Key Cabinet ministers delivered a withering attack on fellow minister Mark Arbib last night, accusing him of undermining the Prime Minister with his public support for gay marriage. In growing signs of disunity within Labor, several Cabinet ministers accused Mr Arbib of disloyalty at a meeting of the party's national Right faction. Mr Arbib, a powerbroker and former faction leader, was pivotal in sacking Kevin Rudd and promoting Ms Gillard.
Gay marriage is supported by a majority of Australians. At least that’s what the few published opinion polls on the issue would suggest. The most recent poll, in October of this year, was commissioned by a pro-gay marriage lobby group called Australian Marriage Equality. But it was conducted by the independent polling firm Galaxy, which since 2004 has one of the best records at picking federal and state election results. With a solid sample of 1050 respondents, the Galaxy survey found that 62 per cent of Australians did not have a problem with the idea of same-sex marriage.
Former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett says the Liberals' decision to put the Greens last on how-to-vote cards will make it harder to win the state election. Mr Kennett said the party is motivated by a long-term campaign to destroy the Greens. The preferences decision, lauded by Mr Kennett as putting Victoria's interests ahead of the party's, has been attacked as "suicidal" by Liberal sources, who are convinced it will condemn them to another four years in opposition. A call by Victorian senator Helen Kroger for state and federal branches to adopt the Victorian approach as national policy received a lukewarm response in NSW, where Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell refused to commit to preferencing the Greens last for the state poll in just four months.
Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu yesterday defended the bombshell move not to preference the Greens at the upcoming state election. Mr Baillieu said it was a "party" decision he supported. Mr Baillieu denied the Coalition was giving the Brumby government four inner-city seats by preferencing Labor ahead of the Greens and potentially allowing two Labor ministers to keep their jobs. "We are going to make them (Labor) sweat . . . we're actually going to do them ourselves, " Mr Baillieu said. "Victorians have a choice. They can choose a Labor-Greens alliance . . . or they can make a decision for change."
Artists have been paid to design quirky condom packets in a $50,000 taxpayer-funded art project to encourage Victorians to think safe sex is cool. The project, which from this week will make 75,000 condoms in quirkily designed packets available free in selected shops, is backed by Family Planning Victoria and the Victorian AIDS Council, which are state and federally funded. Ratepayers Victoria president Jack Davis said the use of public monies for such a project was "ridiculous".
The price tag of the new political paradigm has come in at almost $55 million to cover the cost of 72 extra staff for MPs. Taxpayers will pay nearly $15 million to help politicians cope with the demands of a minority government, which, for contentious legislation, involves exhaustive negotiations with minor parties and independents in pursuit of the numbers to have bills passed. The detailed costs of the extra 72 staff provided to ministers, the opposition, the Greens and the independents - at a cost of $54.2m - are contained in the mid-year economic and fiscal outlook released last week. Announcing the extra staffing in September, Special Minister of State Gary Gray said requests had been received from across the parliament to increase personal staffing resources "to reflect the changed circumstances confronting the parliament"..
Child health expert Fiona Stanley says the Northern Territory intervention has stripped Aborigines of power to control their own futures. The former Australian of the Year was critical of both the Howard government and the current Labor government for making Aboriginal people more dependent on Canberra when self-governance was essential. Speaking at a forum on Aboriginal health in Perth, Professor Stanley said the intervention, launched in 2007 in response to reports of widespread sexual abuse in Aboriginal communities, had been like a "kick in the guts". "The most devastating impact of the Northern Territory intervention has been to take away the power from Aboriginal people to control their own solutions," she said.
The Liberal frontbencher Malcolm Turnbull has told Federal Parliament he believes marriage is between a man and a woman. Mr Turnbull, whose Sydney electorate of Wentworth has among the highest proportions of homosexual constituents, said his was a traditional view, but he acknowledged some argued that tradition did not justify discrimination. Mr Turnbull was speaking on a motion proposed by the Greens MP Adam Bandt calling on MPs to consult their constituents on the issue of gay marriage. He said MPs should always listen carefully to their constituents and did not need a motion to tell them to do so.
Lenny Walsh pauses mid-sentence as the 2.32 train from Penrith rattles by less than 20 metres from the battered table where he is sitting. ''You're safer here than in the city,'' the 67-year-old says. ''Got a few mates around, you know.'' Mr Walsh and his friends Steve and Eddie sit in camp chairs sipping cups of tea, protected from the pouring rain by the broad belly of the M4 motorway. They are part of a small community of homeless men - and occasionally women - who have lived at the makeshift campsite in Harris Park since last Christmas.
The Greens have refused to concede their chances of a historic breakthrough into the lower house have been scuttled by a Liberal decision to put the minor party last at the state election. The Liberals' move to preference Labor ahead of the Greens virtually rules them out of winning up to four inner-city seats and potentially holding the balance of power in the event of a hung parliament. Greens candidate for Melbourne, barrister Brian Walters, admitted his task was now harder, claiming there was a grand conservative coalition between Labor and Liberal. ''Yes, it's going to be a tighter race but we are still in it,'' he said.
Victoria's places o worship and their leaders are the subject of a photographic exhibition, writes religion editor Barney Zwartz. A scrubby bush in the desert may seem an odd candidate for a sacred space, but so it was - according to the biblical account - when Moses approached the burning bush that fire did not consume. ''Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground,'' he was commanded. What makes a place sacred for the community that worships there? Is it the memory of an event, as at a shrine, or is it the architecture, the activity of worship, the expectations of the people or the leaders. Is it all, or none, of these - something much harder to articulate? This is the question posed by an exhibition of photographs by two young women at the Carbon Black gallery in Prahran that explores the investment that 10 faith communities have made in their places of worship.
The National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) shares the grief of Iraqi Christians following deadly attacks whilst people attended church in Baghdad. "With broken hearts we mourn the tragic and violent deaths of our brothers and sisters atMass on 31 October" said the Reverend Tara Curlewis, NCCA General Secretary. In recent weeks the situation has become dire with reports that Al Qaeda have issued a fatwah, giving authority to kill Christians in their homes, at work and on the streets. The homes of Christians in the last few weeks in particular have been invaded with the killing of 6 and 36 injured. This week, Australian cities have seen public rallies calling for an end to the persecution of Christians in Iraq. Prayer services for peace have also been held inchurches around the country.
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