Jim McIlroy

The NSW Gladys Berejiklian government’s forced council amalgamation policy is in crisis, after the NSW Court of Appeal on March 27 blocked the merger of Ku-ring-gai and Hornsby Councils.

The court accepted Ku-ring-gai Council’s appeal against the merger, in part because the state government kept the KPMG consultants’ report on the amalgamations secret from the public and from the delegate appointed to investigate the merger.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale has backed calls for a new “people’s bank” to challenge the power of the Big Four mega-banks. He told the National Press Club on March 15: “The time has come for a people's bank, one that injects real competition into the banking sector.”

Senator Di Natale drew on the example of the state-owned KiwiBank in New Zealand, run by the NZ Post Office. A similar operation in Australia would boost competition, push down fees, help young buyers enter the property market and deter “unscrupulous behaviour”, he said.

Residents, unionists and supporters marched and rallied on March 19 in Millers Point, to protest the continuing eviction of remaining public housing tenants of the Point, Dawes Point and the iconic Sirius Building. The event, which attracted about 200 people, was sponsored by the Millers Point Community Working Party and the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA).

“The fight to remain in our community goes on. The fighting spirit of the elderly, the frail and the vulnerable continues the struggle,” publicity for the action stated.

Students and academics at the University of New South Wales have mounted a major exhibition outlining a proposal for a radical redirection of the WestConnex tollway project from road to rail.

The exhibition, Civilise WestConnex, imagines what could be done if Stage 3 of WestConnex was cancelled and the other tunnels already under construction were converted from roads to train lines.

Foreign Correspondent’s “Venezuela: A nation on the brink”, screened on the ABC on March 21 was a straight out piece of US State Department propaganda.

It was also more evidence of the ABC’s rightward trajectory under ex-Murdoch executive and CEO Michelle Guthrie.

“Venezuela is a disaster,” reporter Eric Campbell and producer Matt Davis begin. “It has the biggest oil reserves on the planet. But instead of living like Middle Eastern sheiks, many Venezuelans are on the brink of famine.

"First Melbourne's East-West Tunnel was stopped by people's power, now the Roe 8 has been stopped in WA. Next to go, WestConnex?" Peter Boyle, an activist in the Newtown Residents Against WestConnex, said on March 13.

He was commenting on the decision by the new Labor premier of Western Australia, Mark McGovern, to order the suspension of all work on the Roe 8 section of the Perth Freight Link after the March 11 state election, which saw the Barnett Liberal government decisively thrown out of office.

Widespread community opposition has reportedly pushed the NSW Coalition government to prepare to back down on its plan to move the iconic Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo westward to Parramatta.

The Inner West Courier reported on March 7: "Well-placed sources revealed last week the government believes taking down the current Powerhouse and selling the land to developers is so unpopular that it has decided to can the move."

Opposition is growing to the NSW Coalition government’s move to privatise the state-owned land registry, the Land and Property Information office (LPI). Sources inside the LPI are increasingly alarmed at the government’s rush to sell the office as community concern mounts against the sale itself.

"Former NSW Premier Mike Baird has enthusiastically accepted a job at the National Australia Bank as chief customer officer, in order to spend less time with his family," The Chaser revealed on February 28.

"Baird has reported an exhausting five weeks spending quality time with his children. According to Lucy Baird, his eldest daughter, Baird's return has polled badly among the family, following his controversial policy of putting his children to bed two hours earlier than they were previously used to.

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) said it was prevented from conducting a safety inspection at a construction site at the giant Barangaroo project at Darling Harbour, where a 32-year-old worker was killed on March 1. Tim Macpherson, father of a young family, was crushed to death when a large metal beam fell on top of him at the Barangaroo Ferry Hub worksite.

MUA Sydney deputy secretary Paul Keating said he attempted to inspect the site when his union was notified in November about concerns that the barge used at the site did not comply with maritime standards.

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