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John Passant

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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)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



Politicians: when recession meets rorting

In Britain there is a huge scandal about parliamentary expenses. 

This is captured for me in the bald politician who claimed shampoo costs.

But it is much worse than that with abuse of the two homes situation – in their constituency and London – the main culprit. 

MPs are reimbursed for the mortgage interest on a second home and some upkeep costs. 

MPs can choose which is their second home so many pick the one with the biggest mortgage.

A Tory MP at one stage was claiming a room in an exclusive club in London as his main home so he could get the interest expenses on his home reimbursed.

Another Tory claimed the cost of cleaning out his moat.

A Labor MP claimed her home in her constituency as her second residence, but when she sold it she told the taxman it was her primary abode and thus not subject to capital gains tax. 

She said she had done nothing wrong.

Many politicians are using this Matty Johns defence: ‘But I did nothing wrong.’

So ingrained is their life of privilege, so divorced are they from the lives of their constituents that they may actually believe it.

In fact it is almost the Nuremberg defence: ‘I was just following approved procedures.’

If these parliamentary bastions of bourgeois morality can’t tell the difference between right and wrong then, like Johns, they should resign. Or be sacked.

The task then would be to find an honest politician to do the sacking.

Faith in politicians has plummeted. 60 percent of those polled think all politicians are rorting the system. 

Support for the Labour Party Government is now at 22 per cent, almost the same as for the third party, the Liberal Democrats (or the ‘cuddly’  Tories.)

European elections are coming up in June and the British public will take their anger out on the politicians of all 3 main parties, but mainly on the Labor Government. 

Labor are hated because of their 12 years of  Thatcherism and involving Britain in imperialist adventures like Iraq and Afghanistan.

Despite the sacrifices New Labor imposed and continues to impose on workers, these elected representatives have shown no restrain whatsoever.  And there’s the rub.

These are the very people who want to convince British workers that ‘we are all in this together’ and that workers need to tighten their  belts. All the while these parasites on the working class are in the slough of swill.

Couple this loss of faith in mainstream politicians with the recession and the political situation becomes more volatile. 

Already the fascists, the British National Party, have begun mobilising around the expenses outrage. 

To their credit the radical left have organised demonstrations against the Nazis, exposing them for what they are.

Nevertheless the siren song of scapegoating may have an attraction for some in times of crisis.  The left must continue to expose the fascists and organise against them.

Does all of this have any relevance for Australia?

Well yes it does.  The expenses rorts cannot only be endemic to the UK. 

They are systemic, born of the fake democracy where representatives are divorced from their electors.  And the very forces that presently dominate UK politics –  laborism and conservatism – dominate Australian politics.

Parliamentarians manage the system for the bosses.  And capitalism is built on greed.  So it is not surprising that the dominant ethos – more money for me – rubs off on those who grease the wheels.

I wonder if our MPs are up to the same systemic rorting?

Interestingly not one journalist in Australia appears to be investigating this possibility. 

This may be because our rules are more stringent.  After all, Joel Fitzgibbon declared all his free trips immediately, didn’t he?

The cynic in me says that journalists are quiet because neither side really wants to open this up to public scrutiny.

Perhaps journalists fear that in doing so they would undermine ‘confidence’  in politicians at the very time the ruling elite want people to follow ‘our’ labor or conservative leaders.

 At the very least a full explanation of the present expenses system, and full transparency of that system, is appropriate. 

Will Kevin Rudd release the details of all claims over the last few years of all politicians?  Will he state that no Federal politicians are, or could be, rorting expenses?

And Kevin, don’t give us weasel words about a rigorous and transparent system already in place.   That exists precisely to avoid real scrutiny.

Let politicians justify themselves and each of their claims publicly to those who put them into Parliament.

Could we really metaphorically have a bald MP claiming shampoo expenses?


But it goes further than just making sure the system to rort is above board. 

Former British Labour minister Patricia Hewitt suggested that citizens’ juries could decide on how MPs’ expenses are paid.  It was one step towards real democracy.

another step towards democracy would be automatic recall. Instead of 3 years sinecure electors shoudl have the right to automatically replace a representative who goes against theri wishes.

And as to remuneration, MPs should get no more than the average wage.

As for Canberra living arrangements, there are some good unused hostels  in Canberra.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with direct democracy and voters being able to hold to account their adequately paid average wage politicians.


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