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John Passant

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September 2015
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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. (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. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (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

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)



Take my hand

Take my hand

I cannot take your hand
Boy in the sand and surf
I cannot take your hand
And bring you to my earth

Power had the chance,
And did nothing but its dance
To the song of race
Know your place they yelled

Their helled shouts rise below
The waves that hold humanity
We all flee
The bombed city

Where the civilised
Rain freedom
Dressed in death
Nothing is left

But the dead
Upon our shores
Where walk the whores of power
Now is the hour

To rise, rise against
Their armies, of defence,
And the order that destroys
Children and their toys

And you and me
Our cause is free, to be,
The freedom you now have
We cannot grant to them

Our wishes
Cannot breath your kisses
Take my hand, here is my land
The casket of your dreams

(c) John Passant 4 September 2015


Will you walk with me?

Will you walk with me?

Will you walk with me
Through the gentle hello
Where quiet duvet
Meets screamed pillow

Where the sun of evil
Wrestles the night of calm
And lock-stepped presence
Oils its balm?

Where the battles that challenge
The rattles within
Portend no end
Only next of kin

And the rising each day
Gives its way
To the penalty rates
That are life’s astray

Then will you walk with me
Through the gentle goodbye
Always questioning,
Never asking why?

(c John Passant 4 September 2015

Save the children – open the borders

The tears have stopped. They will start again.

Whether the drownings be in Australia’s seas or those near us, or in the waters off Europe or North America, there will be more, and more, and more.

There are, according to the UN Human Rights Agency, the UNHCR, almost 60 million people around the globe who are forcibly displaced.



The increase over the last few years is because of the civil war in Syria. Assad’s military attacks on his own people to destroy the revolution has driven millions out of their homes and their country.  Those thousands now fleeing Turkey for Europe every day are the result of those attacks.

The US led invasion of Iraq in 2003 killed over 1 million Iraqis and saw millions displaced or flee the country. It also set in train a series of events which led to the rise of ISIS.

Most refugees are from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, all the result of Western intervention, imperialism and interference.

Key American allies in Europe are part of the US axis of imperialism. There is a responsibility on them to accept the refugees they have created.  Many of the European ruling class will try to bring down the shutters and stop the refugees.

There is an alternative to end this misery immediately. Europe’s ruling class could open its borders. It could commit to accept the ten million refugees currently in the Middle East. It could send processing teams to refugee camps there to quickly process them for re-settlement in Europe. It could send its navies and air forces to transport the millions to Europe. It won’t.

There is no migrant crisis. There is a crisis of imperialism, of intervention, of capitalism.

End the cycle of death and tears. Stop invading countries, bombing them and supporting dictators.Open the borders everywhere.

I looked into your eyes

I looked into your eyes

I looked into your eyes
The other day
Perhaps for the first time
In all those years
Since I caressed your wine
I have not remembered
Your soul
Not been able to
Or your laugh
A sad laugh
The other day
Nervous, in a way
Like your talking
You were mourning
Life given, life torn
Mother taken
Borne aloft
This is the cost
Of life
I looked into your eyes
The other day
Was it for
The last time?

(c) John Passant 3 September 2015

City Limits 3 CR Interview

City Limits 3 CR Interview

‘On this episode we talk to Dr Phil Griffiths from the University of Southern Queensland about what the environmental consequences of a worldwide minimum wage of US $15 an hour would be. Then we discuss the latest proposed federal tax changes with John Passant.’

To listen to our 30 minute interviews, click here.


Fair Work, building workers and 7-Eleven

The 7-Eleven business model is now obvious. Employ vulnerable people who are for example on student visas and get them to work say eight hours and only pay them for four. You judge they won’t complain for fear of losing their jobs and their student visas.

Maybe this model, under which the franchise owners get 57% of the gross profits from each store, and each individual franchisee 43%, helps explain quite a lot. For a start, one analysis of the situation shows that if proper wage payments were made then in a typical 7-Eleven situation the franchisee’s net profit would fall from $90,000 to $40,000. Who else benefits from these arrangements?


Australia has this Fair Work (FW) bureaucracy to regulate unions and workers and ostensibly to keep an eye on rogue employers. One of the two Fair Work bodies has the infamous building and construction group in it.

So where was this FW bureaucracy when the 7-Eleven workers needed them? Nowhere to be seen.

Now some of you might object that they can’t police everyone, but just how many rotten employers has this union and worker strangling bureaucracy actually caught and successfully prosecuted? How many building bosses for example are in jail for killing or maiming their workers by taking short cuts to save costs? None.

If the FW head kickers did any risk assessment, shouldn’t companies that employ many many foreign workers and students, and which operate 24 hours a day, be at the top of their list for checking? Rather than only reacting when Fairfax and ABC expose the 7-Eleven scandal – the FW Ombudsman is now looking into the abuses – why not be proactive?

Certainly the infamous Border Force uses foreign worker numbers as a criteria in raiding brothels, so why not FW in looking, not for visa violators, but for abusive employers ripping off their workers? I will tell you why. Fair Work is not about policing bosses. It is about policing workers and unions.

That is why one arm of the FW bureaucracy – the Fair Work Building Commission – is suing an organiser with the building union, the CFMEU. His crime? Helping a suicidal worker. Here is what the union says:

‘The Abbott Government – through its partisan building industry watchdog, the FWBC – is pursuing the CFMEU at a four day trial starting in Adelaide today, for going onto a work site to conduct an EBA ballot and assist a worker at risk of suicide.’

It is all about priorities, and making sure that bosses don’t rip off their workers isn’t a priority for the Abbott government in Australia. Destroying the CMFEU, one of the few unions that fights to defend its members, is. If the government can do that it makes the climate even better to drive down wages and cut conditions in other industries across Australia.

7-Eleven is a microcosm of Australia’s industrial relations. What Abbott and his hired anti-CFMEU puppets in the Fair Work industry want is a cowered and compliant building workforce a la 7-Eleven. They want workers to work longer for less, just like the 7-Eleven bosses have been doing, with the same result – more profit for the bosses.

One of the reasons this 7-Eleven criminality could exist and prosper is that the union which has coverage, the SDA, is a bosses’ union and doesn’t organise let alone fight for workers. Only after the event has the union spoken up, to argue, appropriately, for an amnesty for those workers who did speak out. We don’t want these people deported for visa violations for example. They are heroes.

There is another reason the Ombudsman section of the FW panopticon only intervenes once the media expose the problems. 7-Eleven keeps downward pressure on wages in competing stores, and coupled with the complicity of the SDA leadership, delivers wonderful results for the bosses there. Low pay and long hours in the supermarket and corner store industry also puts downward pressure on wages in other industries.

As the witch hunt into unions continues its biased and political Inquisition, when will the union movement start to organise the industrial fight-back?

Join my ‘jihad’ against this rotten Australian government

Another day, another idiot Minister. On Tuesday it was the turn of Peter Dutton, the Immigration Minister in charge of torturing children, women and men on Nauru and Manus Island.

As an aside do Ministers have a competition going to see who can stuff things up the best each day? After the border farce that was operation fartitude, I would have thought Dutton was the Brownlow medal favourite for the year. There was no need for him to go for a second attempt. But he did.

Dutton said in an interview: “The reality is that there is a bit of a jihad being conducted by Fairfax at the moment, [it’s] hard to get a good story up in Fairfax, [they’re] publishing stories without checking with my office, stories that are factually incorrect.” Poor diddums.

Not only that but the ABC and Fairfax media were in some grand conspiracy to ‘bring the government down.’

The only collaboration I can see between Fairfax and the ABC is in exposing the criminals from 7-Eleven who have ripped off vulnerable students and other workers by paying them about half the proper rate. It is so bad that, as one of their employees told ABC, “The business is very proud of itself and the achievements and the money it’s made and the success it’s had, but the reality is it’s built on something not much different from slavery.”

Maybe that is why Dutton is upset. The ABC and Fairfax have exposed the secretly desired future industrial relations agenda of the Abbott government, something that free trade agreements are now attempting by subterfuge to introduce.

If you want real evidence of a media jihad aimed at bringing down a government, then the Murdoch Empire’s attacks on the former Gillard and Rudd Labor governments are a pretty good example.

Here are some of the front pages from Murdoch’s rags.


When Labor complained about these attacks, the response of Abbott, the then Opposition leader, was classic.  ‘If you want better coverage, be a better government.’

Yes, that seems too to be true of this incompetent, authoritarian and thoroughly anti-worker Abbott government. The problem is that ‘good government’ in the age of global recession and falling profit rates requires capitalist governments to be ‘bad’, i.e. to attack workers and their jobs, wages and conditions, to cut public services and to undermine unions as the last bastion able to resist governments of austerity and reaction.

The basic social democratic wishes of workers for a better world, born of the iron law of capitalism that to survive workers have to sell their ability to work,  conflict with the needs of capital for less and less social democratic spending and the return of that surplus value not to the working class via the state but to capital itself.

Some of the anger against Labor and now the Liberals was driven by changes in the economy and the threat this poses to both the middle classes and the working class. Some of it is driven by cuts to public health, public education, public transport and other public goods and support. Some of it too is a reaction against incompetence. Tony Abbott is giving Billy McMahon a run for his money.

All of this means that even if Fairfax and the ABC were running a jihad against the Abbott government, if the Abbott government were actually reducing unemployment, improving public services,  and seeing real living standards improve, it wouldn’t influence voters. They’d still vote for a good government.

Of course they aren’t reducing unemployment, improving public services,  and helping real living standards improve. The crisis of global capitalism, now working its way through the Chinese and Australian economies, means we are doomed to have a cycle of bad governments.

In other countries this has seen a turn to alternative political expression of anti-austerity politics, sometimes built on or at least coming out of social struggles. SYRZA in Greece, Podemos in Spain, the seemingly inexorable rise of Jeremy Corbyn to the leadership of the British Labour Party, the strong position of Sinn Fein in Ireland, the support Bernie Sanders is getting in the US, are a few examples of this social democratic desire coming out.

There is no indication that any such outbreak will occur in Australia through the current major political currents, especially not through the ALP.  Labor  in Australia is in what some British might d call the death grip of Blairism. It might occur through mass struggles, but again none at this stage look like breaking out. The union movement, for example, continues to capitulate to the bosses over most attacks and is responding not with industrial action but once again with a tepid vote Labor campaign.

Until an anti-austerity mass movement and its political expression arise we will continue to have bad government after bad government in Australia. That new formation will I suspect only happen when we decide to take action as the working class against whoever is in power, the Liberals or Labor.

Boycott the witch hunt into Australian trade unions


The Trade Union Royal Commissioner Dyson Heydon has decided that he is not biased nor would the fair minded lay person apprehend bias on his part.

He said in his decision at page 26:

‘First, the applicants have not articulated why, and there is no rational basis for concluding, that a fair-minded observer might, acting reasonably, apprehend any predisposition against the Labor Party or the unions in a speaker who merely agrees to give a legal speech at an event with the characteristics last described.’

So you agree to speak at a Liberal Party event/fundraiser and the fair minded observer might not apprehend any bias against the ALP or unions. No of course not. The Liberal Party is the close friend of the ALP and unions.  That is why the Liberals set up the Royal Commission. To show how close they all were.

Here is part of what Prime Minister Tony Abbott said about the Royal Commission:

“Martin Ferguson came out and said that the inquiry is important, this inquiry is not a political inquiry, this inquiry is important for the future of the union movement and the Labor Party” Mr Abbott said on Thursday Island.

Well, I don’t know about you, but to me Abbott repeating and adopting Ferguson’s comments shows it was always and still is a witch hunt.

And that is the problem. The Royal Commission was set up to destroy those unions, like the CFMEU, that actually do try to defend workers, jobs and safety on site and win good pay rises. That also means, given the relationship between the trade union bureaucracy and the Labor Party, it was of necessity, an attempt to destroy the Labor Party and its links with unions. That is why Bill Shorten, the Opposition leader, was called before it. It is why the former Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, was called before it.

Dyson was appointed because he is a conservative and a former judge. He knew what was expected of him when he was appointed to the lead the witch hunt.

His actions have highlighted the political nature of the Royal Commission. Heydon’s refusal of recusal is inexcusable and signs the death warrant for the Royal Commission.  Many Australians will see the Royal Commission and whatever it does and recommends as an example of Tony Abbott’s political manoeuvring and Heydon’s pro-Liberal bias.

What next for the trade union movement and the Labor Party? Already there is talk of an appeal against Heydon’s decision. If that delays the witch hunt until after the election and Labor winning power then that is one defensible strategy. However depending on Shorten to beat Abbott is a risky strategy at best.

A better one would be, as I have argued previously,  to boycott the Royal Commission from now on. As I said two weeks ago:

‘Labor and the unions could refuse to have anything more to do with the Commission because of Heydon’s perceived bias. This opens up those who have been subpoenaed and refuse to appear to fines of up to $1000 or six months imprisonment. Although this is a strict liability crime, if the person has a reasonable excuse for not appearing then that is a defence. And what could be more reasonable than not appearing at a Royal Commission because of the perceived bias of the Commissioner?

‘I know Labor won’t do this. They are the meek respecters of bourgeois ‘lawfulness’ ad respectability. However, imagine the electrifying effect the Labor Party could have if it replied to this most political of Royall Commissions with a political response. Imagine if Bill Shorten rallied our side by declaring in Parliament that because of the perceived bias he would no longer cooperate with the Royal Commission and would not in future be appearing or producing documents. Every Labor Party MP and member could then join him in pledging they would do the same.

‘No government, not even the Abbott government or its handpicked Royal Commissioner, is going to prosecute the Leader of the Opposition. And before anyone says ‘contempt’, the Royal Commissions Act 1902 also deals with that. The fine is $200 or 3 months in jail (less than the failure to appear penalties) but again the politics of prosecuting and jailing Labor politicians for opposing a biased and political Royal Commission would I suspect be fatal for Abbott.

‘The other target of this witch hunt is the union movement, in particular those unions, like the CFMEU, that actually fight for and mobilise their members. They too, through the ACTU, could refuse to have anything more to do with this political attempt to destroy them for the crime of defending wages, jobs and imposing safety standards on the bosses in the building industry.

‘Unlike Labor, unions have more than symbolic power. If the ACTU, or at least the left unions, were to announce a complete boycott of the Royal Commission, and to back that up not only with the threat of (illegal) mass strike action in defence of anyone prosecuted for not appearing, but also with an education campaign among their members as to why they must walk off the job in response to the biased Commission, it could destroy the witch hunt.

‘Thirty years of class collaboration have made these arguments more difficult to make but even the most stupid of union leaders must see that the Royal Commission threatens their own privileged position as the retailers to the boss of our labour power.

‘Boycott the Royal Commission.’

The CFMEU is due to appear before the witch hunt today at 10 am. Don’t attend.

There is no other way

There is no other way

I have woken to the days of little time
Where blackness stretches back
And no birds are singing sweet upon the line
The crawling creatures of the night attack
And undermine the lack, the lack of mind

There is no other way to stay
The stillness that arrays the time
All in our mind and place to find
The piece that is the peace
The rest that is the sleep

And all to keep the agony alive
Where changes second hand
Are driven slow and fast
This cannot, must not, last
It does

Until the horn sounds blast
Growing ever growing
Coming ever coming, fast
Life is the numbing in between
Where we walk, unseen

And play our role
Here is the scene,
There is its toll
Where the great gather
Drowning dreams

All is not, as it seems
The light catches our moment
And the seamstress stitches
Dreams of witches haunt the woken
It suits, bespoken

And the word is taken
Not heard
For there is no ear
That catches fear
Like the memory of tomorrow

Where hangs the fallen fruit
Is that it?
Is that the root?
Or just the taking of today
There is no other way.

(c) John Passant 3.32 am 31 August 2015

STAND UP FOR REFUGEES – THERE IS A BETTER WAY: Rally in Garema Place, Canberra, 1pm Sunday 11 October


Rally in Garema Place, Canberra, 1pm Sunday 11 October

Australia now has a shameful record in dealing with asylum seekers and refugees. We are the only developed country to lock them up behind razor wire and to “outsource” their detention to other countries such as Papua New Guinea and Nauru. Contrary to our international obligations, we are the only country to discriminate against asylum seekers based on their means of arrival. Government policy is aimed at “deterring” asylum seekers from attempting to reach Australia. But what Australian policy has left them with is merely the choice of a different dangerous journey or a return to the places they fled fearing persecution.

There IS a much better alternative. It is a safer alternative for those seeking refuge. It is a much more humane alternative and it is a vastly cheaper one. We know it is a feasible alternative because Australia used many elements of it in dealing with the Indochinese refugee upsurge in the 1970s and 1980s.

Under that system Australia would eventually resettle well over 100,000 Indochinese refugees, the vast majority being processed in other countries such as Malaysia to which they had fled. They were then flown from there to Australia. There was no universal and mandatory detention of asylum seekers in Australia whatever their method of arrival.

We demand an end to mandatory detention of refugees and asylum seekers, and the closure of Manus Island and Nauru. We urge the Australian government to allow for the rapid processing of asylum applications in transit countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia and to increase our humanitarian intake significantly.

We call for Australia to increase its financial assistance to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to dramatically improve the appalling conditions which asylum seekers in transit countries face while waiting for processing of their applications. This would still be only a tiny fraction of the huge costs of offshore detention at the moment.

While the policy initially adopted in the 1970s was by no means perfect, it did provide a practical pathway for resettlement for many asylum seekers. We call on all ACT representatives in the Federal Parliament to commit themselves to policies such as these and to a return by our country to decency and fairness in dealing with these desperate people.

Organised by the Refugee Action Committee, Canberra For more information: |

The text above will be published in a paid advertisement in the Canberra Times on 3 October. If you would like to add your name as a signatory to this please reply by 29 September to with your name as you would like it to appear, and send a minimum of $20 to Refugee Action Committee, BSB 062 903, Acc.No. 1024 8069. Please include your name in