Pip Hinman

NSW Greens MP Jamie Parker organised a “Bust the Budget” meeting for local residents on June 3 at Glebe Primary School. Speakers addressed the extreme nature of Abbott’s budget, its disingenuous rationale and the need to fight back. Parker told the crowd of about 120 people that there will be “a tsunami of funding cuts in NSW” that will have “far-reaching effects”, especially for the community’s most disadvantaged.
A protest against mining giant Whitehaven Coal in Sydney’s CBD on June 4 drew around 200 people to hear farmers, activists and politicians speak out against an expanding coal mine which is destroying a forest. The Maules Creek project, north of Gunnedah and east of Narrabri, is the largest coal mine currently under construction in Australia. About 1660 hectares of native woodland is under threat. A 30,000 strong petition opposing the open cut coal mine’s expansion was to be presented to Planning Minister Pru Goward and Environment Minister Rob Stokes.
“A huge win for people power” is how campaigners describe the victory against gas company Metgasco, which had its exploration licence at Bentley suspended by the New South Wales government on May 15. But it took several years of systematic campaigning to get to this decision. I spent time at the Bentley blockade over May 17 to 19 and spoke to protectors, organisers and participants who were still shocked at the NSW government’s decision.
The NSW government's suspension of Metgasco's licence at Bentley in the Northern Rivers of NSW has lifted spirits across Australia. For years, communities have been battling the bipartisan support for the unconventional gas industry's advance into prime agricultural land in NSW. The licence has been only suspended, not cancelled. Yet the decision is a vindication that people power — sustained mass community campaigning — can be a powerful force. Curiously, NSW energy minister Anthony Roberts said the licence suspension was because Metgasgo had failed to consult the community.
Eliza June, one of the students who took part in the Education Action Group protest during the ABC’s political panel show Q&A on May 5, is pumped by the response to the action. The protest targetted education minster Christopher Pyne, a guest on the panel, over the Coalition government's plans to slash education funding. “Education cuts have been largely hidden from the mainstream media," she told Green Left Weekly. "So it’s great that our action has made it to front-page news.

ANZAC Day, we’re told, is Australia's "most important national occasion”. But beyond the glib cliches about how the ill-fated Anzac “campaign” at Gallipoli Cove in 1915 “shaped Australia's identity”, there is little political and historical reflection on what happened and why.

The March in March protests across Australia over March 15-17 were a resounding success – not just because of their size, focus and breadth. Just as significant is the fact that March in March tore apart the idea – seeded by the cynical rhetoric of John Howard's spin doctors in the wake of the invasion of Iraq – that protests don't work. This protest worked precisely because it brought between 80,000 and 110,000 people out of their homes and into the streets in a disparate yet united way against the Tony Abbott government's attacks.
Pro-choice activists are concerned that a bill that aims to give foetuses legal rights for the first time was not debated in the NSW Legislative Council on March 6. They wanted it to be tabled and voted on because they were confident it would be defeated. The bill known as Zoe’s Law was listed for debate but Liberal MP Marie Ficarra did not table it. Later, it was rumoured that the bill’s supporters could only count on 10 votes. Last November, the bill passed through the NSW Legislative Assembly, 63 to 26.
Members of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) on University of Western Sydney campuses took action on February 28 to highlight management's refusal to agree to a fair enterprise agreement. They have been without an agreement for more than a year. On the Bankstown campus of UWS, a number of unionists and students gathered to hear from union activists. They said that after 12 months of meetings with management they felt that little progress had been made. In the meantime, they were having to deal with increased workloads and increases in the cost of living.
A Marrickville councillor is fighting suspension following his exposure of a developer’s attempt to curry favour with the council on a controversial development in the inner west known as the Lewisham Towers.   Marrickville Greens councillor Max Phillips has lodged an appeal against the Division of Local Government’s decision to suspend him for two months from February 17.   The suspension request was made by a bloc of Liberal, Labor and independent councillors in April last year after Phillips refused to apologise to council and to big developer Meriton.  

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