SA euthanasia bill defeated

Australian Conservative

The defeat of the Greens’ euthanasia bill in the South Australian parliament last night could not have been achieved without the strong campaign by Family First supporters, the SA party’s parliamentary leader Dennis Hood said in an email newsletter today.  Over the past few weeks Family First supporters gathered well over 5,000 petitions rejecting active euthanasia and wrote hundreds of letters to parliamentarians strongly urging them to oppose the bill, Mr Hood said.  “This bill was particularly dangerous as it did not even require people to be terminally ill in order to qualify for euthanasia and it would have been available to anyone over 18 years of age!

Victorian election: John Brumby holding on by his fingertips, poll shows

Stephen McMahon - Herald Sun
It is a cliffhanger election, with Labor on course to hold power by its fingertips less than 24 hours from voting.  The latest Herald Sun/Galaxy Poll for the first time shows Labor and the Liberals neck and neck. On a two-party-preferred basis it has tightened to 50-50 with Labor's primary vote in freefall.   But preferences from the Greens look set to put Labor into power for a record fourth consecutive term.   The poll shows the Coalition in front, 44-36, on primary votes, putting it on track to win at least an extra 10 seats.

WA Government gets tough on prostitution, brothels in residential areas

Prostitution will be banned from residential areas in WA and clients caught on unlicensed premises could face fines or jail under proposed laws.  Police will also get extra powers to shut down illegal brothels under the law reforms proposed by the state government.   Under the proposals, clients having sex with persons coerced into prostitution would face jail whether they knew the person was coerced or not.  WA Attorney-General Christian Porter announced the planned changes on Thursday, saying prostitutes would also be encouraged and supported to leave the industry.

Law will protect ethics classes from being dumped by Coalition

Sean Nicholls - SMH
The right to teach ethics classes as an alternative to scripture in NSW schools will be enshrined in law by the state government in a bid to prevent the Coalition removing the classes if it wins power next year.  The Minister for Education, Verity Firth, will introduce an amendment to the Education Act today to specify the right of schools to offer ethics to students who opt out of scripture.   The amendment will be supported by the Greens in the Legislative Council, guaranteeing it will become law before Parliament rises at the end of next week and before the election in March.  ''The message we have received loud and clear from parents is that they should have the right to choose what is best for their child," the Premier, Kristina Keneally, said.

Private schools' fury over MySchool website

Matthew Franklin and Lanai Vasek -   The Australian
Private schools are threatening court action to prevent the publication of information about their finances on the My School website.  This comes after the schools learned from previews that the website is riddled with errors.  The schools fear that if the updated website goes live next month as planned, incorrect data could smash their reputations and lead parents to false conclusions about the value they are getting for their school fees.  And the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority - the government body responsible for the website - has conceded data of about 300 schools is in dispute and that some could be excluded from the updated site when it goes live.

Welfare trial in Cape York tops targets

Patricia Karvelas and Sarah Elks - The Australian
A radical welfare reform trial in Cape York that hauls welfare recipients before a specially convened hearing has attendance rates of more than 90 per cent.  The trial is also reaching agreement with the majority of its troubled Aboriginal clients.   The system - introduced by Queensland after consultation with the commonwealth and indigenous leader Noel Pearson's Cape York Institute - is getting more people to its new Family Relationships Commission than the mainstream welfare compliance program run by Centrelink, which interviews dole recipients across the country.  A report by KPMG finds that only one-third of clients attended their initial Job Search Training interview nationwide, compared with about two-thirds of Aborigines attending an FRC conference.

Number of world's poorest countries doubles

The number of very poor countries has doubled in the last 30 to 40 years, while the number of people living in extreme poverty has also grown two-fold, a UN think-tank warned.   In its annual report on the 49 least developed countries (LDCs) in the world, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said that the model of development that has prevailed to date for these countries has failed and should be re-assessed.   "The traditional models that have been applied to LDCs that tend to move the LDCs in the direction of trade-related growth seem not to have done very well," said Supachai Panitchpakdi, secretary general of UNCTAD.

Christian facing death for blasphemy against Islam in limbo

Pakistan's president will not immediately pardon a Christian woman sentenced to die for insulting Islam, but may do so later if an appeals court delays her case too long, an official said on Thursday.  The case against Asia Bibi has inflamed religious passions in Pakistan. Hard-line Muslims demonstrated again on Thursday against any pardon for her, and minority Christians held their own protests calling for abolishment of the blasphemy law, which critics say is misused by some to settle personal scores and persecute minorities.  Pope Benedict XVI has appealed for the release of Bibi, a 45-year-old mother of five who has said she was wrongly accused by a group of Muslim women with a grudge against her. The Pope said her case highlights the persecution of Pakistani Christians, who make up less than 5 per cent of the country's 175 million people.

Threats, debts and isolation: the new chains of slavery

Geesche Jacobsen - The Age
Their position is akin to modern slavery, but people who have been trafficked to Australia to work for little pay in appalling conditions are often kept not by chains but physical or cultural isolation, threats of violence, obligations to repay debt, or the promise of permanent residency, a report says.  The report on labour trafficking by the Australian Institute of Criminology says the problem in Australia is underestimated and ranges from slavery to industrial breaches.  It focuses not on the better-known exploitation of women in the sex industry but draws attention to the approximately half a million migrant workers who could be exploited in industries such as agriculture, construction, cleaning, meat works and manufacturing.

Greens likely to hold upper house balance of power

Tim Colebatch - The Age
Whatever the fate of the Greens hopefuls in the four inner Melbourne seats in tomorrow's election, one thing looks almost certain: the Greens will hold the balance of power in the new upper house, whoever wins government.  At the federal election, the Greens won 14.6 per cent of the Senate vote in Victoria, with 471,000 first preferences. The opinion polls suggest that they are heading for a similar vote at the state election.   If so, they are odds-on to win five seats in the new 40-member Legislative Council, with neither Labor nor the Coalition winning enough seats to control the chamber. This would mean that any legislation in the new Parliament would require support from two of the three sides to get through the Legislative Council.

Sex Party tries to titillate Hulls

Peter Ker - The Age
The ''hard man'' of Victorian politics is about to get some ''hard core'' lobbying from local pornographer and Sex Party candidate for Richmond, Angela White. Attorney-General Rob Hulls has been sent a selection of White's porno films as part of the actress's campaign to relax regulations for X-rated films. White has made more than 100 adult films, and chose her seminal work Big Boob Paradise for Hulls's inspection. White said the plot for Big Boob Paradise was not complex: ''It's basically five women trapped on a beautiful deserted island somewhere in the Caribbean.''  You can figure out the rest. But Hulls indicated the imminent delivery of the film was unlikely to lead to relaxation of a regulatory or personal kind any time soon.   ''I'm much too busy to be watching movies prior to the election … X-rated films are part of the National Classification Scheme,'' he said.