Labor slips, would fall in landslide

Michelle Grattan -The Age

The Coalition has opened a huge 56-44 per cent two-party lead in an Age/Nielsen poll showing Labor's primary vote at its lowest in 15 years and rising community opposition to the carbon price. Julia Gillard now trails Kevin Rudd, the prime minister she overthrew, by 38-55 per cent as preferred Labor leader, although Labor MPs rule out any change. The ALP's primary vote has fallen to 31 per cent, down 2 points since last month.

Uni report adds to scrutiny on Behrendt

The Australian

Larissa Behrendt faces fresh scrutiny of her suitability to head the Gillard government's review of Aboriginal higher education in the wake of a highly critical assessment of indigenous education at the University of Technology Sydney, where she holds a senior role. The indigenous lawyer, who sparked calls for her to be dumped from the role after she slurred Aboriginal activist Bess Price on Twitter, is the research director of the UTS Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning, which she joined 10 years ago.

Council's Israeli boycott set to lose its teeth

Leo Shanahan and Paul Maley - The Australian

The Greens on Marrickville Council were last night locked in talks on a face-saving measure in its Israel boycott saga. The measure would enable the inner-western Sydney council to maintain a boycott of Israel without the cost to ratepayers. The Australian understands that one option under consideration would see an alternate motion put forward that made no specific mention of the global boycott, divest and sanctions (BDS) movement, but instead aligned the council with an 1980 UN resolution critical of Israel.

Labor hits a 15-year low but Rudd wins

Phillip Coorey - SMH

Support for federal Labor has hit a 15-year low according to the latest Herald/Nielsen poll. It also shows that for the first time more voters disapprove than approve of the job Julia Gillard is doing, while Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull are by far the preferred main party leaders. In the past month the Coalition has stretched its two party-preferred lead over Labor by 4 percentage points while the government's efforts to sell the carbon tax by spruiking generous compensation for low and middle income households has failed to lift support for the policy.

Woolies eyes more pokies

Vanda Carson - SMH

Woolworths could strengthen its grip on the poker machine industry if it goes ahead with talks for a partnership with the state's gambling king, Arthur Laundy. If it proceeds with a joint venture with Mr Laundy the grocery giant will lift its poker machines from just more than 12,100 to 13,300 and it will increase its hotels from 286 nationwide to 326. This would tighten its hold on two titles it already holds - the largest poker machine company in the country and the largest hotel owner.

Australians struggle with household costs

Tanalee Smith - AAP

The rising cost of essentials such as health care, utilities and fuel means more households are struggling to keep on top of their bills, a financial survey says. The cost of living has increased, on average, 7.5 per cent across the nation, more than double the official inflation rate of 2.7 per cent, financial group ING Direct says in its Financial Wellbeing Index for the first quarter of 2011. "Governments need to realise households are under more pressure than official figures are showing," said ING Direct chief executive Don Koch.

Wave of rising costs sends Queensland families to the brink

John Mccarthy - The Courier-Mail

More Queenslanders than ever before are struggling to meet even the most basic costs of living and many have absolutely no savings to fall back on. Two new leading financial surveys show the pressures of rising fuel, food, water, power and insurance costs have pushed even two-income families to the brink of despair. One found 40 per cent of Queensland households are not confident they can handle their bills and the same number report expenses have risen by at least 10 per cent in a year. Childcare costs may be the next expense to rise, with hints the Federal Government plans to slash the taxpayer-funded rebate in the Budget in May. Meanwhile, a further study reveals Queensland's economic outlook is grim compared with other states.

Boat intercepted off Christmas Island


A boat believed to be carrying 53 passengers has been intercepted off Christmas Island. Border Protection found the vessel, which also carries two crew members, northeast of the island this afternoon, a statement from Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor said. Those on board will be transferred to Christmas Island where they will undergo security, identity and health checks and their reasons for travel will be established.

Shop doors stay shut at Easter

The Sunday Telegraph

Consumers will be forced into the CBD for a retail fix on Easter Sunday despite a last-ditch push by retailers to extend opening hours, arguing the religious holiday was just as much a celebration of shopping. Retailers, who expect to be punished by a rare five-day weekend when Easter Monday falls on Anzac Day next week, insist it is "outdated" to ban shopping at Easter.

Kuansing, vote sparks violence: church burned, damage to Electoral Commission headquarters

Mathias Hariyadi - AsiaNews

A Christian church set on fire and an office of the Electoral Commission seriously damaged. This is the outcome of a revolt that took place yesterday in the district of Kuantan Singing - alias Kuansing – on the island of Sumatra, that broke out following the results of local elections. The political struggle between the main warring parties over the ballot, turned into an open clash after the announcement of the winner for the office of mayor. Even today, the tension remains high, the authorities have deployed a large group of police to prevent further violence. Yesterday afternoon an angry mob, made up of thousands of people stormed and set fire to a Christian church - it is not known whether Catholic or Protestant - and the headquarters of the Electoral Commission of Kuansing district, Riau province, Sumatra island, west of the Indonesian archipelago. The street clashes, the news that the favourite to take over running the city had been defeated on the ballot.

U.S. city combats teen sex and STD problem by sending condoms to 11-19 year olds

Michelle A. Vu - Christian Post

The Philadelphia Department of Public Health has launched a website that allows youths to order free condoms online. Under the tab “Mail Me Condoms!” the city offers links to “how to use a condom correctly,” places in Philadelphia to buy condoms, and the option to get the male contraceptive for free. “If you live in Philadelphia and are between the ages 11 and 19 you can now have condoms mailed directly to you for free,” reads the youth-oriented website Take Control Philly, managed by the city’s health department. But an expert for Focus on the Family’s public policy arm does not think promoting condom use among youths is the answer to Philadelphia’s problem. Chad Hills, abstinence education analyst for CitizenLink, told The Christian Post that pushing condom use among middle school students is “irresponsible teaching, at best.”