Tony Abbott will inhibit Julia Gillard's ability to travel during parliamentary sittings by insisting she attend all House of Representatives votes. The Opposition Leader confirmed yesterday he would impose tough pairing conditions on the Prime Minister, sparking government accusations Mr Abbott would act as a spoiler in the new parliament, which Governor-General Quentin Bryce will open in Canberra today. As Mr Abbott foreshadowed his tough approach, Labor failed in a second attempt to persuade a Liberal MP to back it on confidence motions in exchange for the deputy speaker's role. Queensland MP Peter Slipper confirmed he was interested in the job but said he would not accept Labor support in return for his agreement to support the government in confidence motions in the parliament, where it will have a one-seat majority. Today's opening of parliament follows weeks of confusion and horse-trading since the August 21 election, in which no major party won a majority. Ms Gillard will rule in minority, relying on independents Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor for support on confidence and budget bills.
Key independent Tony Windsor has expressed concern about the impact of a carbon price on the cost of food. Mr Windsor has joined Julia Gillard's top-level climate change committee. As the Prime Minister announced she would chair the committee herself with "all options on the table" to find a consensus - including a carbon tax, an emissions trading scheme or a hybrid of both - Mr Windsor said the impact of a carbon price on food prices was at the top of his concerns. "We have to make sure that we don't start to change land use away from food production," Mr Windsor said.
An advocate for abuse victims is appalled by news that up to 120 men alleged to have paid for sex with a 12-year-old girl probably will not face court. Beyond Abuse spokesman Steve Fisher yesterday said he wanted to see the men charged. He said the naming and shaming would be a powerful deterrent, even if Director of Public Prosecutions Tim Ellis failed to get a conviction. Mr Fisher said for the DPP or Attorney-General Lara Giddings to "wimp out" over "dollars and cents" would be a disservice to the victim, even if it meant the victim had to endure court cases.
A Victorian family has been torn apart after Australian immigration officials in London ruled their five-year-old adopted daughter was an unacceptable immigration threat. Helen Coates and Stuart Kruse, both Australian citizens, were banned from bringing Isimbi, adopted from Rwanda, back into the country. The distraught mum was forced to board a flight to Melbourne last week, leaving her daughter and husband behind in Britain. "We're simply shell-shocked by the decision," Ms Coates said.
When Sarah Graham went down on her knees to pray for rain, her image resonated around the nation, highlighting the plight of farmers battling the worst drought on record. More than three years later, a dramatically different image greeted The Daily Telegraph on another visit to Sarah's parents' property at Coleambally in the state's southwest. Instead of praying for the heavens to open, Sarah, now 8, ran knee-deep in a wheat crop after record rain. It's the first time in Sarah's young life she has seen the paddocks green, as NSW's drought-declared regions sit at an all-time low of 4.2 per cent.
Australians on low incomes are suffering from "food stress" because they can no longer afford a healthy diet, new research shows. There is a lost generation of poorer people who lack the resources and health literacy to access healthy food and will not be able to escape the chronic illnesses that come with poor nutrition, public health experts say. Low-income families would suffer from "food stress"- needing to spend about 30 per cent of their income - to make sure they were eating a balanced and nutritious diet, according to research from a team at Flinders University in Adelaide.
Three special forces soldiers will face an unprecedented court martial over the deaths of six people in Afghanistan, including five children. The court martial has raised serious concern within the military about the effect the action will have on Diggers fighting on the front line. The military prosecution is thought to be the first time Australian soldiers have been subject to a court martial in connection with civilian deaths during combat operations. The case has caused concern among senior military figures who worry that Australian troops could be exposed to criminal prosecution for their actions in combat.
Before union boss turned western Sydney MP Ed Husic takes his seat in the 43rd parliament of Australia, history will be made. Mr Husic, the son of Yugoslavian migrants, is the first Muslim elected to federal parliament and will today become the first MP sworn in by the Chief Justice of the High Court with his hand on a copy of the Koran. The Blacktown-based former national president of the Communications Electrical and Plumbing Union arrived in Canberra yesterday carrying with him the Koran of his proud migrant parents who will watch on from the public gallery as he takes his oath.
It's another miracle in the name of Mary MacKillop -- Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard have set aside differences and send a team to Rome. While the Coalition is warning it will not provide cover in parliament for government MPs on trips overseas that aren't in the national interest -- and the government is accusing the opposition of wrecking parliament -- peace has broken out over Australia's first saint. What's more, the deal will allow former prime minister Kevin Rudd to lead the delegation, which will include a Labor senator and a Coalition MP and senator. There are no plans for the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition to attend the canonisation of Australia's first saint on October 17 -- and be away for at least one parliamentary sitting day -- but there is agreement that Labor MPs can attend and not bring down the government.
Poverty has been in the news recently. In the US 14 per cent, or one in eight Americans, fell below the nations' poverty line. These are the worst American statistics since the Great Depression. Not only are more American poor but almost 50 million have no health insurance in the richest country in the world. On the other side of the globe, more people in Asia and Africa rose from crippling poverty to enter the labour forces of growing economies in India, China and South Africa. While the UN Millennium Goals of lifting the world's population out of extreme poverty, where many subsist on less than $US1 a day, will not be met by 2015, a lot of progress is being made. The reasons for this are that China, India, Russia, Brazil, South Africa and other nations, heretofore trapped in desperate poverty, are becoming economic powerhouses while the US and Western Europe are faltering.
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