Greens co-founder Bob Brown has urged a clean-out of the partys NSW division, which is dominated by extremist hardliners left over from the Cold War. Although many Greens spring from the environmental movement, the partys NSW leadership includes senator Lee Rhiannon, formerly of the Soviet-sponsored Socialist Party, and convener Hall Greenland, a one-time Trotskyist expelled from Labor in 1984. The Greens party was thumped at the federal election, suffering a negative swing in the Senate and advancing little in targeted lower-house seats such as Grayndler and Sydney. Dr Brown, who retired from parliament in 2012 after leading the Greens to their best result in 2010, has taken the division to task in an interview. ‘They need a clean-out in NSW,’ he said. ‘The people who have been for decades running the NSW Greens need to do what I did: retire and make way for new blood and people more in tune with the electorate in 2016 – this is no longer 1986.’

Senator Rhiannon, first elected to state parliament in 1999, said Greens in every state needed to be ‘very frank with ourselves’ and have ‘a respectful discussion of what’s happened’. The senator burst into tears when asked about her faction – derided as the “Eastern Bloc” – saying the label had been hurled at her ilk to associate them with Soviet communism. “I’ve always been open. My parents were in the Communist Party. I was in the old Socialist Party. I’ve always acknowledged that, and I’m very proud of my history,” she said. “The people who were in the old Communist Party have made a great contribution to this country. I get a little bit sad at that, because I miss my parents.” Senator Rhiannon was the target of ASIO surveillance as an 18-year-old amid evidence she had arranged to meet KGB agent Vladimir Alekseev aboard a Russian cruise ship in 1970. She said she spent the six-week cruise reading and socialising, and had never knowingly met a Russian spy.

Senator Rhiannon downplayed the benefits of winning seats and forming government, believing the role of MPs was to support activists outside parliament. “Social change doesn’t happen because an MP introduces a bill,”

she said. Senator Rhiannon has applauded protesters for breaking the law. Her advisers include Freya Newman, 23, found guilty in 2014 of hacking into the computer records of a $60,000 scholarship awarded to Tony Abbott’s daughter, Frances. Despite inhabiting one of Australia’s most urbanised states, the Greens in NSW have never had more than one senator at a time, and had only a fleeting presence in the House of Representatives between 2002 and 2004. The Victorian Greens, where esteemed activists have studied under Democratic activists in the US, have made electoral gains with tactics such as canvassing of social housing blocks.

The booth adjacent to South Yarra’s Horace Petty Estate, canvassed by Higgins candidate Jason Ball, saw an above-average 12.2 per cent surge for the Greens and a commensurate drop in support for Labor. Victorian Greens director Larissa Brown said she was “elated” by the result as she was pursuing a “two-election strategy” that puts the party within striking distance at the next election. If the result is repeated at the Victorian state election in 2018, she believes the Greens would win the seats of Northcote, Brunswick and Richmond. The Greens’ campaign strategy relied on a report by Lonergan Research that fundamentally misjudged key election issues based on 16 focus group interviews with 130 voters. The report advised the Greens that “Liberal and Labor are NOT going to focus on health in the upcoming federal election” despite the focus groups revealing the Greens’ message on dental and mental healthcare were “very well liked” and “considered vote-changing”.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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An education scholarship provider backed by some of Australia’s biggest businesses, including Microsoft, Optus and Price Waterhouse Coopers,  is quizzing high school students on their sexuality as part of its application process, sparking fresh concerns about the creeping influence of LGBTI rights activism in schools. The Australian Business and Community Network (ABCN) Scholarship Foundation is inviting applications for its 2016 grants program and, for the first time, is offering a grant targeted at Year 10 students who “identify as lesbian, homosexual, – bisexual, trans and/or intersex”. As a result, the application form inquires as to whether the candidate is male, female or transgender and whether they are homosexual, lesbian or bisexual. In past years, candidates were simply asked whether they were male or female. The move means the program strays from its original purpose of helping students from disadvantaged backgrounds with education-related costs.

The scholarships, each valued at $7000 over three years, are open to Year 10 students, who are typically 15 or 16. The shift comes as the LGBTI lobby has become increasingly influential, including within schools, where programs such as the government funded Safe Schools Coalition has sparked fears about young people being exposed to politically motivated ideologies around gender and sexuality. Many of the ABCN’s board and council members head up organisations that have publicly backed the marriage equality push, such as Paul O’Sullivan of Optus, Microsoft boss Pip Marlow and Luke Sayers, who runs PwC in Australia. PwC, which proudly declares itself as “one of the first private sector organisations to sign a letter of support for marriage equality in Australia”, courted controversy earlier this year when it released a report claiming that the cost of the planned plebiscite on same-sex marriage would exceed $500 million.

Damian Wyld, national policy officer for Family Voice Australia, criticised the awarding of education scholarships based on sexuality as another example of ideological activism making its way into schools. “Why should children, especially in a school setting, be asked to declare their sexuality or gender identity?” Mr Wyld said. “Many 15-year-olds are still working through issues around sexuality. Offering a financial incentive to identify as ‘lesbian, homosexual, bisexual, trans and/or intersex’ is completely inappropriate.” According to the latest National Survey of Australian Secondary Students and Sexual Health, released in 2014 and billed as the most comprehensive insight into the sexual behaviour and attitudes of young people, 23 per cent of Year 10 students reported engaging in sexual intercourse. “Surely merit or financial disadvantage are more appropriate criteria for scholarships,” Mr Wyld said.

According to the ABCN’s latest annual report, 15 scholarships were awarded last year, with $52,000 paid out to students. Launched in 2013, scholarships have traditionally been targeted at high-potential students from disadvantaged schools who were experiencing “significant economic, family or social challenges” that could impact on their education, particularly their ability to complete secondary school and graduate on to tertiary education. Grants must be spent on items that assist the student complete Years 11 and 12, such as books, stationary, computer equipment, tuition costs, uniform and transport. For the first time, this year all applications are required to be submitted by school principals on behalf of applicants. The application guide says the group is offering a “targeted scholarship” for a student identifying as LGBTI “in addition” to its regular scholarships. It stresses that the grant recipient would not be identified without their consent.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has backed calls for an Anti-Slavery Commissioner as part of a two-pronged approach to protecting vulnerable trafficked women in Australia. ACL spokesperson for women’s interests Wendy Francis said an Anti-Slavery Commissioner, as suggested on SBS’s Insight program by anti-slavery expert Professor Jennifer Burn, is badly needed to put a break on the widespread trafficking of girls into Australia to work in brothels. “Human trafficking, or slavery, is the fastest growing crime worldwide. Sex trafficking is one significant aspect of this trade,” Ms Francis said. “Australia also needs to adopt the well-tested Nordic approach to combating prostitution which has had dramatic effects at decreasing the demand for prostitution by making it illegal to buy sexual services.

“It is disgraceful that girls are being brought to Australia, often under false illusions, and live in fear of their pimps and brothel masters. The Australian Federal Police has identified widespread sexual exploitation of girls being trafficked to work in Australian brothels. “Slavery and slavery-like practices are a violation of human rights and should not be occurring in Australia. An Anti-Slavery Commissioner will go some way in supporting the victims of trafficking and flushing out those involved in this illegal activity” Ms Francis said.

Source: Australian Christian Lobby

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