Kerry Smith

Activists have called for an independent inquiry into the Maules Creek coalmine in north-west NSW and its impact on the surrounding farming community after documents obtained by Environmental Justice Australia (EJA) revealed a litany of environmental licence breaches over the past six years.

EJA applied to access documents known as annual returns, which detail breaches or "non-compliance with [environmental] licence", through the Government Information (Public Access) Act. But Whitehaven Coal, which owns the Maules Creek mine, fought them all the way.

ABC’s Four Corners recent report “Trashed: The dirty truth about your rubbish” highlighted a crisis in Australia’s recycling and waste disposal. The report implicated local councils, the Environmental Protection Agency and state and federal governments in the dodgy but highly profitable illegal dumping industry.

Companies built around the core business of illegal dumping are making millions of dollars in profits while local councils are losing thousands of dollars in waste levies.

After more than six months camped outside the Reserve Bank building in Martin Place, and following months of negotiations between the state government and the City of Sydney Council, the homeless occupants of Sydney’s tent city began packing up their belongings on August 11.

The man often called the “Mayor of Martin Place”, Lanz Priestley, said some camp dwellers were moving to “friend’s places” or “friend’s backyards”, but some “don’t have anywhere to go”.

Locals took to the streets of Penrith on August 5 to rally against a controversial plan by Dial A Dump and its director Ian Malouf to build a waste-to-energy incinerator at Eastern Creek, in Sydney’s west.

The rally marched to the electorate office of Minister for Western Sydney Stuart Ayres. It was timed to coincide with an Upper House inquiry into energy-from-waste technology due to begin on August 7. 

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has launched the First Nations Workers' Alliance to represent the 30,000 participants in the federal government’s Community Development Program (CDP), most of whom are Aboriginal people.

The move followed a resolution adopted by the ACTU executive authorising all means at its disposal to be mobilised towards dismantling the program. The resolution will kick-start the exploration of legal and legislative challenges to the program, as well as the mobilisation of campaign resources.

More than 150 unionists and two giant inflatable mascots rallied outside Esso's Australian headquarters in Southbank, Melbourne, on August 3. The rally was organised by the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union (AMWU), the Australian Workers' Union (AWU) and the Electrical Trades Union (ETU).

The rally was in support of maintenance workers who have been picketing Esso's Longford gas site since June in protest over the plan by UGL, which holds Esso’s maintenance contract, to retrench them and have a subsidiary rehire them on 30% less pay and a two-week fly-in, fly-out roster.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s surprise decision on July 27 to abandon plans for more local council mergers is a win for communities who strongly protested this undemocratic decision, said the Socialist Alliance candidates standing for the Inner West Council in the September 9 election.

Last week was Homelessness Week. It was also the week when the 76 homeless people sleeping in Martin Place were removed by the NSW Coalition government.

Sydney City Council has, at least, defended the “tent city” and taken a more pro-active role in trying to find solutions, compared with the NSW government which simply wants to wash its hands of this enormous problem.

“Today we mourn the loss of a great Australian, Dr G. Yunupingu who sadly passed away yesterday in Royal Darwin Hospital at age 46 after a long battle with illness,” the singer’s record label Skinnyfish Music said.

“Dr G. Yunpingu is remembered today as one of the most important figures in Australian music history, blind from birth and emerging from the remote Galiwin’ku community on Elcho Island off the coast of Arnhem Land to sell over half a million copies of his albums across the world, singing in his native Yolngu language ...

Hundreds of Electrical Trades Union (ETU) members and other unionists protested outside Crown's casino complex in Southbank on July 25, after marching from the State Library of Victoria.

It was part of what the ETU promises to be an orchestrated campaign against former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett and the Crown Casino over the sacking of 16 gaming technicians.

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