Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews must deal with a handful of MPs pushing policies as varied as euthanasia, gun laws, drug reform and winding back abortion laws if Labor is to pass legislation in the upper house. The final results for the state’s 40-member Legislative Council have Labor sitting on just 14 MPs, the Coalition 16, including only two Nationals, while the Greens have recorded their best result with five MPs, building on their historic two lower house victories. The Shooters and Fishers Party has won two spots with the Sex Party, Democratic Labour Party and Vote 1 Local Jobs each winning a seat. The result means Labor has to find seven extra votes to pass legislation, should the Coalition oppose a bill.

Convention dictates the government of the day provides the president. Unlike the lower house speaker the President has a deliberative vote, so can vote with the government on every bill, not just in the event of a tied vote. Micro parties have yet to discuss forming a voting bloc with most saying they would take each issue on its merit, with the DLP ruling out an alliance with the Sex Party’s Fiona Patten. Ms Patten said her priority would be to look at voluntary euthanasia and drug reform including medicinal marijuana use and safe injecting rooms. “The law enforcement, and “the just say no” policies that have been enacted by previous governments have failed our community,” Ms Patten said.

Ms Patten said she was looking forward to providing nuance to debate and said micro-parties would need to work together, despite differences on certain issues. The 39-year-old DLP MP Rachel Carling-Jenkins said amending the abortion law, specifically section 8, to give doctors the ability to conscientiously refuse an abortion and not refer the patient to another doctor, was her priority. She also wants to expand palliative care services. The former welfare worker, who has a PhD in social sciences, has indicated she is willing to work with the Labor government. “We [DLP] do have a lot in common with the ALP and I’ll look forward to exploring that more with them.”

The Greens increased their representation to 5, taking 2 spots from Labor in the South-East and Eastern Metropolitan regions. Greater transparency of government projects and boosting integrity are high on the party’s agenda, said Greens’ leader Greg Barber, along with the environment and public transport. “You have got the Greens in the middle of the cross bench as honest brokers, it won’t be like Geoff Shaw where everybody was basically in it for what they could get out of the guy and vice-versa,” Mr Barber said. Shooters and Fishers MP Jeffrey Bourman, a  former police officer,  caused controversy almost immediately saying gun laws are ineffective and useless, saying it failed to prevent the recent siege in Sydney.

Mr Bourman refused to say what preference deals his party had secured to win, after being elected with just 2.5 per cent of the primary vote. He also would not answer if he had worked with preference-whisperer Glenn Druery, who tweeted that the Victorian upper house result was great for minor parties. “I am not saying to abolish gun laws but I want everything reviewed to check their effectiveness,” he said. He said gun registration “in general is one of my bugbears”. He also vowed to block any new National Parks. James Purcell, a former Mayor of the Moyne Shire in south-west of Victoria, unsurprisingly wants to stimulate job growth, with a focus on renewable energy and better use of agriculture.

A quick reminder to the Labor government that the Legislative Council would not be a rubber stamp came when the upper house of the Parliament met recently to elect a new president. Labor nominated Gayle Tierney but lost the first vote in the upper house, after she was defeated 21 votes to 17. The five Greens MPs and the Sex Party’s Fiona Patten voted for the Coalition’s candidate, Bruce Atkinson. Mr Atkinson was president in the last Parliament and is well respected, with a reputation for independence and fairness. Ms Tierney was supported by her colleagues as well as the two Shooters and Fishers MPs, the Democratic Labour Party’s Rachel Carling-Jenkins, and Vote 1 Local Jobs’ James Purcell.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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The NSW assistant police commissioner Mark Murdoch says the rise of pornography and domestic violence are linked. Pornography is fuelling an increase in the number of young people committing acts of domestic violence he said. Mr Murdoch said teaching young men how to respect women was a critical “battle front” in the fight against domestic abuse. The high use of pornography by young men is astounding…the highest users are aged between 14 and 25. Mr Murdoch said “Common sense would tell you there has to be a linkage between pornography and lack of respect in relationships between young people,” Mr Murdoch said.

“The fastest growing part of the problem of domestic violence is young people. We are seeing more young people put before courts than we have ever seen,” he said. Mr Murdoch, the corporate spokesman on domestic violence, says it was critical for fathers to teach their sons and communicate about behaviour that was not acceptable. “Researchers tell us that when young men, 16-year-olds have to be told and educated that it is not OK to have sex with a young woman without consent – that’s not ok.” “Some young men don’t know any better unless they are educated. It’s true that’s the battle front.”

He said the alarming number of adolescents meant police had allocated domestic violence officers to Bidura and Parramatta Children’s courts. The growing culture of domestic violence was not something police could arrest their way out of – it required a multi-pronged approach starting with conversations at home. “It’s about awareness, education, getting it out there, people talking about it, men talking about it and speaking to young people is critical,” he said. “Men need to wake up to the fact that domestic violence is men’s problem and violence against women will only stop when men stop perpetrating the violence.”

The Men’s Referral Service manager Nathan DeGuara said there was a strong correlation between pornography and domestic violence. “Pornography sets up the expectations of what a man should expect from a woman. Pornography is typically about men doing whatever is it is they want to do to women.” He said the service, which offered confidential telephone counselling for men, often received calls about domestic violence stemming from unrealistic sexual expectations, often created by pornography. He said it was not uncommon for men to keep a diary about when they have sex with their partner as a means of making a point to her that she is not giving as much as he wants,” Mr DeGuara said.

Sydney GP Dr Gary Franks runs pornography addiction courses and says men can often become more violent and aggressive with their partners as a result of being caught up in their fantasies. “Men who become addicted to pornography both in and out of marriage tend to want more aggressive forms of sexual satisfaction, moving to aggressive acts, moving to force and to restraint because this is what they visualise they think this will give greater sexual fulfilment,” he said.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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Proposed new laws would see gay-sex criminal convictions prior to 1976 in the ACT erased, Attorney General Simon Corbell has announced. According to Mr Corbell, convicted men in the past deserved to be given “equality and access to justice” under “modern day standards”. The bill is set to be introduced later this year after “careful consideration” is taken to ensure the new laws do not “discriminate on the basis of sexuality”. “As these details are considered I look forward to consulting with stakeholders about the best way to achieve justice for Canberra’s homosexual community,” he stated.

Though the number of criminal convictions for gay sex is unknown, Mr Corbell believed a handful of cases existed in the state. Last October, Victoria became the first Australian state to allow homosexual sex conviction records including indecency and buggery to be erased. Meanwhile a number of jurisdictions “have made or are considering schemes” to erase convictions for consensual homosexual acts, according to the Attorney-General. The move would remove barriers to applying for jobs or travelling for those with a past conviction.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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The Australian Prayer Network is again this year calling its member Churches, Prayer Groups and Individuals to a night of prayer for our nation to be held on Sunday 25th January 2014, the eve of Australia Day.  In 2014 Australians of all denominations gathered in local communities across our nation to join in this national night of prayer. Timing and venue for each gathering across the nation is at the discretion of the organiser and prayer gatherings do not have to be registered with us. Falling on a Sunday evening this year we expect that many Churches will use at least some of the prayer points during Sunday services on 25thJanuary as we ask God to guide our nation into the year of 2015. 

Due to the many hundreds of requests we receive each year for prayer points which can be used on the night, this year we have uploaded them to our website so that those who are holding prayer gatherings can download them for their use. There is no copyright on the material which may be freely used/reproduced (with acknowledgment to the Australian Prayer Network as the source) as required. Please go to our website at to download the material.  Thank you for your support of this initiative to undergird our nation in prayer on our national day and at the beginning of another year.

Brian Pickering
National Coordinator
Australian Prayer Network

Source: Australian Prayer Network

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