Victorian Labor and the Greens - deadlocked over a crucial preference deal - have scheduled negotiations for early this morning before midday's deadline to lodge upper house preferences. The minor party has frustrated Labor strategists with its offer to direct preferences to the government in just 15 marginal seats, 14 of which Labor can nominate. The Coalition needs 13 to win. Labor believes this will still leave room for a Liberal-Greens deal that would have Ted Baillieu win government. The two parties could not reach agreement yesterday and last night Mr Reece called on the Greens to direct more preferences to Labor to ensure a progressive government for Victoria.
A group of teenage girls are filming unprovoked "tag team" attacks on fellow students at a school in Western Australia. The Sunday Times has obtained the video footage, which shows 13 and 14-year-old girls from John Willcock College, in Geraldton, carrying out planned attacks on other female students after school. Parents said the disturbing footage was being circulated throughout the school via bluetooth on mobile phones. The footage shows two girls walking up behind another female student before grabbing her hair, slinging her to the ground and repeatedly punching her head.
Muslims claim they are the targets of new planning laws preventing religious groups from taking over empty churches abandoned by other faiths in south-western Sydney. The controversial regulations have been proposed by Canterbury Council - which includes the Islamic community strongholds of Belmore, Campsie, Canterbury and Lakemba. The move is being backed by the Labor mayor Robert Furolo, who is also the state MP for the seat of Lakemba, and residents opposed to a mosque on the site of an ex-Roselands church. The new planning controls would require all religious bodies to adhere to strict planning guidelines in residential areas.
Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi walked free from the lakeside home that has been her prison for most of the past two decades, to the delight of huge crowds of waiting supporters. Waving and smiling, the Nobel Peace Prize winner appeared briefly to loud cheers and clapping from the thousands of people gathered for a glimpse of the 65-year-old, known in Burma simply as "The Lady". "We must work together in unison," she told the sea of jubilant supporters, suggesting she has no intention of giving up her long fight for democracy in what is one of the world's oldest dictatorships. She asked the crowd to come to her party's headquarters on Sunday to hear her speak after she struggled to make herself heard over the roar of cheers, then went back inside her home as the crowds lingered outside.
Julia Gillard's election pitch to avoid a ''big Australia'' is to be abandoned after a Treasury warning that strong future immigration is ''probably inescapable''. In another policy retreat, the government's population review has been delayed and ''recalibrated'' to focus on skills shortages and regional growth, rather than nominating population targets. During the election campaign in August, Ms Gillard said Australia should not ''hurtle'' towards a big population. At the time, she said a Treasury projection that Australia would have a population of 36 million people by 2050 was excessive. ''I don't support the idea of a big Australia with arbitrary targets of, say … a 36 million-strong Australia,'' she said.
About 13 people a week who apply for jobs working with children are considered a risk by state authorities but only about 5 per cent are rejected. The NSW Commission for Children and Young People carried out more than 212,000 criminal and employment checks on adults during the last financial year. Of those, 680 people were investigated further but only 37 were banned from working with juveniles. Welfare groups also fear child sex offenders avoid detection altogether by taking up volunteer positions.
The Greens have hundreds of policies on their website about everything from bushfires to gender identity to ports and freight. Few of them are costed; only the proposed $1 limit on poker machine bets has gone to Treasury. But an analysis by experts reveals that, while many Green policies are well-meaning, they are often broad and vague, difficult to cost and potentially very expensive. There is something for everyone - the Greens promise more money for public hospitals and state schools, more renewable energy, new train and tram lines, less carbon, lower water use. There is also extra funding for mental health, legal aid, social housing, sports clubs, emergency services, pet desexing, farmers, biodiversity and more.
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