Kerry Smith

Fifty people attended the Public School Dreams forum, hosted by the Inner City Teachers Association (ICTA) on November 16.

In attendance were students, parents, teachers and principals from 16 inner-city schools, Leichhardt Greens mayor Jamie Parker and NSW Greens upper house member John Kaye. Students from Darlington Public School opened the forum with two songs.

School communities at the forum were encouraged to submit comments to the federal government’s Review of Funding for Schooling.

During UN Disarmament Week (October 24-31), a bill to enact the UN Convention banning Cluster Munitions is to be tabled in the House of Representatives. However, it is unlikely to contain a provision prohibiting financial institutions from funding manufacturers of cluster bombs.

It has been found that the ANZ bank has provided loans of $136.5 million to producers of cluster bombs.

Leaked documents revealed by the September 23 Sydney Morning Herald show large coal companies colluded to begin coal-seam gas mining under Sydney’s drinking water catchment.

The documents show gas-drilling company Apex Energy NL agreed to help Peabody Energy distance itself from bad publicity arising out of a proposal to begin coal-seam gas mining at the Metropolitan Colliery.

Apex was to expand the colliery without mentioning the coal-seam gas aspect of the expansion, which had the potential to contaminate water supplies.

On September 8, race and discrimination commissioner Graeme Innes used a forum at the University of NSW Indigenous Law Centre on racism in sport to condemn the racist dog-whistling in the recent federal election.

“You only have to look at the race to the bottom that you saw in the recent election on asylum seekers. Don't tell me there's not a racist part in that issue.

Aboriginal activist Michael Eckford, better known as Michael Anderson, launched his campaign for the NSW Senate on August 3. Eckford was forced to stand under his birth certificate name because of Australian Electoral Commission regulations.

Eckford is running with former ALP member Criselee Stevens, who said she quit Labor because “they are so out of touch with the real grassroots concerns and priorities”.

The Sandon Point Aboriginal Tent Embassy (SPATE) is set to appeal a July 26 Land and Environment Court dismissal challenging the proposed Stockland 181-lot residential super development at Sandon Point, in the Wollongong suburb of Bulli, New South Wales.

The Stop the War Coalition Sydney held a picket outside ALP MP Tanya Plibersek’s office on August 5 to call for an end to Australian support for the war in Afghanistan.

The STWC has condemned the Australian government’s purchase of 18 unmanned spy drones and training packages worth $175 million.

Spokesperson Marlene Obeid said: “The drones are part of an offensive weapons system that, almost certainly, will be linked to US systems in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In other words, Australia will be subsidising US assault operations, which will kill more Afghan women and children.”

The Cairns Women’s Network (CNW) has endorsed a planned national day of action for abortion rights on October 9.

“We do not understand why a section of the Qld Criminal Code from 1899 is being used to bring charges against a young Cairns couple in 2010”, said Dr Carole Ford from the Cairns Women’s Network. “All people who respect a woman’s right to control her own fertility should support repeal of these archaic laws.”

Ford said the CNW was planning a peaceful vigil in Cairns beginning on October 11.

Five hundred people rallied outside the Perth Supreme Court Gardens on July 11 to demand that the coronial investigation into Mr Ward's tragic death be reopened.

Mr Ward, a respected Aboriginal elder, was literally cooked to death in the back of a prisoner van while being driven from Laverton to Kalgoorlie to face court for a traffic offence in January 2008.

The coroner found that temperatures inside the van reached 47° Celsius and that metal surfaces in the van would have reached 56°C.

On May 31, Israeli defence force commandos boarded an aid ship in international waters. The ship was trying to break the illegal military blockade of the Gaza strip and transport much-needed food and medical supplies. Nine aid activists were killed and several snap actions were held in Australia to condemn Israel’s actions and call for an end to the blockade.

On June 1, 250 people rallied in Brisbane to condemn Israel’s attacks on the Gaza aid fleet. ALP vice-president Wendy Turner, and socialist activist and lecturer in creative industries Gary MacLennan, spoke.

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