Jim McIlroy

"The NSW Coalition government's 2017 budget might be better described as the ‘biggest con-job in the Western world’," Susan Price, Socialist Alliance candidate for Ashfield in the upcoming Inner West Council elections, said on June 21. She was responding to state Treasurer Dominic Perrottet's declaration that his inaugural budget was "the envy of the Western world".

The Australian Financial Review Rich List for 2017 features 60 billionaires — the most ever in its 34-year history. The total wealth of all "rich listers" has reached $233.1 billion, up from $197.3 billion last year.

Highest ranked among the 200 richest people in the country is paper and packaging tycoon Anthony Pratt, with a fortune of $12.6 billion. It looks like all that plastic packaging floating in the world's oceans has reaped at least one plutocrat some positive returns.

The proposed sale by Australia Post of Sydney's historic GPO building to private business is "scandalous" and puts the complex at risk of neglect, according to the head of the National Trust NSW (NTNSW).

Architect and NTNSW branch president Clive Lucas, who specialises in restoring historic buildings, said the GPO was one of, if not the most, important colonial post offices in the country.

The City of Sydney has put forward an alternative proposal for the controversial $17 billion WestConnex tollway project.

Based on the original design for the motorway project, the alternative proposal offers a more direct motorway route to Port Botany and Sydney Airport for traffic from the west of the city.

The City of Sydney claims this alternative model will reduce congestion and remove the need for expensive tolls, while saving the NSW taxpayers billions of dollars.

Bus drivers across Sydney implemented a "fare-free day" on June 1 as part of their campaign of industrial action against the NSW government's plan to privatise buses in the inner west. Drivers from 12 depots around the city turned off their Opal Card machines and wore plain clothes to draw the attention of passengers to the threat to public bus services.

Australia's four big banks plus AMP are ripping off the country's workers with huge fees charged on their superannuation investments, a recent study has revealed.

New research carried out by Rainmaker for Industry Super Australia, a mainly union-backed body, shows that the retail super funds, largely operated by the big banks, absorb about half of all fees charged in the superannuation system, despite holding only 29% of retirement savings.

As expected, the major banks are preparing to launch a media war against the Turnbull government’s proposed $6.2 billion bank levy, as outlined in Treasurer Scott Morrison’s May 9 federal budget speech.

Australian Bankers’ Association head Anna Bligh was furious. She said a campaign was being considered, claiming the government was playing “fast and loose” with the nation’s financial system.

Sydney bus drivers walked out on May 18 in a 24-hour strike against plans by the NSW Coalition government to privatise public bus services in the city’s inner-west.

The action, which defied the NSW Industrial Relations Commission (IRC), affected four bus depots: Leichhardt, Burwood, Kingsgrove and Tempe.

Residents, unionists and supporters protested outside the NSW Department of Housing office in Redfern on May 10, following the first forcible eviction of a resident of Millers Point public housing.

Peter Muller, a 57-year-old electrician, was out working, when police broke into his home and removed a number of supporters who were defending the house.

Residents and supporters held a protest in Sydney Park on May 6, when contractors for the controversial $17 billion WestConnex tollway moved in to destroy more trees for the St Peters interchange.

The works are part of the project's push to remove more than 800 trees in Sydney Park, St Peters and Alexandria to allow widening of roads around the planned interchange.

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