And so we begin the last week of a most strange election campaign. Tonight we offer an exploration of the role of religion in the debate. In the previous campaign it was Kevin 07 front and centre on faith. Rudd cleverly used his own sincere religious convictions to defuse any traction the conservative side may have gained from courting the religious right. This time round the contrast between Gillard's open atheism and Abbot's sincere Catholic conservatism, had many in the press seeking the signs of and perhaps agitating for religious war.
As the election campaign enters its final week, school funding and chaplaincies are among the issues confronting Christian voters. Weekend newspapers pointed to Western Sydney as an election battleground, while regional areas and the Queensland vote were also seen to be decisive. Both Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott have been straining to portray themselves as battlers, Ms Gillard saying “I’m a westie” and Megan Abbott saying she and her husband once struggled from week to week to bring up their family.
Pay television subscribers will have the chance to view Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott’s messages to the Christian constituency this Thursday night at 6:30pm. The Australian Christian Channel will screen a 90 minute pre-election special featuring the ACL’s Make it Count event with Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace’s recent interview with Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
TONY Abbott says that as prime minister he would personally decide whether to turn back asylum-seeker boats. The Opposition Leader, in an interview with the Herald Sun, also set a three-month deadline to "dramatically" reduce boat arrivals. And he said the Labor Government's criticism of his economic credibility was "farcical", given that it had wasted so much of taxpayers' money. In a wide-ranging interview, the Liberal leader also said: Raunchy billboards and some material on late-night TV was "abominable" and "over the top", and he would order a review of classification rules, without imposing a wowser society.
LABOR'S attack on Tony Abbott's financial credibility has succeeded in wiping out the Coalition's election lead on economic management. And Julia Gillard is preparing to launch a last-week assault on the Liberal leader over the economy. The Gillard government still holds a narrow lead in national polling - 52 to 48 per cent on two-party-preferred terms - enough to scrape home on Saturday. But Labor still fears losing seats in NSW and Queensland. During the past week of campaigning, there has been no change to the standing of the parties on a nationwide basis.
A VOTE for the Greens is a vote against indigenous rights, says Aboriginal academic and community leader Marcia Langton. Professor Langton told The Australian the Greens could not pretend to support indigenous rights while they supported Queensland's Wild Rivers laws. And she accused the environmental movement of displaying a "distinctly Australian form of environmental racism". Tony Abbott has campaigned against the law, passed by Queensland's Labor government, to dramatically limit developments that affect the rivers. Federal Labor has backed the law.
AS in the 2007 poll that shot Kevin Rudd to cult status on the back of T-shirts, the youth vote could make a big impact on August 21. While the Coalition's support from youth has remained fairly stable, latest figures show younger voters, disappointed about climate change and refugee policy, have been abandoning Labor in droves over the past three years. The Greens are largely picking up the slack. According to unpublished data from a Newspoll survey conducted for The Australian earlier this month, 19 per cent of younger voters have nominated the Greens as their first preference.
THE Coalition's policy on international aid has received some big ticks from the sector, which has usually found Labor more supportive. The big difference this time is that the Coalition has announced it will create an international development minister, an upgrade from the job being a parliamentary secretary under the foreign minister. Greens leader Bob Brown, who had earlier backed the appointment of an aid minister, yesterday welcomed the Coalition's announcement. Both Labor and the Coalition are committed to raising aid spending to 0.5 per cent of gross domestic product by 2015.
A RIFT over domestic violence has opened up deep divisions in the Northern Territory's Country Liberal Party. The row is giving an unexpected boost to Labor's chances in the crucial Top End marginal seat of Solomon. The turmoil was sparked when the CLP's management committee yesterday refused to disendorse rogue candidate Leo Abbott in the neighbouring seat of Lingiari. Mr Abbott, one of the few Aboriginal candidates standing at the election, was last week exposed for a breached domestic violence order that was not revealed to the CLP in pre-selection.
A HORMONAL treatment to prevent ambiguous genitalia can now be offered to women who may be carrying a foetus with the rare disorder. It is not without health risks but, to its critics, they are of small consequence compared with this notable side effect: the treatment also might reduce the likelihood that a female with the condition, known as congenital adrenal hyperplasia, will be homosexual. Further, it seems to increase the chances that she will have what are considered more feminine behavioural traits.
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