Legal bid to reveal donor father

The Age
A Victorian woman conceived with the help of a sperm donor has taken a rare legal step to find out the identity of her biological father.  In a case that could affect thousands of donor-conceived Victorians, Kimberley Springfield has asked a tribunal to overturn a bureaucratic decision not to take action to help identify the donor.  Ms Springfield's case comes as state and federal parliamentary inquiries due to report in the coming months consider donor conception and the rights of donor-conceived people to access identifying information about their donors.

UN grilling ahead on rights

The Age
The government will bolster Australia's Human Rights Commission today as the nation goes before the United Nations to defend its record, particularly on indigenous people and asylum seekers.  For the first time, foreign governments will question Australian officials in Geneva for what is known as a universal periodic review.   All of the UN's 192 member countries are required to undergo a review every four years, probing every aspect of a country's human rights.

Labor campaign reflects the grim reality

The Australian
Bruce Hawker, the man who has been charged with helping guide Labor in NSW through the trickiest election it has ever faced, makes no bones about the fact the campaign will be fought on the assumption of near-certain defeat.   He says the challenge will be getting some discipline and unity into the party's troops, so voters can focus on the Coalition for a change, while Labor warns them not to give Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell a "blank cheque".   "The real prospect at the moment isn't a win for Labor, it's that we're so weakened that we don't effectively represent the interests of working Australians in the NSW parliament," Mr Hawker, 55, told The Australian yesterday.

Abused wife's payout cut because she was used to violence
Domestic violence experts fear a court ruling that slashed a battered woman's compensation payment because she was "conditioned" to domestic violence by her husband will deter other victims from taking legal action.   Diane Mangan, chief executive of the 24-hour helpline DV Connect, said the decision to reduce the payout because of the woman's predisposition to mental stress from previous domestic violence only served to "diminish" her traumatic experience.  "It's almost like saying the years that you have suffered at the hands of your husband don't count," she said.

Australian man arrested over Christmas Island tragedy

Indonesian police have arrested an Australian man who allegedly helped organise the vessel that sank off Christmas Island last month.   However, there were serious doubts raised yesterday about whether he will be extradited to Australia where he would face a far longer prison term if found guilty.  Identified late yesterday as Haydar Khani, 40, of Iranian descent, he had spent almost two years in Indonesia after entering on his Australian passport using a tourist visa.

Julia Gillard faces showdown on flood levy as Opposition vows to fight it
The first big federal political showdown for the year is looming, with Opposition Leader Tony Abbott vowing to fight a Queensland flood levy to be announced today.   Prime Minister Julia Gillard will unveil a rescue package, including increasing the Medicare levy by 0.5 per cent, to offset more than $5 billion Treasury expects Canberra needs to rebuild the flood-ravaged Sunshine State.   Senior ministers will endorse the major package this morning, with Cabinet's razor gang agreeing to bring forward up to $10 billion in spending cuts.

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