Premier John Brumby has cancelled all engagements because of health problems with his father. ''The Office of the Premier requests that the privacy of the Premier and his family be respected at this time,'' a government statement said. Mr Brumby, a Collingwood supporter, was due to attend the grand final today. Last night, he was scheduled to address the Australian Christian Lobby at Parliament House. Education minister Bronwyn Pike appeared instead. Mr Brumby's father, Malcolm, is in his 80s. He lives with his wife on the family farm at Coleraine.
The Australian Christian Lobby has succeeded in getting the two political leaders to attend the first forum of the coming election.
Australia's precariously hung parliament faced further divisions yesterday as a Coalition candidate for the deputy speakership said Tony Abbott's office had issued a statement on his behalf without his approval. Liberal Alex Somlyay told The Age he was prepared to back the Gillard government on confidence and supply even though a statement had been issued by the Opposition Leader's office yesterday saying he had ''declined this approach''. Mr Somlyay said the statement had been drafted by Mr Abbott's senior media adviser, Tony O'Leary and insisted: ''Those are Tony O'Leary's words, not mine.'' The five-paragraph statement suggested Mr Somlyay had declined Labor's request for confidence and supply and also declined its desire that he give up his vote. But the Liberal MP later faxed his own one-paragraph statement to The Age, saying: ''After discussions with both the Labor Party and my own leader, the Hon. Tony Abbott MHR, I confirm that I will be contesting the nomination for the position of Deputy Speaker in the Coalition party room on Monday.''
Too many Victorians, including children, are missing out on specialist end-of-life care because of a lack of funding, doctors and palliative care providers warn. President of the Australian Medical Association's Victorian branch, Dr Harry Hemley, said not enough people were getting access to palliative care in hospitals, hospices or at home before they died, and that demand was expected to rise in coming years as the population aged and suffered from more chronic diseases. ''We need to get both the government and the opposition to put forward a plan for palliative care to say what options should be available to people and how they think patients should be managed in the community,'' he said. ''We need a plan and we don't have one.'' The call was backed by the peak body for palliative care services in the state, Palliative Care Victoria, which said the Victorian government needed to invest an extra $8.6 million each year to address existing gaps and growing demand.
Victorian Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu has restated his opposition to gay marriage following criticism from his former senior adviser that his stance on the issue was weak, cowardly and legitimised bigotry. The Age revealed that Michael Gillies Smith, a former federal Liberal candidate and ex-media adviser to Mr Baillieu, sent an email to Liberal Party figures accusing Mr Baillieu of hurting innocent people and trading basic human rights for votes. Yesterday, Mr Baillieu said everyone was entitled to his view. ''I have a view about gay marriage, I made that clear about four or five years ago and my view hasn't changed.''
Treasury has flatly rejected Julia Gillard's election campaign call for a population growth slow-down. The department has told the Prime Minister rapid population growth is both inevitable and a key part of Australia's adjustment to the resources boom. Treasury's brief to the incoming government, released yesterday under a Freedom of Information request, warned that Australia's prosperity faced some big risks from the world economy. It urged the government to cut spending further and to manage the financial risks in laying out its National Broadband Network.
Far from bringing equality, contraception has redistributed power away from women, says George Pell. This year is the 50th anniversary of the contraceptive pill, a development that has changed Western life enormously, in some ways most people do not understand. While majority opinion regards the pill as a significant social benefit for giving women greater control of their fertility, the consensus is not overwhelming, especially among women. A May CBS News poll of 591 adult Americans found that 59 per cent of men and 54 per cent of women believed the pill had made women's lives better.
The axe is about to fall on West Australian laws that allow people to grow two cannabis plants. It comes seven years after the former Labor government passed the controversial legislation. Premier Colin Barnett's new drug laws making any cultivation a crime slipped quietly through the upper house of parliament on Thursday night with support from Labor, which all but conceded that its experiment had failed. The major parties ignored concerns by the Greens that drug dealers would get more customers and their profits would soar if people could not grow their own.
Bishopscourt, the picturesque 1850s Darling Point mansion, could be sold by the Anglican Church, allowing it to again become one of Sydney's grandest private trophy homes. Its continued ownership by the church, and options for housing Archbishop Peter Jensen and his wife, Christine, will be debated next month by the Anglican synod. Real estate agents estimate the neo-Gothic house could fetch more than $25 million.
WASHINGTON: One in five sexually active homosexual men in the US has HIV, and almost half of those who carry the virus do not know they are infected, a study has found. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention tested more than 8000 men in 21 cities in 2008, and found that even as infection rates were climbing among men who have sex with men, young, sexually active gay men and those in minority groups were least likely to know their health status, while the rates of other at-risk groups - heterosexuals and intravenous drug users - were falling. The findings were published this week to precede US National Gay Men's HIV Awareness Day on Monday.
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