Labor to back adults-only games classification

The Federal Government has announced it will support a push for an adults-only classification for video games. A decision on the matter is expected on Friday at a meeting of the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General. A recent Galaxy survey has found strong support for an R18+ classification, with 80 per cent of people surveyed saying they believed an adult classification was needed, while a government public consultation on the matter received close to 60,000 responses - with 98 per cent in favour of an adult rating. Currently in Australia, games classed above MA15+ are refused classification and cannot be brought into the country.

Government backs push for R18+ games rating

Video gamers pushing for a R 18+ classification have received a powerful ally in the federal government, which has announced it supports the move. But a deal could still be stymied if any one of the states and territories decide to oppose it. The federal government announced on Sunday it will push for the change in order to provide better protection for kids and teenagers. Australia's most restrictive classification for video games is currently MA 15+ and those classified as R 18+ overseas are often banned.

Abbott rates his first year as Opposition Leader

Jessica Wright - SMH
Tony Abbott no longer wants to stop the boats. At least he's not putting it quite that way. The mantra, which carried the Coalition to within a whisker of an election victory, will have a new, softer edge for 2011. ''Lower taxes, fairer welfare, better services, stronger borders'' will replace ''end the waste, pay back the debt, stop the new taxes and stop the boats''. But it doesn't mean the opposition will be going soft on the Gillard government. Mr Abbott promises a tough year of policy rather than politics, pledging to ''expose the weaknesses'' in the government, which he said has ''gone from bad to worse''. Education and health will also be high on the agenda.

My body's a war zone and I will not retreat

Maris Beck - SMH
A male army officer, who lives as a woman with his wife and two children, has been locked in a battle to keep his job - as a female army officer.  Captain Matthew - now Bridget - Clinch, 31, plans to have a sex change operation next year after living as a woman for 12 months. The East Timor veteran's battle with the army has already forced it to abolish its policy of discharging personnel ''undergoing or contemplating gender reassignment''. The infantry officer and Duntroon graduate who met his wife Tammy at the Royal Military College is now determined to keep his job after he changes his sex to female next year.

Baillieu launches attack on Gillard's pokie laws

Anna Whitelaw - The Age
The Baillieu government is set to take on Canberra by rejecting Julia Gillard's planned compulsory limits for poker machine players. Victorian Gaming Minister Michael O'Brien has told The Sunday Age that gamblers should be able to choose whether or not they pre-commit the amount of money they could lose on a poker machine, in comments sure to enrage the anti-gambling lobby. A compulsory gaming scheme using an ID card - of the kind proposed by federal Labor - was ''the type of Big Brother, nanny state policy that many Australians will instinctively reject,'' Mr O'Brien said. But federal Families Minister Jenny Macklin confirmed last week that the federal government would push ahead with a compulsory pre-commitment scheme as part of the deal to secure the support of Tasmanian independent MP Andrew Wilkie.

Hardline Pakistan cleric offers reward to kill Christian woman

A hardline, pro-Taliban Pakistani Muslim cleric Friday offered a reward for anyone who kills a Christian woman sentenced to death by a court on charges of insulting Islam. The sentence against Asia Bibi has renewed debate about Pakistan's blasphemy law which critics say is used to persecute religious minorities, fan religious extremism and settle personal scores. Non-Muslim minorities account roughly 4 percent of Pakistan's about 170 million population. Maulana Yousef Qureshi, the imam of a major mosque in the northwestern city of Peshawar, offered a $5,800 (3,700 pounds) reward and warned the government against any move to abolish or change the blasphemy law.