Labor faces crucial test on Greens values

Paul Kelly - The Australian
From carbon pricing to social values, Gillard must stay true to her party. The Labor Party is facing a crisis of values. This is highlighted by the struggle on the Left of politics between Labor and the Greens, where Labor needs to prevail this term in the coming battle of ideas. Forget any notion that the Victorian election terminates the Greens' push. That's nonsense. The setback the Greens experienced last weekend in Victoria has nothing to do with Labor's strength and everything to do with the Liberal Party's preference decision against them. While the Greens failed to win lower house seats, they polled 10.9 per cent of the vote compared with Labor's 36.3 per cent.

Money woes kill marriage

Letita Rowlands - The Daily Telegraph
The global financial crisis cost people their homes, livelihoods, savings and even their marriages with tough times blamed for a sharp increase in divorces. Australian Bureau of Statistics figures, released yesterday, show the number of divorces increased by 4.7 percent in 2009 - the first rise since 2001. But the number of marriages is also on steady rise, with more than 120,000 couples exchanging vows in 2009.

Refugees' prayers are answered

Shannon Deery - Herald Sun
Boat people will be moved into church accommodation in Melbourne's eastern suburbs before Christmas in a plan to remove families from detention. The Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne and the Hotham Mission Asylum-Seeker Project, behind the scheme, says they are in talks to have families moved to presbyteries and other church-owned properties as part of the Gillard Government's plan to bring all asylum-seekers with families to the mainland. But residents have raised fears about the program, which has been shrouded in secrecy. The Catholic church has declined to give details, including what security checks would be in place.

Perth Police target Highgate street prostitution

Police have charged nine people during a two-day crackdown on street prostitution. The operation, conducted on Wednesday and Thursday, targeted men soliciting street prostitutes in Highgate. Nine people were charged with seeking a prostitute in a public place and another nine were given move on notices under the powers of the Prostitution Act. Acting Detective Senior Sergeant John Spence said: “Over the coming months, officers will continue targeting street prostitutes and the people soliciting their services.”

Home truths from former Labor heavyweights

Christopher Pearson -  The Australian
Insiders say Julia Gillard's alliance with the Greens is one of several tactical mistakes. Quite a few readers wrote to me when I criticised Julia Gillard's alliance with the Greens as evidence of exceptionally poor judgment and a decision that would dog her for the rest of her career. Most thought I was overstating the case and that she had no better option than to make common cause with Adam Bandt and Bob Brown. Michael Costa's remarkable essay on Wednesday in The Australian Literary Review makes it clear that the sensible centre of caucus opinion increasingly shares my view. Costa was formerly treasurer in Morris Iemma's cabinet and a luminary within the NSW Labor Right. His gravitas was conspicuous in a week when the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd managed to find time in their schedules for one-on-one meetings with Bono.

Raised drinking age not justified, expert says

Kelly Burke - SMH
The US neuropsychologist who first identified the damaging effects of alcohol on the early adult brain has warned Australian medical experts against using his research to justify a rise in the minimum legal drinking-age to 21.
A wave of respected medical opinion has signalled its support for raising the legal drinking age since the proposal was brought up in the NSW Parliament more than a week ago. With the excesses of schoolies week as a backdrop, fears of an out-of-control binge-drinking culture among teenagers has fuelled the debate, backed up by frequent citations of the proven harmful effects of alcohol on the developing adolescent brain.

Pure evil, but quite a temptation

Sean Nicholls - SMH
The Opposition Leader, Barry O'Farrell, rather hyperbolically called it ''pure evil''. But there is no question that deal-making between the Greens and Labor in NSW has defined much of NSW politics in recent months, at least in terms of policy outcomes. From donations law reform to assuring the future of the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre in Kings Cross and the decision to legislate for ethics classes in schools, the relationship has been what you might call symbiotic. The Labor government gets to appeal to the left-leaning voters who appear to be abandoning it in droves. The Greens get to claim influence on the state's policy agenda and drive the news - something of incalculable value to a party that, relative to Labor and the Coalition, relies heavily on free media coverage to solicit votes.

The porn supremacy

Liza Power - The Age
It's a dirty little secret, the thing they don't tell you, and they don't talk about - how every wave of technological advance has been fuelled by pornography. In his more than 20 years as a technology writer, Canadian journalist Patchen Barss spent a lot of time marvelling over whiz-bang gadgets and the bells and whistles that came with them. He wrote about what these technologies and innovations were designed to do, what distinguished them from their predecessors, how they had been developed and the social trends spurred by their creation; how in the hands of consumers there were few limits to the ingenious uses to which people could put them.