Euthanasia bill to be debated this week

A Greens bill that would allow the Northern Territory and ACT governments to legalise euthanasia will be debated in the Senate on Thursday. In 1997, the Federal Parliament overturned voluntary euthanasia laws passed by the Northern Territory government. The bill would re-instate powers to the territories to make the laws. It is likely MPs from both major parties will be given a conscience vote on the matter. Greens leader Bob Brown says he hopes a vote will be taken before the end of the parliamentary year. "It ought to get to a vote before Christmas, but that really depends on the good offices of the Government and the Opposition," he said. "And if they don't want to allow it to be brought to a vote this side of Christmas it certainly will be in the first half of next year."

Why big families are 'damaging Australia'

Ben Packham - Herald Sun
Families should have no more than two children to limit their environmental impact, one in three Australians say. Almost half say families should consider having three or fewer children, a survey shows. The Australian National University survey found most Australians want the population to stay at or below current levels, suggesting Julia Gillard hit the right note by rejecting Kevin Rudd's "big Australia" push. Just 44 per cent of respondents favoured population growth.

Calls for Halloween holiday in Australia

Paul Kent - The Daily Telegraph
The idea that a group of adults will take a day to protest Halloween not being a public holiday in Australia might suggest they have too much spare time as it is. But, alas, there they were yesterday. There was Super Girl, a headless man, and a couple of Tom Cruises from Top Gun, each refusing to be the other's wingman.

Greens divisions follow forest, mill 'peace deal'

Matthew Denholm - The Australian
Splits emerging within the Greens over the Tasmanian forest "peace deal" and the agreement's support for a pulp mill. Karl Stevens, a Greens councillor and state election candidate, told The Australian yesterday he had quit the party following attempts to stop him criticising The Wilderness Society over the forest deal. The framework deal -- to guide a lasting solution to the forest conflict -- commits TWS and other groups to supporting downstream processing of plantations, including a pulp mill.

Coalition vows millions to break the cycle of child abuse

Milanda Rout - The Australian
Pregnant women and abused teenagers in state-run homes will be targeted in a $50 million Coalition plan to tackle child abuse. The plan is to stop the cycle before the next generation of potential victims are born. The early intervention initiatives will focus on trying to break the cycle of abuse by providing educational, health and psychological support for vulnerable mums-to-be and teenagers. The plan -- to be implemented if the opposition wins the November 27 election -- includes allocating a dedicated caseworker to work with "at-risk" women as soon as they become pregnant. It will also entail $16m for intensive antenatal and postnatal support for mothers until their child is four and a further $2m for parenting skills. The package will include $12.8m for educational, health and psychological assessments of abused young people when they enter state-run homes and $16.9m to help them move into study and employment.

'Family values' shire loses brothel ban bid

Josephine Tovey - SMH
Sydney's bible belt has lost its bid to ban brothels, on the second day of the local government conference which was dominated by discussions of vice industries. The Hills Shire Council tried to pass a motion calling on the state government to allow some councils with ''strong community and family values'' to ban the oldest profession, a move that prompted some of the most passionate debate of the conference. All councils in NSW must provide at least one zone within their local government area where brothels can be established. Peter Dimbrowsky, the mayor of the council area that is home to the Hillsong Church, said people in his area found brothels offensive and councils should be allowed to ban them.

Disability groups call for Labor to honour its funding promise

Adele Horin - SMH
Disability groups are rallying tomorrow to demand the state government commit $2.5 billion over five years to new services and housing it has promised. The services were outlined in a 10-year strategy announced in 2006 by the former disabilities minister John Della Bosca. The government provided $1.3 billion for the first five years. But with the funding to run out next year and no money for the next five-year stage allocated in the forward estimates of the budget in June, disability groups are keen to hold the government to its promise.

Howard dishonest and selfish, says Costello

Phillip Coorey - SMH
Peter Costello has painted John Howard as a disingenuous, dishonest and selfish man who put himself before the nation and was now blaming everyone for his failures. In a stinging reply to Mr Howard's autobiography, entitled Lazarus Rising, Mr Costello writes that Mr Howard wanted to claim all the achievements of the Coalition government ''and does not intend to share the glory''. ''He will not take responsibility for the defeat of the government in November 2007 or losing the seat of Bennelong,'' he writes in today's Herald. ''He will not take responsibility for what the whole of Australia knows. That he stayed too long.''

Triple-A election boost for Brumby

Paul Austin - The Age
John Brumby's economic credentials have received an election-eve boost, with Victoria's triple-A credit rating reaffirmed and the state's economy receiving rave reviews from independent analysts. In renewing Victoria's prized credit rating - which never dipped below the top triple-A level throughout the global financial crisis - the international agency Standard & Poor's praised the state government's ''very strong financial management''. ''Victoria's good governance, including its strong fiscal strategy and good financial transparency, aids the state's credit quality,'' S & P said yesterday.