Stephen O'Brien

An abortion rights march was organised by high school students in Newcastle on July 21 wanting the health procedure to be removed from the Crimes Act in NSW.

Hundreds of people gathered on northern Sydney, Central Coast and Hunter beaches to protest the resumption of seismic testing in early May.

In 1996, when I was working in Nicaragua, I attended a conference in El Salvador and met a charismatic former army officer from Venezuela called Hugo Chávez. He explained how he was building an alliance between patriotic military officers and working people and that they were seeking to win the next elections and use the country’s oil wealth to improve the quality of life for the poor.

The inability of the Liberal Party to find candidates for Hunter seats for the March New South Wales state election suggests that even its party faithful recognise that Gladys Berejiklian’s Coalition government is headed for electoral defeat and, probably, a total wipe-out in the Hunter.

The Rank and File Team has re-won the leadership of the NSW Public Service Association.

Stewart Little, an advocate for the Police Association and part-time disability support worker defeated Anne Gardiner who had been elected general secretary in 2012 on the Progressive PSA ticket.

Gardiner abandoned the Progressives caucus shortly after her election and during her tenure focused on internal union reforms and favoured small target and multimedia campaigns around jobs and defending public services.

During the early days of his campaign to be US president, Democratic hopeful Bernie Sanders wondered if the crowds that he saw on the street were headed to a baseball game, only to be told: “Actually they are on the way to hear you”. This story illustrates how the Sanders message of free education, affordable health care, a $15 minimum wage, taxing the mega-rich and support for renewable energy has taken off. Young Americans — the millennials — facing unpayable student debts, unaffordable health care, low wages and climate change inaction, are flocking to his campaign.
Feminist, resident activist, popular educator, councillor, public transport campaigner, mother, academic, environmentalist and true democrat, Margaret Henry, who passed away late last year in Newcastle, had many sides to her wonderful life.
Newcastle anti-racists are counter-mobilising again against Reclaim Australia, the anti-Muslim group, who are again attempting to establish a support base in the Hunter Region. The far-right racists are using a proposal by Newcastle's Muslim Association to build a mosque and small funeral parlour in Buchanan, in the Hunter Valley, as a pretext to attack the Muslim Community. Buchanan is a rural area just outside Kurri Kurri and close to the Hunter Expressway.
Two hundred Public Service Association (PSA) members were joined by people with disabilities, their relatives, friends and other trade unionists in a protest in Newcastle on November 4, as part of a four-hour strike against the privatisation of disability services. The Baird government is using the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme as a cover to sack 13,000 workers in public disability services and gift state assets to private providers.
Radical solutions to poverty were put forward at a public conversation titled “Pushed to the Margins” held at the Newcastle City Hall on October 21. The ABC’s Lateline co-presenter Emma Alberici hosted the forum and seemed to be taken aback by economist Professor Bill Mitchell’s simple solutions to poverty. Asked by Alberici, “What causes unemployment?”, Mitchell responded: “Lack of jobs”. Mitchell went on to advocate a “job guarantee”, where the government funds job creation through a massive programme of productive public works.

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