More than two millenniums have passed since the father of ethics was executed for impiety and corrupting the minds of minors. The spirit of Socrates will be evoked tonight in the IQ2 debate at City Recital Hall, where speakers will argue over the teaching of ethics in NSW primary schools. Parents who believed their children would benefit from the state government's ethics program at the expense of attending Special Religious Education were the victims of a populist and uninformed debate, the Anglican Bishop of North Sydney, Glenn Davies, told the Herald yesterday. He will speak in the negative to the proposal that special ethics education should be allowed for children not attending scripture classes.
Children as young as 11 are feeling similar pressures to adults - at home and at school - as body image and family conflict fuel their fears of failing in life. Family breakdown has been blamed for teens finding it hard to cope with stress and not knowing where to seek help, a national survey found. At least one in three 11 to 24-year-olds said they were being burdened by family conflict, pressure to perform well at school and general peer pressure. Mission Australia asked 50,000 young people to rank their personal concerns: Body image, stress and family conflict topped the list.
Labor's controversial mandatory internet filter scheme could be delayed until 2013, when the next federal election is due. In the meantime, the government will give ISPs $8 million in incentives to encourage customers to voluntarily block adult material such as general pornography and gambling sites at home. Labor wants to force ISPs to filter refused-classification content from the internet, but incoming government briefs from the Department of Broadband show that legislation to support the filter could be introduced six years after it was first mooted. The government has said mandatory filtering laws will be proposed once a review of the Refused Classification category is completed by the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG).
Labor has neutralised growing internal divisions on same-sex marriage in a deal with the Greens that will allow the party to support a parliamentary motion on the issue, which does not breach ALP policy but allows the Greens to keep it on the public agenda. Greens MP Adam Bandt agreed to an amendment to his same-sex marriage motion that was introduced into the House of Representatives late on Monday, which a caucus spokesman said Labor would be able to support. Mr Bandt's original motion had cited a growing number of countries that allowed couples of the same sex to marry and asserted there was "widespread support for equal marriage in the Australian community" before calling on parliamentarians to gauge constituents' views on marriage equality. But Labor's Stephen Jones moved an amendment that "calls on all parliamentarians, consistent with their duties as representatives, to gauge their constituents' views on ways to achieve equal treatment for same-sex couples, including marriage".
Islamic leaders have declared war on the NSW State Government, calling for pro-Muslim candidates to run in key western Sydney Labor seats. Lebanese Muslim Association president Samier Dandan yesterday used the Eid al-Adha festival at Lakemba to outline his group's political ambitions. In front of more than 5000 followers, Mr Dandan said Labor had to be kicked out of office at the March election. "We want the Muslim people to have their say. We are telling them that Labor has not done the job and that it's time for them to go," he said.
The girls' school at the centre of a gay partner controversy wants to apologise to the students concerned. Ivanhoe Girls' Grammar will also review its social events policy at a special meeting in the wake of embarrassing publicity over the affair. Year 11 student Hannah Williams claimed last week that the school had discriminated against her by refusing to allow her year 10 girlfriend to accompany her to a dinner dance. But the school denied discrimination, saying the event was meant to promote a co-educational experience by having boys attend as guests of girls, not as partners.
Julia Gillard has implored Labor's voters not to flirt with the Greens and risk a repeat of the federal election result. This comes as John Brumby revealed his inner bushman at the launch of Labor's Victorian campaign. The Prime Minister yesterday joined the Premier at Labor's official election campaign launch, at which Mr Brumby announced a three-tiered education policy, with more than $420 million to be spent on kindergartens, apprenticeships and boosts for disengaged Year 9 students. Mr Brumby, who received a standing ovation as he walked down the steps of the Capital Theatre, announced the centrepiece of the education plan was a $208m proposal to give a $2000 grant to every Year 9 government school student to go on a two-week camp and get life experience training for a term.
The Greens are anti-free trade, anti-capitalism, anti-wealth and anti-growth. We have seen this before. A third party taps into voter discontent with both sides of politics, rises to become a force in Australian politics, then fades into electoral oblivion. Remember the DLP? Remember One Nation? Remember the Australian Democrats? At the 1990 federal election, the Democrats won 11.3 per cent of lower house votes and 12.6 per cent of Senate votes, picking up five upper house seats. Then they fizzed. By July 2008, the Democrats were a spent force. Picking up 11.7 per cent of lower house votes and 13.1 per cent of votes in the Senate at the August election, will the Greens go the same way? Consider some more parallels. Riding a green wave of environmentalism, the Democrats looked like a long-term political force. The fairies at the bottom of the garden picked up seats at every Senate election between 1977 and 2001 by appealing to middle-class, inner-city, educated voters, especially younger voters.
Scott Morrison wants to ensure people waiting in refugee camps overseas will not miss out on having their visa applications processed. The opposition immigration spokesman has given notice that he will move a motion in parliament next week that could force the government to give preference to refugees who apply for asylum offshore. "The government has to make a choice," Mr Morrison said. "People who apply through the legitimate process are being told Australia has an obligation to process refugees on Christmas Island first and these people are sometimes waiting well over a year to get a visa determination . . . it's not really fair when they are applying through all the right processes." The motion is expected to be debated on Monday and go to a vote in the House of Representatives on Thursday next week.
Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd yesterday announced a review of Australia's aid program as AusAID started doubling its projected spending by 2015 to $8 billion a year, making it the fifth biggest-spending federal government agency. Sandy Hollway, former chief executive for the Sydney Olympic Games and previously a diplomat and departmental secretary, will chair the review panel. The Australian National Audit Office said a year ago: "AusAID faces considerable management challenges amidst ongoing program growth." The review's terms of reference include the management of fraud and risk but not the aims of the aid program -- defined by the Rudd government last year as assisting developing countries "to reduce poverty and achieve sustainable development in line with Australia's national interest".
Federal Liberals are refusing to shut the door on preference deals with the Greens at the next election despite deep divisions on the issue in their ranks. The Victorian party has put the Greens last on all its lower house how-to-vote material for the November 27 state election, but NSW Liberal leader Barry O'Farrell is keeping his options open for the March poll there. Tony Abbott avoided commenting directly on the matter on Sydney radio yesterday. "There's no doubt that a lot of the Greens' policies are even worse than the ALP," the Opposition Leader said, labelling both parties as "just halves of the same alliance". "What the Victorians do is really a matter for them," he added.
Labor has boosted the fortunes of a parliamentary motion setting the scene for gay marriage by endorsing the measure when it comes to a vote this week. The motion, moved by Greens MP Adam Bandt, will also be supported by fellow crossbenchers Andrew Wilkie and Tony Windsor, but opposed by the Coalition and Queenslander Bob Katter. Labor agreed to endorse the motion after it was amended on Monday night to remove a conflict with the party's platform, which does not support gay marriage. The motion now calls on parliamentarians to consult their electorates about attitudes to gay marriage. Its fate now rests with New South Wales rural independent Rob Oakeshott, who is progressive on social issues, and Western Australian National Tony Crook.
Australians who were abused as children in church, charity and government-run institutions are demanding a royal commission. Twelve months after they received a prime ministerial apology for the abuse they experienced, the forgotten Australians and child migrants marked the anniversary yesterday by calling for justice. Former Democrats senator Andrew Murray, a child migrant himself, said the abuse sustained by many of the 500,000 forgotten Australians amounted to "crimes against humanity". "You had deaths for which there was no coronial inquiries, beatings, criminal physical assault, criminal sexual assault," Mr Murray said.
The bodies of more than 340 human foetuses, apparently from an illegal abortion clinic, were discovered inside a Buddhist temple in central Bangkok, Thai police said on Tuesday. A total of 348 corpses, wrapped in plastic bags and newspaper, were found by a member of the temple staff in a mortuary storage area. Police Colonel Metee Rakphan said plastic bags were found "with foetal corpses inside hidden in the storehouse of a temple". "We assume that they were from illegal abortion clinics, and we are now investigating," he said, adding that they were questioning the temple mortician.
More than 1200 vulnerable children known to child protection authorities have not been assigned a case worker. But the number of unallocated cases in Victoria's most disadvantaged region, Gippsland, has dropped dramatically. New Department of Human Services figures show there were 1206 unallocated cases across Victoria at the start of the election campaign - down from 2197 in June last year.
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