The spending habits of poker machine players would be tracked by their fingerprints and memory sticks under a proposal to tackle gambling addiction. The radical proposal, known as "mandatory pre-commitment", is being considered by Prime Minister Julia Gillard to fulfil her gambling deal with independent Andrew Wilkie. But clubs are getting ready for the biggest war since the poker machine tax fight over the proposed gambling controls. They claim they could lose 30 to 50 per cent of revenue if the controls are implemented. Ms Gillard has promised to bring in "mandatory pre-commitment" by 2014 to stop gamblers blowing too much money on the pokies.
Child sex-trafficking has become the latest scourge of the Commonwealth Games. There are reports of an alarming rise in the number of under-aged girls being lured to Delhi for work, only to be sold into prostitution. The Indian Home Ministry issued an alert this month expressing "deep concern" at increasing reports that girls from some of India's poorest tribal states, such as West Bengal, Orissa and Jharkhand, were being lured to Delhi with false promises of work at the Commonwealth Games. The departmental advisory, issued to seven state governments and obtained by The Australian, says: "The victims are mostly those who are promised work in Delhi ahead of the Commonwealth Games by fraudulent placement agencies but instead are likely to be trafficked. Minor girls are the main target. Strict action is urgently required against those involved in such trafficking, both in the source, transit and destination areas."
Tensions have emerged within Labor's alliance with the Greens after Prime Minister Julia Gillard ruled out a conscience vote on gay marriage. Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young, who yesterday introduced same-sex marriage legislation in the Senate, said the Prime Minister's policy was out of date and she would have to e xplain her decision not to allow MPs to vote on whether discrimination against gay couples should be removed. ''Currently the Marriage Act is quite outdated. The majority of the Australian community believe that it needs to be amended, we heard that loud and clear during the election campaign,'' she said. Independent Andrew Wilkie - who released a 20-point list of priorities, including a conscience vote on same-sex marriage, before deciding which party to back to form government - said he was ''obviously disappointed''.
Julia Gillard has been stung by the reality of minority government, leading Labor to an embarrassing defeat in the new parliament's first policy ballot. Labor also faced opposition condemnation for breaking an election promise on carbon tax. As Labor counterpunched yesterday by labelling Tony Abbott a wrecker intent on driving the nation to a fresh election, the opposition successfully amended new procedural rules governing the conduct of parliament. While the victory concerned relatively uncontroversial rules on parliamentary procedure, it marked the first time an Australian government had been beaten on the floor of the House of Representatives since 1962.
John Howard has rekindled old passions, warning that Australia and other countries in the free world must not appease Islamic fanatics. The former prime minister said yesterday that it was not time to apologise to minority migrant groups for Australia's way of life. Speaking to the Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based conservative think tank, Mr Howard said some English-speaking countries over the past few decades had made a mistake by confusing "multi-racialism" and "multiculturalism". "There is a tendency to see a response to terrorism in terms of placating alternative philosophies in the hope that they will accommodate you and abandon their aggressive designs on your society," he said.
Forty children with disabilities are in the care of state welfare services after being relinquished by parents driven to despair and no longer able to cope with the demands of a severely disabled child. Disability organisations say parents make the agonising decision to relinquish the care of their children after many years of getting insufficient support to cope with the difficult behaviour of some children. The Age yesterday reported the case of a young boy with severe autism who was voluntarily relinquished by his parents after they struggled for five years to cope with his behaviour. In the unusual case, the parents also relinquished guardianship of the boy.
The Iranian woman whose sentencing to death by stoning for adultery has sparked international outrage may be hanged for murdering her husband. The Iranian regime appears to have reopened a charge of murder against Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani. Comments by government officials have raised fears that Tehran is seeking a pretext to execute the 43-year-old mother of two without appearing to cave in to international pressure over the sentence of death by stoning. Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei, the national prosecutor-general and spokesman for the judiciary, announced this week that Ms Ashtiani faced death for her role in her husband's murder in 2005, saying the sentence would take precedence over the conviction for adultery.
The party's electoral threat to Labor is real, but its ideas will eventually be discredited. What is to be made of the vote for the Australian Greens on August 21? They polled almost 11.5 per cent of the national vote for the House of Representatives - although spread very unevenly across the 150 seats - and almost 13 per cent of the Senate total. Some of these votes no doubt represent a protest against the long-established domination of the Australian political system by the two main parties (counting the Liberals and Nationals as one group for these purposes). For 25 years from the late 1970s, the Australian Democrats received at least some of their support on this basis. It may be recalled that in the 1977 election they polled almost 10 per cent of the House of Representatives vote and 11 per cent of the Senate vote. Another factor in support for the Greens is the obvious attractiveness of their stated goals. Who is not, at least theoretically, in favour of sustainable development, cleaner air, more public transport, the preservation of the Great Barrier Reef and the conservation of scarce water resources?
Children from broken homes have a tougher time finishing school and finding a job. And their incomes as adults are on average 8 per cent lower than those whose parents stay together. They are more likely to enter into multiple live-in relationships when they reach adulthood, and if they do marry are more likely to divorce, a new Australian Bureau of Statistics report has found. And girls from divorced families are nearly twice as likely to be teenage mothers. The ABS study, Parental Divorce or Death During Childhood, part of its quarterly Social Trends series, revealed the impact on children of parental divorce or the death of a parent lasts much longer than an initial hit on their psychological wellbeing. "There are concerns that the difficulties associated with family breakdown or the loss of parent and the ensuing challenges of living in a sole-parent family could lead to lower levels of educational and later occupational attainment," the report said.
Tony Abbott will today table a private member's bill to overturn Queensland's wild rivers legislation. It will be added to a growing list of non-government legislation -- including euthanasia, same-sex marriage and shield laws for journalists -- to be considered by the new parliament. The Opposition Leader will deliver the bill to the parliamentary tables office today in the first step towards having it debated under the new parliament's expanded scope for private members' business. The move comes after the Greens flexed their new muscle in the Senate, with Sarah Hanson-Young introducing a private member's bill to allow same-sex marriage and Greens leader Bob Brown introducing a bill that would reinstate the rights of territory governments to legalise euthanasia. Senator Brown said: "Every opinion poll conducted over the last two decades has shown approximately three-quarters of Australians support the concept of voluntary euthanasia."
A mother who raised serious concerns about the care of her intellectually disabled daughter at a group home was taken to the Guardianship Tribunal where the state government tried to strip her parental rights. Documents obtained under freedom of information show disability bureaucrats tried to portray the mother as mentally ill and unfit to make decisions about her daughter, then 19. The mother, staff at her daughter's special school and her psychiatrist had made complaints that Lifestyle Solutions, the government-funded non-profit organisation that ran the Sutherland Shire group home, was failing to follow treatment plans, had untrained and inexperienced staff, and used psychotropic medication on residents without consent. ''As a parent you're fearful of making complaints and you can see what happened to me once I did,'' the mother said. ''I was viewed as a nuisance and troublemaker because I asked questions about my daughter's care.''
Ken Wyatt's voice quivered with emotion yesterday as he thanked Kevin Rudd for the formal apology to the stolen generations during an extraordinary maiden speech. The first Aboriginal member of the House of Representatives told of his sense of relief that ''the healing could begin'' after Mr Rudd delivered the apology in February 2008. Mr Wyatt, who narrowly won the West Australian seat of Hasluck for the Liberals, is the oldest of 10 children of Don and Mona Wyatt. His mother was a member of the stolen generations who spent her childhood on the Roelands Mission near Bunbury.
After, say, arcane changes in the tax code, abortion is the least fun topic of public conversation in America today. The opposing sides of the reproductive-rights debate are like estranged in-laws after a few too many drinks at Thanksgiving — in a family in which each side believes the other is full of murderers. So I'm going to say this quickly in the hope that it might provide a snapshot of where the debate over abortion and mental health stands — and then duck: a new study from Oregon State University has found that teens who have abortions are no more likely to have mental health issues, like depression, than teens who carry their babies to term.
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