The resignation of Hosni Mubarak does not represent the triumph of democracy in Egypt, at least not yet. Instead it's a kind of soft coup -- almost a coup by consent. There is no provision in the Egyptian constitution for the direct transfer of power to the army, which has just occurred. However, it has so far been accepted by the Egyptian people. The army will be keen to maintain its relationship of consent with the giant Cairo crowds. But this cannot be absolutely relied on or assumed. Nor is it clear that the demonstrators in Cairo represent a consensus of Egyptian civilian opinion.
Indigenous attendance rates at public high schools across the country are falling, despite the federal government's efforts to close the gap on school participation. Figures released in the Productivity Commission's annual Report on Government Services show attendance rates for Year 10 students at public schools fell between 2007 and 2009 in every state and territory except Western Australia, where they were stable. The largest declines were in South Australia and the ACT, which recorded drops of 6 per cent over the three-year period, and in Tasmania, which fell 5 per cent.
The Coalition has opened an emphatic 54-46 per cent two-party lead in an Age/Nielsen poll that shows Labor's primary vote and the Prime Minister's popularity sliding. This is the biggest lead the opposition has had over the Gillard government in Nielsen polls and - depending on preference allocation - probably its best result since early 2005. The Coalition's two-party vote is up 3 percentage points since November, with Labor's down 3 points.
Young people continue to take their own lives. Jane Burns says this terrible situation won't change unless we realise youth suicide is not a taboo subject and is talked about openly and often. She speaks to Michael Short. The pain caused by the suicide of a young person is almost too terrible to imagine, certainly too terrible to be adequately described. Words so often elude us here. But we need to talk about youth suicide, not avoid it in the misguided belief that keeping it taboo somehow shelters people in difficulty from dangerous thoughts. Only through appropriate discussion can we cement the crucial concept that young people have many options - and suicide is not one of them.
The Baillieu government is preparing to restore unlimited rights to religious organisations to discriminate against gays and lesbians, single mothers and people who hold different spiritual beliefs.Attorney-General Robert Clark is drawing up amendments, to be introduced to Parliament in May or June, to curb Victoria's anti-discrimination laws as part of the Coalition's election promises to conservative religious groups.
Education Minister Peter Garrett is considering funding non-religious ''pastoral care workers'' under the controversial school chaplains program, but the religious lobby is warning him not to muddy the waters. Mr Garrett's review of the $437 million federally funded National School Chaplaincy Program confirms that the vast majority of chaplains - 98.52 per cent - are Christian even though only 64 per cent of Australians identify as Christian.
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December 18, 2018
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