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Truck drivers are celebrating a major win over industry lobby group NatRoad in its bid to pay them less by seeking an exemption from rules in NSW setting minimum pay rates.

The NSW Industrial Relations Commission dismissed NatRoad’s application, which was opposed by the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU), on October 4.

TWU NSW branch secretary Richard Olsen said: “This is an important win for owner drivers in NSW. NatRoad do not represent owner drivers, they represent companies that want to rip them off.”

The federal government's much-vaunted parliamentary inquiry into the banking system was correctly called "a farce" by Labor MP Pat Conroy on October 4, the first day of a three-day hearing in Canberra. Conroy said: "I have two days of questions here" but no time to ask them.

The inquiry was an attempt by the government to deflect growing calls for a royal commission into the banking system.

Refugee supporters rallied in Sydney on October 5 in solidarity with asylum seekers and refugees on Nauru who held their 200th consecutive day of protest against their illegal detention that day.

Speakers included Danielle Austin, a former nurse on Christmas Island and convener of Mums for Refugees; Dr Barri Phatarfod, a convener of Doctors4Refugees; and Judith Reen, a former teacher on Nauru.

It has been 17 weeks since Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) terminated, through a contract arrangement, its entire maintenance staff and informed them they could come back to work under non-union terms and with a 65% wage cut.

It is expected that on October 10 CUB will be bought by AB InBev, the largest brewer in the world. It is hoped the new owners will overhaul the management framework and reinstate the sacked workers on their previous wages and conditions.

Refugee activists attended a meeting on October 3 to discuss strategy for the refugee rights movement.

The meeting was organised by the Refugee Action Collective (RAC) in response to an article written by Robert Manne, Tim Costello, Frank Brennan and John Menadue calling for a "compromise" solution to "our refugee crisis".

RAC invited Manne to speak at the forum. Chris Breen spoke on behalf of RAC.

Socialist Alliance member, Sue Bolton, is standing for re-election as a councillor in the City of Moreland. Polling day is October 22.

The battle over the controversial $18 billion WestConnex tollway project through the inner-western suburbs is heating up.

The Sydney Motorway Corporation has been granted conditional approval by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment to commence work in Sydney Park, meaning dozens of trees are set for removal.

Arguably, the University of Sydney’s decision to give former Prime Minister John Howard an honorary doctorate on September 30 has backfired badly. 

Academics and students spoke eloquently against the award before and during the ceremony, prompting some students who had just been given their degree to join in.

The university had cited Howard’s “world-leading gun law reform, leadership in East Timor and contribution to Australia’s economic reform” as reasons for the award. While many would question these, the elephant in the room was Iraq.

Three hundred workers assembled at the entry of the Geelong oil refinery on October 7 for a community protest against unsafe conditions at the refinery.

The 60-year-old refinery, previously operated by Shell, was bought by Viva Energy Australia in August 2014, and it immediately pledged $150 million for maintenance work.

On October 6 NSW Supreme Court Judge Natalie Adams reserved her decision on Kurdish journalist Renas Lelikan’s bail appeal until 14 October. Lelikan, who is charged with membership of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), has been remanded in custody since July 20.

Originally held in Sydney’s Silverwater Prison, he was transferred to isolation in the Goulburn “Supermax” jail following death threats against him by ISIS sympathisers.

About 50 people rallied on October 2 in a show of solidarity with the peoples of West Papua, and to protest the ongoing genocide and dispossession that has been carried out by a rapacious Indonesian state against the Indigenous population since the 1960s.

After some spirited speeches, including by members of the small local West Papuan community in exile, the rally set off for a short march from Town Hall to the New South Wales Parliament.

The rally also expressed its support for:

Efforts to halt plans for nuclear waste dumping in South Australia have made important advances in recent weeks, with environmental, trade union, indigenous and other bodies pushing for a joint opposition campaign.

At a September 16 meeting called by the peak labour movement body, SA Unions, and the Maritime Union of Australia, members of at least 14 organisations resolved to work toward forming a coordinating committee “around the common objective of preventing nuclear waste dumps being established in South Australia”.