It’s not Gillard who ignored Belgium’s euthanasia laws

Andrew Bolt - Herald Sun
A study this year by the Free University of Brussels, reported in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, suggests Belgium’s safeguards don’t work quite as well as advertised. Of the 208 deaths by life-ending drugs the researchers could check, 66 were of people killed by their doctor “without an explicit request”. And these are just the cases that doctors were scrupulous enough to report. The British Medical Journal this year noted that just “one out of two euthanasia cases (in Belgium) is reported to the Federal Control and Evaluation Committee”. Belgian newspaper Gazet van Antwerpen reported it’s even worse - perhaps just one in four deaths is reported.

Government's moral compass gone awry in tawdry, offensive ad campaign

Morag Zwartz  - The Age
Christian values and rites are being subverted in Daylesford promotion. The old gospel song rings out in a hauntingly evocative tone as we are seduced by Tourism Victoria's TV advertisement down, down to Daylesford Lake and the glamour and decadence of the sumptuous dining and lake views they want us to experience. Fair enough, perhaps, but the title and tag line for this 90-second ad (made by premierofvictoria) is "Lead a double life", and the question is why our premier tourism body would want to entice us to picturesque Daylesford through deception and duplicity.

Mum sent teen to brothel to fund business

Amy Dale - The Daily Telegraph
A teenage girl says she is "heartbroken" by the actions of her mother, who helped her get work at a brothel so they could earn enough money to start a clothing business. She has also described how her mother's betrayal left her incapable of trusting anyone and caused her to self-harm. The girl, then 16, was put on a train from Wollongong and sent to work at Edgecliff brothel Liaisons, described by Judge Paul Conlon as "a high class agency, however frequented by low class individuals".

Everything's on the table … except an agreement

Lenore Taylor - Brisbane Times
When Labor and the Greens say the new climate committee will consider ''all options'' they really mean all options except one. The one option off the table is an emissions trading scheme, at least one implemented straight away. The tacit understanding between Labor and the Greens is that they can't agree on emission reduction targets - the Greens think Labor's minimum target of 5 per cent by 2020 is negligently inadequate and Labor thinks the Greens' proposed minimum target of 25 per cent would be political suicide.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu ends public career at 79
Archbishop Desmond Tutu is stepping down from public life, as he celebrates his 79th birthday.  The man described as the "conscience" of South Africa was a prominent voice during the country's struggle against white minority rule.   Looking back on Desmond Tutu's remarkable career  He has since been the voice of reconciliation in a number of regional conflicts.   But the Nobel Peace prize winner says he wants to spend more time with his family and watching cricket.

Euthanasia question needs wider discussion

Andrew Cameron
Australians are overwhelmingly in favour of euthanasia. Who can resist the will of the people? So goes the pro-death argument for this sweeping social change.   A much quoted 2009 survey, commissioned by the pro-euthanasia group Dying with Dignity, reports 85 per cent support for the practice. As is always the case, support is more muted among the over-65s: the prospect of death, it turns out, does concentrate the mind.  Even so, the survey elicited more than 80 per cent support among each age bracket of its 1201 respondents.

Archbishop Hart calls for 'truth and compassion' over euthanasia
Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart has called for a response of "truth and compassion" to renewed calls for the legalisation of euthanasia, calling it "the opposite of care" and that it represents "abandonement".   "Advocates of euthanasia and assisted suicide are mounting a new campaign for far-reaching change to Victoria's laws on euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Oakeshott may have lobbied me over defence contracts, says Gillard
Prime Minister Julia Gillard says independent MP Rob Oakeshott may have lobbied her on behalf of a major political donor. Mr Oakeshott reportedly discussed Birdon Marine, a business in his NSW electorate of Lyne, during negotiations with both major party leaders about which one of them he would support to form a minority government. Ms Gillard declined to scotch the report, published in News Ltd newspapers, that Mr Oakeshott sought preferential access to lucrative defence contracts.

Gillard's forum takes a dark shade of Green

Matthew Franklin - The Australian
Julia Gillard has buried her election promise to hold a citizens' assembly to discuss climate change.  She is opting instead to seek consensus through her new parliamentary committee.  The Prime Minister has also broadened the involvement of the Australian Greens in the committee, taking on Melbourne Greens MP Adam Bandt and Labor's Mark Dreyfus as assistants to the committee, which met for the first time in Canberra yesterday.

IR fears big poll factor, study finds

Ben Schneiders
A fear of WorkChoices returning played a surprisingly big role in how people voted in the federal election, with about a third of respondents to a national poll saying it was either an extremely or very important factor in their decision. The Auspoll findings come as Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, speaking from Britain, again ruled out any return to the Coalition's former policy of WorkChoices. ''We have no intention, not the slightest intention, not the nearest skerrick of a hint of a plan to do anything that might resemble the policy of the last days of the Howard government,'' he said. ''I said during the election that that particular policy was dead, buried and cremated and that's the way it stays.''

Till debt us do part case dismissed

Kim Arlington Courts
The traditional wedding vows have couples pledging themselves to each other ''for richer, for poorer''. But when one newlywed discovered his wife's property was worth significantly less than she had made out, he tried to have their marriage annulled. The pair separated in April, five months after they married. In an affidavit to the Family Court, he said she had claimed to own a residential property worth $200,000. He later found out it was worth $140,000, with an equity value of $20,000. A marriage can be declared invalid if it was achieved by fraud or duress. But the judge determining the case, James Barry, said fraud related to the nature of the ceremony, not ''the obtaining of the consent to marriage by various representations or inducements''.

Two for the road
Two ministers resign in one day. Does this spell trouble for the Brumby government or is it an opportunity for renewal? Paul Austin and Farrah Tomazin report.   Not since July 27, 2007, has Victoria seen anything quite like this. Peter Batchelor and Bob Cameron are hardly Steve Bracks and John Thwaites, but yesterday's joint resignation of the two veteran ministers is the biggest jolt to the state government since the then premier and deputy premier pulled their own surprise on voters three years ago.    Labor choreographed that leadership transition, from Bracks and Thwaites to John Brumby and Rob Hulls, with professional aplomb. But this shake-up threatens to be more tricky, because it comes in the shadow of an election.

Nine MPs bow out ahead of state poll

Richard Willingham
In Ken Jasper's 34 years in State Parliament he always wore a jacket and tie when he was in the house, because of his deep respect for the institution.   Yesterday, the Nationals member bowed out of Parliament happy with his three decades in office but lamenting the slip in standards. He said MPs these days spent too much time playing to the media, particularly during question time.   Mr Jasper was one of nine retiring MPs: government frontbenchers Bob Cameron and Peter Batchelor; Labor members George Seitz, Carlo Carli, Judy Maddigan and Karen Overington; and Liberal MPs Helen Shardey and John Vogels.

John Brumby needs Greens to win
Labor is on track to retain power in Victoria but with a massive slide in its primary vote turning the Greens into potential powerbrokers.   Seven weeks out from the November 27 state election, an exclusive Herald Sun /Galaxy Poll shows the election is finely poised with the Coalition gaining momentum.   Labor's support base has crumbled since the 2006 election with huge numbers of voters jumping ship to the Greens, putting the Coalition ahead 39 to 38 per cent on primary vote.

Governor urged us to take on premier, says editor

Steve Foley and Richard Willingham
A Victorian governor, Richard McGarvie, privately encouraged the then editor of The Age, Bruce Guthrie, not to be ''cowed'' by withering attacks on him by the premier Jeff Kennett, and to maintain the paper's scrutiny of the Kennett government.    The unprecedented intervention by the governor has been revealed in a new book by Guthrie, in which he tells how Mr McGarvie invited him to lunch at Government House in 1997 at the height of an unremitting campaign by Mr Kennett against the newspaper.   Pressure from the premier, backed by leading business figures, who accused Guthrie of being too negative, ultimately saw him vacate the editor's chair after less than two years.

Anglican cleric's call sparks anger
Advocacy group Women's Health Victoria has reacted angrily to yesterday's Age report that Anglican minister Mark Durie wanted the church's synod to demand answers from the government about late-term abortions at the Royal Women's Hospital.  Dr Durie asked whether the reported six-fold rise in late-term abortions since Victoria decriminalised abortion two years ago was harming staff morale and recruitment, and suggested it was possible babies were being left to die on shelves.

Pro-euthanasia sign gets the go-ahead

News Limited newspapers
A controversial advertisement which supports voluntary euthanasia will be displayed on the Hume Highway, Yagoona, from next week after it was approved by Billboards Australia. the Canterbury-Bankstown Express reports a debate is understood to have flared over the legality of the ad after Billboards Australia claimed its contents could have flout d the NSW Crime Act, which forbids the aiding of suicide or attempted suicide.

Labor branch bans own MP
NSW Labor officials have had to intervene to restore federal Minister Tony Burke's party status after he was accused by local ALP members of snubbing branch meetings. The Environment and Population Minister was stripped of the right to vote in his own branch last weekend after scrutiny of the attendance books reportedly showed he had failed to attend the minimum of branch meetings. The move to strike him off the voting roll in his own branch is almost unprecedented for a Cabinet member.

D'Amore employee 'wanted to impress'

Malcolm Brown
A senior electorate officer for the state MP Angela D'Amore was enchanted with the idea of working for a politician and did not bother to correct remuneration forms stating that she had been working at the electorate office, the Independent Commission Against Corruption heard yesterday. Agatha La Manna, appearing before the ICAC commissioner, David Ipp, QC, said that when she started at Ms D'Amore's electorate office at Five Dock on a probationary basis, in May 2007, she felt she was starting to fulfil a childhood dream.  When Ms D'Amore picked her up at the office on June 1 that year and took her to Parliament, she agreed with Justice Ipp, it was a ''red letter day''. She had been keen to learn what was happening because she knew the senior electorate officer, David Nicoletti, was about to move on and she wanted his job.

Koperberg to quit over wasted talent

The Daily Telegraph
Former bushfire boss Phil Koperberg will retire from State Parliament, saying the "collective of talent and vision" was not being exploited for the good of NSW.   The Blue Mountains Labor MP told The Australian today he would not contest the March election because of the current state of the NSW political culture.   "The reason that talented people don't rush to politics in greater numbers is because the profession is so lowly regarded, often through no fault of hard-working politicians," the 67-year-old said.

Family of 12yo prostitute consider suing
The Tasmanian Government could be sued for failing to protect a 12-year-old girl who was sold for sex while in its care.   A damning report on the case has found police, education and child protection authorities were aware the girl was at risk and they failed to act.  Her family is now considering suing, and a number of lawyers have already offered to act pro bono in the case.

Banknote sales chief axed as office is raided

Nick McKenzie and Richard Baker
The Reserve Bank has demoted its chief polymer banknote salesman and banned the practice of paying overseas middlemen to win contracts, in response to the growing bribery scandal involving Securency, the RBA subsidiary that makes banknotes.   Securency's director of global sales, Hugh Brown, whose office was among those searched by British authorities yesterday as part of a series of global raids co-ordinated by the Australian Federal Police, has been dropped from the sales team and moved elsewhere in the company.   Mr Brown, who is believed to be a person of interest to Britain's Serious Fraud Office, has intricate knowledge of many of Securency's overseas deals that are now under scrutiny as part of the joint AFP-SFO international corruption probe.

How more lobbying can foster democracy

Peter Shmigel
Lobbying has a bad name in this town. That bad name may have a bad side effect: too few people outside our small political class talking to their elected representatives. That is bad for both democracy and decision-making.   In truth, lobbying gives decision-makers access to data and opinions. It can make a politician's or senior public servant's decision more evidence-based, rigorous, objective and directed at a broader public interest.   The inverse example underscores the value of lobbying. Where there is a lack of diverse, high-quality inputs into a decision and haste applies, it is more likely the decision will be flawed and more likely to favour narrow or short-term interests.

Labor to endorse lawyer for MLC role

Alison Andrews
Lawyer Steve Bishop will be the endorsed Labor candidate for Launceston in the Legislative Council election early next year.   And he is already being seen as state government minister material.   Premier David Bartlett announced yesterday that the experienced Launceston solicitor and long-time law reform and human rights advocate would be Labor's choice to contest the seat held by independent Don Wing since 1982.

Iran president thanks Pope for condemning Koran threat
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has written to the Pope, thanking him for condemning an American pastor's threat to burn the Koran last month.   In his letter, Mr Ahmadinejad also called for closer co-operation between Iran and the Vatican.   Florida pastor Terry Jones was planning to burn copies of the Koran on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Israel's Netanyahu backs Jewish loyalty oath
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has re-introduced a proposal to require any non-Jew taking Israeli citizenship to swear allegiance to Israel as a "Jewish and democratic state".   The proposal has angered Israel's Arab minority, which makes up 20% of Israel's population.   Labour party ministers, who also oppose the bill, say they expect a new freeze on settlement building as a payoff.

Religious picketers test US free speech

Kim Landers
In the United States an important court case is underway, testing whether the right of free speech protects a religious group that pickets the funerals of American soldiers.  The Kansas based church says that US military deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan are punishment for the immorality of Americans, including tolerance of homosexuality.   The Supreme Court is now weighing whether the right to free speech in the US protects what some people believe is outrageous and offensive conduct.

West fails on terror: Blair

Allegra Stratton
Tony Blair has called for a ''revolution in thinking'' on international counterterrorism, saying the ''paucity'' of the West's efforts have left it ''outspent, outmanoeuvred and out-strategised'' by Islamist extremism.  Speaking in New York to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think tank established by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in 1985, Mr Blair said a failure to challenge the ''narrative'' that Muslims were oppressed by the West was fuelling extremism around the world. Instead, the majority had accepted the idea that military interventions since the September 11 attacks were an explicit attack on Muslims.   ''The practitioners of extremism are small in number. The adherents of the narrative stretch far broader into parts of mainstream thinking,'' he said.