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The Australian Financial Review Rich List for 2017 features 60 billionaires — the most ever in its 34-year history. The total wealth of all "rich listers" has reached $233.1 billion, up from $197.3 billion last year.

Highest ranked among the 200 richest people in the country is paper and packaging tycoon Anthony Pratt, with a fortune of $12.6 billion. It looks like all that plastic packaging floating in the world's oceans has reaped at least one plutocrat some positive returns.

The NSW Department of Planning & Environment admitted on June 7 that it had been inundated with more than 23,000 mostly oppositional submissions to corporate giant Santos’ plan for a gas field in the Pilliga region in north-western NSW.

The department has now totalled the figures: more than 18,000 “form submissions” were sent in — meaning that many people took advantage of anti-fracking groups’ efforts to broaden the anti-gas campaign, by signing a form and adding their personal view to a statement of concern.

Minimum wages rises $22 a week

Australia's lowest-paid workers will get a $22 a week pay rise after the Fair Work Commission lifted the national minimum wage to $694.90 from July 1.

FWC lifted the wage by 3.3% or 59 cents an hour to $18.29 an hour. Inflation for the year to the end of March was 2.1%. Minimum rates in modern awards will also rise by 3.3%.

ACTU secretary Sally McManus said the rise would not make up for penalty rate cuts affecting 700,000 workers.

The decision will affect up to 2.3 million people reliant on minimum rates of pay.

 

Gay men in the Chechen Republic are being kidnapped and detained in torture camps as part of the government’s attempt to “purge” the country of homosexuality.

Chechnya is currently ruled by the wealthy war criminal Ramzan Kadyrov, who has the backing of Russian President Vladimir Putin. But Russia’s "gay propaganda laws", which criminalise the dissemination of information about LGBTQI issues, are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Chechnya’s deeply homophobic culture. 

Vigil protests were held on May 25, in Hobart and Melbourne, to mark 100 days of peaceful occupation of the wildlife-rich forests of Tasmania’s Tarkine. The vigil, organised by the Bob Brown Foundation and Save the Tarkine, urged members of the Legislative Council to reject the Hodgman government's proposed destructive forests legislation and to provide National Park protection for the Tarkine.

The day after a public meeting to oppose development on a toxic site in a northern suburb of Melbourne, the developer put it up for sale on a real estate site, without any mention of the contamination. In Victoria, there is no legal requirement for the sellers of contaminated land, to indicate that a site is contaminated.

Local residents packed the Fawkner Senior Citizens Centre on May 11 to hear speakers about the issues around this toxic site.

We condemn the terror attacks in London and Manchester, but we also need to call out the cynical and dangerous response from those in charge who have one solution — more of the same.

British Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May and US President Donald Trump are using these tragedies to ramp up Islamophobia, expand police powers, weaken civil liberties and strengthen the “war on terror” — the same policies that have failed to stop individuals from carrying out terror attacks.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) has called for a national day of rallies for June 20 to stop the attacks on workers.

This is the second national day of action called by the CFMEU this year, with a previous round of rallies having taken place in March.

Residents’ groups from Sydney's west and inner-west came together in a protest outside NSW Minister for WestConnex Stuart Ayres’ electorate office in Penrith on June 5. New tolls are about to be introduced on the M4 motorway as part of the giant tollway and tunnel scam that is WestConnex.

Commuters from western Sydney will be charged $2000 a year in the new M4 tolls, according to a letter from Penrith Valley Community Unions NSW (PVCU) that was delivered to Ayres' office.

After promising for months that she’d never call an early election, Tory Prime Minister Theresa May called a snap general election in April — fully expecting to be returned with a thumping Conservative majority.

Instead, the cynically conceived June 8 poll resulted in a disaster for Conservative politics in Britain. The Tories have lost their majority and now face a hung parliament.

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