Pip Hinman

Opponents of Shenhua-Watermark's mega coalmine in the Liverpool Plains in north-western NSW have been given a boost by the Chinese government-owned company's annual report released on March 24, which hinted it may not proceed.

Amnesty International Western Sydney University students hosted a forum at the Parramatta campus on March 15. Speakers included James Arvanitakis, Debra Keenahan, Luce De Buitleir Andrews and Sev Ozdowski.

Keenahan spoke about how refugees had become “dehumanised” since former PM John Howard said: “We will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come”.

An important conference for activists will be held in Sydney on May 13 to 15. “Socialism for the 21st Century” will focus on deepening the discussion about the theory and practice of the socialist movement today.

Conference organiser Susan Price told Green Left Weekly that the conference would discuss the challenges of building movements for radical social change while taking the struggle into capitalist institutions, such as parliaments and councils.

The powers-that-be in NSW have deemed that there are so many examples of “unsafe protest activities” across the state that, to make everyone safe, we need new laws that will protect “lawful business activity”.

Protesters will be able to be jailed for up to seven years for “intentionally” or “recklessly” interfering with a “mine” — the definition of which has been changed to include an exploratory or test site.

The NSW Minerals Council chief executive Stephen Galilee is keen on new anti-protest laws in NSW. He claims to be concerned about the safety of the workers as well as the protesters “illegally accessing mine sites”.

Mining and Energy Minister Antony Roberts has been a little more blunt: he says the new law is aimed at better enforcing the protection of private property and “lawful business activity”.

Most, however, can see through the spin.

You might expect that this year's Mardi Gras parade, which came just days after the institutional apologies to the original queer rights activists — the 78ers — would be free of the political heavy handedness that launched Mardi Gras as an annual protest march in 1978.

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.

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