The most obvious thing about arguments for same-sex marriage is their shallowness. In last Saturday's Focus, Paul Kelly wrote a memorable piece, taking issue with Labor senator Mark Arbib's suggestion that it's time for the ALP to support gay marriage. "Why is it time?" Kelly asked. "Because the Greens are stealing Labor's votes, that's why. So Labor should cynically abandon its support for the foundational social institution, a move that will trigger a deeply polarising debate and brand Labor indelibly as a libertarian personal rights party ready to ditch any institution or principle. In the process, Labor will alienate permanently an important section of its base." Kelly's analysis was in marked contrast to that of The Age's political editor, Michelle Grattan. She told ABC Radio National's Breakfast show this week that Julia Gillard would have to change tack on the subject, preferably sooner rather than later.
The Church of Scientology is targeting alcohol-dependent Aborigines with a "drug bomb" therapy which the church has been warned could kill people with kidney problems. The Scientologists this week responded to a warning by the Northern Territory Health Department and stopped distributing literature which promotes a dangerous drug detoxification therapy. The group has been moving through remote Australia on an indigenous recruitment drive. Volunteer Scientology minister Kevin Chapman has with others been operating from a tent in a public park in the middle of Tennant Creek, handing out a pamphlet called Answers To Drugs.
The head of the country's largest union and a member of the Labor Party's powerful national executive warned Prime Minister Julia Gillard the ALP would lose the next election if it continued to indulge gay marriage. Joe de Bruyn, national secretary of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees' Association, also threatened to lead a movement from the party's Right to defeat it at the Labor national conference next year. But he dismissed talk the party's dominant Right faction could split after calls from former NSW leader of the Right, Senator Mark Arbib, for a parliament conscience vote. After a meeting of the national Right on Thursday night, Mr de Bruyn led an attack on Mr Arbib and warned the Government of pandering to the Greens on issues such as gay marriage and euthanasia.
Charities and church groups have banded together to accuse the State Government of failing to move quickly enough to protect children in DOCS care. The 27 groups have claimed the transfer of foster care to the private sector recommended by Justice James Wood in a special commission of inquiry last year was "slow and difficult". Union fears of job losses had been cited as one reason for the slow transition under new child protection system Keep Them Safe, Anglicare said. Other groups joined to fight the government include the Benevolent Society and UnitingCare Burnside.
What a difference a week can make. It seems like only yesterday the Victorian Greens were on the banks of the Yarra, launching their campaign with all the bravado of a minor party set to parachute into the sleepy green chamber of the Victorian Parliament. But nothing throws a spanner in the works like an unfavourable preference deal. Since the Liberals' decision on Sunday to put the Greens last on their how-to-vote cards, Greens candidates have put on a brave face and insisted they still have a good chance of winning a clutch of inner-city seats from Labor, even without those valuable preferences. Behind the scenes, however, the party machine has gone into overdrive: there's been ''doorknocking'' training for volunteers, pep talks by federal Melbourne MP Adam Bandt, and going cap in hand to supporters for donations.
One of Labor's most powerful factional bosses, Bill Ludwig, has urged the party against becoming obsessed with gay marriage. However, he has defended the call for same-sex unions, arguing the community's views have evolved on the controversial issue. Mr Ludwig, the influential Queensland secretary of the Australian Workers Union and its national president, is the latest union boss to enter the debate after Joe de Bruyn, the head of the right-faction Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association and Labor national executive member, said the issue was an unwanted distraction for the government. Both men sit on the ALP's powerful national executive committee, which met yesterday.
A Minnesota couple says they are leaving the decision about whether they should get an abortion up to an online poll posted on a website showing ultrasounds of the healthy, 16-week old fetus dubbed "Wiggles". Pete and Alisha Arnold, both 30, insisted that the website is not a prank or a convoluted anti-abortion campaign, in an interview posted Thursday on Gawker.com. "We are taking this very seriously," Pete Arnold told Gawker, adding that while the poll will influence their decision heavily, it won't be binding. "It's kind of like Congress. They might vote for something, but the president has the final veto," he said. "If it's overwhelming one way or the other, that will carry a lot more weight."
In comments that signal a hardening of the Government’s stance towards the Greens, factional Queenmaker and future leadership candidate Bill Shorten has warned that the Greens' ultimate ambition is to cut living standards and reduce prosperity in the name of environmental puritanism. In exclusive comments to The Drum, Shorten, the Assistant Treasurer, says:“The final question for us all when considering the Greens has got to be; “What would they do in office? “At generous best they are the mystery bet of Australian politics. At hard headed worst they are the political party that would cut living standards rather than raise them. For example the Greens have made billions in unfunded promises in the Victorian election on November 27th.
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