Pip Hinman

Residents attending a public inquiry on February 2 at Wests Ashfield into the New South Wales government's plan to amalgamate Ashfield, Leichhardt and Marrickville Councils were of one mind: they opposed it. About 50 people spoke in the afternoon session, and only 5, including Ashfield Liberal councillor Julie Passas and a self-described businessman, supported the plan. Similar meetings were organised at Sandringham, Bankstown, Manly, North Sydney, Parramatta, Mona Vale, Deniliquin and Shellharbour and more will take place over the next fortnight.
“Coal seam gas in New South Wales is dead in the water”, Julie Lyford, spokesperson for Groundswell Gloucester, said after AGL announced on February 4 it was quitting Gloucester. AGL had planned to drill at 300 sites in a geologically complex and rich farming region north-west of Newcastle. It had been facing fierce opposition for conducting tests in the Gloucester region under PEL 285. The decision has been welcomed by anti-coal seam gas (CSG) campaigners across NSW. AGL's licence was due for renewal on February 22.
Oxfam's new report, An Economy for the 1%, is a damning indictment of capitalism. It presents chilling data showing that global inequality has reached “new extremes”. The aid organisation has calculated that just 62 people have the same amount of wealth as half the world.

The most recent examples of sexism by two Coalition front bench MPs reminds us that sexism and misogyny is alive and thriving 32 years after the landmark law that made such discrimination a crime. From the outrageous sexist attacks on former PM Julia Gillard — largely from the same Coalition MPs — to MP Peter Dutton's “mad fucking witch” (MFW) text, the view that women are second-class citizens and sexual objects — and can be treated as such — remains strong especially among those with the means to shape public opinion.

About 70 people, mainly from the Australian Kurdish Association, organised a peaceful protest inside and outside the ABC Ultimo Centre on January 14. They were protesting against the national broadcaster's bias and slander against the Kurds, despite the Turkish government's attacks on Kurdish areas in Turkey and Syria.
A proposal for a refugee hub at Callan Park has won the support of Leichhardt Council. Leichhardt Council decided on December 8 to write to the state and federal governments to request funding for the establishment of a Refugee Welcome Centre in Callan Park. Leichardt Mayor Darcy Byrne said: “By offering a place in our own backyard to the orphans and widows fleeing Syria and elsewhere, we can put our good intentions into action.”
The dam took just half-an-hour to entomb half the village of Bento Rodrigues in 18 metres of iron-ore tailings, reddish mud and water slurry. A “mountain tsunami” is how firefighters in Mariana, in Minas Gerais in south-eastern Brazil, described the bursting of mining company Samarco Santarem’s iron-ore tailings dam on November 5. Marcos de Eufrasio, a 38-year-old stonemason who was cutting rock on that sunny afternoon, said that, from nowhere, he heard a “mighty roar”.
More than 2000 People's Climate Marches were held over the weekend of November 27 to 29. In Australia more than 140,000 people took to the streets to show they care, passionately, about climate change. They are also angry at government inaction, as illustrated by the many homemade placards and props. These marches were the biggest national anti-government mobilisations for many years. The Melbourne march — a huge 60,000 people — was the biggest street march there since the anti-Work Choices protests of 2005.
Gas miner Metgasco's surprise announcement on November 2 that it was recommending its shareholders accept a $25 million payout for its three remaining exploration licences in NSW's Northern Rivers, near Lismore, was celebrated right across the state. Anti-fracking campaigners, who have worked hard for more than three years, educating, organising and mobilising communities against the industry, are very relieved.
NSW Christian Democrat MLC Fred Nile intends to reintroduce a bill to give personhood rights to foetuses. He has already had several attempts — the last one failing a year ago. On November 9, Nile sent NSW Legislative Council members notice of his new Crimes Amendment (Zoe’s Law) Bill 2015. The Crimes Act currently recognises grievous bodily harm to a pregnant woman if her foetus dies as a result of assault or violence committed against her. The maximum sentence is 25 years’ jail.
Members of an Australia Palestine Advocacy Network study tour in front of the Apartheid Wall in the West Bank in January last year. Photo from APAN.org.au.
Several polls show that the new PM — and by extension, the Coalition — is very popular. Explaining Malcolm Turnbull's high approval rating is relatively easy: it is not too hard to be more popular than the hated Tony Abbott and Labor has long since given up on being an opposition. According to Newspoll, Fairfax-Ipsos, Roy Morgan and Essential Research, Turnbull's numbers keep improving, even after 6 weeks in office. Depending on which poll you look at, Turnbull's approval is either Mr 52%, Mr 53% or Mr 68%.
The new federal energy minister Josh Frydenberg has affirmed that the Turnbull-led government will not budge from policies that afford maximum profits to the outdated and dangerous fossil fuel corporations.

George Bender, a 68-year-old cotton farmer from Chinchilla, Queensland, took his own life on October 14. His family lays the blame squarely with the coal seam gas (CSG) industry he had fought against for a decade. Described by his family as “a straight talker” who “told the truth, not the sugar coated bullshit”, George was a fifth generation farmer in the Western Downs. He stood for the right for a farmer to say “no” to the gas industry.

George Bender, a 68­-year­-old cotton farmer from Chinchilla, Queensland, took his own life on October 14. His family lays the blame squarely with the coal seam gas (CSG) industry he had fought against for a decade. Describe by his family as “a straight talker” who “told the truth, not the sugar coated bullshit”, George was a fifth generation farmer in the Western Downs. He stood for the right for a farmer to say “no” to the gas industry. His family said in an October 20 statement: “[George] was willing to talk openly to anyone who was interested
Two Western Sydney University Resistance activists are running for the editorial board of the student magazine, Cruwsible. Phil Craig and Ian Escandor, both current Student Campus Council members, believe the student magazine could do much more to encourage activism on campus and better reflect students’ concerns. “Cruwsible should encourage more activism”, Craig told Green Left Weekly. “But the only way to do this is to have more student consultation.

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