Jim McIlroy

The growing scandals engulfing the Big Four banks, now being amplified through the financial services royal commission, have opened the way for a major discussion about alternatives to the corporate banking oligopoly in Australia.

Now, Greens leader Richard Di Natale has entered the fray with a proposal for a People’s Bank to offer low-cost mortgages for home-buyers and other facilities.

More than 300 members of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), their families and supporters gathered at the M Club in Maroubra on April 7 to mark the 20th anniversary of the historic Patrick’s dispute in 1998.

The Patrick stevedoring company had conspired with the John Howard Coalition government to send in security guards in balaclavas, dogs and scabs to force waterfront workers out and attempt to eliminate the MUA from the docks.

“What is happening in Venezuela is a revolution, not a dictatorship,” Pacha Catalina Guzman, an activist with Venezuela’s largest peasant-based organisation, the Ezequiel Zamora National Campesino Front (FNCEZ) and the Bolivar and Zamora Revolutionary Current (CRBZ), told a public meeting of more than 40 people on March 29.

The meeting was the last in Guzman’s Australian tour coordinated by Latin America Solidarity Network (LASNET) that took her to Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane, Canberra and Sydney.

Pacha Guzman, a leading activist with Venezuela’s largest peasant-based organisation, the Ezequiel Zamora National Campesino Front (FNCEZ), told a public meeting in Sydney on March 21 that despite serious challenges, Venezuela’s pro-poor "Bolivarian Revolution will win".

Guzman also reaffirmed the continued strength of the popular movement for socialism launched by former President Hugo Chavez and said she expects his successor, President Nicolas Maduro, to win the May 20 presidential elections.

Sydney is in the grip of "tollway madness" and urgently needs a planning overhaul if it is to become a healthier city, the recent FitNSW forum for planning and health experts was told.

The first day of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry heard startling evidence that National Australia Bank (NAB) managers took envelopes full of cash as part of an alleged bribery racket in which bankers sold loans based on fake documents to “smash” sales targets.

Leaked NSW Coalition government documents reveal that White Bay in Sydney's Inner West and parks on the city’s north shore are favoured construction sites for the $14 billion Western Harbour Tunnel and Northern Beaches Link tollway.

The “Cabinet in confidence” documents, obtained by Fairfax and the ABC, show the project will require the disposal of more than 500,000 cubic metres of contaminated sediment.

More than 200 residents and supporters gathered at the Moorefield Bowling Club in Rockdale on March 3 to protest the proposed F6 Extension to the controversial $18 billion Westconnex tollway, linking the south-western suburbs to Wollongong.

If the F6 motorway is built, residents from the suburbs of Arncliffe, through Rockdale to Sans Souci and all the way to the Royal National Park, will face immense environmental and social disruption.

The formation of a militant super-union has been given the go-ahead by the Fair Work Commission (FWC) in a decision announced on March 6.

Founding national secretary of the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU) Michael O'Connor welcomed the formation of the new union, created by the amalgamation of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), and the Textile, Clothing, and Footwear Union of Australia (TCFUA).

During his recent meeting with US President Donald Trump at the White House, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull proposed that Australian superannuation funds invest in Trump's plan to renew the US's ailing national infrastructure. He was repeating a view being pushed by Australian ambassador and former Treasurer Joe Hockey for the US to adopt Australia's controversial "asset recycling" scheme by state and local governments, aided by federal subsidies.

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