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John Passant

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February 2011



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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)



Union members challenge SDA leadership’s homophobia

A number of SDA (the retail and fast food union) members attended the quarterly members’ meeting in Brisbane last week to display our opposition to the union leadership’s support for the ban on same-sex marriage. It represented the first occasion that rank and file members of the SDA have challenged the union’s homophobic position.

An hour into the meeting, the union’s state secretary moved a resolution against same-sex marriage. It was passed before any members were given the right to speak. The leadership justified their position using the bogie of WorkChoices and a return to power of the Liberals, which apparently looms large in the next election if the Labor Party gives its support to such a “fringe” issue as same-sex marriage.

It was only after the resolution was passed that actual members were heard, with two of us speaking in favour of same-sex marriage and against the resolution. We pointed out that in the last election only the Greens, who were the only party to support same-sex marriage, gained significantly. We also pointed to the figures, which show that 62 per cent of all Australians support same-sex marriage, with even higher support among young white collar workers, many of whom are represented by the SDA.

These objections were swept aside by the state secretary, who replied, without a hint of irony that, “it is the responsibility of democratically elected leadership to make decisions on behalf of the members”.

This was disingenuous to say the least. I certainly cannot recall when national secretary Joe de Bruyn was ever elected by the membership. The state secretary was elected unopposed – but most of us found out only after the ballot had been closed. Some democracy when those calling the election keep it hushed from those eligible to challenge! 

Petitions signed by members condemning the union’s statement that “marriage is between a man and a woman” and calling for the union to support same-sex marriage were presented to the union leadership.

While the union leadership’s opposition to same-sex marriage was not able to be overturned, the meeting was nonetheless a step forward for the fight for equality in the union. Members attending the meeting expressed discontent with the union leadership’s policy and showed that it is possible to challenge their homophobic position.

The meeting shows the necessity for SDA members to continue to build up the kind of networks and organisation that will be necessary to affect broader change within the union and hold the “democratically elected leadership” accountable.

This article, by SDA member and socialist Duncan Hart, first appeared in Socialist Alternative. To contact him about organising resistance to the SDA leadership’s homophobia, do so through the link there.


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