The first priorities for the 'environmentally-conscious' Greens

1 Greens fight for Territory rights to legalise euthanasia

One of the Australian Greens' first parliamentary priorities will be to try to overturn laws which stop the territories from legislating around euthanasia. Greens leader Bob Brown today said that after ensuring there was more time to debate private member's Bills in the new Parliament, he would turn his attention to euthanasia laws. Senator Brown wants to overturn laws that stop the ACT and Northern Territory from legislating on the controversial issue. "That was a taking away of the democratic rights of the people of the two territories," he told Channel 10.

2 Greens rock solid on Marriage Equality

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young
Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young says her party's commitment to marriage equality is rock-solid, reaffirming her pledge to re-introduce the Marriage Equality Bill on the first day of the new Parliament.


Could an Atheist Be Elected President? A Look "Down Under"

Gary Scott Smith - NewsBlaze
Last month Julia Gillard was elected prime minister of Australia. Gillard is Australia's first female and first unmarried prime minister. Even more remarkably, she won Australia's highest office after openly declaring that she is an atheist.  It is extremely unlikely an avowed atheist could be elected president of the United States. Substantial percentages of Americans say they would not vote for such a candidate. In a 2007 Newsweek poll, 62 percent of respondents said they would not vote for a candidate who admitted being an atheist. This position was taken by 78 percent of Republicans, 60 percent of Democrats, and 45 percent of independents.   Moreover, in a 2003 Pew Research Center poll, 52 percent of Americans expressed a "mostly unfavorable" or "very unfavorable" view of atheists. A 2006 Fox poll reported that Americans were more likely to vote for a Mormon or a Muslim for president than an atheist.

Secret swoop: Bars busted serving alcohol to drunks

Anthony Deceglie  - The Sunday Times
Forty per cent of pubs and clubs serve alcohol to drunk patrons, the biggest investigation of night venues ever undertaken in WA has revealed.  The Drug and Alcohol Office sent undercover agents to 110 licensed premises at peak times and interviewed more than 400 patrons as part of the state-wide operation.   They also found almost one in three venues did not check patrons' ID, while almost 50 per cent of customers had problems getting free drinking water.   Last year, Albany father Chris Wolfe died after drinking a bottle of tequila in a pub after he had consumed 12 beers.

Premier tells Labor HQ she wants fresh blood

Heath Aston - SMH
Kristina Keneally has hit the panic button. The Premier moved this weekend to take NSW Labor by the scruff of the neck, ordering head office to bring in new blood and axe dead wood before the state election in March.  The directive - made in a letter to NSW Labor general-secretary Sam Dastyari and leaked to The Sun-Herald - is likely to hasten the end for veteran MPs, including long-time powerbroker Joe Tripodi.   Facing electoral disaster, Ms Keneally has also taken the unusual step of asking Sussex Street to look outside ALP ranks for candidates in order to present a fresh face for the 15-year-old government.

Sydney diocese in cash row

Barney Zwartz - SMH
In an unprecedented linking of church and state, the national head of the Anglican Church has asked the NSW government to thwart a move that would let the powerful Sydney diocese ''divorce'' the rest of the Australian church and leave the national office impoverished.   On the eve of the Australian Anglican Church's triennial synod, which opens in Melbourne today, Brisbane Archbishop Phillip Aspinall wrote to NSW Attorney-General John Hatzistergos, shadow attorney-general Greg Smith and Laurie Glanfield, the director-general of the Department of Justice, seeking their help.   Archbishop Aspinall wrote that the Sydney diocese wanted the NSW Parliament to amend the 1918 church property trust act in a way that would allow it to defy decisions of the national synod unless its own synod approves. It is going through the state government to avoid the proper processes of the church, he told the General Synod Standing Committee in a letter.

States addicted to pokie profits

Noel Pearson - The Australian
Governments use gambling taxes to suck blood money from their poorest citizens.   Former Queensland premier Wayne Goss's mea culpa at the Brisbane Writers Festival in 2008 showed an all too rare honesty from someone who contributed to Australia's champion status in the prevalence of poker machines. There are more of these blood-sucking machines per capita in the lucky country than in any other nation.   The reason Goss gave for his regret was obvious: "The problem with poker machines in my view is that the people who mainly play them are the people who can least afford to do so. I wish I hadn't done it."   What a tragedy. The poor are a goldmine, observed African-American economist Thomas Sowell. Though the poor may have few dollars to their name, if you get them to part with half of it, there are so many of them you will make a mint.

Five-year-olds should be sex educated, State Government guide says

David Nankervis - Sunday Mail (SA)
Children under five should be taught about sex, a State Government guide says.   The parenting guide produced by Health SA says children have "sexual feelings from birth" and recommends parents teach their toddlers "masturbation feels enjoyable."   Parenting SA Children's Sexual Behaviour guide has been criticised as inappropriate, confusing and "robbing very young children of their innocence" by parenting, medical and and psychological experts.   Emeritus Professor Freda Briggs of the University of South Australia said "one would not talk to a young child about masturbation unless the child was already masturbating inappropriately, such as in public or excessively.

It's time for positive opposition

Tony Abbott - SMH
With more seats and more votes than Labor, the Liberal and National parties won the election but couldn't quite form a government. Even so, ''we wuz robbed'' would be precisely the wrong reaction. The public are more interested in good government than in which party is in power. More than ever, voters want the opposition to hold the government to account rather than to complain that the system is unfair.  As long as the Gillard government limps on, the waste will continue, the debt will pile up, the new taxes will keep coming and so will the boats (already there have been nine since polling day). To the government all that counts is staying in office, so the failures won't matter. But they will matter to Australians, because we will have to pay for them.

Greens blasted as 'anti-Labor' party

Melissa Fyfe - The Age
The Greens will do ''whatever it takes'' to destroy Labor, putting the long-term political survival of the ALP at risk, an inner-city state government MP has declared.  Fiona Richardson, under pressure from a surging Green vote in her formerly safe seat of Northcote, has launched a scathing attack on the minor party, accusing it of being the ''new Democratic Labor Party''.   In the 1950s, the conservative DLP split from Labor's right, consigning the party to 27 years of electoral oblivion in Victoria. Ms Richardson believes history is repeating itself on the party's left. ''Now the split has occurred from the left to the Greens party and, just like the DLP, the Greens party is intent on destroying Labor's electoral success,'' Ms Richardson told The Sunday Age.

New transgender policy

Maris Beck - The Age
The military will review its policy on transgender people serving in its ranks, declaring its old policy ''out of date''.  A Defence Department spokesman said a new policy would be developed by the end of the year and transgender people would be treated ''fairly and with respect''.   A spokeswoman for TransGender Victoria, Sally Goldner, said the previous policy had effectively banned transgender people from military ranks. She knew one serviceman wanting to become female whom the military had treated with ''outright extreme prejudice and lack of respect''.   She said it was a loss for the military that transgender people had not been welcomed.

Anglican head calls for unity

Barney Zwartz - The Age
Australia's Anglican leader launched a passionate plea for unity yesterday, saying divisions severely damaged the Christian message and risked fragmenting the church.  ''How can we talk about unity, tolerance and respect with regard to the Middle East or justice if we can't live it out in our own life?'' asked Brisbane Archbishop Phillip Aspinall, the primate of Australia. ''We undermine our message if we don't model it.''  He acknowledged the depth of divisions in the worldwide church over gay bishops, but said there could be disagreement without disunity.