Jim McIlroy

In an astounding display of bureaucratic arrogance, the chief of the company building the controversial $17 billion WestConnex tollway complex described the reintroduction of tolls on the widened M4 motorway as "exciting", while dismissing concerns about the health impacts of exhaust ventilation stacks planned for the route of the WestConnex tunnels.

The Australian operations of mining giant Glencore have been implicated in the Paradise Papers revelations – the largest leak of documents in history.

The Paradise Papers show that Glencore was involved in currency swaps of up to $25 billion between the Bermuda-based and Australian-based arms of its company.

While theoretically "legal”, these types of swaps are being investigated by the Australian Tax Office under suspicion they may be used to avoid tax by shuttling interest payments from high-tax nations to low-tax jurisdictions.

Members of the family of David Dungay, who was killed by prison officers in Long Bay jail almost two years ago, gathered outside the Coroners Court on November 8 to demand justice and that action be taken against those officers involved in his death.

Speaking to the media, David's mother Leetona said: "After two years, this process has taken too long. We are going to fight this to the end. My son has been cruelly taken away from us, and I am demanding that justice is finally done for him."

After a concerted campaign by staff, trade unions and the community, the NSW government announced on October 27 that Shellharbour Hospital in the Illawarra will remain in public hands.

The campaign forced the government to cancel its proposed public-private partnership (PPP) plan and instead proceed with a $251 million redevelopment of the hospital on its current site.

In some sort of sick joke, residents of the inner west suburbs of St Peters and Haberfield have been sent earplugs by WestConnex after complaints to it about the incessant and loud noise caused by the construction of this controversial $17 billion tollway.

Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison has ramped up calls for tax cuts to big business in an October 24 speech to launch the Productivity Commission's latest report.

Morrison claims corporate tax cuts are "an urgent matter" now that conservative governments in the United States, Britain and France are moving to slash big business taxes. Australia risks becoming an "uncompetitive tax island" if it does not follow suit, Morrison claimed.

The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) has called on federal MPs and senators to reject new legislation tabled by federal Communications Minister Mitch Fifield, which is aimed at further undermining the independence and integrity of the national broadcasters ABC and SBS.

If the National Broadband Network (NBN) is becoming a “calamitous train wreck”, as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull claimed on October 23, then the fault lies with him.

He was the minister for communications in the Tony Abbott Coalition government who, in 2013, oversaw the disastrous decision to fundamentally change the NBN from Labor’s fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) model to a technologically obsolete fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) system. At the time, Abbott apparently wanted to “kill the NBN” entirely.

Hundreds of people gathered for the Don't Mess With the West rally outside the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre in Penrith on October 20, before marching to the electoral office of local member and Minister for Western Sydney Stuart Ayres, chanting "community health, not incinerator wealth" and "don't mess with the West”.

They were protesting against the controversial WestConnex road project and associated tolls on the M4 Motorway and elsewhere; the highly polluting waste disposal incinerator proposed for Eastern Creek; and the planned new airport at Badgerys Creek.

The iconic Bondi Pavilion on the foreshore of Bondi Beach has been saved from privatisation, and discussions have commenced about plans for its future as a cultural centre and creative hub.

The big swing against the Liberal Party in recent council elections resulted in former Liberal mayor of Waverley Council Sally Betts, who was pushing hard for the commercialisation of the pavilion, being replaced as mayor.

Pages

Subscribe to Jim McIlroy