Kerry Smith

Socialist Alliance candidate for upper house in the coming NSW elections Bea Bleile expressed her continuing support for family of TJ Hickey, who are still fighting for justice following his death in 2004. TJ Hickey, a young Aboriginal man, was killed during a police chase. He was impaled on a spiked fence in Phillip St, Waterloo. In 2006, the NSW coroner exonerated the police involved from any wrongdoing. Yet a large amount of evidence was not included in the hearing. The family has called for the inquest to be reopened.
New federal drug laws could make thousands of native and common garden plants illegal. The proposed legislation will place common plants under schedule II of the drug code along with plants such as marijuana and opium poppies. The most worrying aspect of the legislation is the sheer number of plant species that will be made illegal. Many of the substances produced by the plants are already illegal to manufacture or consume. However, there is not any significant market for making drugs from these plants and they are not sold or produced by organised crime.
NSW planning minister Tony Kelly announced on January 18 he had approved plans by Delfin Lend Lease to build 4800 homes in Calderwood, west of Albion Park. The decision has angered many nearby residents. It also ignored strong opposition from Shellharbour council. Opponents of the development say it is unnecessary and will destroy prime agricultural land. The Calderwood development, which falls within the boundary of Shellharbour Council, was approved under Part 3A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act.
The federal senate has agreed to an inquiry into the practice of forcible adoption in Australia between the 1940s and ’80s, supporting a motion by Greens Senator Rachel Siewert on November 15. “Today’s vote starts to recognise the suffering that so many people have endured as a result of forced adoption policies,” Siewert said. “There is no doubt that many women were treated very badly as a result of these policies. Young and vulnerable mothers were pressured into adoptions, and often had to surrender their newborn children without being allowed to see them.
Marrickville Council has stayed firm in the face of criticism for its recent decision to join the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israeli apartheid in Palestine. The council passed a Greens-initiated motion to support the BDS campaign on December 14.
Members from a variety of community and solidarity groups campaigning for human rights in Australia and overseas came together on December 11 to mark International Human Rights Day in Sydney.
The Independent Education Union (IEU) has launched a campaign for pay equity for early childhood teachers. In the months leading up to the NSW elections in March 2011, the campaign will include rallies, postcards and an email bombardment of the Labor and Liberal parties. Early childhood teachers working in community-based preschools and childcare centres earn up to 20% less than teachers working in state government preschools and independent and Catholic primary schools. A full-time early childhood teacher can earn $14,000 a year less than other teachers.
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.

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