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June 2012
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If you want to keep a blog that makes the arguments every day against the ravages of capitalism going and keeps alive the flame of democracy and community, make a donation to help cover my costs. And of course keep reading the blog. To donate click here. Keep socialist blog En Passant going. More... (4)

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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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Sick kids and paying upfront

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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. http://sharonfirebrace.com/2013/12/03/john-passant-australian-national-university-8/ (0)

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Refugees: the dead are many

There’s an obscene and racist debate going on between the two parties of capitalist power in their Parliament today over refugees.

Another boat sank off Christmas Island today, full of people seeking refuge from war, rape, Western sanctions and economic devastation. 125 people have been rescued. There may have been, according to Customs and Border Control, up to 150 on board. One person is confirmed dead. Last week 90 asylum seekers died en route to Australia.

And Parliament debates non-solutions. The churlish charade, the gang of political gangsters, this Parliament of capital discusses, not how to save people, but how to stop them seeking freedom in our country, how to stop them reaching our shores.

These keepers of the white flame have been debating Rob Oakeshott’s Migration Bill. His Bill allows the Minister of Immigration to declare that asylum seekers can be sent to any Bali Process country.

Malaysia and Nauru are both Bali Process countries.

The rumour was that two Liberal wets would possibly vote for the Bill ensuring its passage in the House of Representatives. They didn’t but it got through with the support of all the Independents (Wilkie, Windsor, Oakeshott, and Thomson) and Bob Katter, after Andrew Wilkie moved a 12 month sunset clause for the bill.

The Greens will oppose it in the Senate because it is offshore rather than onshore processing. With the Opposition voting against in the Senate (even if a few do cross the floor) the Government’s bill will be defeated.

The Opposition have moved amendments to make sure that only signatories to the Human Rights Convention can be offshore detention and processing centres. Malaysia is not a signatory; Nauru recently signed.

The Opposition doesn’t give a tinker’s cuss for refugees or their human rights. It is a cynical political ploy by them to frustrate and defeat the Government’s barbarous ‘solution’ in the belief, as one Liberal backbencher put it of Tony Abbott’s strategy, the boats will keep coming, more refugees will die and support for the Opposition will increase or solidify.

Labor doesn’t give a tinker’s cuss either. Its Malaysia solution would involve sending refugees who make it to Australia back to rotten, inhumane and indefinite detention in Malaysia in the ridiculous belief this would ‘stop the boats’.

Both proposals are about tearing up, again, our responsibilities under the Refugee Convention.

Gillard today offered to consider temporary protection visas – a nasty form of control over refugees – and part of the former Liberal Government’s inhumane policy. She would even consider Nauru.

Now that’s what I like to see, a politician of principle. (Sarcasm alert for those who miss it.)

Mark Goudkamp from the Refugee Action Committee captured it well on Facebook when he said:

I can’t help but recall the very first debate of Federal parliament in 1901, where the debate around White Australia was between the outright exclusion of non-whites and exclusion based on a racist dictation test.

Labor and the Opposition agree on the basics. Refugees are bad. They disagree on the detail of how to stop them but agree that whatever ‘solution’ must be cruel and inhumane.

Racism is a tool of the ruling class to divide workers and divert our attention from the problems of capitalism like low wages, gendered wages, cuts to social services, attacks on nurses and teachers and other public servants, and job cuts.

It is not just the racism of ‘stopping’ the boats. It’s also the racism of imprisoning asylum seekers, people who have committed no crime and sometimes, on ASIO’s say, locking them and their children up indefinitely. Some asylum seekers kill themselves, or try to, to escape our hell holes.

The Greens now have the opportunity to change the whole focus of this rotten ‘debate’. They could threaten to withdraw support from the Labor Government unless the ALP implements onshore processing. Quick, efficient and humane processing, in the community, not in detention centre concentration camps.

But that doesn’t go far enough because it still means refugees will risk their lives for freedom by crossing dangerous seas in dangerous boats.

There are about 4000 refugees in Indonesia. With the Indonesian Government’s permission we could send in the Navy and Air Force and bring those people to Australia safely for processing in the community.

There are about 100,000 refugees in Malaysia. Once we have bought the refugees from Indonesia we could then, again with Malaysian Government agreement, send the navy and air force, and hire QANTAS planes too, to bring the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to be free, to our shores.

The rulign elite also join wars that create the refugee problem, or support governments liek Sri Lanka and Israel, that are responsible for many refugees around the world.

The Iraq war displaced 2.25 million. In Afghanistan there are 3 million displaced. Australia helped ruin these countries and now denies the victims asylum. It should be the other way around. Deny war and welcome refugees, but war is an integral part of capitalism.

The Greens have an historic opportunity to end the racist refugee non-debate and save asylum seeker lives.

Bring down the Labor Government if the ALP doesn’t agree to onshore processing.

And for us? Build the campaigns and demonstrations for refugees.

Bring down the Labor Government if the ALP doesn’t agree to onshore processing.

And for us? Build the campaigns and demonstrations for refugees.

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Comments

Comment from Lorikeet
Time June 28, 2012 at 11:06 am

I fear the government will incur the ire of the general public if the amount of onshore processing is lifted.

For those who aren’t aware, we already have in excess of 100,000 Australians living on the streets, of whom 44% are now women.

Social workers have also expressed alarm at the increasing number of Australian children who lack a roof over their heads.

In SE Queensland alone, Food Banks are having to feed 100,000 people every week. By the time their bills are paid, there is no money left for food. Here in Brisbane, the general public now donates food to the destitute through food cages in shopping centres for 3-6 months of the year.

People are already angry that Aussies are forced to live on the streets, while asylum seekers are being housed in boarding arrangements for up to 6 weeks at the taxpayers’ expense, while their claims are processed.

At the same time, middle aged and elderly people living in public housing are being thrown out of their homes and moved into tiny apartments.

The government cannot properly address the claims of asylum seekers without first addressing the problems in our own Australian communities.

I think it makes sense for Australia to support the timely processing of asylum seekers in Indonesia.

The UN could also assist by doing more to end civil war in various nations, so that its most wealthy citizens don’t flee to greener pastures.

The important thing to remember is that the poor have no option but to remain in war zones, to die and suffer various atrocities.

A refugee from Somalia told me that 1 in 12 asylum seekers is not genuine and needs to be sent back where he/she came from.

Comment from peterr piper
Time June 28, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Are you implying that Malaysia and Indonesia are incapable of looking after these illigal aliens?? How very racist and xenophobic of you

Comment from Jonathon Rutherford
Time June 28, 2012 at 12:59 pm

John,

I would like to believe you are right and this is all just a capitalist plot to divide and rule…but I think your wrong. Imagine if tomorrow Labour implemented your policies of proactively processing 104,000 refugees from Indonesia/Malaysia…do you really think the electorate would accept it? Do you really think Labour would not take an absolute smashing (even more than now) at the polls? The problem, in other words, has as much to do with the anti-refugee sentiment of the oridinary voter as it does with proffessional politicians. I think there is also a reasonable question to ask about whether Australia, alone, should take on the burden of processing these refugees. I think some kind of regional solution would be far preferable.

Comment from John
Time June 28, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Yes, I think we should take a humanitarian approach and one that is consistent with our obligations under the Refugee Convention. Labor is going to get smashed. Having played in the sand pit of racism for many many years, they have led ‘ordinary’ voters to this current outcome.

I suspect the Greens’ vote will go up over this.

As to the capitalist plot issue, have a read of this more sophisticated analysis.

http://marxistleftreview.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=78%3Awho-is-to-blame-for-racism-in-australia&catid=41%3Anumber-4-winter-2012&Itemid=80

Comment from Jack Hartyn
Time June 28, 2012 at 2:03 pm

John,
You are living in a fantasy world.
If Australia did accept the 100,000 or so called refugees from moderate Muslim Indonesia and Malaysia, almost immediately another 100,000 or so called refugees would take their place, so it would go on ad infinitum. They try to come to Australia as they try to go to Europe, because they view these countries as far more agreeable to live in than their own third world countries. They realise their chances of immigrating legally is almost nil so they gather their quite wealthy(by comparison) monetary resources and attempt to buy their way into these more (to them) attractive countries.
These boat( and aeroplane) people are not genuine refugees in the fullest sense of the word but economic refugees attempting to enter this country illegally, consequently this country is entitled to employ all/any means within its laws to combat these illegal immigrants and prevent them from entering this country.
The final word is: these people make an informed decision to attempt to enter this country using quite dangerous methods to so do, then surely the responsibility for so doing is entirely their own!

Comment from David
Time June 28, 2012 at 2:35 pm

So its all well and good for those with the means to purchase an international airplane ticket and fly to Indonesia, pays tens of thousands of dollars to jump on a boat and come here but what about those who dont have those means?

Australia has a set refugee intake, and each time these boat people arrive on our shore they displace those people already in the queue. That is not fair.

I agree whole heatedly we should increase our quota to 20,000 and not be permitting people to jump the queue like this. If that means sending them to Malaysia, then so be it.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time June 28, 2012 at 3:19 pm

I think the Greens vote is more likely to go down at the next election. For one thing, they support an even more punitive Carbon Tax than that of Labor, which will drive work out of the country. An increase in refugee intake will only compound the unemployment and housing problems.

Despite the machinations we see occurring in the parliament each day, Labor, Liberals and Greens all support onshore processing. This is why successive attempts by both sides of the parliament to process asylum seekers in Nauru and Malaysia have failed.

All 3 parties want to use as many migrants and refugees as possible in a Slave Labour Trade on the land, in mines, aged care and the service industries.

In the end, some Australians will accept slave labour and the dumping of more and more Australians on the scrap heap, if they think it will add extra funds to their superannuation accounts.

A huge influx of migrants and refugees will also give the government an excellent excuse to allow bankers to take over the housing market, and force everyone to live in tiny high rise apartments according to the dictates of Agenda 21 (signed by Paul Keating in 1992).

One could be forgiven for thinking that the current emphasis on refugee issues is aimed at deflecting criticism away from the Carbon Tax, which commences in 3 days time. This coincides nicely with a 6 week break from parliamentary sittings.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time June 28, 2012 at 3:36 pm

From memory, it was capitalist Coalition politicians who plotted against Pauline Hanson and had her thrown in the slammer.

The people that Labor, Liberals and Greens represent from the corporate world want to bring in as much slave labour as possible to line their own pockets.

The continuing arrival of asylum seekers is also part of the plan to redistribute populations and wealth across the world. Moving many of the more wealthy people into the western nations would be a good way for bankers to fleece everyone in the same places.

Comment from John
Time June 28, 2012 at 8:26 pm

There is no queue. It’s a figment of the racists’ imagination. Increase our intake. The rich buy business visas and come in welcomed by both parties. Malaysia brutalises refugees.

Comment from John
Time June 28, 2012 at 8:32 pm

Yes, I agree I am living in a fantasy world to expect humane treatment of refugees under the brutal dictatorship of capital in this country. Millions aren’t actually queuing up to come to Australia but even if they were so what? Maybe if we stopped our wars there’d be far fewer refugees. Something up to 95% of refugees are found to be genuine. But I also support people coming here to improve their economic life. Capital can cross any border. It should be the same for labour.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time June 29, 2012 at 7:58 am

There have been legions of people sitting in UN camps on the Thai/Burma border for generations. Some have arrived as teenagers and are now grandparents.

There certainly ought to be queues based on how long each person/family has been waiting for resettlement.

The DLP’s policy is to intercept the boats and transport asylum seekers to the UN camps on the Thai/Burma border and exchange them for processed refugees on a 2-for-1 basis.

This would put an end to the perilous journeys on leaky boats, and the scumbags who profit from other people’s desperation.

I don’t think the 5-for-1 swap with Malaysia is tenable considering our growing housing problem and the increasing divide between rich and poor. (This morning a commentator from Hong Kong was also complaining about the rich/poor divide.)

A large part of the reason that lots of people have left Afghanistan as asylum seekers is that until Minister for Immigration, Chris Bowen, signed an agreement with that nation in January 2011, there was no immigration “queue” for them to join.

In the last week, I have heard of plans to close the UN camps on the Thai/Burma border, which will only increase the number of boat people and strengthen the UN’s position of forcing various western nations to take legions of people escaping war torn parts of the world.

I think we can trust in the fact that support for offshore processing by Labor and Liberals is only a game of smoke and mirrors to distract us from more financially punitive issues.

A woman I know came to Australia a few short years ago, after her family fled Cuba to the refugee settlement in Guantanamo Bay, after her husband had twice become a political prisoner of the Castro regime.

After 2 years, they were offered resettlement in Latin America. They knocked this back and George Bush did a deal with John Howard (bosom buddy) to send them to Australia.

As we know, Australia has been a very palatable destination for quite a long time.

Ever since Kevin Rudd commenced his Slave Labor Trade using migrants in aged care some 4 years ago, a lot have been denied citizenship as the government knows they will quickly move elsewhere in order to earn a living wage.

At the same time, they have been fleeced in our universities. Hence Australia is becoming a less palatable destination for those with any real marketable skills and money.

This is also why we have seen a shift to importing unskilled and semi-skilled, poor migrant workers who are easier to abuse financially on a continuing basis.

There are plenty of disgruntled migrant and refugee workers around, and many of them are ending up without work in addition to Aussies.

Comment from Jack Hartyn
Time June 29, 2012 at 1:46 pm

John Passant research before you write!
These refugees when they arrive here ARE treated humanely, far more humanely than the legal refugees that fled a war torn Europe and were recruited by the Australian labor government from the European DP camps to come to this country on a two year contract with permanent residence. The contracted antiquated passenger ships conveyed them in crowded conditions, they were placed upon arrival in disused wool sheds and sub-standard ex army camps without any concession to privacy or personal comfort, they were employed in the main on hard physical labour in isolated areas. without any consideration of their previous education or work experience, so please do not write of inhumane conditions when the recently re-opened re-furbished (at a cost of some 26 million dollars) Northam Army Camp is likened to a holiday 4 star resort for these boat people.
This same Army Camp was used previously without any re-furbishment to house these European displaced persons, and Dutch migrants in the period after WW2. It is noticeable no outcry about their inhumane conditions was ever raised by any Australian political party at that time.

Comment from John
Time June 30, 2012 at 7:52 am

Bullshit.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time June 30, 2012 at 8:24 am

I have never seen any evidence of detention centres being set up as 4 star resorts. From the outside at least, photographs of the facilities on Christmas Island look fairly ordinary to me.

But I think Jack is right in at least one of his statements. Last year I sat on a jury with an elderly woman who came here as a refugee from Europe at the end of WWII.

She said she is sick of asylum seekers complaining about everything, and that her family was content to simply have respite from the ghastly prospect of gas chambers, bullets and bayonets.

She said the accommodation provided had sheets hung between families as a simple measure to maintain privacy.

While it may be true that lots of illegal immigrants are more wealthy “visa overstayers” who arrived by plane, plenty of reasonably wealthy people still come via boats. To my knowledge, they remain illegal immigrants until such time as they come forward to seek asylum.

Peasants cannot escape persecution in war zones due to lack of funds. I’m sure any kind of roof over their heads in safe territory would be welcomed without any whining.

Comment from John
Time June 30, 2012 at 8:44 pm

There is nothing illegal about seeking asylum. Until 1992 they were not kept in detention. Keating locked them up to, he thought, favourably politicise the asylum seeker issue for Labor in the run up to the 1993 election.

The housing for immigrants, some of whom were refugees, coming here in the 50s and 60s was temporary inadequate housing, not detention.

The vast majority of asylum seekers are in fact found to be refugees. Which is by the way why Tony Abbott’s Nauru ‘solution’ even in its own racist terms won’t work.

And why are the vast majority found to be refugees? Duh. Because they are refugees. They are fleeing war, imprisonment, rape, murder and the like, much as many of the refugees immediately after the second world war were.