Will you marry me Julia? Exclusive interview with Australia's First Bloke

Alan Howe - The Sunday Telegraph

Julia Gillard's partner, Tim Mathieson, wants to marry the Prime Minister. Mathieson, 54, who has been married before and has three children, is yet to discuss his plan with the PM. But the "First Bloke" insists when the time is right he will take the lead and pop the question.

We won't be rushed to the polls, say Gillard, Brown

The Australian
JULIA Gillard and Bob Brown have defied Tony Abbott's challenge to call an election once the details of the carbon tax have been finalised, declaring the parliament will go full term and attacking the Opposition Leader's budget reply as negative and irresponsible.

But Mr Abbott branded the Labor-Greens alliance as "not a serious government; this is a ramshackle coalition".

Departing Labor leader leaves a legacy of misplaced priorities

The Australian
THE resignation of Australia's longest serving present political leader, ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope, will have important ramifications, local and national.

Announcing his resignation, Stanhope cited his proudest achievements as his pursuit of social justice, freedom from discrimination and human rights, which is a fairly broad vision for a very small government that has overseen a marked decline in urban services, disastrous handling of the 2003 bushfires that came within 4km of Parliament House, a domestic water supply crisis caused by mismanagement, and soaring local taxation.

However, under the Labor-Greens coalition in the ACT Assembly, which will be led by Health Minister Katy Gallagher, ACT residents hoping for a more local focus on services can probably forget about it. Expect even more concentration on the ACT as a social laboratory.

Style-setter Abbott does things his way

The Age
TONY Abbott's personal ratings might not be great but Pat Weller, one of Australia's leading political scientists, who has spent a lifetime studying Australian leaders, describes him as ''probably the best federal opposition leader since Gough Whitlam in the run-up to the 1972 election''.

''Like Whitlam, he's getting the government talking on his terms - he's managing to have the debate on issues of his choosing. Opposition leaders who can set an agenda and have a debate on their grounds are rare,'' says Weller. Abbott currently has boat arrivals front and centre, as well as the carbon tax - ''climate change has become a debate over a tax''.

We are not out to convert children in schools: bishop

The Age
THE chairman of a Christian group that provides religious education classes in Victorian government schools has insisted its volunteers do not try to convert children, despite the group's chief executive having told a conference that ''we need to go and make disciples''.

Bishop Stephen Hale said there was no evidence Access Ministries breached federal and state guidelines that prohibit proselytising in government schools.

''This controversy has been running for about five weeks - you would have thought if we were breaching the guidelines there would have been a litany of complaints and in fact there haven't been any,'' Bishop Hale told the ABC.

Carr urges Gillard to scrap chaplain funding

Former New South Wales premier Bob Carr has called on the Prime Minister to cancel funding for the schools chaplaincy program.

A religious group which provides chaplains to Victorian schools has been accused of trying to convert students during religious classes.

Looking for a great opposition leader. Still looking.

The Drum
Paul Keating once complained to Bob Hawke that Australia had never had a great Prime Minister, sending Hawke into a tailspin about the virtues of John Curtin.

But here's another question. Have we had a great, or even a halfway decent, opposition leader?