Same-sex adoptions law faces further vote

Brian Robins - SMH
The NSW Legislative Council voted last night in favour of same-sex adoptions but approved an amendment which means the legislation will now return to the Legislative Assembly for a further vote.   After a lengthy debate, 22 voted in favour of the legislation in the upper house and 15 voted against it in a conscience vote.   The margin was much greater than the two-vote margin in the Legislative Assembly.   After approving the legislation in principle, the Legislative Council debated a series of amendments.   The most notable was one moved by the Attorney-General, John Hatzistergos, seeking to tighten an earlier lower house amendment that Frank Sartor had moved and which sought to release faith-based organisations from the application of the legislation.

Christian bid to prevent Salo DVD release

Andrew Colley - The Australian
Christian lobby group Familyvoice has launched a legal bid to stop Pier Paolo Pasolini's confronting film Salo to be sold on DVD.   Familyvoice has taken its battle to the Federal Court after it was unsuccessful in its attempt to stop the Classification Review Board's decision to allow the film to be released to DVD.   In a majority decision in May the board's five-member panel determined that the film could be released to DVD carrying an R18+ rating and strong warnings about its graphic and disturbing subject matter which includes degradation and torture.  It has not been cleared for public screenings.

Anna Bligh joins NSW Labor on critical list: Newspoll

Sean Parnell - The Australian
Anger towards the Labor Party is so widespread that in Queensland - where the Gillard government suffered its biggest losses on August 21 - the Bligh government is now facing a voter backlash of NSW proportions.  As Ms Gillard moves forward with her Labor-Green-independent alliance, voters in a second key state are swinging behind the conservatives, with a Queensland mid-term Newspoll confirming Anna Bligh is leading Labor to its political death.  The state Newspoll, conducted exclusively for The Australian, reveals state Labor's primary vote has slumped to just 29 per cent in Queensland - lower than other published polls this term, and well below the 42.2 per cent result at the March 2009 election.  By comparison, Labor's worst-performing state, NSW, has a 25 per cent primary vote, and former premier Nathan Rees was dumped in favour of Kristina Keneally when the party's primary vote fell below 30 per cent.

Charities may have to 'open books' to prove they benefit community

Lauren Wilson - The Australian
The Church of Scientology is among religious and charitable organisations that would come under greater scrutiny after a Senate committee recommended yesterday that not-for-profit organisations open their books to prove they provide a benefit to the community.  The Senate economics committee, inquiring into South Australian senator Nick Xenophon's private bill for more accountability on the tax-exempt status of charities and religious organisations, recommended that a commission be established to probe the finances of the not-for-profit sector.  The commission would scrutinise the books of not-for-profit organisations exempted from paying tax against a public benefit test, to ensure they were providing a genuine service to the community.  It was also recommended that the Attorney-General make inquiries about the establishment of an anti-cult taskforce.

Struggle over 'ownership' of baby split gay parents

Kim Arlington - SMH
They set out together to create a much-wanted child. But when baby E was born, his lesbian parents, and the gay couple who donated their sperm, were unprepared for the ''flood of emotions'' that hit them.  Although the four had discussed parental responsibilities and visiting arrangements at a "baby summit" before E's conception, the Family Court heard that in the struggle for ''ownership" of the child after his birth, the women stopped the men from seeing him.  Justice Linda Dessau had to determine what was in two-year-old E's best interests.  Stressing that the case was not about the socio-politics of single-sex parents or the definition of a nuclear family, she ruled that the boy should spend time with all four adults.

Police officer shot dead during drug raid

Geoff Chambers and Evelyn Yamine - The Daily Telegraph
The police officer shot in the head during a drug raid last night has lost his fight for life. William Crews, 26, a constable attached to the Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad, died in hospital earlier this morning, it has been confirmed. Constable Crews was taking part in a search warrant relating to the sale of prohibited drugs when a number of shots were fired from an apartment block in Cairds Ave, Bankstown, just after 9pm. The 26-year-old received gunshot wounds to the head and neck and suffered cardiac arrest at the scene, before being rushed to Liverpool Hospital in a critical condition.

Pro-euthanasia ads to hit TV screens

A "hard hitting" pro-euthanasia campaign will soon appear on television screens and billboards across Australia. Dr Philip Nitschke, an advocate of assisted suicide, said the campaign was an Australian first and it was hoped to provoke private introspection as well as a public debate.  "I think its about time we saw increasing pressure being put on the political process to stop sidelining this issue," Dr Nitschke said today. "... If we can engage in some mainstream activities in terms of getting a broad public movement of support, then politicians won't feel as though they are acting in a bizarre way if they were to engage with this issue."

Aussie pedophile's jail sentence a fraction of US term

Michael McKenna - The Australian
Australia's anti-child exploitation laws have again been shown to be lenient.  An American pedophile has been sentenced to 21 years in jail for abusing and photographing a toddler, weeks after his Canberra cohort was jailed for a quarter of the time for doing the same to four children.  Larry Howard, 42, was yesterday sentenced in a Kansas City court to 21 years and 10 months in a US federal prison after pleading guilty to one count of producing child pornography in taking pictures of a two-year-old girl and trading them on the internet.  US authorities arrested Howard after federal police in the ACT last year charged a Canberra public servant with uploading child exploitation material to the picture-trading website,  The 41-year-old -- who cannot be named -- was sentenced in August to seven years jail, and must serve a minimum of 4 1/2 years after pleading guilty to 13 counts of indecency against children, using a child to produce child pornography and transmitting child pornography.

Deal on National Broadband Network to cost billions

Mitchell Bingemann and Anthony Klan - The Australian
Julia Gillard's promise to deliver the ambitious National Broadband Network to regional areas before major cities will cost taxpayers billions of dollars and undermine the project's business case, the opposition has warned. The Prime Minister promised to roll out the $43 billion NBN to regional areas first as part of a deal to secure the support of two independents needed to form a minority government. But opposition finance spokesman Andrew Robb warned yesterday that rolling out the NBN to the bush before lucrative metropolitan markets could jeopardise the project's economic case. "The NBN business plan was to minimise the cost of the rollout and keep the maximum public exposure to $26bn by first attaining a critical mass in the cities that would allow them to generate revenues to assist the regional rollout, but now that whole thinking has been turned on its head," Mr Robb told The Australian.

Abbott offered a slice of power

Phillip Coorey - SMH
The Greens and the independents have offered Tony Abbott the opportunity to help govern from opposition, saying they would pass any policies with which they agreed, including paid parental leave, whether Labor liked it or not. As the political establishment comes to grips with the concept of minority government, the Greens leader Bob Brown said the Parliament belonged to everybody, not just the government. ''Please think about it,'' he said.  He was backed by the independent Tony Windsor, who suggested the Coalition tone down its venomous attacks on the government and independents.

Spin is John Brumby cabinet's first priority

Milanda Rout - The Australian
It is dubbed the "master" and presented to John Brumby's cabinet for their perusal and approval every Monday morning.  Unseen by any of the ministers it mentions until that moment, this document, worked on feverishly by almost 20 advisers on a password-protected electronic file, is the road map for the week ahead for the government.  But the document does not set policy and nor does it determine government business. Instead, it is a "master media plan" for what the Victorian Premier and his ministers must do that week to stay "on message".  In a rare insight into how the sausages of daily politics are made, one of Mr Brumby's chief spin doctors was forced to reveal from a witness box the nature of this plan and how government spin operates.

Ministry bid sacrificed to help Julia Gillard: Bob Brown

Patricia Karvelas -  The Australian
Greens leader Bob Brown has revealed that his party did not insist on a ministerial role in the Gillard minority government.  This was because it feared the resulting controversy would hurt Julia Gillard's chances of forming a government.  Senator Brown has asked Opposition Leader Tony Abbott whether they could meet every fortnight to discuss upcoming legislation and areas where they could seek agreement. Senator Brown said the meeting offer was on the table when Mr Abbott was appealing to the Greens to win their support in his attempt to form government.  "I'll renew that offer to Tony Abbott: yes, I think it would be very sensible to work with the opposition to get good outcomes out of this parliament," Senator Brown said.