PM hears ACT's same-sex plea

James Massola – The Australian

New ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher has met with Julia Gillard to urge her to support controversial territories' legislation that could pave the way for legalised same-sex unions. Ms Gallagher said that conservatives from both sides of politics were attempting to thwart greater territory independence by linking the proposed Greens legislation to same-sex marriage and voluntary euthanasia. The bill would remove the right of ministerial veto over territory laws, handing the override power to the federal parliament. "I made it clear the (ACT) government supports the bill; the assembly as a whole supports it except for the local Liberals," Ms Gallagher said. "(The Prime Minister) had a good understanding of the bill. They have their caucus process to go through.

Charter neutrality lost on human rights chief

Chris Merritt – The Australian

Victoria's Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner Helen Szoke has revealed that she does not understand what it means to be neutral in the debate over the future of the state's Charter of Rights. Dr Szoke was speaking before ordering a second batch of material from pro-charter lobby groups be removed from the commission's website. Last Thursday, after being contacted by The Australian, the commission removed a link from its website that led to a template submission prepared by a pro-charter lobby group.

Rival human rights view eager for an airing

Chris Merritt – The Australian

After removing some of the material from its website that helped promote the case for retaining Victoria's Charter of Rights, the state's Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission made an offer that was too good to refuse. In the place formerly occupied by some of the "key advocacy points" of a pro-charter lobby group, the commission inserted this notice on its website last Friday: "In the interests of promoting discussion and encouraging contributions to the four-year review, the commission will continue to make available position papers from a range of organisations." In response, it was sent a detailed argument against the charter from the Institute of Public Affairs.

Prosperity focus misses the point in state debate

Spencer Zifcak – The Australian

The impending review of the Victorian Charter of Rights has sparked renewed commentary concerning the worth of such legislation. The most provocative intervention has been the article by Mirko Bargaric and Peter Faris opposing rights charters on this page last week (Legal Affairs, May 20). Their piece contained some novel propositions. But its premises were so flawed that it merits extended reply. It's worth recounting first what the Victorian charter does. The charter provides legal protection for the fundamental human rights of all Victorians.

The book that changed the world

Barney Zwartz - The Age

The King James Bible celebrates its 400th anniversary this month, and we are still steeped in the idioms and phrases of this wondrously rich, subtle and poetic translation. Translated by a committee of 54 scholars from a Hebrew and Greek original text that modern scholarship has shown to be far from the most faithful, the King James Bible has nevertheless had an unparalleled influence on the faith and language of English speakers the world over. Surely the most important book ever published in English, its influence expanded with the fortunes of the nation: the English took it and shared it wherever they went.

Euthanasia undermines palliative care, not complements it

World News

The Australian Christian Lobby has rejected claims by euthanasia advocates that palliative care can complement euthanasia. The ACL’s Chief of Staff Lyle Shelton said the group’s suggestion that palliative care would go hand in hand with euthanasia was misleading. “Legalising euthanasia is likely to take away the imperative for Governments to adequately fund palliative care, which is where our efforts as a society should be concentrated as we seek to provide dignity at the end of life,” he said. “Euthanasia involves the deliberate killing of a patient using a lethal substance which is very different from the quite legal and compassionate practice of relieving a patient’s pain even if it does hasten death.

Packer’s patsy sells his soul, and our intellectual property

David Penberthy - The Punch

James Packer had better watch his back. He’s just hired the guy who helped knock off former NSW Premier Morris Iemma for Nathan Rees, then rolled Rees for Kristina Keneally, and played a key role in last year’s putsch which replaced Kevin Rudd with Julia Gillard. On the basis of recent performance, the appointment of former national ALP secretary Karl Bitar as Crown Casino government relations lobbyist could mean that the gambling empire will soon be run by Kerry Stokes from the Seven Network. If there is such a thing as purgatory it may well be Melbourne’s Crown Casino. There is a story that at the Casino’s gala opening in 1997, dozens of white doves were released into the night sky, and were promptly incinerated in the balls of flame that blast from the braziers on the Yarra’s banks. It might be an apocryphal tale but it’s a nice bit of imagery for a place which wrongly presents gambling as nothing other than innocent fun.

Access Ministries unfairly blamed over classes: bishop

Jewel Topsfield - The Age

The group that teaches Christian education in government primary schools says it is up to the Education Department to address the concerns of parents whose children opt out of the classes. Access Ministries chairman Stephen Hale said the group had been unfairly blamed for controversial aspects of the special religious instruction program, such as children who opt out being forced to sit in the corridor or at the back of the classroom. Three parents are claiming in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal that the program segregates children on religious grounds and discriminates against children whose parents opt them out.

Threat of carbon tax blackouts: secret report

Sid Maher - The Australian

The security of electricity supplies would be at risk and power prices would be likely to rise under a carbon price if assistance measures failed to prevent the financial collapse of coal-fired generators, a report has warned. A tax on carbon emissions could undermine investments in new low-emissions generation, if the viability of generators was undermined, according to a confidential report by investment bank Morgan Stanley. The report warns that energy retailers could face higher costs and increased financial risks. It found it was possible that the introduction of a carbon price - given that it was a radical change in the cost structure of the entire generation sector - could result in some unpredictable shifts in electricity prices, as it could alter the behaviour of electricity generators bidding into the national electricity market.

Facebook gossip pages vilify students

Nino Bucci - The Age

Melbourne schools and police are battling to remove a Facebook page that allows teenagers to post vile gossip about their peers. Teachers feel powerless to stop the site, which has resurfaced in various forms over the past month and left students at schools in Ivanhoe and Heidelberg needing counselling. Parents have been shocked by postings on the page, which include allegations of sex between teachers and students, girls who trade sex for drugs and boys who have been caught wearing their mothers' clothing.

Eyesight loss among Aborigines a disgrace, says researcher

Mark Metherell - SMH

Blindness and poor vision mean up to 40 per cent of indigenous adults cannot read small print - often for easily preventable reasons as simple as not having glasses. And the problem is not limited to outback communities. The most detailed report yet of the prevalence of vision loss among indigenous people shows that even in Sydney and Melbourne, thousands go without the treatment that mainstream Australia takes for granted.

In a struggle of wills, Gillard counts on Abbott “punching himself out,” Uhlmann says

Chris Uhlmann - Australian Conservative

“There are two strategies at work in politics at the moment,” Chris Uhlmann, co-presenter of ABC1’s 730, said today on Jon Faine’s Melbourne ABC morning program. The Government is working to a long term strategy, while the Opposition is hoping for an early election, he said. “Julia Gillard has made one strategic decision—and everything else hangs on it—that her government will go full term. Tony Abbott, on the other hand, believes that if he keeps pounding away at the Government, a government which looks so bad on the outside and, I have to say, sometimes on the inside, that something inevitably must break.

No room for complacency in protecting children: prelate

Nancy Frazier O’Brien - Catholic News Service

Although a new report on the causes and context of child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy says it is primarily a historical problem, the Church must guard against complacency, two key figures in the release of the report said at a Washington news conference. “There is no room for fatigue or feeling that people have heard enough when it comes to efforts to protect children,” said Bishop Blase J Cupich of Spokane, Washington, chairman of the US Bishops’ Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People. Diane Knight, a retired Milwaukee social worker who chairs the all-lay National Review Board, said the report’s findings that the Church’s actions since 2002 have been “effective in preventing further acts of abuse” should in no way “lull us as a Church into complacency.” “There will always be adults who are attracted to children in society and in the Church,” Knight said. “Thus, we must always be on guard and do all that is possible to prevent sexual abuse.”

Marriages 'better off in church'

Anthony Barich - The Record

Catholics should be encouraged to seek Church weddings over garden weddings or the registrar’s office, as the latter two can cause a domino effect of cutting off from the Church and misery, said Osborne Park parish priest Fr Michael Gatt. A number of letters and emails he’s received from people who married in his church praising the dignity and sanctity they feel their marriage has because of the ceremony has inspired him to produce a poster with photos and quotes from them to display in St Kieran’s. He hopes it serves as a positive reminder to all who darken the doorway of St Kieran’s Church that marrying in a church is a powerful force for good as it prompts positive life choices from that point on – including baptising their children.