Pip Hinman

While the war in Afghanistan has dropped off the front pages, seven years on, 56% of Australians say the 1000 Australian troops there should be brought home. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s talk about reconstructing the country haven’t fooled many.

Two hundred teachers rallied outside New South Wales parliament on October 23 to demand that education minister Verity Firth renegotiate the teacher transfer system.

People power came to Gunnedah in north-west NSW on September 15 as more than 300 farmers and their supporters rallied outside the Gunnedah Basin Coal Conference. They were protesting against a coalmining project in the agriculturally rich Liverpool Plains that was given state government approval in 2006.

The Greens and independents appear to be the main beneficiaries of a large swing away from Labor in the September 13 NSW council elections.

An arrogant ALP state government, with only the approval of cabinet, announced on August 28 it would start selling off NSW energy retailers as well as public land to energy corporations for future power stations.

Farmers in Liverpool Plains, south of Tamworth, are taking on BHP Billiton’s drive for black gold.

Activists have asked the Federal Court to rule that the recently gazetted NSW regulation declaring that people can be fined $5500 for “annoying” behaviour during July, but especially during the pope’s World Youth Day (WYD) visit, be declared invalid. The case was heard on July 11.

In Sydney, for the month of July, you can be arrested and charged $5500 for causing “annoyance” or “inconvenience” to others (but mainly to the pope, or his supporters) in more than 600 places across Sydney — including railway stations, schools and tourist icons, such as the Harbour Bridge.

According to the official website for World Youth Day (WYD), Sydney will “look different” from APEC. Really? With 600-plus areas now officially “declared areas”, not to mention proscribed airspace throughout July, and officials with the right to decide who is annoying and who isn’t, it doesn’t seem very different. If anything, it’s worse.

One of the lawyers for Mohamed Haneef, the doctor charged with terrorism-related offences in 2007, told a 100-strong June 21 public meeting that the Howard government had “wanted Dr Haneef to be a terrorist — but he wasn’t”. The Australian Federal Police (AFP) case against Haneef spectacularly imploded.

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