Prime Minister Julia Gillard has ruled out Labor MPs being allowed a conscience vote on a new move to allow same-sex marriage. The Australian Greens on Wednesday will introduce legislation to the Senate that aims to amend existing laws that do not recognise that marriage can include couples of the same sex. Labor policy is to support the view that marriage is between a man and a woman. "You should expect to see the Labor Party voting as a political party, voting in unison" she told ABC Radio. Ms Gillard said it remained "a big if" as to whether such the Greens bill would ever reach the House of Representatives. "There is only so much parliamentary time," she said. "We have got to deal with government business as well as private members' business.
The Labor leader should not let this law be put back on the books. New Prime Minister Julia Gillard will be called on to reveal more of her core beliefs, with the immediate test being the euthanasia bill that highlights a cultural divide in Western society. Greens leader Bob Brown's decision to introduce a private member's bill to restore the power of parliaments in the Northern Territory and the ACT to legislate for euthanasia poses a political challenge for the minority Labor government and for Gillard. Brown's bill in its mechanics deals with territory powers but its essence is to open the door to euthanasia in Australia.
Bickering has dominated the first sitting of the 43rd parliament, with Labor and the Coalition accusing each other of welshing on parliamentary reform. As the major parties positioned themselves for a debate on a rewrite of parliamentary standing orders today, the opposition complained that the proposed new standing orders did not reflect an all-party agreement on reform sealed last month. And despite imploring the opposition to embrace a consensus approach to politics, Julia Gillard used her first speech to the parliament yesterday to question Tony Abbott's integrity, and accused him of dumping his undertakings for political reform. The Opposition Leader rejected the Prime Minister's demands and insisted voters expect him to provide robust opposition rather than a "false consensus".
Brightly coloured bras marketed for girls as young as six by underwear giant Bonds have been slammed as irresponsible. Parents and a leading psychologist are leading calls for a Bonds boycott, with the "bralettes" coming on the heels of its padded bras for eight-year-olds. Angry parents say they are being pressured by children as young as preps to buy the patterned trainer-style bras, which start in child size 6.
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy last night remained stalwart in his support for Labor's controversial mandatory internet filtering scheme in a heated debate on the ABC's Q&A program with representatives of the public, the Coalition, the Australian Sex Party and more. ABC viewer William Rollo from South Australia asked Conroy whether Labor's support for the filter was pointless, given that it may not have the numbers to get associated legislation through parliament. "The Coalition aren’t backing it... and the Greens aren't too keen on it either. Under the new paradigm it's realistically unlikely to get anywhere. Do you therefore think it's fair for voters to see your insistence on this policy as a time and money waster?" he asked Conroy. But the Communications Minister pointed out there was still a review of the Refused Classification category of content to be gone through before associated legislation made it to parliament.
Fertility treatments can influence the sex of a baby to such an extent that increased uptake could upset the gender balance later. Australian researchers have proved for the first time that a particular type of IVF treatment increases the chance of having a boy to as much as 56.1 per cent, while another treatment cuts it to 48.7 per cent. The authors of the research, from the University of NSW, said the differences were too small to be useful for individual couples as a means of sex selection -- which was illegal in Australia -- but they could create problems if reflected across populations. The research, published today in the international obstetrics journal BJOG, analysed all 13,368 babies born through single-embryo-transfer procedures in Australia and New Zealand between 2002 and 2006.
It is an odd priority. When the Greens leader, Bob Brown, was asked to name his first legislative priority for the new Parliament he had no hesitation - euthanasia. Brown wants to repeal the federal statute that outlawed euthanasia in the Northern Territory. "This will restore the rights of territorians to be able to legislate for euthanasia," he told Network Ten. I wonder if all those who voted for the Greens in August expected that? They might have thought a carbon reduction scheme was the No. 1 Green priority, or an end to logging. But it is euthanasia. Brown didn't run as the head of the euthanasia party. But that is the effect of making this his No. 1 priority. The Greens have a funny attitude to people. They care about them, of course, but they worry there are too many of them and that this will choke the environment. They say we need a "sustainable relationship between humans and the environment", which involves a lot more birth control and a lot less use of natural resources.
Barbara Glidewell has had hundreds of conversations with dying people who want to end their own life, or want the option to do so. And she wants the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, to know it is entirely possible to formulate a law with appropriate safeguards. Associate Professor Glidewell is an ethics adviser and recently retired hospital ombudsman from Oregon where physician-aided death has been allowed for almost 13 years. She has overseen the consultation process for roughly half the physician-assisted deaths under Oregon's Death With Dignity Act. ''The law has worked well,'' she said. ''Oregon has been too quiet about it; we didn't want hordes moving to the state.'' Ms Glidewell will address the biennial conference of the World Federation of Right To Die Societies in Melbourne next week. But she would like a word with the Prime Minister. Ms Gillard said on the weekend she was ''conflicted'' on the issue of euthanasia, and she found it ''almost impossible'' to conceive how there could be appropriate safeguards.
A much-hyped new pre-commitment strategy to combat problem gambling has been attacked by a campaigner as a ''Mickey Mouse'' scheme and a waste of time. Mark Zirnsak said a proposal to introduce a 15-second ''pop-up screen'' on new poker machines from December to help cut problem gambling was a sham that would help no one. Victorians lost $2.6 billion on poker machines outside of the casino last financial year and Victorian government research has found problem gamblers were most likely to play poker machines. A Department of Justice consultation paper recommended introducing ''limit setting with a pop-up screen'' on new poker machines from December as part of a pre-commitment system.
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