Anna Bligh has staged the biggest turnaround in the history of Newspoll, sweetening the temptation for the Queensland Premier to ditch her promise to run full-term and jump to an early state election on the back of leadership turmoil in the opposition. As NSW voters prepare to go to the polls on Saturday to pass judgment on Kristina Keneally's deeply unpopular state Labor government, Ms Bligh's strong performance during the recent flood and cyclone emergencies has put her in the box seat to deliver the ALP a sixth successive state election victory in Queensland. State Labor's base vote shaded that of the Liberal National Party for the first time since Ms Bligh was elected Premier in her own right two years ago, after Peter Beattie handed over the leadership. The 12-point surge in Labor's primary vote, from a lowly 26 per cent to 38 per cent, one point ahead of the LNP, would deliver Ms Bligh a comfortable win after preferences were distributed.
The announcement on Monday by Brisbane's Lord Mayor Campbell Newman that he was willing to step aside to contest the seat of Ashgrove and the leadership of the LNP in Queensland is clearly risky, immensely courageous and overwhelmingly the right move. The move is risky because it is breaking new ground. Having a political leader not in a parliament has never been done before in Australia but shouldn't be an obstacle to Newman's ultimate goal of becoming premier and forming the first LNP Queensland government in 13 years.
Kristina Keneally called yesterday for those planning to vote for Greens candidates to give the ALP their preferences. At a hastily called news conference to outline Labor's environmental credentials, the Premier also took a swipe at the Opposition Leader, Barry O'Farrell, saying he voted against the government's decision in 1995 to ban recreational hunting for ducks. To underscore her government's creation of extensive national parks, Ms Keneally referred to the Nationals leader, Andrew Stoner, who, in a budget reply speech to Parliament, said he opposed creating more national parks.
It took courage back in 2007 for then Prime Minister John Howard and Indigenous Minister Mal Brough to announce what was known as the intervention in Aboriginal communities across the Northern Territory. It was a rapid response to the Little Children are Sacred report, which revealed the terrifying reality of child abuse, health and social degradation within remote indigenous communities. The intervention was necessarily swift, as large numbers of police and army personnel moved in to communities in crisis. Alcohol restrictions were put in place, medical examinations were carried out on indigenous children and school attendance was enforced, while 50 per cent of individuals’ financial welfare payments were quarantined for food and life essentials. While controversial at the time, the intervention had dramatic results, improving the health and welfare of children and reduced alcohol abuse in many indigenous communities.
Voters go to the polls on Saturday March 26 to elect their local representatives in the NSW Legislative Assembly, and the half of the Legislative Council due for election. Opinion polls and pundits lave long predicted a landslide win to the opposition coalition. If they are correct, a large number of seats will change hands, and parties, and we will see many fresh faces in parliament. Why is this election important? Policy issues aside, there are a number of reasons why this election is notable. The current Premier, Kristina Keneally, was not elected to the role by the people of NSW but by the state ALP caucus. On the remote chance that the Labor Party wins government on Saturday, Ms Keneally would be the first popularly elected woman Premier of NSW. The poisoned chalice handed her by Nathan Rees, Morris Iemma and Bob Carr virtually guarantee that this will not happen, and it will be some years before such a dream becomes reality in this state.
In the brilliant 1981 movie Chariots of Fire, the handsome and devout 'Flying Scotsman' Eric Liddell (played by Ian Charleson) takes a stand for his faith by refusing to run the 100 metres for his country in the 1924 Paris Olympics simply because the race is set to run on a Sunday. Despite intense pressure, even from royalty, he stands his ground and misses his best chance for a gold medal and glory. The movie, of course, has a happy ending (don't they all?) for it seems as though God gives him wings and he gets the gold and the accompanying glory in the 400 metres anyhow. Then of course, if you follow the real life story, he goes on to serve as a missionary in China and died there in 1945 in an internment camp just before the end of the Second World War.
"All of our staff are scratching our heads." A family clothing chain that used the image of a dead woman lying under a couch on the cover of its latest catalogue has been accused of sexualising violence against women. The front page of the Rivers catalogue features a dead woman wearing high heels and fishnet stockings and bears the title "10 Deadly Deals", the Herald Sun reported. Feminist group Collective Shout, who campaign against the objectification of women in advertising, have called for a boycott of the popular chain.
Apple caves in after massive protest. A group that advocates "curing" gays of same-sex attractions says its iPhone application has been yanked from Apple's online iTunes shop. "We are extremely disappointed to learn of Apple's decision to deny equal representation in the public square," Exodus International president Alan Chambers said in a release. Exodus described itself as a global Christian ministry "helping those struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction to live a life congruent with biblical teaching." Its free iPhone program linked users to Exodus information including videos, podcasts, a Twitter feed, and the group's page at social networking service Facebook.
The declaration, supported by 84 other countries, marks the first time the United States has pushed for U.N. action on gay rights. "Human rights are the inalienable right of every person, no matter who they are or who they love. The U.S. government is firmly committed to supporting the right of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals to lead productive and dignified lives, free from fear and violence," said Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe, U.S. Ambassador to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, in a statement. The move by Obama on Tuesday was seen as a clear departure from George W. Bush's administration, which never pressed for gay and lesbian rights. Unlike his predecessor, Obama has aggressively advocated gay rights during his presidency.
A federal appeals court on Wednesday refused to allow gay marriages to take place in California while it considers the constitutionality of the state's voter-approved ban. California Attorney General Kamala Harris had joined gay marriage proponents in urging the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to lift a stay that had been placed on a lower court's ruling to strike down Proposition 8. Lawyers for two same-sex couples had sought again to lift the stay after the California Supreme Court recently said it would take at least until the end of the year to consider a legal question asked by the appeals court in the case.
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