Newcastle

Plans to build a mosque in Buchanan in the Hunter Valley, NSW, were approved 6–4 after nearly two hours of emotional speeches at a meeting of Cessnock Council on July 20.

The Newcastle Muslim Association applied to build a 390 square-metre place of worship and funeral home on 23 hectares at Buchanan, south of Maitland.

But the 12 residents who spoke against the mosque said it is too big, will create traffic congestion and noise and is inappropriate in a rural area. Some also said they were concerned about the safety of their children travelling to school and feared increased crime.

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.

Ten months after trains ceased running into Newcastle station, the New South Wales parliament has passed a controversial bill to close the line at Wickham and rip up the rail line in the CBD.

The NSW Greens, who opposed the legislation along with Labor, the Christian Democrats and the Animal Justice Party, labelled the outcome a “betrayal” of the Hunter community and accused the government of selling out to “developer spivs”.

The New South Wales government's nominally independent Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) has approved a fourth coal loader for the port of Newcastle.

Port Waratah Coal Services (PWCS) initially applied to build the loader in 2012 at the height of the resources boom. Since then coal prices have crashed, caused by the fact that renewable energy is now a preferred source of “new build” power plants across the globe and fewer new coal-fired power plants are being built than was forecast.

Supporters of maintaining the rail line into Newcastle are hopeful that their fight against NSW government’s plans to remove the line into the CBD will prevail.

The community has fought for more than a decade against state government attempts to cut the rail into the city centre. Developers have long wanted to exploit the city centre’s prime rail line land as it has never been mined and is considered ideal for multi-story developments. Their mates in the NSW parliament have been only too keen to help out.

Public submissions to the NSW Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) over July 12 and 13 were overwhelmingly against a fourth coal terminal (T4) to be located at Kooragang Island, near Newcastle.

Newcastle based group Hunter Asylum Seeker Advocacy (HASA) held a successful fundraiser for the asylum seekers who have been given so-called 'residency' on Nauru.

Earlier this year one of the asylum seekers had opened up a Pakistani restaurant in Nauru. HASA asked The Love Tree Cafe in Newcastle if they could host a solidarity dinner there, following the recipes of the Pakistani restaurant.

To their astonishment, The Love Tree not only agreed to do it, but did so gratis. Staff volunteered their time, and the venue and food were provided free to maximise the returns.

NSW premier Bruce Baird was confronted by 200 TAFE students, teachers and supporters when he visited Newcastle’s Hamilton TAFE campus on February 16.

His visit was to inaugurate the offices of the Hunter Business Chamber, which have been relocated to Hamilton TAFE.

Significantly, the old TAFE signage out the front of the campus has been replaced with a sign that reads “Australian Business Apprenticeship Centre”.

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