Newcastle

One hundred years ago this month, workers, peasants and soldiers in Russia overthrew the corrupt government that had led the country into a disastrous war and established the Soviet Socialist Republic. 

It seemed that, for once, the people had won. Socialism had gone from theoretical possibility to practical reality.

RAD Exhibition
Until August 27
Newcastle Museum
Radical Newcastle
Edited by James Bennett, Nancy Cushing & Erik Eklund
New South Publishers, 2015
$39.99

Exhibitions like RAD, now showing at the Newcastle Museum, and Radical Newcastle, the book that inspired it, help each generation of activists remember and learn the lessons of previous struggles.

The V8 supercars race due to run through Newcastle streets in November places “private profit over the common good and social justice” according to the Newcastle East Residents Group (NERG).

In a recent leaflet NERG points out that residents continue to be sidelined by Newcastle City Council, Destinations NSW (a government tourism body) and Supercars Australia Pty Ltd.

The race deal was worked out in a private briefing and closed council meetings without community involvement last year.

Assistant secretary of the Newcastle East Residents Group (NERG) Karen Read addressed Newcastle Trades Hall (Hunter Workers) recently about the supercars race scheduled to run through Newcastle’s historic East end in November.

Read fielded questions about residents needing to be credentialled to enter their own homes, the needs of the elderly, contacts with other groups such as Save Albert Park and the lengthy period of construction and dismantling of race infrastructure.

Why would a 54 year-old woman make a decision to lock herself onto the train tracks of the world’s biggest coal port?

Annette Schneider, an artist and farmer from Monaro in NSW, explained to Green Left Weekly that her action on March 31 was a direct result of her fear of catastrophic climate change.

It’s 8pm and I’m sitting in the main section of the carriage. A weathered, middle-aged man in a tracksuit and peak hat is swaying around by the doors, muttering. I watch him out of the corner of my eye as he ambles over.

“How’s it going?” He slurs.

“Yeah good mate.”

The train soon shudders to a stop, the doors open and he springs out like some manic racehorse into the night.

The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) and Brisbane-based consultant Katestone have come under fire for releasing a report, on coal train dust in the Hunter Valley, that appeared to have been doctored.

The ARTC is a federal-owned corporation and leases rail track from the NSW government. It is in charge of most rail track other than dedicated inner city passenger rail corridors, including rail tracks that deal mainly in freight and commodity haulage.

The NSW Coalition government announced plans on December 13 last year to cut the Newcastle rail line at Wickham station. As part of the urban renewal strategy document, passengers would have to transfer to buses to complete the last two kilometres of their journey to Newcastle.

A long-running community group, Save Our Rail, has twice stopped former Labor and Coalitions governments' attempts to cut the line.

Here are ten reasons why the campaign needs to continue:

There is no solution proposed for rail users affected by the cut

A Breath Of Stale Air
Local Resident Failure
Pee Records
Released June, 2012
peerecords.com

Newcastle punks Local Resident Failure are heavier than Clive Palmer, tighter than Gina Rinehart and have just dropped a motherlode of a debut album.

But the analogies with Australia's mining fat cats end there. A Breath Of Stale Air spits gobfuls of bile at right-wingers, from the mainstream media to racist rednecks - not least on "Every Day's A Holiday On Christmas Island", the band's scathing condemnation of xenophobia.

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