Jim McIlroy

NSW Premier Mike Baird’s vision of “NSW Inc” is under increasing fire as the year ends. Dubbed the “Smiling Assassin”, “Mike the Vandal”, and “Robert Askin with a smiling face”, Baird’s approval ratings have plummeted as a number of his pet projects face rising opposition.

The former Liberal NSW Premier Askin was notoriously corrupt, renowned for his dodgy dealings with developers and his demand that his driver “run over the bastards” during an anti-Vietnam War protest in 1966 against visiting US President Lyndon Johnson.

“Despite the fact that Australia’s on the verge of becoming the world’s largest exporter of LNG [Liquified Natural Gas], there’ll be no new revenues from the primary tax on oil and gas for the next two decades and perhaps even longer,” Tax Justice Network (TJN) researcher Jason Ward said on October 10.

The TJN is a coalition of churches, welfare groups, unions and other civil society organisations.

This primary tax is the Petroleum Resources Rent Tax (PRRT), initiated by Bob Hawke’s Labor government in the 1980s.

Leichhardt residents and other opponents of the controversial $17 billion WestConnex motorway project picketed a test drilling rig site near Pioneer Park on November 21, preventing the site’s establishment for 24 hours.

Protests continued at the site for several days after that, with information pickets planned every morning over the next week.

Due to route changes announced by Sydney Motorway Corporation (SMC) in early November, the M4–M5 link tunnel is now slated to go underneath a larger part of Leichhardt than previously proposed.

Mark Rogers, a 66-year-old retiree and grandfather, has been threatened with legal action by the Department of Human Services (DHS) over a “misleading or deceptive” logo using the Medicare colours for his website, savemedicare.org.

Rogers has been campaigning to defend Medicare from the attacks of the Tony Abbott-Malcolm Turnbull Coalition government since 2014.

About 100 members of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and other unions rallied outside the Indonesian consulate in the Sydney suburb of Maroubra on November 16 in support of 1000 Indonesian truck drivers and port workers who have been on indefinite strike since November 1.

NSW Premier Mike Baird agreed on November 15 to meet with residents campaigning against the controversial $17 billion tollway WestConnex. His promise came after they staged a sit-in at NSW Parliament House that day.

At the start of question time, three protesters attempted to drop a banner from the gallery that read “No WestCONnex / Baird it’s time to listen”.

The trio then chanted “No WestConnex” and informed MPs that dozens of residents were waiting for Baird to speak to them. They were escorted out by security.

The NSW Coalition government is in deep trouble after the disastrous by-election in the rural seat of Orange on November 12 in which the Nationals suffered a 34% swing against it.

Nationals state leader and Deputy Premier Troy Grant has been forced to resign, and has been replaced by John Barilaro.

The swing was the highest ever recorded in a NSW by-election, with some booths reporting a swing away from the Nationals of more than 60%. It is now possible the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party (SFFP) candidate, Philip Donato, could win the seat on Labor preferences.

About 200 unionists rallied on November 3 to highlight the plight of injured workers in the state. The day marked the beginning of the NSW parliamentary Law and Justice Committee’s review of the 2012 changes to workers' compensation legislation by the Coalition state government.

Speakers included representatives of UnionsNSW and individual unions, state MPs, and workers who had presented testimony to the committee that morning.

The WestCONnex Action Group (WAG), one of the main residents' groups opposing the NSW Coalition government's $17 billion WestConnex tollway, has slammed the government's latest changes to the controversial project.

Under new plans announced on November 10, the tollway's Camperdown interchange will be scrapped, and the M4–M5 Link tunnel widened and moved further west.

“These latest changes show yet again that the Baird government’s so-called ‘planning’ for WestConnex is a complete farce,” said WAG spokesperson Pauline Lockie.

Staff of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) have overwhelmingly rejected a proposed enterprise bargaining agreement that would cut workplace rights and conditions, for a pay rise well below inflation. A ballot announced on November 1 revealed that 70% of eligible staff voted against CSIRO management's proposed EBA, dealing a further setback to the Turnbull government's faltering public sector bargaining policy.

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