Tough test but leaders hold their ground

Patricia Karvelas, Matthew Franklin  -  The Australian
JULIA Gillard knew it wouldn't take long before the topic of Kevin Rudd would come up.   "I thought in an audience in Brisbane I might be asked about this," she said when it inevitably did.  She didn't quibble, telling the room she stood by her decision to oust the former prime minister -- and their fellow Queenslander -- describing the move as difficult but justified.  With only three days until Australia goes to the polls, the election race remains tight.

Appeals foil boat crackdown

Paul Maley, Paige Taylor  - The Australian
JULIA Gillard's hopes of stopping the people-smuggling trade by sending unsuccessful asylum-seekers home are in disarray because of court appeals.  About 90 per cent of failed refugees have had their decisions overturned on appeal.   As authorities intercepted another asylum boat carrying 52 people, the opposition claimed the Gillard government was planning a massive expansion of the Curtin detention centre.   Brandishing a plan of the Curtin facility which he said came from a contractor involved in the job, opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said plans were under way to expand the facility to hold up to 3000 people. However, Ms Gillard said suggestions Curtin would be enlarged to cater for that many is "simply not true" and there were "no secret plans".

Coalition's surplus claims sunk by attack on 'hollow log'

David Uren, Sid Maher  - The Australian
THE Coalition has been accused of raiding a hollow log to reach the claimed $10 billion in new budget cuts.  It underpins the Coalition's promise to double the government's promised surplus.   The opposition's costings, released late yesterday, came under immediate attack for their reliance on raiding a $2.5bn contingency reserve disputed by senior public sector accountants.   Wayne Swan also claimed there was a $3bn hole in the budget because spending from the nation-building funds had not been factored into the budget bottom line, and that the opposition had overstated savings from the sale of Medibank Private.

Private colleges rail against Greens policy

Christian Kerr - The Australian
Independent and Catholic school authorities are telling parents not to vote Greens.   The party wants to cut funding for non-government schools to 2003-04 levels. Despite internal dispute, Greens leader Bob Brown has repeated his commitment to the policy this week.   The Greens are almost certain to hold the balance of power in the new Senate.    And with Newspoll tipping a tight House of Representatives result, the Greens' Adam Bandt could become a powerbroker if he wins the seat of Melbourne.   The Association of Independent Schools of South Australia has warned that Greens policies will squeeze low-income families and school communities.

Letters in today's The Australian
Bob Brown as Plato? Thanks, but no thanks

CLIVE Hamilton has assured us that the Australian Greens are the party of Plato.   ("The party of moderation steps lightly in the footsteps of Plato", Commentary, 18/8) It is a strange comfort in a vibrant democracy such as ours.   Those who have actually studied Plato will recognise the ultimate source of philosophical nihilism in the Western tradition. That barren philosophy which negates all sense of value or consequence in human life, and which rejects the possibility of the existence of a meaningful universe.   Plato was an anti-democratic contrarian whose legacy provided the underpinning rationale for modern totalitarianism, in the form of Nazism and communism, through the patronising notion of rule by "philosopher kings"; those "precious few" among us who are sufficiently intelligent, rational and "dedicated to wisdom".   Is this really the desired self-image of the Greens? It certainly makes sense of Hamilton's erstwhile call to suspend democracy, so as to let the "Brights" rid of us carbon emissions and, given half a chance, probably religion and capitalism to boot. Thank you, Clive, but no thanks, all the same.

James Miller, Sydney, NSW

CLIVE Hamilton says that the Greens are the party of Plato. I can see what he means; Plato's formula for a republic, governed by a class of know-all guardians who would ride rough-shod over the rest of us if given half the chance, certainly sounds like what might happen if the Greens get the balance of power in the Senate.   Also, having read Karl Popper's masterful demolition of Plato's heirs as the enemies of the open society, I find that the idea scares the tripe out of me.   I HAVE no doubt that should the Greens have the balance of power in the Senate, Plato's spirit will indeed come alive. The ignorant masses will be advised to mind their own business and let the green philosopher kings get on with their ruling.

Terry Jessop, Gordon, NSW

The Greens are actually more like tomatoes - red all over

Peter Hartcher - SMH
THE big parties' panicked abandonment of climate change has effortlessly transformed the Greens. They are now two days from winning more power than they've ever dreamed of.  With 60 per cent of Australians in favour of an emissions trading scheme even now, the Greens are the natural resort for many frustrated voters.

Fears smartphone game apps could get the chop in Australia

Ben Grubb - SMH
The games industry has slammed federal government moves to censor mobile game apps, with developers saying they will stop selling their apps to Australians due to the prohibitive costs.  The government is now making plans to require developers to submit their game apps to the Classification Board before they are released. This would cost developers between $470 to $2040 per game.   It's not the first time the government has wanted to extend its classification scheme on to a new platform, with the federal Labor government wanting to introduce mandatory internet filtering, blocking access to "refused classification" material.

Traditional voting patterns

Sydney's Catholic Education Office has entered the election, telling parents the Greens education policy will stop Catholic schools from ''carrying out their Mission''.   In a circular to all primary and secondary systemic principals, Dan White, the executive director of Catholic schools in George Pell's archdiocese, has warned parents school fees would need to rise by 20 per cent if the Greens gained a position of power. He was also concerned by Greens' promises to limit new private schools and use anti-discrimination laws to prevent schools preferring practising Catholics.  White also seemed upset by false witness born against Pell by Greens leader Bob Brown. He accused the senator of saying the cardinal ''opposed Labor's Building the Education Revolution and opposed compassion being shown to asylum seekers''.

The issue others avoid

Carol Nader - The Age
IT WAS a tender moment, an embrace between two men fighting for a cause that both the major political parties are loath to go anywhere near.  As Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott continue to push the line that marriage should be between only a man and a woman, Greens leader Bob Brown told the National Press Club that ending marriage discrimination was one of the top priorities for the party when, most likely, it secures the balance of power in the Senate.

Political vision and corporate giving deliver for the homeless

Paul Austin - The Age
A 10-storey testament to what can be achieved when it's all done right.   IF YOU are one of those voters who thinks that when a politician takes an overseas trip it must be a junket, then take a walk, catch a tram or drive your car up Elizabeth Street in the city.   Have a look at the handsome new 10-storey building just up from Queen Victoria Market and across the tram tracks from all the car yards.   Something worthwhile is happening at No.660 Elizabeth Street - something that had its genesis in a taxpayer-funded trip to New York three years ago by one of the most junior members of state cabinet.

Felled by an invidious green plot

Miranda Devine - SMH
This is the chilling story of how green activists targeted and finally brought down John Gay, the visionary former chairman of the Tasmanian timber company Gunns, damaged the company and helped wreck the state economy.   It contains a clear warning for the rest of Australia of what lies in wait as emboldened environmental activists move on to new bogus campaigns against their next targets: the ''wild rivers'' of Cape York at the expense of indigenous enterprise, the fishing industry, farming or, catastrophically, the coal industry.

Why a conscientious Christian could not vote for the Greens

Bill Muehlenberg - On-line Opinion
Biblical Christianity is ultimately, of course, above all party politics. It cannot be contained by any one political ideology. Having said that, there are various policies and platforms which may be closer to biblical ideals than others.  No one party will have all the goods, but some may be more on track than others. And some issues are more clear-cut in scripture than others. Take the issue of social justice, a phrase heard regularly from the religious left. They seem to want to occupy the high moral ground here, and claim they are in fact closer to the Christian position.