Key Independent MP Rob Oakeshott in firing line for business link

Steve Lewis - Herald Sun
Independent MP Rob Oakeshott lobbied Julia Gillard to give one of his biggest political donors preferential access to lucrative defence contracts during vital talks on who would become prime minister.  Mr Oakeshott's links with a local business in his electorate, contractor Birdon Marine, has been referred to the NSW corruption agency for investigation. Mr Oakeshott, who is pushing for a squeaky-clean Parliament, admitted he raised Birdon's name during high-level talks with Ms Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.

Global raids target Reserve Bank firm

Nick McKenzie and Richard Baker
The Reserve Bank is reeling after federal police and overseas agencies launched global raids last night to uncover evidence of corruption and bribery involving Securency, the RBA subsidiary that makes banknotes. Raids in Melbourne, Britain, Spain and other countries targeted homes and offices of people with alleged links to the payment of millions of dollars in bribes by Securency to foreign officials, including politicians and bankers, between the late 1990s and 2009. An AFP inquiry, codenamed Operation Rune, is investigating allegations that bribes were paid by overseas agents or middlemen working for Securency to win contracts to produce polymer notes for countries in Africa, Asia and South America.

Joe's IR reform drive hides leadership aims

Peter van Onselen - The Australian
Joe Hockey is making his play.  By coming out yesterday and calling for industrial relations reforms to be part of any Liberal Party policy debate, after Tony Abbott had been so strident during the election campaign when ruling out IR changes, the opposition Treasury spokesman is deliberately positioning himself for a future leadership tilt.  The time for it, of course, remains a long way off, and Hockey will strenuously deny such strategising is on his mind. But Hockey also understands that he needs to do some ground work to convince the Liberal base he is a worthy future leader.

ACTU shifts from Labor to seek help from Greens, independents

Kirsty Needham - SMH
The ACTU president, Ged Kearney, has cast the organisation as an independent voice that will seek support from any political party in the new environment of minority government where ''so much public policy is contestable''.   In her first National Press Club address, Ms Kearney said the ''Labor Party has shifted ground'' and had ''confused and even alienated parts of its base'' with its refugee and climate change policy.   ''In this changed political environment … our impact has to be on all MPs - Labor, Greens, Coalition or independent,'' Ms Kearney said yesterday.

Euthanasia debate continues

Mark Covin - ABC
The World Federation of Right to Die Societies began a meeting in Melbourne today. It's put the question of euthanasia back in the headlines, but it was already being widely debated, with legislation being discussed by some parties in several states.  Membership of the voluntary euthanasia group Exit International has been growing, and polls indicate that many people have an increasingly open mind to the idea that the terminally and painfully ill should be able to end their own lives in their own time.   One US State that's changed its laws to allow euthanasia is Oregon. Associate Professor Barbara Glidewell is the recently retired hospital ombudsman in Oregon.

'How to die' becoming as important a question as 'how to live'

Tanveer Ahmed - ABC
Opinions are divided on whether euthanasia can be a rational choice.  Bob Brown's post-election call for a conscience vote on the territories' right to pass euthanasia laws has been criticised for being a distraction from issues that really matter to the average Australian.  But such criticism misses the likelihood that the 21st century may well be the one where ''how to die'' becomes as important a question as ''how to live''.

Parliament should hold back on euthanasia, Greek Labor MP says

Apostolos Papapostolou - Greek Reporter
While the euthanasia debate has reemerged as a hot topic for discussion in Australian political life, two of the Greek Australian politicians in Federal Parliament do not believe it is a topic of first order importance to the mainstream or the Greek community.   Labor member for Calwell, in Victoria, Maria Vamvakinou, believes matters more urgent than euthanasia should be at the forefront of the parliamentary agenda.   “I don’t believe this legislation is an urgent or pressing matter for the Federal Government to consider at this time, given all the other major issues of concern, particularly those raised during the Federal election,” she said.

Government must follow refugee policy

Robin Rothfield and Nizza Siano  - The Australian
ALP policy states clearly that asylum-seekers should be processed in Australia.   'Labor for Refugees' congratulates Julia Gillard on her successful negotiations with the independents to form a Labor government.   It was a wonderful relief for us that Tony Abbott, who declared he would turn back the boats, was not given the opportunity to do so. To those of us who are familiar with the case of the St Louis (which left Hamburg in 1939 with 937 Jewish refugees who were subsequently denied refuge in Cuba and the US), talk of turning back boats comes as a deep shock.

Priest denies making claims about MacKillop's excommunication

Clare Rawlinson and James Madden  -   The Australian
The priest who spent 25 years lobbying for Mary MacKillop's canonisation has angrily dismissed recent media reports.   The reports said the soon-to-be saint was excommunicated from the Catholic Church for exposing acts of child sex abuse by a South Australian clergyman.   Paul Gardiner, chaplain of the Mary MacKillop Penola Centre, said the claims, published on ABC Online and in Fairfax newspapers last month, were false, and he feared the misleading coverage was an attempt to take a swipe at the church and distract the public in the lead-up to MacKillop's canonisation on October 17.

Don't clown with Santa

NT News
So, the Scrooges at Darwin City Council have sacked Santa this year.   The council has more than $20 million squirrelled away in a bank account and has put up rates well above the level of inflation every year for as long as anybody can remember.   It merrily spends tens of thousands of dollars on sister city trips and never fails to increase allowances for aldermen every year. But the council can't find its way to spend $24,500 on the annual Here Comes Santa event in Raintree Park.

Women cop blame (again) for sex assault

Nina Funnell - The Age
No men, including footballers, are entitled to sex with drunk women.   Women ask to be raped. Women fabricate rape allegations to assuage guilt. Rape victims are sluts and strays. These are some of the attitudes that have been unearthed this week following a police investigation into sexual assault allegations made by a 20-year-old woman.   The woman alleges she was the victim of a sexual assault involving a number of men, including two Collingwood players. The incident was said to have occurred in South Melbourne on Sunday morning, just hours after Collingwood defeated St Kilda in the grand final rematch.

Keneallys differ on pokie tax

Daily Telegraph
Premier Kristina Keneally could be headed for a showdown with her club director husband over pokie tax.   The president of the Randwick Labor Club Ken Murray, himself a long-standing and senior member of the Labor Party, said the State Government tax was killing the industry and Julia Gillard's proposal to fingerprint gamblers could be the death blow.   Mr Murray has sent a letter to the Prime Minister and Ms Keneally, slamming the monitoring scheme and saying that many clubs have already had to shut down in the years since the pokie tax was introduced.

Aborted babies 'being left to die'

Barney Zwartz - The Age
Babies that are surviving late-term abortions at Melbourne's Royal Women's Hospital might be being left on shelves to die, according to an Anglican minister.   Dr Mark Durie, minister of St Mary's Caulfield, said staff were finding it hard to cope with a reported six-fold increase in late-term abortions at the Women's since abortion was decriminalised in Victoria two years ago. He said because conscientious objection by medical staff was now illegal, the hospital could employ only people who endorsed late-term abortions.   Dr Durie is bringing a motion about late-term abortion to the annual Anglican synod, which opened in Melbourne last night.

Donation to Labor may have broken party developer ban

Louise Hall - SMH
The Labor Party has accepted a donation from the company behind the biggest private hospital and health precinct in NSW, potentially breaking its own ban on developer donations and exposing it to criminal prosecution.   La Vie Developments gave Labor $1370 in the first half of this year, the latest figures from the Election Funding Authority show.   Yesterday the party reported the donation to the authority - which will investigate if the payment was illegal - after concerns were raised by the Herald and the Greens.

MP was careless, not corrupt: QC

Malcolm Brown - SMH
Angela D'Amore, the ALP MP for Drummoyne being investigated by the Independent Commission Against Corruption, had been ''careless'' when she signed forms for staff reimbursement which did not reflect who had actually been working, counsel said yesterday.   Alexander Street, SC, representing Ms D'Amore, foreshadowed that his submission would be that Ms D'Amore was not guilty of any fraud and the worst that could be said of her was that she had not read the forms she signed in 2006 and 2007.   The forms, for payment of a person who worked in the MP's electorate office to relieve another electorate officer required to work at Parliament House on a sitting day, have been alleged at the ICAC inquiry to have had false entries.

Firth acts to quell rumours

Kate Carr - Inner West Courier
State Labor Balmain MP Verity Firth has moved to stamp out rumours she won’t be contesting the upcoming State election, emailing the local Labor branch to reassure the party faithful she is ready to do whatever it takes to get over the line in March.   The Sydney Morning Herald has run at least one article claiming Ms Firth is considering bowing out of the race before March.   “In recent days there has been speculation in several media outlets that I will not be contesting the seat,” Ms Firth wrote in the email. “I wish to assure you that this is untrue, and that any rumours of this kind have not come from me or from my campaign team.”

Bligh orders MPs to repay $8530 for advertising breach in mailout

Rosanne Barrett  - The Australian
Anna Bligh has instructed two of her ministers to repay $4265 each to the government after they breached political advertising guidelines.    The Queensland Premier yesterday said the glossy brochure -- in which junior minister and Inala MP Annastacia Palaszczuk was pictured spruiking the Bligh government's passenger rail extension -- was "unacceptable" and a "clear breach" of government regulations on advertising prohibiting party political material.   About 26,000 pamphlets were distributed to homes in Brisbane's western suburbs at the direction of the Transport Department, although Transport Minister Rachel Nolan has denied knowledge of the brochure.

Anna Bligh defends cronyism allegation over Bronwen Griffiths appointment

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh says there's nothing dodgy about the temporary appointment of a former staffer to a $320,000 a year job that was not advertised.   Opposition Leader John-Paul Langbroek rounded on the premier during question time today.    "Will the premier now explain why she blatantly contravened the Fitzgerald Report and allowed her former staffer and personal wedding guest, Bronwen Griffiths, to be appointed to a $320,000-a-year job without advertising and without a merit-based selection process?" Mr Langbroek asked
Professor calls for a global anti-porn movement

Eleanor Hall - ABC
She says she's no prude and she has been researching the pornography industry for more than two decades.   But Boston sociology professor, Gail Dines, warns that pornography is now far more violent and far more available than it used to be and that it’s corrupting the sexuality of even those who don't watch it.   The professor of sociology and women's studies at Wheelock College says that children now watch pornography for the first time before they're even teenagers.

Damned Report lists the systematic failures that let a 12-year-old girl be prostituted

Angus Livingston and Zoe Edwards - The Examiner
A damning report from Children's Commissioner Paul Mason found "systemic failure" in Child Protection Services had let the girl down.   The report also found:   The department recommended the girl be removed from state care in a meeting on September 10 - the same day her mother and pimp Gary Devine started to let men pay for sex with her in a hotel room.  Police knew about Devine's history with teenage girls but took no steps to intervene or warn Child Protection Services.