Victoria's Christian lobby has accused Premier John Brumby of selling out the interests of children to win the gay vote and counteract the popularity of the Greens. On Saturday, The Age revealed Labor had promised to strengthen laws against homophobia, give the gay community a greater say in shaping government policy, and reconsider the rights of same sex couples to adopt. ''Here we have the government indicating it is willing to look at changing these laws solely to appease gay voters," said Australian Christian Lobby Victorian director Rob Ward. "With large numbers of heterosexual couples waiting years to adopt a child it is difficult to understand how placing an adopted child in a home where they will be denied the benefit of having both a mother and a father could ever be construed as putting a child's best interests first." The government said any change to adoption laws would involve public consultation.
''That's so gay.'' When it comes to derisory statements, this one, in particular, circulates in schoolyards, workplaces and online environments without any hesitation. While for many this is not meant as an intentional verbal assault upon a person's sexuality, it's still clear that the word ''gay'' has now become synonymous in our vernacular with stupidity, annoyance and even anger. Is it surprising then that so many sexuality and gender-diverse people face excessively high rates of anxiety and depression when they are linguistically marked out as ''deficient'' within so many social settings? An extensive study prepared by the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health & Society in La Trobe University in 2007, ''Writing Themselves In Again'', noted that 44 per cent of same-sex attracted young people endured verbal abuse. Significantly, 74 per cent of this harassment or vilification was experienced at school.
According to reports at the weekend John Brumby is keen to snare the pink vote by making promises to same-sex couples about several issues. The Premier obviously believes the Greens will be a huge threat at the state election because he couldn't countenance a homosexual desertion to the Liberals or the Nationals. This is cynical, spin-driven politics at its worst. Promising law changes that the non-gay community would question is designed to minimise the drift from Labor to the Greens in inner-city seats covering places like Brunswick and Prahran. This from a Premier who still refuses to let gay people get married in Victoria, which, after all, is the main law they want. Ask any gay couple or their parents what laws they want modernised and marriage laws are the issue they nominate.
Greens MP Adam Bandt will ''take the temperature'' of Parliament by putting up a motion backing gay marriage in the hope of encouraging supporters to express their true feelings. This follows the ALP's national Left co-convener Doug Cameron declaring it is ''absolutely crazy'' for Labor, which claimed to be progressive, not to be backing same-sex marriage. But Senator Cameron got short shrift from Julia Gillard for his call for a loosening of party discipline on this and other issues. Asked whether there were any circumstances in which she would allow a conscience vote on gay marriage, Ms Gillard said the party had considered the issue at its last national conference.
Anger about the Gillard government's handling of proposed cuts in water use appears to have helped the Coalition overtake Labor in the latest Newspoll. The weekend survey, conducted exclusively for The Australian, found the opposition ahead of Labor for the first time since before the August 21 election, by a margin of 52 per cent to 48 per cent in two-party-preferred terms. The increase followed two dead-even results in previous post-election Newspolls. On election day, Labor won 50.1 per cent of the two-party-preferred vote to the Coalition's 49.9 per cent.
Julia Gillard has warned of the emergence of "a strain of economic Hansonism" linked to economic populism. The Prime Minister has appealed to industry to help her protect "the post-1983 reform consensus". Accusing the Coalition and sections of her own Labor Party of backsliding on economic liberalisation, Ms Gillard told a business dinner in Canberra last night she would be "loudly heard" promoting reform, which would sit "at the centre" of all of her government's decisions. Ms Gillard's comments were designed to skewer recent Coalition discussion of intervention in the banking sector and repudiate a push from unions and the NSW Labor government to renege on a deal to reduce costs for businesses by harmonising workplace law across the nation.
Research led by Australians has shown how a radical therapy could halve the number of babies who die from a birthing complication caused by inhaling their own waste. Meconium aspiration syndrome, caused when a baby's first bowel movement occurs wrongly before birth, affects one in 2000 births in Australia and is more common in developing nations. It can cause fatal airway blockages and inflammation, said Associate Professor Peter Dargaville, from the Menzies Research Institute Tasmania, who headed a multinational trial of a new lung cleaning technique for newborns.
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