Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie says he has received a death threat and been subjected to a smear campaign since clubs unleashed a $20 million advertising blitz against poker machine reforms. As the Prime Minister signalled yesterday she was prepared to broker a compromise to get the changes through the Parliament, Mr Wilkie claimed ''some in the industry'' had stooped to a '''smear campaign'' against him. Mr Wilkie said he had received a death threat, ''been threatened with the existence of compromising photos and am having my past as a cadet at Duntroon nearly 30 years ago trawled over,'' since clubs began their offensive this week.
Premier Barry O'Farrell says he will challenge poker machine reforms if they are forced on New South Wales by Canberra. The Federal Government is expected to place betting limits on poker machines and withdrawal limits at nearby ATMs within the next 12 months, with or without support from the states. But Mr O'Farrell insists the regulation of pokies is not a federal issue.
Barry O'Farrell says his government will not sell out its principles to independent or minority members.ALI MOORE: The Liberal-National Coalition won last month's New South Wales state election in a landslide the scale of which has never been seen before in Australian politics. The size of the win has given the new Premier, Barry O'Farrell, a mandate on a broad range of issues and the confidence to challenge the Prime Minister on some of her key reforms.Barry O'Farrell joined me in the studio a short time ago.Barry O'Farrell, welcome to Lateline.BARRY O'FARRELL, NSW PREMIER: A pleasure.ALI MOORE: Let's go first to the news today of the final make-up of the NSW Upper House. You'll now have to deal with the Shooters and the Christian Democrats and not Pauline Hanson as looked possible. Did you breathe a sigh of relief when you heard that news?
THE former NSW Liberal premier Nick Greiner has backed the legalisation of same-sex marriage, saying it would not impede religions or individuals acting in accord with their own views. Mr Greiner stated his support as part of his personal response to a survey commissioned by the federal Liberal frontbencher Malcolm Turnbull, which finds almost three-quarters of respondents favour gay marriage. ''Self-evidently [it is] a matter of natural justice. It in no way stops religions or individuals acting in accord with their conscientious views,'' he said.
A British teacher sacked by a Sydney college for presenting a class to adult students on the use of the "f-word" could be compensated after having his termination ruled illegal by Fair Work Australia. Luke Webster lost his job after it was discovered he taught students at Mercury Colleges a worksheet that contained the swear word in every sentence and asked them to discuss its different meanings and whether it was being used as a verb or a noun. The college's then director of studies, Andrew Waters, said the "highly offensive" actions of Mr Webster, who taught adult students whose first language was not English, were gross misconduct not acceptable at the college "or any workplace in Australia".
AUSTRALIA'S Cardinal George Pell has hit back at a radical Catholic priest who branded the church's bishops "low on creativity, leadership, education and even intelligence". On the eve of Holy Week, Australia's Catholic priests are witness to a major row unfolding in The Swag, the magazine of the National Council of Priests. It began in January when retired Melbourne priest Eric Hodgens wrote an article in which he slammed the direction of the church under the Pope as a "reversal" of the second Vatican Council of the 1960s. The article, which drew letters from priests around Australia, shocked many Catholics. Father Hodgens claimed former pope John Paul II, who will be beatified next month, had a "lust for power . . . taken to monumental proportions". The Polish pontiff, he said, had re-emphasised "devotion to the static Real Presence" and "reinforced a distorted devotion to Mary".
The Greens continue to be tied in knots by their stance on Israel, with NSW senator-elect Lee Rhiannon forced to admit she marched in protest with Taj Din al-Hilali after initially denying any association with the controversial Islamic cleric. Photographic evidence shows Ms Rhiannon and her former NSW upper house Greens colleague Sylvia Hale marching with Sheik Hilali at a protest in Sydney on June 5 last year, holding a banner that reads, "End the siege of Gaza -- break ties with Israel". Press reports of another rally four days earlier, including reports in Green Left Weekly, list Sheik Hilali and Ms Rhiannon among the speakers, with Sheik Hilali denouncing Israel as a "terrorist state" and Ms Rhiannon condemning the Israeli attack on an aid flotilla to Gaza as "a crime against humanity".
AUSTRALIA has been named as a key country to be lobbied by Israel in a major new push to head off the UN from declaring a Palestinian state. Israel's influential Haaretz newspaper yesterday reported that Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, …
The Defence Force failed to discipline dozens of serving members allegedly linked to an online gay-hate campaign. The ADF received a complaint eight months ago about a Facebook page that was created to expose and intimidate gay personnel. However, Fairfax newspapers report that the investigation into the page and the dozens of personnel who signed on as "friends" has been shelved and no one has been punished.
Back in the 1960s, pioneering gay activists found an obscure passage from a 1948 book by the prominent sex researcher Alfred Kinsey that read, ''10 per cent of the males are more or less exclusively homosexual . . . for at least three years between the ages of 16 and 55''. They used that quote to claim that 10 per cent of the population was gay, even though Kinsey's study was not designed to make a population-based estimate. The motivation was less about science and more about politics. In those days, gay activists needed to prove the very existence of a gay community. One in 10 was big enough to ''matter'', but not so large as to overly threaten a society still extremely uncomfortable with the idea of gay people. The fact that the one-in-10 figure still gets bandied about is a testament to the brilliance of this political strategy.
Fresh back from the United States where she announced her undying love for America, the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, let us in on a secret no one could have guessed. She is an old-fashioned traditionalist. In an interview for Australian Agenda on Sky News, Gillard declared she opposed euthanasia, opposed gay marriage, and wanted people to study the Bible. She doesn't sound too different from Tony Abbott. He is a one-time Catholic seminarian - now married with children - who deeply opposes euthanasia and abortion. She is an atheist who keeps her unmarried partner in the Lodge. But when it comes to traditional family values Gillard wants you to know they are Tweedledum and Tweedledee.
Sir Terry Pratchett would like to meet Julia Gillard and ask her a question: why is assisted suicide banned in Australia? Pratchett, the 62-year-old British author of the Discworld comic fantasy novels who has sold more than 65 million books worldwide, doesn't expect to get the chance, ''because I'm a Pom, I'm just passing through and I don't think PMs talk to people on that basis''. But if they did meet he would say: ''There has to be a reason [for the ban] and it isn't that some sections of the population don't like it - they are not required to take assisted suicide if they don't want to. This is about seriously ill people dying with dignity.''
A 13-year-old girl who fell pregnant while under state care has been failed by the system, child welfare groups claim. The girl, who recently gave birth, was under a Department of Human Services custody order when she conceived at the age of 12 last year. Australian Childhood Foundation CEO Joe Tucci said the system was supposed to protect the girl after she had already been treated badly.
A woman facing a manslaughter retrial in relation to her ailing partner taking a euthanasia drug has instead pleaded guilty to aiding or abetting suicide. Shirley Justins, 62, has already served the 22-month periodic detention sentence imposed on her in November 2008. A NSW Supreme Court jury had acquitted the Sydney woman of murder but found her guilty of the manslaughter, by gross criminal negligence, of former Qantas pilot Graeme Wylie, 71.
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