The ACL compiles a daily media monitoring services of stories of interest relating to children, family, drugs and alcohol, marriage, human rights, religious freedom etc. See here to read what's in the news today.




Unplanned first-borns more prone to fights
TEENAGERS FIGHT more with their mothers if they are the result of unplanned pregnancies - but only if they're the first-born.   A major American study just published in the Journal of Family Issues has tracked the mother-child relationships of 845 little accidents over the first 15 years.   What the researchers from University of Texas found was that an unplanned pregnancy meant a higher likelihood of postnatal depression than a planned pregnancy, which they suggested could ''establish a pattern of negativity that persists over time''.


Gay activist expects small showing at Katter rally

Staff Reporters
The organiser of Mount Isa’s first gay rights rally expects only “one short fat guy holding a sign’’ will turn-up for the weekend protest outside federal MP Bob Katter’s office.   But James Newburrie saidit would not detract from the significance of the event if he was the only person who showed up.   The rally would draw attention to "two massive issues".   "The first is that Mr Katter seems to believe gay people in his electorate are invisible and gay marriage is worthy of ridicule and the second is just to bring some civility back into the debate," he told the North West Star.   Asked what he made of the protest, Mr Katter chuckled.   “What do I make of it? It's ridiculous that you ask such questions,” he told yesterday.


Malaysia plan firms as Labor looks to override court

Phillip Coorey, Kirsty Needham
JULIA GILLARD has called snap cabinet and caucus meetings for Monday morning to finalise a renewed policy push to send asylum seekers to Malaysia.   Ms Gillard spent the day bunkered in her office as a boat - the first since last week's High Court decision and the 100th since she became prime minister - arrived on Christmas Island carrying 72 asylum seekers.   It is believed that Ms Gillard will seek, and most likely receive caucus approval, for legislation that overrides the High Court decision and gives the government of the day the discretion to send asylum seekers to wherever it wishes, be it Malaysia, Nauru or Manus Island.

Labor scrambles to fix asylum-seeker strategy
JULIA Gillard has called special cabinet and caucus meetings for early Monday to deal with the asylum-seeker policy crisis, as the arrival of another boat highlighted the need to quickly fill the vacuum left by the High Court decision.   HMAS Wollongong intercepted a vessel north of Christmas Island with 72 passengers and two crew on board. The first since the court struck down the Malaysia people swap, it brings to 100 the number of boats arriving since Ms Gillard became PM. The people are being sent to Christmas Island.   As Ms Gillard, senior ministers and officials work on the policy for cabinet on Monday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees warned that the asylum seeker debate issue could lead to ''less tolerance and greater xenophobia'' if not based on fact.

Sexualisation of Society

There's no shame in teenage sextual relations
Two teenage "sexters" were recently reported to have been charged and prosecuted with child pornography offences and placed on the sex offender register in Victoria, branding them criminals and ruining their career prospects.   Under Commonwealth law, teenagers under age 18 who consensually photograph and send images of their own bodies in nude, sexualised poses can be charged with production and distribution of child pornography. Anyone to whom they send those images can be charged with possession of child pornography, even if the sender of the image intended for them to have it.  In NSW the age of consent is 16. This means a 17-year-old girl can legally have sex with her boyfriend (or girlfriend) but if she films it, or if she photographs her own breasts and sends that image to her partner, she can be prosecuted under Commonwealth law. Understandably teenagers find it difficult to comprehend this legal inconsistency and there are some serious questions to be raised.


Abused Archbishop John Hepworth ready to forgive
AN Australian archbishop leading a breakaway Anglican faction that wants to reunite with Rome has revealed that he fled the Catholic priesthood after experiencing systematic sexual abuse over more than a decade.  Archbishop John Hepworth, the primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion, a 400,000-member Anglican breakaway group seeking reconciliation with the Vatican, broke decades of silence after securing an apology from the Catholic church and an offer of $75,000 compensation.  The revelation of his private pain, known until today only to family, a few close friends and senior church leaders, adds an extraordinary personal twist to the creation of Anglican ordinariates that have opened the way for the largest mass defection to the Catholic Church since the Reformation.  Despite what he suffered over a 12-year period from 1960 at the hands of two priests and a fellow seminary student who went on to be ordained, Archbishop Hepworth said he was determined to continue his mission to bring the churches together.

Clergyman's long road to resolution
ON Tuesday, May 13, 2008, I went to a meeting with Archbishop John Hepworth, the global primate of the 400,000 strong Traditional Anglican Communion. He was in the middle of what were to prove successful negotiations with the Holy See for his flock to be corporately reunited with the Catholic Church.  Matters were at a delicate stage and his own position vis-a-vis Rome needed to be urgently regularised. He'd been originally ordained a Catholic priest for the archdiocese of Adelaide but had gone to England, married, become an Anglican cleric and in due course been made a bishop.   He took me into his confidence on the years of violent sexual predation and blackmail he had endured as a seminarian and a young priest, which finally drove him to flee Adelaide. Tess Livingstone has chronicled these events elsewhere in today's paper.  Hepworth told me there were two reasons he was talking to me about these matters. The first was that I was a columnist with The Weekend Australian and a Catholic convert who would not lightly write anything that might cast the church in a bad light. Even so, I could act as a form of insurance if he were to meet with procedural obstacles in his dealings with the archdiocese.

Game over, comrade
The Labor Party's national conference is the brief moment every three or so years when the faceless men show their faces, all in one place, all together. Marshalling their forces of delegates around them, the union bosses and faction chiefs sat in serried ranks in the cavernous Sydney Convention Centre in April 2007 to listen to the man who had been elected their leader five months earlier.   After the ritual standing ovation, an expectant moment of complete silence fell as the most popular politician in Australia prepared to utter his first words as Labor leader to the true power of the party. He seemed a touch nervous. He decided to break the ice with an attempt at self-deprecation: "My name's Kevin, I'm from Queensland and I'm here to help."

Accused senator says depression seized her
SOUTH Australian Liberal senator Mary Jo Fisher says her battle with depression left her feeling out of control and in the ''depths of despair''.   The senator told her shoplifting trial in Adelaide that she sometimes felt hopeless, inadequate and not up to her job.   Her symptoms included sweats, flushes, trembling, an inability to focus and nausea. ''Basically I wasn't in control,'' she told the Adelaide Magistrates Court yesterday as she gave evidence in her defence.

Howard: why I went to war
JOHN Howard has revealed that being in Washington during the 9/11 assault may have led him to commit to unqualified support for George W. Bush in the war on terror more quickly than if he had been in Australia.  ''I think I would have reached the same conclusions, but maybe not immediately if I hadn't been there,'' he told The Saturday Age. ''But I don't think in the long run it made a fundamental difference.  ''Certainly, being on the spot had a powerful effect on me. I knew how shocked and bewildered the Americans were, although everybody was very calm. Everybody understood that this was a game-changer.''

It was West Wing night but this was not make-believe

 John Anderson was Australia's acting prime minister when the September 11 terrorists struck.   Just a few hours after the planes hit, at the height of the confusion and terrible uncertainty, John Anderson was handed a specially encrypted telephone.   Australia's acting prime minister did what he was told - he dialled five digits.  John Howard answered. He was in the basement of the Australian embassy in Washington, only a few kilometres from the Pentagon, which, like the World Trade Centre's twin towers in New York, was smouldering and seriously damaged.   

Health Services Union official lodges fraud complaint
A SENIOR Health Services Union official has lodged a complaint with the New South Wales police alleging ''systemic and organised fraud within the HSU, including the procuring of secret commissions and corrupt rewards from suppliers and contractors''.  The Sydney Morning Herald revealed yesterday that the union's national president, Michael Williamson, and federal MP Craig Thomson, formerly the general secretary of the union, were given credit cards by a major supplier to the union.   John Gilleland, who is paid $680,000 a year to produce the Union's newsletter, Health Standard, has previously provided Mr Thomson and Mr Williamson with credit cards that were attached to his American Express account.

Backers say Kevin Rudd is ready to lead Labor again
LABOR MPs behind a Kevin Rudd comeback have been spruiking the former PM to colleagues, saying he is a changed man and ready to forgive and forget if offered back the leadership.  Senior government sources confirmed a small group of MPs who backed Mr Rudd in last year's coup are trying to convince colleagues there will be no retribution if he is returned to the Lodge.   As yet another asylum seeker boat arrived yesterday, Mr Rudd's backers vowed he was "no longer autocratic" and had eaten humble pie as well as claiming that he had learned from his mistakes.   But one minister, who confirmed he had heard such statements, said no one should be fooled.  "Rudd must think we all have the memories of gold fish," he said. "

Tearful Senator Mary Jo Fisher reveals secret
ACCUSATIONS of stealing groceries and assaulting a security officer left Liberal senator Mary Jo Fisher feeling ripped apart and out of control, she told a court yesterday.  Ms Fisher said she was battling chronic depression and a panic attack before the incident at an Adelaide supermarket last year.  "I think it all collided on December 15," she said.  Describing depression as her "dark secret", a teary Ms Fisher, 48, said: "You think you're not good enough to do what you're doing ... every day is a struggle."  Police allege Ms Fisher paid $7.30 for several grocery items before walking out of the supermarket with a further $92.92 worth of fruit and vegetables.  They also accused her of pushing and striking a security officer as she tried to leave.

Rudd slayers did not consider risk
SO now it's Kevin57. That fact is causing plenty of head-scratching and soul-searching in the Labor Party. It could provide an opportunity, or it could spell disaster.  Kevin Rudd's popularity with the public can't be ignored, even by the faceless party and union heavies who like to think they decide issues about leadership.  With Rudd at 57 per cent as preferred Labor leader, according to the latest Newspoll, and Julia Gillard languishing at 24 per cent, the power brokers are in no position to blithely anoint someone else for the job.  If Labor MPs become convinced that retaining Gillard is untenable - and quite a few are at that point already - restoring Rudd as prime minister holds out the hope of rebuilding the party's vote, now down to an unprecedented 27 per cent.

Arthur Sinodinos a double-edged sword for the Liberals
PARLIAMENT returns on Monday and talk in the corridors is already starting to build. By the time next month's sittings come around, the Liberals will have a new member on their team: John Howard's former chief of staff, Arthur Sinodinos.   He will be a welcome addition to the squad but, politics being politics, Sinodinos's new colleagues are beginning to realise his arrival in Canberra will create challenges for Tony Abbott, challenges for them -- and may leave the new recruit a very busy man.   Sinodinos is not just a former prime ministerial chief of staff. He was a Treasury high-flyer before he joined Howard's office.  The role he is leaving at the National Australia Bank makes him an invaluable link to the top end of town when business has its doubts over the Coalition's policy integrity. He is, in short, a man who deserves an important job. But Abbott has none to offer without reshuffling his opposition front bench.

Woman died after 'Bible bashing', Darwin court hears
AN ARGUMENT between three women that led to one woman being smoked in a ceremonial fire circle before being bashed to death started over a bible, a court heard yesterday.  Witness Gracie Bading Mamarika told Darwin Magistrates Court that two women - Susie and Glenys Wurrawilya - started hitting the 47-year-old woman with sticks when she refused to go get a bible from a nearby house.  The two women have been charged over her death.  But relative Roderick Mamarika, 40, yesterday faced a committal hearing charged with the woman's murder.  He was one of four people charged over the brutal bashing at Salt Lake Outstation, Groote Eylandt, in November last year.