Niko Leka

In the 1960s, Joy Cummings, a Labor Party activist, locked onto a row of Moreton Bay figs in Islington Park, Newcastle. The majestic trees, which had been earmarked for the chainsaw to widen the road, were saved and still stand today. Cummings went on to be elected to Newcastle Council and in 1974 became Australia’s first female Lord Mayor.

Refugee activists have been holding LetThemStay actions and protesting against refugee policies outside the office of Federal Labor MP Sharon Claydon every Thursday afternoon since February last year.

The group, which includes members of The Greens, Socialist Alliance, Socialist Alternative, Quakers, Uniting Church, Catholics and Grandmother's Against Children in Detention, raise a chorus of supportive horns from passing traffic.

They say they will not stop until all refugees are free.

The NSW government has announced plans to privatise hospitals in Maitland, Wyong, Goulburn, Shellharbour and Bowral. It is a symptom of a disease: our public services are threatened by politicians who want to privatise them so companies can run them for profit.

Supporters of maintaining the rail line into Newcastle are hopeful that their fight against NSW government’s plans to remove the line into the CBD will prevail.

The community has fought for more than a decade against state government attempts to cut the rail into the city centre. Developers have long wanted to exploit the city centre’s prime rail line land as it has never been mined and is considered ideal for multi-story developments. Their mates in the NSW parliament have been only too keen to help out.

Public submissions to the NSW Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) over July 12 and 13 were overwhelmingly against a fourth coal terminal (T4) to be located at Kooragang Island, near Newcastle.

The Border Force Act came into force on July 1. Under this Act, people working in immigration detention centres risk two years’ jail for disclosing evidence of the horrendous, inhumane conditions in those places.

Brad Chilcott is the director of Welcome to Australia, a community organisation that, according to its Facebook page, is “dedicated to giving asylum seekers, refugees, new arrivals and long-term migrant residents of Australia a warm, dignified and positive Welcome to Australia”.

An article by Chilcott entitled Possibility before Protest has appeared on Chifley.org, a website for ALP members and supporters.

The article does not clarify Chilcott’s relationship with the ALP.

Albert Einstein said the purpose of socialism is to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development.

Today it seems the predatory phase is here to stay. The choice between socialism or barbarism is now pressing us on all sides.

Mining, for instance, pays little in taxes, but we subsidise it to $4 billion a year — and will bear its health burdens for generations to come.

As former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd found when he tried to make mining companies pay reasonable taxes, it is a rogue industry.

Newcastle based group Hunter Asylum Seeker Advocacy (HASA) held a successful fundraiser for the asylum seekers who have been given so-called 'residency' on Nauru.

Earlier this year one of the asylum seekers had opened up a Pakistani restaurant in Nauru. HASA asked The Love Tree Cafe in Newcastle if they could host a solidarity dinner there, following the recipes of the Pakistani restaurant.

To their astonishment, The Love Tree not only agreed to do it, but did so gratis. Staff volunteered their time, and the venue and food were provided free to maximise the returns.

The Newcastle Resistance Centre was packed to capacity on August 3 to hear Shamikh Badra speak about what is happening in his home city of Gaza.

Badra said his grandfather was forced from his village in 1948 and ended up in Gaza.

He described the geography of the conflict, and how Israel exploits religion to cover the fact that it is occupying Palestinian land.

“In 1948,” he said, “there was no Hamas, no rockets. Yet this did not stop them from invading and committing massacres.”

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