Sydney

It was a cold and blustery day in Sydney on June 23 when poet Candy Royalle laid down her warrior gloves and breathed her last. The queer, Arabic, literary and protest worlds bowed their heads in shock and lamented her loss.

Candy was a proud Palestinian-Lebanese queer woman and an electric poet and performer. She was ferocious on stage, offering audiences a heady mix of lesbian sexual liberation and searing anti-colonial orations.

 

A "Fix NSW Transport" lantern walk will be held on August 11, beginning at Town Hall and proceeding through city streets, to highlight community opposition to tollways, especially WestConnex, and the crisis of public transport in the state.

Initial endorsements included activist groups No Westconnex: Public Transport Not Motorways; EcoTransit; Friends of Erskineville; Keep Sydney Beautiful; Rail Tram and Bus Union; Netwown Residents Against WestConnex, National Tertiary Education Union; Restore Inner West Line; and Westconnex Action Group.

Family members and supporters of Eric Whittaker rallied outside NSW Parliament on on July 4, the first anniversary of his murder.

Speakers at the action included Eric's mother, Margaret Hall, Diane Whittaker, Elizabeth Jarrett, Padraic Gibson, Raul Bassi and Ken Canning.

Whittaker was a 35-year-old Kamilaroi man put in Parklea Prison for an alleged breach of bail conditions.

The Walgett father of four was imprisoned for only two days before he was fatally injured in the prison.

Another fundamental liberty of the people of New South Wales took a hit on July 1.

On that day a new regulation under the Crown Land Management Act 2016 took effect, granting the NSW government wide powers to disperse or ban protests, rallies and virtually any public gathering across about half of all land across the state.

The powers apply on any Crown Land — land owned by the state government, including town squares, parks, roads, beaches, community halls and more.

 

International and domestic students rallied outside the NSW state Labor Party conference on June 30, calling for an end to the discriminatory policy under which international students are ineligible for student travel concession cards.

Despite having more than 300,000 international students enrolled in universities across the state, NSW is the only state in Australia that does not give international students travel concessions.

"The refugee crisis is a union issue, as well as a social justice issue," Australian Services Union (ASU) NSW and ACT deputy secretary Judith Wright told about 100 people on June 27 at the "Change the Rules for Refugees" forum organised by Unions for Refugees.

"The ASU has members in support services for refugees. They see first-hand the results of the oppression and violence suffered by asylum seekers," she said.

The NSW Coalition government has brought down a budget designed to bedazzle NSW voters ahead of the 2019 March state election.

The Coalition’s election war chest is made up of a massive surplus from increases in revenue from Commonwealth grants, rising land taxes and the proceeds from the sale of state assets — boosted by the federal government’s Asset Recycling Scheme.

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) has welcomed as a “victory for common sense” a Federal Court decision on June 21 to reject massive fines sought by the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) over the Hutchison Ports dispute three years ago.

On August 6, 2015, Hutchison Ports Australia sacked 100 workers at its Port Botany terminal by text message the day before many were due to go on shift. The company then placed guards on the gates and workers were not even allowed to clear out their lockers.

The Sydney University branch of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) held a forum on campus on June 13 to discuss how to organise to rewin the right to strike.

Professor John Buchanan, from the University of Sydney Business School, told the forum: "The current Fair Work Act (FWA), introduced by the previous Labor government, is the second worst industrial relations legislation in Australian history, after John Howard's Work Choices.

More than 100 members of unions, aid and development organisations, health, environment and other groups rallied in Sydney on June 15 outside the Federal Parliament's Joint Standing Committee public hearing on the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)-11 trade agreement. The rally was organised by the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET).

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