Australian Christian Lobby: Against R18+ Classification

Lyle Shelton - ABC
The push to legalise interactive gratuitous violence in video games has been spun as a child protection measure despite the advice of every Children's Commissioner in Australia. ACL believes that it was wrong for the Federal Government and the gaming industry to claim that introducing an R18+ rating was in the best interests of children when it is exactly the opposite. We also take issue with the Government's selective use of polling to claim public support. It is unbelievable to see this debate being twisted by spin to such an extent that having an R18+ classification is now being promoted as something that will benefit children. How does introducing new violent media into Australia benefit children especially when we know that these games will inevitably find their way into the hands of children?

Federal Government to support R18+ video games, but there's still plenty of opposition

Andrew Ramadge -
The Federal Government has thrown its support behind the introduction of an R18+ rating for video games, but critics aren't giving up without a fight. Minister for Home Affairs and Justice Brendan O'Connor yesterday said the Gillard Government would "advocate for the introduction of an adult only classification for video games". “We want to provide better guidance for parents and remove unsuitable material from children and teenagers," he said.

Fair share appeal to new Govt

Mark Brolly - Melbourne Anglican
The Brotherhood of St Laurence says the new Victorian Government must ensure that the economy grows strongly and that everyone can participate in and benefit from it. Mr Tony Nicholson, the Brotherhood’s Executive Director, said two priority areas must be the lack of social services infrastructure in rapidly growing areas and the difficulties many young people faced making the transition from child to adulthood and from school to work. “The over-arching challenge facing the next government is to ensure the Victorian economy grows strongly and that all Victorians have the capacity and opportunity to participate in it and to benefit from it,” Mr Nicholson said. “In terms of ‘fairness’, Victoria has done better than most. Victoria’s social programs, even within troubled areas such as child protection, are the envy of my colleagues in most other states and territories. But there are still big challenges.” Mr Nicholson said the incoming government’s social policies should be framed by two guiding principles.

Bring back the smack, says author and mother Sue Edgerley

Susie O'Brien - Herald Sun
Parents are being told to smack their children and run their families like an army unit. A controversial new book says parents should stop praising their children and trying to be their friends. Author Sue Edgerley, a mother of three, says modern parenting is "an idealistic exercise gone wrong". She says in her self-published book, 5 Keys Parenting, there is too much explaining and reasoning with kids, instead of discipline.

Australians neatly divided on carbon: Newspoll

Dennis Shanahan - The Australian
Australians are evenly split over whether they would pay more for energy to cut greenhouse gas emissions, according to the latest Newspoll. The nation, however, overwhelmingly believes climate change is caused by mankind. At the end of this year - which delivered a hung parliament - voters also remain evenly split between the Gillard government and the Tony Abbott-led opposition. According to the latest political Newspoll survey for the year, conducted exclusively for The Australian last weekend, support for the ALP with Greens' preferences is equal to the Coalition, on a 50-50 split.

Gillard and Labor face a tough 2011

Dennis Shanahan - The Australian
The 2010 political year has ended just about where it began - an even split between the Coalition and the ALP-Greens alliance. The challenges ahead - the year when a decision will be made on a price on carbon as well as settlement on health reforms and a mining tax - suggest the government faces a greater than even-money struggle in 2011. After the final sitting days of parliament, when the enabling National Broadband Network legislation passed, the Gillard government has finished well behind the Coalition on primary vote. But the Greens continue to hold near-record levels of support and ensure that on a two-party-preferred basis, the Coalition and ALP are level on 50 per cent each. That's about where they were in January and almost exactly where they were at the August 21 election.

Church has bumper year for ordinations

Mark Schliebs - The Australian
Molecular biologist Benji Callen is an unlikely minister from a resurgent church. The 34-year-old father of two has spent most of his working life in university laboratories in Adelaide and Britain, looking at DNA samples through microscopes. But on Sunday, Dr Callen was among five people -- all aged under 40 -- ordained by the Uniting Church in Adelaide. "I think science and Christianity are very complementary to each other," Dr Callen said. "They're both about exploring God's world and trying to see the best in it." This year, 19 people were ordained by the church in South Australia alone -- up from just four last year and two in 2008.

Locals confront MPs over pokie plan

Kirsty Needham - SMH
The poker machine reformers Senator Nick Xenophon and the independent MP Andrew Wilkie confronted 100 angry club supporters at the Narrabri Golf Club amid concerns that pokie curbs may hurt towns. ''It was quite a direct meeting, and its not over,'' said Mark Coulton, the National MP for Parkes, who has 83 clubs in his electorate, the second-highest number in Australia. An audience of local mayors, club staff and young athletes sponsored by the clubs were ''stirred up'' yesterday by Mr Wilkie's message that reform was coming and they needed to get on board, Mr Coulton said.

Dying want their final wishes respected

Julie Robotham - SMH
The NSW Health Department is to overhaul the treatment of dying patients in public hospitals, as it grapples with mounting concern that frail elderly people sometimes receive excessive and futile therapy. A wide-ranging review would produce a single policy governing the treatment of dying people, bringing together disparate advice on resuscitation, palliative care and the withdrawal of treatment, said its co-chairman, Greg Stewart. A legal ruling last year, confirming for the first time in NSW the right of patients to refuse life-saving treatment via the use of advance care directives or living wills, has increased the urgency of the review, which is expected to report in June.

Bridle on outspoken charities was wrong

A High Court decision last week provided a big win for charities, and another big loss for the Tax Commissioner. At issue was whether an organisation can retain its charitable status and tax benefits while engaging in political debate. The High Court held that it could. This redefined what it means to be a charity, and provided a boost to freedom of speech. The test case concerned Aid/Watch, a self-described ''activist'' group concerned with the relief of international poverty. It seeks to achieve its goals through unorthodox means for a charity. Rather than raising money for or engaging directly in anti-poverty initiatives, it campaigns for improvements in the delivery of Australia's overseas aid. It has been sharply critical of government, and has not been shy in proposing major reforms to aid policy.

New look for Labor's shadow team

David Rood - The Age
Senior Brumby government ministers Justin Madden and John Lenders are the biggest losers in Labor leader Daniel Andrews's shadow cabinet. The opposition's new frontbench line-up will strip Mr Madden of his planning portfolio, which will go to up-and-comer Brian Tee, and Mr Lenders has lost treasury to the ambitious Tim Holding. The big winners in the Andrews shadow cabinet are newcomer Fiona Richardson, who has been given public transport, and veteran minister Gavin Jennings, who moves from the environment portfolio to health.

Campaign to reinstate cancelled Christian iPhone app

Supporters of an iPhone app that contains a Christian statement supporting religious liberty, traditional marriage and right to life issues are petitioning Apple to reinstate it, after the app was removed over protests that it promoted "bigotry" and "homophobia", reports the Catholic News Agency. The Manhattan Declaration application for iPhones and iPads was dropped last month when the activist group gathered 7,000 signatures against it. The iPhone application was previously available for purchase on iTunes. CNA asked Apple on December 2 for the reason behind the decision to withdraw it. Spokesperson Trudy Muller said that the company "removed the Manhattan Declaration app from the App Store because it violates our developer guidelines by being offensive to large groups of people."

Close all brothels – MLA
Following WA Attorney-General Christian Porter’s announcement of a proposed prostitution reform, Alfred Cove MLA Janet Woollard reaffirmed her position that all brothels should be closed down. “Personally I would like to see the brothels closed down and I believe many community members would feel the same,” she said. “I want to see the Swedish approach taken where all brothels are made illegal and women and girls are helped to get out of the industry as well as putting an end to trafficking.”