Coal industry is safe, says Greg Combet

Samantha Maiden - The Australian
The nation's new Climate Change Minister, Greg Combet, has vowed to bring "common sense" to the climate change debate. And he has warned that he will fight for coal industry jobs as he pursues a price on carbon. The former union leader has predicted the coal industry "absolutely" has a future as he pursues his three key policy reform objectives: pursuing renewable energy; energy efficiency; and the development of a carbon price for Australia. Insisting the Climate Change portfolio was an economic reform challenge, he said: "You don't take the back of the axe to the fundamentals of the Australian economy."

Far from an outsider or innocent

SMH - Paul Sheehan
There were six people in the room. Morris Iemma was there with his top advisers to meet Rob Oakeshott and his key staffer. It was 2007; Iemma was premier of NSW, Oakeshott was an independent state MP. Oakeshott had a list of requests. One was that he be considered for an appointment as a minister in the Iemma Labor government. Iemma did not dismiss the request. Before deflecting the matter, he consulted several senior ministers, including the treasurer, Michael Costa. News of Oakeshott's amenability also went back to Labor headquarters in Sussex Street, where Mark Arbib was running the state. This is the meeting Oakeshott says he does not remember. Costa remembered it vividly last Tuesday when Oakeshott mentioned, during his soliloquy about where he was going to cast the deciding vote in the 2010 election, that he had been offered a ministry by Julia Gillard and would consider the offer.

Christian church leaders stabbed, assaulted in Indonesia
A Christian church leader was stabbed in the stomach and a reverend was beaten up in an attack on a group of worshippers in Indonesia yesterday.  The Christian church leaders were attacked as they prayed in a field in Bekasi, West Java,  the Jakarta Globe reported.   The attack followed tension between the congregation and Islamic extremists in the region.  The hard-line religious group the Islamic Defenders Front (FDI) and Bakasi Mayor Mochtar Mohammad even prevented the Christian congregation from holding religious services in their local church, which was sealed shut.

Court allows gay man to adopt child

Maris Beck - The Age
A judge has allowed a gay man to adopt his foster child in what is believed to be a first for Victoria. The man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, is in a gay relationship but has adopted the child by himself to comply with Victorian laws that make it illegal for gay couples to adopt a child together.

Queensland Lawyer Alex Stewart smokes pages from the Koran and Bible

Margaret Wenham and Alex Dickinson -
A Brisbane-based atheist has risked inflaming political and religious tensions by posting a video on YouTube showing him burning pages from both the Koran and the Bible. The video, by lawyer and Brisbane Atheists member, Alex Stewart, 29, comes as international outrage continues over the proposed burning of multiple copies of the Koran by a radical Christian pastor in the US. Yesterday, the president of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, Ikebal Patel, slammed the video.

Medicare rebate for sick web gamers

Bruce McDougall - The Daily Telegraph
Experts want computer addicts to be allowed to claim their treatment on Medicare. Psychiatrists and psychologists receiving calls for help from distressed families believe addiction to the internet and computer games will soon be listed as a mental disorder. School children and young adults are becoming so dangerously hooked on computer games that they are being offered live-in treatment at psychiatric facilities.

Rudd forced to back down on Timor

Phillip Coorey - SMH
One of Kevin Rudd's first tasks as Foreign Minister will be to negotiate with East Timor to establish a processing centre for asylum seekers there - a policy about which he had deep misgivings when prime minister. The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, affirmed yesterday that while she and Mr Rudd would work together on foreign policy, along with cabinet, she would be the ultimate authority. ''Ultimately, of course, I'm the leader,'' she said.

Who will be the one to stop feeding the pokie monster?

Kate Lahey - SMH
When Norwegian authorities noticed a rise in problem gambling among poker machine players in 2007, they removed all 15,000 machines from every venue in the country, including shopping centres and cafes. A year later, Norway reintroduced electronic gambling but with the kind of system that Australia is hurtling towards. Under a written agreement between the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and the new Tasmanian independent MP, Andrew Wilkie, to secure his support, the federal government has pledged to introduce a national pre-commitment system for Australia's 198,000 poker machines by 2012.

Conroy's net filter still alive and kicking

Asher Moses - SMH
The Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, is ploughing ahead with his internet filter policy despite there being virtually no chance any enabling legislation will pass either house of Parliament. Independent MP Rob Oakeshott, the Opposition and the Greens have all come out against the policy, leaving it effectively dead in the water. The Greens communications spokesman, Scott Ludlam, has called on the government to end the facade and drop the internet censorship scheme once and for all, as it was wasting time and taxpayers' money.

Canberra, give us back the right to die

Alyssa Betts - ntnews
About nine out of 10 Territorians want their voluntary euthanasia laws back, nearly 15 years after Canberra took them away "for their own good". This comes as Greens leader Bob Brown told the NT News he'd use the new minority government set-up to try to remove the Commonwealth block on the issue. More than 85 per cent of respondents to the NT News's Reader Issues Survey said the Rights of the Terminally Ill Act should be reinstated.

O'Farrell says remarks on ethics classes a personal view

Sean Nicholls - SMH
The Opposition Leader, Barry O'Farrell, has been accused of pre-empting a review of ethics classes in NSW schools after he declared that he does not support them competing with scripture classes and questioned the validity of the review process. A University of South Australia academic, Dr Sue Knight, is reviewing a 10-week trial of ethics classes in NSW primary schools. Her report is expected to be released by the state government within weeks. Mr O'Farrell was asked on ABC1's Stateline program if he would commit a Coalition government to continuing the classes if the Keneally government implements them following the review. ''No, what I'll commit the Liberal National parties to do is to have a look at the assessment that's made, the evaluation that's been undertaken,'' Mr O'Farrell said.

Proximity link to problem gambling

Jason Dowling - The Age
Living or working near gambling venues could have a direct impact on problem gambling, research has found. The problem gambling vulnerability report by researchers at Swinburne University of Technology found that people were attracted to gambling venues that were close to home and work. ''Geographical accessibility could encourage impulsive gambling and make avoidance difficult for those with problems,'' the report found. The research noted gambling venues could be an ''accessible retreat''.

Call for independent charities commission

Kirsty Needham - The Age
Last week a senate committee urged the new government to establish an independent charities commission that would apply a public benefit test. The commission should be modelled on the charities commission in Britain, which ruled Scientology didn't qualify for tax-exempt status there. The report also recommended that the federal Attorney-General should examine the monitoring of cults by the French agency Miviludes, the report said.