Thousands of demonstrators gathered in Sydney's CBD in February for the Keep Sydney Open rally to protest against the New South Wales Government's lockout laws in the inner city .
Thousands of demonstrators gathered in Sydney's CBD in February for the Keep Sydney Open rally to protest against the New South Wales Government's lockout laws in the inner city . RICHARD ASHEN

Baird doggedly turns to worse in 2016

PREMIER Mike Baird stunned even members of his own party when he took to Facebook to announce greyhound racing would be banned from July 2017.

The ban followed revelations of widespread animal abuse - dogs being euthanised when they were not winning races and animals including rabbits and possums being used for live baiting.

But that unilateral decision was disastrous.

After a huge community backlash and an impending voter revolt against the Nationals in the Orange by-election, Mr Baird backflipped and scrapped the ban, admitting he "got it wrong".

That triggered even more protests from animal rights activists livid about the government's surrender, but the Premier has promised things will not be as they once were - strict conditions will be in place and if they are broken, the industry will once again face the chopping block.

 

Greyhound track protest at Murwillumbah council park.
Greyhound track protest at Murwillumbah council park. Blainey Woodham

Eyes on the ball

IT WAS one of the weirder moments of NSW politics this year.

The upper house was engaged in a fairly frivolous debate about whether eyeball tattooing - the practice of squirting ink under an eye's membrane - should be banned.

Labor wanted the dangerous fashion statement legislated against, but Liberal MP Peter Phelps had other ideas.

In one of the most bizarre speeches of 2016, Mr Phelps declared if you were not going to outlaw putting one's hand up another person's bottom, nor should staining an eyeball be illegal.

"Rugby league is inherently dangerous. Are we going to ban it? Ballet is dangerous," he told parliament.

"Things which I don't engage in, but other people engage in; are we going to ban them because they are inherently dangerous?

"We are not going to ban rugby league, we are not going to ban ballet, we are not going to ban anal fisting..."

Eyeball tattooing was not banned, either.

 

Caloundra man Ox shows off his tattoed eyeballs and forked tongue at the first Sunshine Coast Ink Attack Tattoo Convention.
Caloundra man Ox shows off his tattoed eyeballs and forked tongue at the first Sunshine Coast Ink Attack Tattoo Convention. Jessica Mckenzie

High times in NSW

NSW became Australia's first state to give approval under licence to grow medical marijuana, as part of research into best ways to cultivate the plant.

Three clinical trials of marijuana's ability to treat conditions such as childhood epilepsy and chemotherapy-related nausea have been announced.

But there will be strict conditions.

"Parents have told us they do not want to play pharmacist - they want nothing but the best for their children and we are driven by this same purpose," Premier Mike Baird said in July.

The government has since put out a call for 80 chemotherapy patients to take part in trials of a new marijuana-derived tablet, with plans to extend the program by 250 patients if results are positive.

Spending on stoner sloth

THERE were a few mortifying moments in New South Wales politics, but none quite so ridiculous as spending $350,000 to become the world's laughing stock when it comes to drug control.

The NSW Government's anti-marijuana Stoner Sloth campaign featured a sluggish, groaning three-fingered creature who was once a functional high school student but had become a blazed-out hairy beast after toking on some of Nimbin's finest.

 

The NSW Government's Stoner Sloth anti-marijuana advertising campaign cost more than $350,000.
The NSW Government's Stoner Sloth anti-marijuana advertising campaign cost more than $350,000. Contributed

Its "You're worse on weed" slogan was entirely ignored, with thousands of social media users expressing their desire to party with the shaggy sloth.

Advertising firm Saatchi and Saatchi received a $36,386 payday for the campaign and there were market researches, production costs and 265 public servant work hours - bringing the total cost close to $500,000.

Obeid sent to jail

CORRUPT former NSW Labor minister and power broker Eddie Obeid was jailed for misconduct in public office over his family's secret business dealings in property at Sydney's Circular Quay.

The 73-year-old was handed a five-year sentence with no chance of parole for at least three years.

Sydney Supreme Court Justice Robert Beech-Jones said Obeid "intentionally abused the public trust" as an elected official to advance his family's financial interests.

"If Mr Obeid had not wilfully abused his position as a parliamentarian then his life and career would be a testament to the values of hard work, family and public service," Justice Beech-Jones found.

"Instead, his time in public life has produced a very different legacy."

In another blow for the jailed politician, Premier Mike Baird announced he would change the law to ensure Obeid lost his $120,000-a-year parliamentary pension - as well as $280,000 he received in legal assistance as a minister.

Obeid is also facing a coming criminal case over his issuing of a coal exploration licence.

Golden boy loses shine

A SERIES of bad decisions and policy backflips sent Premier Mike Baird from Mr Popular to political pariah.

His decision to ban greyhound racing went down like a lead balloon and had to be reversed.

It was the same with his opposition to shark nets, which are now being installed along the state's North Coast.

Loud protests have met his biggest projects, from WestConnex and the lock-out laws to light rail and forced council amalgamations. Now he has delayed a cabinet reshuffle until January.

The government's falling approval rate was blamed for the Nationals losing the previously very safe seat of Orange at a by-election. That led to party leader and Deputy Premier Troy Grant stepping down.

Spitting chips over mergers

IF THE widespread opposition to forced council mergers could be boiled down into a single second, it would be the moment a glob of spit sailed from a protester's mouth into Inner West Council Administrator Richard Pearson's face.

About 200 people attended the protest against the newly formed council, with Sydney artist Nicky Minus later receiving an 18-month good behaviour bond for what she admitted in court was a "disgusting and stupid" act.

 

Cartoonist Nicky Minus spits in the face of Inner West Council administrator Richard Pearson at a protest against council amalgamations.
Cartoonist Nicky Minus spits in the face of Inner West Council administrator Richard Pearson at a protest against council amalgamations. Nine News screenshot

Protests in Sydney drew thousands of marchers calling on Premier Mike Baird to stand true to his previous "no forced amalgamations" promise.

Now he is being accused of neutering ICAC by overhauling the corruption watchdog and forcing former chief Megan Latham to reapply for her job - this time, as one of three commissioners.

Opposition Leader Luke Foley said the restructure was a blatant effort to sack Ms Latham after she oversaw a donations investigation that led to 11 Liberal MPs losing their positions.

"This is the lowest point in several decades when it comes to the fight against corruption," Mr Foley said in November.

Ms Latham announced her resignation just days after hearing about the plan.

Electric avenue

TREASURER Gladys Berejiklian promised a record surplus and infrastructure spend with almost no debt when she announced the 2016-17 NSW Budget.

But the funds for $73.3 billion in infrastructure spending over four years had to come from somewhere.

The NSW Government has begun the bidding process for the last of its three planned power grid sales, with Endeavour Energy's divestment flagged to reel in about $4 billion.

The Federal Government blocked Ausgrid's sale to Chinese and Hong Kong investors earlier in the year, citing national security concers.

It followed the 50.4% controlling interest sale of Ausgrid in October for $16.19 billion to super funds IFM Investors and AustralianSuper, and the $10.2 billion sale of Transgrid to a consortium of international funds in 2015.

Overdue apology

THERE was an injection of colour with tie-dyed shirts and rainbow flags sprucing up the public gallery.

But the rare parliamentary kaleidoscope did not detract from the moment's importance.

NSW Parliament issued a formal apology in February to the "78ers", the men and women who experienced enormous discrimination after attending Sydney's first Mardi Gras in 1978.

"As a member of the parliament which dragged its feet in the decriminalisation of homosexual acts, I apologise and say sorry," Liberal MP Bruce Notley Smith said.

"And as a proud gay man and member of this parliament offering this apology, I say thank you."

What was meant to be a peaceful demonstration almost four decades ago ended in violence and mass arrests, followed by the Sydney Morning Herald outing many of those involved.

It led to people losing their jobs and homes, and suicide for several of those publicly shamed.

The newspaper's current editor Darren Goodsir issued his own apology to the 78ers for his publication's role in their unfair treatment.

- APN NEWSDESK


Power plays everywhere as Premier drops into Byron

Power plays everywhere as Premier drops into Byron

NSW Premiere acknowledges Byron's special status

Eat, sing, drink, laugh and help farmers

Eat, sing, drink, laugh and help farmers

Events across the Northern Rivers to help Aussies in need

New letting policy fight

New letting policy fight

Letting policy fight doesn't let up

Local Partners