Donation details for NSW local government elections last March from the state's Electoral Funding Authority reveal that pro- development councillors on Tweed Shire Council were the beneficiaries of $341,000-plus campaign donations from some of the region's biggest developers. Fran Kelly, Coastal Campaigner for the Total Environment Centre, reacted to the Tweed Shire revelations with a call to ban developer donations from all levels of government. "Democratic elections become a sham when those with the money, seeking to make yet more money, can exercise yet more influence", Ms Kelly said.
* * *From July next year there will be no Indigenous Australians in the Federal Parliament. This is despite a record number of 23 Indigenous candidates standing for election, including NSW Senator Aden Ridgeway. With the Howard Government's election win it is almost certain that the remains of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC), the first national, elected Indigenous representative body, will be abolished altogether. Commenting on the Government's destruction of ATSIC, Senator Ridgeway noted, "Over 50,000 indigenous people who voted for their ATSIC representatives have been denied their democratic rights." * * *The Association for Independent Schools receives more than 20 complaints a month from disgruntled parents who say that their children are not receiving the education that they, the parents, pay for. Dr Keith Tronc, a former associate professor at Griffith University who recently presented a paper called A Plaintiff Lawyers Guide to Suing Non Government Schools, cited a number of examples where independent schools were not practicing what they preached. These included a case where a 16-year-old whose complaints of sustained bullying were dismissed by the school principal as "bullshit". Some advice for those parents! PUBLIC IS BEST! * * *Under the cloak of secrecy the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority in June approved an application that will see Sydney's Luna Park subdivided into four separate land titles. Gerard van Rijswijk, chairperson of the Protectors for Sydney Foreshores, said that pieces of Luna Park had been removed from public ownership without any guarantees of funds going back to support the park. A number of different development companies, such as Multiplex and Metro Edgley, are also taking out leases on parts of the park. Mr Rijswijk called on NSW Minister for Infrastructure and Planning, Craig Knowles, to intervene and declare the subdivisions invalid. * * *CAPITALIST HOG OF THE WEEK: is cultural imperialism. Rupert Murdoch's Fox Studios and all those Australian actors in Hollywood blockbusters might fool some people into thinking Australia has a thriving movie industry. But, like the films themselves, this impression is but an illusion. Local film production has fallen, from 28 a year in the late 1990s to just 15 last year. And as for television, in the last 12 months a long list of Australian television shows have been axed to make way for more US product. Australian in-house produced drama on free- to-air television has dropped from five programs to two. The SBS and ABC networks are currently not producing any in-house drama at all.