West Australian MPs from both major parties say a bill that would legalise euthanasia in the state does not go far enough to prevent malpractice. Parliamentary debate on the Voluntary Euthanasia Bill began on Tuesday, with WA Premier Colin Barnett and Opposition Leader Eric Ripper allowing a conscience vote on the issue. If passed, WA would be the first state in Australia to legalise euthanasia. The private member's bill, introduced by Greens MP Robin Chapple, would allow any terminally ill West Australian over the age of 21 and of "sound mind" to elect to be euthanised.
Some senior WA doctors have threatened to boycott laws rather than support legalised euthanasia. Respected physician David Watson said that if the Voluntary Euthanasia Bill passed through State Parliament he would re-register himself as a medical practitioner. Dr Watson, who is clinical dean at St John of God Hospital in Subiaco and professor of medicine at Notre Dame University, said the legislation was incompatible with his responsibilities as a doctor. He said he wanted to treat patients, not kill them. "My personal view is that I couldn't practise medicine under those circumstances, as I believe it's incompatible with what I'm meant to be here for," he said.
European leaders have offered E1 billion ($1.4bn) and backed a global financial tax as they face mounting calls for money to pay for the Millennium Goals. The huge sum was offered yesterday by EU commission president Jose Manuel Barroso at the end of the first day of a summit on the goals, which have been knocked off track by the international financial crisis. French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Spain's Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero said earlier they would press for the new tax at international summits. The world's wealthy countries face growing pressure, particularly from African nations, to contribute more to eradicating poverty and improving child and maternal health.
Playing violent video games can lead to increased aggression for as long as 24 hours after playing. According to the results of a new study, researchers from Ohio State and Central Michigan Universities assigned volunteers to play either violent games like Mortal Kombat or non-violent titles like Guitar Hero for 20 minutes. Half of the players of violent games were then asked to think about their gameplay and “identify ways your gameplay could improve when you play again" over the next 24 hours. The following day, lead study authors Brad Bushman and Bryan Gibson tested participants’ aggression.
Tony Abbott has declared he will lead a "party of ideas" in the new parliament. But the Opposition Leader warned Julia Gillard he will stick to his guns on the mining tax, climate change and broadband policy. The Opposition Leader has outlined his battle plan in the historic hung parliament, confirming the Coalition will work constructively but "stands ready to form a government" if the independents switch sides. Mr Abbott said tax reform to ease the burden on families and small business, job creation in "viable industries", water management, infrastructure and regional development would head his agenda.
Once the party's power base, the Garden State is looking barren. It was the jewel in the crown, the heartland, the party's cradle, the home of Robert Menzies, Harold Holt, John Gorton and Malcolm Fraser, of giants such as Henry Bolte. Further back it was the birthplace of Alfred Deakin. Now something has gone badly wrong for the Liberal Party in Victoria. Peter Costello and Jeff Kennett are still seen as the state's highest profile Liberals. Neither is in parliament. Kennett has been gone for more than a decade.
The Greens MLC Cate Faehrmann is set to introduce a bill to legalise voluntary euthanasia in NSW to capitalise on the national debate prompted by her party's federal leader, Bob Brown. Ms Faehrmann will give notice of her intention to introduce the bill in the Legislative Council today. ''The Greens' bill will provide the option for people who are terminally ill to end their life in a dignified manner, free from unnecessary pain, humiliation and suffering,'' she said. She said the bill would be based on one introduced by the Greens MLC Ian Cohen in 2001, which was defeated.
Deposed Fijian prime minister Laisenia Qarase unsuccessfully pleaded with Australian authorities to grant asylum to Josefa Rauluni. Mr Railuni died after throwing himself from the roof of a Sydney detention centre. The Australian has obtained a letter Mr Qarase sent to the Refugee Review Tribunal last November that stated Mr Rauluni, who died on Monday just hours before he was due to be deported, faced danger if he returned to Fiji. Mr Qarase - prime minister of Fiji from 2000 to 2006 and ousted by military leader Frank Bainimarama - said Mr Rauluni had been active in the Fijian movement for democracy. Returning to the country while it was under military rule could have been deadly.
The federal government has attacked as misleading and damaging an aid report released at a United Nations event attended by the Foreign Affairs Minister, Kevin Rudd, which ranks Australia poorly as an aid donor. As Mr Rudd spruiked a $5 billion Australian commitment to education aid, the report ranked Australia near the bottom of the class - scoring an ''E'', and 18th out of 22 donor nations. Two weeks previously AusAid had written a protest letter to the president of the Global Campaign for Education, Kailash Satyarthi, in an attempt to stop the document being distributed. The Australian high commissioner to South Africa, Ann Harrap, had also protested to the South African group that the ''E'' grading, and a regression in Australia's ranking from its scorecard last year, was misleading and damaged Australia's international reputation.
Senate Republicans have blocked an effort to repeal the law banning gays from serving openly in the US military. The partisan vote was a defeat for gay rights groups who saw the provision in a defence authorisation bill as their last chance any time soon to overturn the law known as "don't ask, don't tell".
Recent changes to bail laws - designed to prevent repeat offenders and some on serious charges from being given bail - are not working, according to the head of the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research. Don Weatherburn says the Bail Act, revised 13 times in the past nine years, needs ''a systematic overhaul''. A study published yesterday shows that nearly half of all those accused of crimes that meant they should receive bail only in ''exceptional circumstances'' were nevertheless granted bail. The study examined more than 37,000 bail applications in the NSW Local Court in 2008. Other findings were unsurprising: those charged with several offences, who had a lengthy criminal history or were convicted of previous bail breaches were less likely to receive bail; those facing a long delay in the court process were more likely than others in similar circumstances to be granted it.
A move to make it easier for non-Christians to get married in an Anglican church failed yesterday when the clergy at the General Synod reversed their vote from Monday and rejected it. The synod (national church parliament) voted down a proposal that the church abandon its requirement that at least one partner be already baptised. Liberals and evangelicals agreed at the synod at Melbourne Grammar that a church wedding provided an opportunity of contact with people who now knew little of church. Opponents, mostly from the church's Catholic wing, argued Christian marriage is a sacrament of the church intended for its members. The Anglican rejection follows recent debate about Catholic funerals in Melbourne after Archbishop Denis Hart republished guidelines restricting personal or secular touches such as football songs.
Australia's Anglican church, until now relatively unscathed by the worldwide church's crisis over homosexuality, yesterday revealed that fissures run deep. Deputy chairman of committees Justice Peter Young had predicted there would be ''blood on the floor'' when the church debated two rival ways to deal with the international crisis over the past two days, and passions ran deep. Liberal Anglicans were accused of patronising African Christians, even of closet racism, and they accused the conservatives of arrogance. The international church hierarchy has proposed a covenant between the bitterly divided national churches, highlighting common ground and providing a central dispute-resolution process.
Girls as young as 14 are getting Brazilian waxes, a trend experts have labelled ''pornification'' of teenagers. Intimate beauty treatments are becoming popular with girls as boyfriends demand they look like porn stars, the experts say. Leading child protection advocate Hetty Johnston said the trend was ''scary'' and called for legislation to stop it. While you must be 18 to get a tattoo in Queensland, as well as some types of intimate body piercings, there is no age limit on waxing, although many salons require parental permission for under-16s.
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