John Howard nominates divorce laws as most important social legislation

Drew Warne-Smith - The Australian
The no-fault divorce laws are, for Mr Howard, the single most important piece of social legislation debated during his tenure in parliament. While the former Liberal prime minister maintains that he supported overhauling the Family Law Act, in his forthcoming memoirs Mr Howard argues that the bill that was ultimately passed under the Whitlam government weakened the "bedrock institution" of marriage. Up until 1974, family law in Australia had only permitted divorce on specific grounds such as adultery, desertion or cruelty.

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"More than 30 years later, it is hard to dispute the fact that marriage has been weakened as the bedrock institution of our society. It is at least arguable that that Family Law Act played a part in this process."

Thank God for the Salvos' helping hand

Paul Daley - SMH
Poverty is still rife so it's onwards Christian soldiers as this charitable army continues to step into the breach to provide critical social support that governments do, or will, not deliver. One of the great joys of beginning a big new writing project is the research. And so it was that much of last week was spent wandering around the inner suburb of one of our major cities that forms the setting, at the turn of last century, for a new book.

NSW parliament urged to prioritise children rights in Surrogacy Bill

Rachel Ford - Christian Today
The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) is urging for the NSW Parliament to ensure the care from both a mother and a father to children born through the surrogacy process, following the recent introduction of a bill designed to regulate surrogacy in the state. ACL NSW Director David Hutt called for the state government to review the current form of the bill, as it would allow for two men two or two women to apply for a baby with State backing. “While we understand the desire of adults to have children, we should not be placing those desires above the rights of a child to have both a mother and a father. Children are not commodities and their interests should always come before the desires of adults,” Mr Hutt said.

IVF breakthrough gives hope to couples

Helen Pow - The Sunday Telegraph
Scientists are set to revolutionise IVF treatment in Australia with the launch of a new technique that will offer fresh hope to childless couples. From next month, patients will be able to access breakthrough technology that screens every chromosome in their embryos for defects that could prevent pregnancy or result in miscarriage, the Sunday Telegraph reports. Only eight to 10 chromosomes can currently be screened for genetic errors, which sees a high number of healthy-looking embryos turn out to be defective, wasting patients' time and causing significant distress.

Kevin Rudd would have won the election - John Howard

Steve Lewis - The Sunday Telegraph
Kevin Rudd would have won a "clear victory" over the Coalition and Labor made a "colossal blunder" in dumping him, former prime minister John Howard has declared. Breaking his silence on Australia's recent political firestorm in his new memoir, the retired Liberal leader claims that Mr Rudd would have beaten Tony Abbott by campaigning on a simple message: how Labor saved the country from recession, the Sunday Telegraph reports. And, in a big swipe at Julia Gillard, Australia's second- longest serving prime minister says she ran a "shrill and negative" election campaign and is likely headed for failure.

Fat fingers have put Barry over a barrel

Heath Aston - SMH
Barry O'Farrell has his big fingers to blame for appearing to promote pornography. The NSW Opposition Leader is red-faced after saving a link on his Twitter account that leads to images of a shirtless under-age boy. The link was posted by another Twitter user whose profile was linked to images of male nudity and gay sex scenes. Mr O'Farrell said he inadvertently saved in his ''favourites'' a link titled ''watch two boys break the record for longest kiss''.

Labor plot to crush Greens

Melissa Fyfe - the Age
The Labor Party has been caught trying to set up a shadowy anti-Green front group aimed at destroying the minor party's chances in the state election. This comes as The Sunday Age can reveal that Labor's network of powerful lobbyists has been talking up the risks of a minority government with business clients, encouraging some to pressure Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu not to preference the Greens in four Labor-held inner-city seats. Liberal and Labor figures have confirmed that former Brumby adviser Bill Bolitho, who is running three of Labor's marginal-seat campaigns, has approached senior political and business people about setting up a bipartisan body based on Tasmanians For a Better Future, the controversial front group that urged voters in that state to spurn the Greens in the 2006 state election.

Victoria: state of the fair go or the fob off?

Melissa Fyfe - The Age
Earlier this year the Brumby government released an 87-page document that few people bothered to read. It was classic Labor: photographs of happy kids and plaudits about Victoria's strong economy and quality of life. But contained within these pages was an important story about this 11-year-old Labor government and its priorities. For the first time, the Brumby government had published a report card on one of its most fundamental goals: making Victoria a fairer place. This state election, social justice will be one of the few policy areas of potential difference between the two major parties.