John Passant

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Me quoted in Fairfax papers on tax haven use
Me quoted by Georgia Wilkins in The Age (and other Fairfax publications) today. John Passant, from the school of political science and international relations, at the Australian National University, said the trend noted by Computershare was further evidence multinationals did not take global regulators seriously. ”US companies are doing this on the hard-nosed basis that any [regulatory] changes that will be made won’t have an impact on their ability to avoid tax,” he said. ”They think it is going to take a long time for the G20 to take action, or that they are just all talk.” (1)

Sprouting sh*t for almost nothing
You can prove my 2 ex-comrades wrong by donating to my blog En Passant at BSB: 062914 Account: 1067 5257, the Commonwealth Bank in Tuggeranong, ACT. More... (12)

My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. http://sharonfirebrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/18-2-14-john-passant-aust-national-university-g20-meeting-age-of-enttilement-engineers-attack-of-austerity-hardship-on-civilians.mp3 (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. http://sharonfirebrace.com/2014/02/11/john-passant-aust-national-university-canberra-2/ (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. http://sharonfirebrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/4-2-14-john-passant-aust-national-university-canberra-end-of-the-age-of-entitlement-for-the-needy-but-pandering-to-the-lusts-of-the-greedy.mp3 (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole
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Real debate?
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System change, not climate change
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Sick kids and paying upfront

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FIFA bribery? What about the 1200 dead migrant workers in Qatar so far?

From Edwin Rios in Mother Jones in an article called This Chart Shows the Staggering Human Cost of Staging a World Cup in Qatar. He says in part:

Allegations of bribery have long plagued FIFA, especially since its controversial decision to grant Qatar the 2022 World Cup. But much worse is the plight of South Asian migrant workers brought in to build the stadium infrastructure there: Since 2010, more than 1,200 migrant workers have died in Qatar under hazardous working conditions, and a 2013 Guardian investigation found that at least 4,000 total are projected to die before the 2022 World Cup even starts.

Christopher Ingraham at the Washington Post put that toll in perspective in a striking infographic.

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Powerful child abusers are a protected species

 

Louise O’Shea in Red Flag writes:

The powerful are protected no matter what they do. Child abuse, whether it be in religious institutions, orphanages, through forced poverty or in immigration detention centres, is acceptable so long as it is carried out by the powerful.

Seen in this context, moral panics about protecting children have nothing to do with concern for children. They are rather a cynical pretext for attacks on people’s rights and the demonising of minorities.

To read the whole article click here. Why some child abusers are a protected species.

Assimiliation and the push to close down Aboriginal communities

Closures rally2

Paddy Gibson in Solidarity magazine looks at the renewed push to close remote Aboriginal communities and how it began with the NT Intervention from 2007.

He argues:

It took mass mobilisation and the militant black politics of the late 1960s and 1970s to turn back assimilation and put self-determination and liberation on the agenda. The campaign against the NT Intervention played an important role in winning the battle of public opinion and discrediting the Intervention. But it never built up the social power required to actual defeat the policy. The current protests against community closures are the best chance in many years to begin to turn this situation around.

To read the whole article click here. Assimilation and the push to close communities

I hate Australian capitalism. Will I be stripped of my Australian passport ?

The Australian Cabinet, according to the Fairfax Press, had a vigorous debate about stripping the passports from Australian citizens who commit acts of terrorism or fight for the likes of ISIS.

The Cabinet decided to give the power to the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection to strip their passports if they were dual nationals. This would supposedly avoid making them stateless.

The cabal argued vigorously over the proposal to take away the citizenship of those who hold only Australian passport; so too the ‘softer’ two passports policy.  According to Daniel Hurst in the Guardian Cabinet ‘deferred a decision on strong new powers against sole nationals after a cabinet backlash’.

Let’s make it crystal clear what the government is doing. It is abandoning its citizens. And not just that. It is doing so without evidence, or without due process.

The changes will give the Minister the power to strip dual nationals of their Australian citizenship on suspicion of terrorist activity. Let me emphasise that. ON SUSPICION OF TERRORIST ACTIVITY.

For those who like their history ironic, on this 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, here is what one clause says:

No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land. To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.

Eight hundred years later what do we have the Australian government doing, again? No courts, no evidence tested in the courts, no judge and no jury. Just Peter Dutton deciding he doesn’t like the cut of your jib. And bingo. There you are, a dual citizen, without an Australian passport. Outlawed and exiled on the whim of Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, a latter day King John.

This has nothing to do with addressing terrorism. If it did we’d adopt the advice of Noam Chomsky and stop participating in it.

 

This latest anti-terrorism stunt has everything to do with shoring up support for a weak government. As the reality of the unfair 2015 Budget becomes clearer to more people the end result will be a government that ramps up, and up, the terrorism threat. It will play the fear card. Through ongoing scare campaigns including those about stripping citizens of their citizenship, the Abbott government will stoke, nudge nudge, wink wink, Islamophobia and racism and divert attention away for its rotten Budget.

Dual citizens are just the first target, the first domino to fall if you like. Next on the list is and will be Australian citizens with no other passport. Their time too will come.

This new direction also opens the door for an extension from the external enemy to the enemy within. According to Mark Kenny in the Fairfax media, Abbott said earlier:

“Effectively, what we are doing is acknowledging that in the modern world it’s not just people who are serving with an enemy army who are in a sense at odds with the whole nature of citizenship, but people who are working with terrorist organisations that hate our country, hate our way of life, hate our values. They have likewise put themselves outside the extended family of our nation.”

I of course do not work with a terrorist organisation but I hate Australian capitalism. I hate those values of the Australian ruling class that see it join in the slaughter of millions of innocents in foreign lands. The Australian government has been one of the biggest terrorist organisations in the world with its participation in imperialist wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq contributing to the deaths of over 4 million people.

The slaughter our ruling class undertakes happens not only overseas.  Thousands die here in Australia as a result of local ruling class terrorism, whether it be, to name a few examples, the family terrorism that kills two women a week, the concentration camps for asylum seekers, the violence of the long slow genocide of Aboriginal people, or the weekly deaths and serious injuries on building sites in the name of profit.

I am a outside Abbott’s family. I am part of the family of workers worldwide. In times of social crisis I will be the enemy they try to imprison without trail, to render stateless in my country of birth.

Sound far fetched? How goes Julian Assange? What support has this government offered him?

A look at history shows the politically repressive nature of the  Australian state. In World War I the government outlawed the Industrial Workers of the World using trumped up charges and convictions to justify their repression. For part of the time during World War II the Communists were banned. In the 1950s Menzies tried to outlaw the Communist Party.

Of course at the moment there are many ‘enemies’ within – hyped up terrorists, Muslims, Aborigines, dole bludgers, rorting mothers.

It is  likely that only in times of social crisis with the anti-capitalist left on the rise that the State will actually feel the need to criminalise us. However given that Abbott’s world view is about the Australian family, or Team Australia as he so ineloquently put it some time ago, and I am not part of that team (and neither are Muslims or Aborigines), his us and them approach can lead to the demonisation and repression soon enough of serious political dissent.

The terrorism hype and changes to our immigration laws throw away basic rights to a trial and give incredible powers to the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection. They undermine our freedoms here and now. They set a dangerous precedent. They prepare the way for further criminalising dissent in Australia.

The left, populism and anti-politics

Podemos

 

Writing in Solidarity magazine about anti-politics and the left James Supple, among other things, says:

What these examples show is that the mood of disillusionment with the political system is not coherently anti-capitalist or anti-system, and can be drawn behind left reformist political parties or movements.

This is because the mood is not simply “anti-political” but is driven by disillusionment with neo-liberal policies.

The rise of parties like Syriza and The Greens in Australia show something else important about the so-called “anti-political” mood.

The vast bulk of people breaking in disgust with the mainstream left-wing parties, like Labor in Australia, remain reformist.

That is, they continue to believe that change can come through reforms to the existing parliamentary system, for instance through the election of Greens or new left governments to power.

Although they are disgusted at the political mainstream they are overwhelmingly not moving directly towards a revolutionary socialist worldview. For this to happen, workers need to move into struggle outside parliament on a mass scale, so that they can begin to see their own struggles and forms of working class power as an alternative.

He concludes:

The widespread disillusionment and disgust with the mainstream of politics is a good start. But to bring about a real challenge to capitalism and inequality, it needs to develop into the mass workers’ and social movements that alone have the power to change the world.

To read the whole article click here: Populism, anti-politics and the left.

 

Ireland says yes to same sex marriage; Australian politicians still say nope, nope, nope

 

In an historic referendum decision, the Irish people have voted overwhelmingly for same sex marriage. The vote looks to be about two to one in favour of a constitutional change recognising same sex marriage.

All the establishment (political parties, media, business) supported the change. The turnout was high and working class areas (for example in Dublin) were especially strong in their support of equality.

The referendum was held and then won because of the tireless work of LGBTI campaigners in Ireland and the changing nature of Irish society as it became integrated into Europe and hence into the global economy.

In Australia polls consistently show that about two-thirds of Australians support equal love. Yet in the last vote on the issue two-thirds of politicians voted against reforms that would have changed the definition of marriage in the Marriage Act from being between a man and a women (another of Howard’s rotten legacies) to something encompassing same sex marriage.

Since their time in government a number of Labor politicians have now reversed their opposition and come out in favour of equal love. The numbers in Parliament remain close, perhaps just a handful of votes away for voting in favour of same sex marriage if the Liberals were to give their members a conscience vote as Labor has done.

If Labor mandated voting in favour of same sex marriage – it won’t – and some Liberal waverers with a liberal social conscience voted with the ALP and the Greens, we could have marriage equality in Australia within the month. Unlike Ireland, all Australia needs is an amendment passed by both Houses of Parliament to the Marriage Act.

Some on the left of the Labor Party are moving to bind the caucus to vote in Parliament in favour of equal love. This appears to me to be a tactical manoeuvre, to make it easier for right wing parliamentarians, like Swan and Bowen have already done, to proclaim their newfound support for same sex marriage.

The success of the referendum in Ireland will undoubtedly raise the question of a referendum here. Some pros and cons. First, there is no legal or constitutional need for such a referendum. Second, without support from both major parties a referendum (which needs to win not just a majority of all the votes but also a majority of the votes in a majority of the states) will not pass.

Third a referendum absolves politicians from their supposed duty of representing their constituents and gives them a convenient scapegoat. Instead of them bearing the burden of criticism for failing to pass same sex marriage laws they will be able to shift the blame to the people for failing to pass the referendum.

Any referendum too would give voice to the bigots and purveyors of hatred to sprout their filth. The vitriol they unleash could have a negative impact on gays and lesbians. The victory of any referendum could outweigh that initial drawback. Indeed a referendum campaign and then the result have the possibility of unleashing forces of real democracy and equality and if successful such a  great change in the way many people feel and view themselves that I think we have to support the call for a referendum, even if this lets politicians off the hook.

Of curse a campaign now to force politicians to respect the wishes of the vast majority of the electorate and vote to amend the Marriage Act to allow same sex marriage would unleash the same forces of democracy and equality and on success the same wave of euphoria. It ahs the added advantage of empowering people in the here and now by forcing our ‘representatives’ to at lest once in their lives represent us and should therefore be in my view be the immediate focus of any such campaign.

Support for same sex marriage in Australia is so strong that a referendum would, I think, pass, both as a simple majority referendum and, although this is slightly more problematic without the absolute support of the conservative parties, a constitutional change referendum.

The overwhelming vote in Ireland in favour of marriage equality shows that all that is solid can melt into air. The rise of the women’s liberation movement, the massive increase in female participation in the workforce, the consequent challenges to systemic stereotypes about women and the family and the ongoing strong campaign for equal love all point to societal changes that could see gay marriage legalised in the near future.

Let’s keep the pressure up on Australian politicians to force them to vote for same-sex marriage today. How about mass rallies across Australia to celebrate the success in Ireland and to call on the Australian Parliament to amend the Marriage Act so that, in the words of the Irish amendment to the Constitution, ‘marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex’?

UPDATE: Opposition Labor leader Bill Shorten will move a Bill on Monday (1 June) to amend the Marriage Act to allow same sex marriage.

SHOW OF SUPPORT ON FRIDAY IN WOLLONGONG FOR THE RESCUED BOAT PEOPLE

SHOW OF SUPPORT IN WOLLONGONG FOR THE RESCUED BOAT PEOPLE

Behind the battle over who is tougher on boat people, lies the tragedy of a boat stranded at sea for 4 months, pushed back by 3 countries.

When the 677 survivors were finally rescued by local Indonesian fishermen, the Australian government disgracefully boasted about its turn back policies and how they save lives. The 200 dead refugees from the boat shows that to be a lie.

The 677 survivors include UNHCR refugees and other Rohingya asylum seekers fleeing ethnic cleansing in Myanmar (Burma). They now face an uncertain future, stranded in the country of Indonesia that did not sign the ‘UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees’.

A local Illawarra group called ‘A Community for Peace & Justice’ has called for a public show of community support for the 677 survivors and a vigil for the hundreds who drowned from that boat.

The community support will be held this Friday 22 May from 5pm to 6 pm in Crown Street mall, near the corner with Kembla Street (close to the Church).

Community support DETAILS:
WHEN: This Fri 22 May
TIME: 5pm to 6pm
WHERE: Crown Street mall
ADDRESS: Crown St, near the corner with Kembla St (close to the Church)

John Passant, a member of ‘A Community for Peace & Justice’, urged people to attend and show support for those fleeing persecution.

“The turn-back-the-boat policies of regional governments have resulted in the death of around 200 people”, he said. “That policy is a failure.”

“Australia is a wealthy country and could take in these people fleeing persecution, and the tortures, rapes and murders that often arise from such persecution,” Mr Passant said.

“We have the resources to mount a rescue and resettlement mission for these people,” he added.

“A good attendance would send a clear message that our government and governments in the region need to welcome refugees and asylum seekers and not turn their boats back. We can’t address humanitarian crises with brutality,” Mr Passant said. “Our humanity demands that we welcome those like the Rohingya people and others fleeing persecution.”

Mr Passant also pointed out that “Australia has a ban on accepting UNHCR refugees from Indonesia. UNHCR refugees have been recognised by the United Nations refugee body as being legitimate refugees, and we need to demand that the Australian government not discriminate against these UNHCR refugees.”

Community support DETAILS:
WHEN: This Fri 22 May
TIME: 5pm to 6pm
WHERE: Crown Street mall
ADDRESS: Crown St, near the corner with Kembla St (close to the Church)

The May 2015 edition of socialist magazine Solidarity is out now

The May edition of Australian socialist magazine Solidarity is out now. Articles with links are below:

Union sued over suicide prevention meeting; NT youth to be tracked with ankle bracelets; Surprise: 50 per cent of Fox’s statements false; Queensland private schools Gorge on profits; Uranium

Shorten shows he’s useless for stopping Abbott

 Last year Bill Shorten’s budget reply turned the Liberals pale, as he lashed out at Abbott’s cuts and promised to block the worst attacks in the Senate. This year the Labor leader delivered a

CPSU Abbott

Public servants strike against Abbott’s cuts

Public servants are staging one-hour rolling strikes in a dozen agencies this month, as their union, the CPSU, ramps up what it says is the largest campaign of industrial action in 30 years.

great-war-march

Groomed for war

In 1914 Australia was a nation that had been grooming and schooling its young males in military skills, and introducing their families to martial experiences, since 1911, writes Rowan Cahill.

New Greens leader no break from the past

 Richard Di Natale’s sudden ascension to The Greens’ leadership appears to mean the status quo remains—but that’s not what the left and the movements need.

Karl Marx and the First International

Christian Høgsbjerg shows how Karl Marx made a vital contribution to found the first international workers’ organisation and how he fought to ensure its militant trajectory.

The Rohingya and the St Louis – a letter in the Canberra Times

This is a letter of mine the Canberra Times published on 21 May 2015.

On May 13, 1939 the St Louis left Germany with more than 900 German Jews on board, fleeing the Nazis. Cuba refused them entry. The US turned them back. Canada ignored them. The ship returned to Europe. As a result, more than one-quarter of those on board died in the Holocaust.

Today, other boat people need our help. The Rohingya are dying in Burma [JP: I wrote Myanmar] and at sea. Let’s not remember the St Louis by creating more. Rescue the Rohingya and resettle these oppressed people here and in other wealthy countries.

The battles within SYRIZA and Greek society

Demonstrating against austerity in front of Greece's parliament (Ben Folley)

Within SYRIZA, the debate over the government’s strategy in negotiations with the lenders has been intense, with a strong left wing that is highly critical of the government’s concessions.Antonis Davanellos is one of the leading voices of SYRIZA’s left wing. He is a member of the Internationalist Workers Left (DEA), which cofounded SYRIZA as a coalition of left-wing organizations in 2004, and he is a member of the party’s Central Committee and Political Secretariat. Davanellos talked to Lee Sustar in Socialist Worker US about the debate over Greece’s future and the hardening battle lines in the discussion of what comes next.

Here is just part of what he said:

Then there is the left wing of the party that is saying the negotiations with the creditors has proven to be a huge trap, and we must get out before it’s too late. That means not only defending the “red lines” that the government has insisted on but also supporting other measures that SYRIZA promised during the election campaign. When this debate comes to the Central Committee, the question will be what influence the left has and how much support it wins from a part of the center.

To read the whole article click here: SYRIZA faces a decisive test.