a heroin overdose in a Fyshwick brothel, police say their ability to investigate children working in legal sex venues remains limited, weak and constrained. Authorities are also worried that they remain almost completely in the dark about what goes on in the city's illegal sex-for-sale operations.

UN report says 'urgent' supplies of food needed

The Australian

The UN says more than 6 million North Koreans are in urgent need of international food assistance. The world body reported today that North Korea had suffered a series of shocks including summer floods and then a harsh winter, "leaving the country highly vulnerable to a food crisis". It said the worst affected include children, women and the elderly, and recommended providing 430,000 tonnes of aid.

English girl, 8, gets Botox from her mum in bid for 'perfection'

Herald Sun

An English mother regularly injects her eight-year-old daughter with Botox and gets her body waxed in a bid to make the little girl "perfect" and "famous". Every three months Kerry Campbell sits her daughter Britney on a beautician's table and injects botox and fillers into Britney's face, The Sun reports. The 34-year-old mum from Birmingham, UK buys the substances online and from a local "beauty supplier".

'No discrimination' of Asperger's boy

The Age

A teenage boy with multiple disabilities who was sent home during lunch and banned from school excursions has lost his discrimination claim against the Education Department. The Victorian boy, whom The Age has chosen not to name, has Asperger's syndrome (an autism spectrum disorder), dyslexia and attention deficit disorder. Lawyers for the boy, now 16, told the Federal Court his IQ dropped due to the alleged discrimination. The court heard he was not allowed to travel on the school bus, forcing his mother to drive 400 kilometres each week to take him to school.