Jim McIlroy

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.

The United Socialist Party of Venezuela’s (PSUV) victory in the October 15 elections for state governors is a major blow to the country’s right-wing opposition, as well as to its backers in Washington and Europe.

The victory also marks a significant step forward in the struggle to defend the gains of the almost two decade-long pro-poor Bolivarian Revolution, spearheaded by late former President Hugo Chavez.

The Coalition Against WestConnex (CAW) hand-delivered more than 10,000 written submissions and community objections to the WestConnex M4-M5 Link Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to the Planning Department’s head office on October 16.

Spokesperson for WestConnex Action Group and No WestConnex: Public Transport Anne Picot said: “This unprecedented number of objections to the Stage 3 EIS represents the strength of opposition to WestConnex, and the traffic inducing M4-M5 Link. We are confident that thousands more objections have been lodged on-line.

The NSW bus drivers’ union has warned the public that services in the Ryde area could be next in line for privatisation, as the campaign against the sell-off of inner-western Sydney bus operations continues.

In May, the state Coalition government put services from four bus depots — Tempe, Kingsgrove, Burwood and Leichhardt — out to private tender, provoking widespread outrage from workers and the community.

The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) has condemned the federal Coalition government for allowing multinational company Serco to operate a Centrelink call centre, saying the move will put thousands of vulnerable people at risk.

Human Services Minister Alan Tudge has announced Serco subsidiary Serco Citizen Services will begin operating a Centrelink call centre in Melbourne within weeks, with 250 full-time equivalent staff.

Major corporations and multinational companies are dodging up to $3.5 billion in company tax every year, according to new figures released by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) on October 11. After audit checks by the ATO, this figure could be reduced to $2.5 billion.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has been referred to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) by Greens MP Jamie Parker over her 2012 decision to grant a 20-year lease extension on government-owned land in Leichhardt without going to public tender.

Anti-motorway community group Leichhardt Against WestConnex (LAW) has demanded that negotiations to buy the contentious Dan Murphy’s bottleshop site in Darley Road for use as a mid-tunnel dive site for the WestConnex M4-M5 Link must stop until details of its lease to a private company are independently examined.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his business mates have wasted no time in coat-tailing US President Donald Trump and renewing their threat to cut the company tax rate.

Trump announced a plan on September 27 to slash the US corporate tax rate from 35% to 20%, at an estimated cost to the national budget of US$2 trillion over 10 years. He did not give any details, but it will be a massive public hand-out to big business. Meanwhile, Trump and the Republicans continue to seek to undermine health insurance for the poor.

The Big Four banks have abolished fees on “foreign” automatic teller machines (ATM) withdrawals as part of a public relations ploy to head off a royal commission into their financial scandals.

The Commonwealth Bank announced on September 24 it was scrapping ATM fees on withdrawals by customers of other banks. This was immediately followed by ANZ, the National Australia Bank and Westpac.

The Australian Public Service (APS) cut more than 3600 jobs in the past year, the latest report on the sector says. Many of the jobs lost appear to be from the APS contract workforce.

The APS employed some 15,000 temporary staff in June, or 9.8% of employees. A year earlier it had some 18,000 non-ongoing staff, which was about 11.55% of the workforce.

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