Bishop breaks ranks on same-sex marriage

The Australian
Deputy Liberal Party leader Julie Bishop has declared she is willing to listen to the views of her electorate when she considers her vote on gay marriage if legislation came before the parliament with a conscience vote, breaking ranks with her party's hard line. Ms Bishop has been conducting an online poll through her website, which shows overwhelming support for gay marriage -- but she says that views in her community are more evenly split. "I've got a very open mind on this. Kerryn Phelps has been to see me a few times and, personally, I've been listening to people's views," she said. "Once I've seen any legislation, I'll canvass the views of my electorate. If it is a conscience vote, I've got an open mind on how I'd vote," Ms Bishop told The Australian. She said she voted for the Howard government's ban on gay marriage in 2004 but views in the community were mixed now.


The online-poll results, at  88% in favour, shown on the Julie Bishop website appear to reflect a concerted effort by one side, rather than a community view.


Liberal leaders split over foreign cuts

The Australian
A bitter split has opened between Tony Abbott and his deputy, Julie Bishop, after the Opposition Leader's decision to divert $448 million in aid for an education program in Indonesia aimed at countering Islamic radicalism in schools to Queensland's flood rebuilding. Ms Bishop, the opposition's foreign affairs spokeswoman, has told colleagues she is devastated by Mr Abbott's insistence that the Indonesian program be sacrificed as part of a $1.8 billion savings drive under the Coalition's alternative plan to the Gillard government's proposed flood levy. The internal Liberal flare-up is threatening to overshadow the visit of Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa. He is due in Brisbane on Saturday to present a $US1 million ($989,000) contribution from Indonesia to Queensland Premier Anna Bligh's flood appeal. Ms Bishop believed that, when she won a heated debate in shadow cabinet this week against taking the axe to aid in Africa, alternative savings would be found. She is understood to have become embroiled in an intense late-night argument with Mr Abbott in which he insisted on deferring the Indonesian schools program for four years, instead of two.

Katter gives levy support

The Age - Michelle Grattan
Prime Minister Julia Gillard is moving closer to getting her numbers to pass the levy legislation with Queensland independent Bob Katter last night saying he will vote for it. The legislation is being introduced today. Ms Gillard needs four of the six lower house crossbenchers and all of the crossbench senators. Mr Katter said that before cyclone Yasi hit he had indicated support conditional on the levy being permanent, reduced in size and applied in an objective way to big and small communities.

12yo victim leads push to stamp out bullying

In November last year Beth Harper-King, 12, was walking home from school with her mother when she received six phone calls on her mobile, 10 minutes apart. The voice was unfamiliar, but each time the message was the same. "They wanted to rape me, kill me and do the exact same thing to [my] father," Beth said. Sometimes bullying does not leave an obvious trail, but in Beth's case the boys who repeatedly phoned her had left their number showing. Beth's father rang the number and left an ultimatum on the phone's voicemail. He threatened if they did not call back by 6:00pm that night, he would report them to the Australian Federal Police (AFP). Beth says a shaken teenage boy called back. "[He said] 'it's cool, it's cool, it doesn't matter'," she said. "The fact is it did matter. They had harassed a girl and frightened the living daylights out of me." Beth is a Girl Guide and the poster girl for next week's launch of the Guides Say Survey, which offers a snapshot of the views of young Australian women. Girl Guides Australia's Belinda Allen says the findings of the Guides Say Survey regarding the extent of bullying experienced by young girls are alarming. "We surveyed 24,000 girls, half of them in the 10 to 14 years age group, and 68 per cent were very concerned about bullying," she said.

Couple seek right to use dead son's sperm

The parents of an Israeli killed in a workplace accident five months ago are seeking legal permission to use his frozen sperm to produce a grandchild, even though he was not in a relationship. Ohad Ben-Yaakov, who would have been 28 yesterday, left no written indication of his wishes regarding children. But his parents say they want to fulfil his wish to continue the family line. If their legal application succeeds, they will need to find a woman willing to bear their grandchild. They insist they have no wish to raise the child themselves.