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John Passant

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November 2010



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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)



Victorian Greens must reject any deal with the Liberals

If the Victorian Greens want left-wing voters to consider supporting them in the upcoming state election, they need to unequivocally reject any deal with the Liberals.

This should not be a complicated question for any party that considers itself a left alternative to Labor. It is true that Labor in office has carried through a right-wing agenda. But this is no reason to leave open the possibility of backing the Liberals – the open party of big business which waged a savage war against workers and unions, slashed spending on schools and health, and privatised anything that moved last time it was in office. Why would workers and left-wingers who remember the horrors of the Kennett era want anything to do with a party that might let the Liberals back into power?

The problem is that the Greens do not clearly identify as a party of the left. There are individuals, like newly-elected federal MP for Melbourne Adam Bandt, who was prepared to openly announce in advance of the federal election that he would not back a Liberal government. But this approach is far from universally held in the party.

Brian Walters, a wealthy barrister who is the candidate for the state seat of Melbourne, did an interview on Stateline on August 27 – just after the federal election – in which he made it clear that his approach was vastly different to Bandt’s.

He said “The Greens have supported a Liberal government before. We did that from 1996 to 1998 in Tasmania. All options are open. We won’t shut any option off.”

He regurgitated the tired line that the Greens reject the old divide of left and right and stand for an amorphous “new politics” that transcends old political and class divisions. “Where does the environment fit on that left and right spectrum? Where does peace? Where does having accountable government? … Left and right doesn’t really work in relation to that. We’re a progressive party. We’ll talk to all parties and all members of parliament.”

Walters is a particularly right-wing figure in the Greens who has never identified in the slightest with the labour movement. But other candidates have not been willing to distance themselves from his approach.

In response to a request from Socialist Alternative to rule out backing the Liberals, Anne Martinelli, the Greens candidate for the winnable seat of Northcote, said: “Until the people have spoken on 27 November, we don’t even know if there will be anything to talk about in terms of which party we would support to form government, or that the other parties will be prepared to talk to us. At this stage, neither is showing any sign. And if either [of the] major parties do bring us a proposal, it will be judged on its merits and the merits and past performance of those putting it forward.”

This refusal to take a clear stand is already hurting the Greens’ chances of winning union support for its campaign. Dean Mighell, the head of the Electrical Trades Union which strongly backed Adam Bandt’s federal campaign, has indicated that the ETU will not be backing the Greens in the state poll. He told The Australian on Wednesday that “The Greens are signalling that they may give preferences to the Coalition. This definitely won’t go down well with our members; at this stage we would look to support the Labor government.”

That there is even the possibility of the Greens backing a Liberal government or swapping preferences with them is an indication of how different the Greens are from other organisations around the world that have emerged in the context of growing disillusionment with social-democratic parties like the ALP.

In Europe, the debate in groups like the German Die Linke (Left Party) is whether or not they should be willing to form governmental coalitions with the social democrats. The argument put by the left in Die Linke is that they should not – as to do so would tie the left in to supporting the neoliberal policies that the social democrats are determined to implement.

But here that important question is not even raised, as the Greens will not even rule out working with the conservatives. Instead of debating how we can build a fighting left-wing alternative to Labor, we are stuck arguing about what should be self-evident to anyone on the left: you shouldn’t cooperate with the Liberals!

We need a socialist alternative to Labor and the Greens

The equivocal stance of the Greens sharply highlights the need to build a real left alternative – a socialist alternative – to Labor. Central to this is rebuilding a militant movement on the streets and in workplaces that can resist attacks on our rights and living standards from the ruling class and the government.

But we also need a political alternative in the electoral arena that can highlight the problems with Labor and the Greens and offer a left-wing program that rejects their approach of compromise and capitulation. That is why Socialist Alternative is calling for a vote for the Socialist Party’s Steve Jolly in the electorate of Richmond and will be actively supporting his campaign.

Jolly, a local councillor and shop steward in the construction union (CFMEU), is standing as an open socialist on a platform of defending public health and education, expansion of the public transport system, opposition to subsidising big polluters and support for public housing tenants, among other things.

As his electoral material says, as an MP Jolly “would use the position to help mobilise the community to fight cuts and improve living conditions. At the same time he would help promote the idea that ordinary people need a party that both stands in elections and campaigns on the ground.”

Importantly, Jolly has ruled out forming an alliance with either the Liberals or Labor.

Jolly’s campaign is no Micky Mouse affair – he has the backing of the state branches of the CFMEU (which has given $15,000 to his campaign) and the ETU (which has given $25,000). He also has a strong local profile. He won almost 6 per cent of the vote at the 2006 state election. If he is able to do well this time, it will raise the profile of socialist ideas as an alternative to the mainstream, and send a signal that it is possible to win support on a genuinely left-wing basis.

This article, by Corey Oakley, first appeared in Socialist Alterantive.



Comment from PAUL WALTER
Time November 2, 2010 at 7:16 am

Just as well we have cyberspace. Its an article from a slightly unsuspected trajectory typical of what’s left out of msm- an adult perspective.

Comment from Shane H
Time November 3, 2010 at 7:17 am

Nice piece except for the obligatory need for a ‘genuine’ left (not that we don’t just that ‘calling’ for it is a bit lame.

So what’s been the key to Steve Jolly’s success and what can we learn from it? And Sam Wainwright? How did they get elected and what do they do that’s different? These are the lessons that need generalising not boilerplate calls for ‘genuine’ leftism.

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