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John Passant

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October 2012
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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
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Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
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Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

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Me on Razor Sharp this morning
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Excise Labor’s ‘left’

I could of course give you chapter and verse from various Labor luminaries attacking John Howard’s attempt in 2006 to excise mainland Australia from the Migration Act as despicable, an outrage and the like.

But I won’t, because Australian readers will have read them and because they obscure the real point.

Labor has changed so much that it is now, on positions like refugees, to the right of Liberal Party moderates. That is not just the right wing of the ALP. It is the so-called Labor left in Parliament too.

According to reports, no-one from the Left in caucus opposed the excision. Some raised questions about it but no-one from the Left opposed it.

This is the same Left that has been silent on gay marriage, that has supported forcing single mums on the dole and cutting their support payments by up to $100 a week, that has supported extraditing Tamils and Hazaras back to Sri Lanka and Afghanistan respectively to face death, torture, imprisonment, that supports the war in Afghanistan, that refuses to argue for taxing the rich, that supports the Northern Territory intervention, that does nothing to defend workers in struggle against Labor’s anti-worker laws.

The list is long and I won’t go through every crime the Labor left has committed or is a party to…

Having a Labor left gives good cover for the right wing policies of Labor. Always was, always will be…

The Labor left is now a shadow of its former and more radical self.

The class collaboration, the Accord, the massive fall in strikes, Labor’s adoption of neoliberalism, all have contributed to a huge shift to the right in Australian politics.

And the soft and social democratic leftists, many of whom think it is Parliament that can change the world, have become not only a part of that shift; they are integral to it. It was their class collaboration, or that of the previous generation, that started this charge to the right economically, socially and politically and ahs kept it in train.

The decision to excise mainland Australia means asylum seekers who arrive on the mainland (rather than say Christmas Island) have no rights. They too like the Christmas Island colleagues will be renditioned to Nauru or blackbirded to Manus Island.

However the disgust that has greeted Labor’s excision might open up a space for the radical left.

Clearly something is already going on. Over the last 12 months there has been a bit of an increase in strikes – building workers, teachers and unions for example have been fighting back. In the Public Sector Association in New South Wales the PSA Progressive ticket has won a number of positions against the incumbents who led no fight whatsoever against Barry O’Farrell’s attacks on New South Wales public servants.

In Moreland in Victoria Sue Bolton, a recognised activist and campaign and socialist, won a seat on the Council with over 11% of the vote – the highest of any candidate in her ward. Stephen Jolly retained his seat on the Yarra Council.

The forthcoming merger of Socialist Alternative and the Revolutionary Socialist Party, and recently the number of high profile socialists and activists joining, has reinvigorated the revolutionary left and the debates there about the way forward and how to build a revolutionary organization to ultimately challenge capitalism.

For all those disillusioned with Labor, and looking for a socialist alternative, the website of Socialist Alternative not only has a large number of interesting articles on a range of issues, it also has a regroupment page with a number of different pieces by people who have recently joined the organisation and what the merger is about.

If you want a new and democratic society where people come before profit, if you think we need a revolution of the mass of workers to win that, then you should consider joining Socialist Alternative. Unlike Labor and its puppy dog left, we welcome refugees; we don’t demonise them, imprison them indefinitely in concentration camps, or deport them to possible death, torture or imprisonment.



Comment from Mary
Time November 1, 2012 at 9:36 am

Many Labor left shifted to the Greens many years ago that was how Dee Margetts became senator in WA. If an alliance was formed with the Greens then a revolution would be made easier. Today the ALP is like the UK new labour a right wing party supported by the corporations. The ALP no longer representing the community that was daft enough to vote for them!Howard main streamed all community groups by cutting off funding to lobbyists like women’s organisations (WEL) and aboriginal groups as well as conservation and environmental groups, Sustainable population etc. Then the move to enforce groups to pay insurance for using public meeting places. This made many self funded charity groups unable to meet or organise public meeting to inform the community about important issue that affect them.Government treats people like mushrooms- we no longer know what is going on as decisions are made without any consultation with community. Our so called representative members do not represent us they only follow their party who are bound to what their corporate mates want. People are just turned off by the system of politics operating today.

Comment from gary
Time November 1, 2012 at 3:45 pm


I enjoy a good discourse, so let me comment on the two articles poster here.

In one, you rightly nail the ALP for its policies on asylum-seekers and ponder, as many do, why has the party turned so Right and abandoned any pretence of humanitarianism. There’s not a lot one can disagree with in your article.

But the one on climate change and Hurricane Sandy is ideological drivel. Climate change is real, and humans are responsible for the rapid increase in carbon pollution. No argument with the author on this score.

But what rankles is that the same people who blame capitalism, who blame Obama, the US, the system of capital, the bourgeoisie and so on also drive cars that use oil, fly in airplanes, but clothing made by slaves in developing nations, use computers and mobile phones made with exploited minerals and so on.

It’s like the kids who fly around the world protesting at the G20 meetings.

Do you believe capitalism causes climate change and that socialism won’t? Would a socialist society not use oil or gas or coal? How would socialists travel and keep warm or cool? Would socialist crops not be farmed with tractors or machines that use fuels?

Would socialists not use mobile phones or would they pay, say $1000 each so that the slaves who dig up the precious minerals are paid western wages?

How would a socilaist society survive without producing carbon emissions or using ANY materials from developing countries where there are no minimum wages, OH & S or unions?

Comment from alfred venison
Time November 1, 2012 at 6:39 pm

as i understand it a socialism is predicated on co-ordination & planning led by government.

capitalism is predicated on unfettered competition & the smallest government possible.

i think the author’s view is that planning & co-ordination would get a socialist system moving away from carbon intensive energy economy towards a renewable energy economy faster than competition would move a capitalist economy to that end.
alfred venison

Comment from John
Time November 2, 2012 at 9:58 am

Gary, the impact of the poorest people on GHG emissions in both the 3rd world and the developed world is negligible compared to the impact of the way production is organised and based on fossil fuels. What’s the alternative? Beyond Zero Emissions estimates we could be a completely renewable energy society by 2020. It would cost about $370 billion. Taxing the rich here and now would pay for that, easily.

And it is a small price to pay to save the planet. However the short term profit driver for capitalism makes that possibility an impossibility (probably. Maybe the ruling class will wake up in time, but I doubt it, in part because competition drags them back to the stone age of fossil fuels.) In other words only a revolution in which profit is removed and production to satisfy human need becomes the central point is a necessity, but not an inevitability.

But if that were to occur in one country – the mass of workers setting up their own democratic institutions to run society – such a system could not survive in one country for very long, as the degeneration of the Russian revolution into state capitalism by 1930 shows.

The revolution would have to spread to other countries. Personally I think workers’ revolution in China holds the key to the future of humanity.

Comment from Nick Fredman
Time November 2, 2012 at 11:14 am

>>In Moreland in Victoria Sue Bolton, a recognised activist and campaign and socialist, won a seat on the Council with over 11% of the vote – the highest of any candidate in her ward. Stephen Jolly retained his seat on the Yarra Council.<<

Jolly pointed out that all the socialist candidates in Melbourne were either elected or had very big swings toward them. He actually didn't seem to notice Socialist Alliance's Sue Bull who scored 8.2% or over 10 000 votes for the mayoral race in Geelong. I think this'd have to be the highest absolute number of votes for a socialist candidate for a long time, maybe since Fred Patterson's election to the Qld parliament. Hopefully these are indeed straws in the wind.

Comment from John
Time November 2, 2012 at 11:31 am

Thanks for the info on Sue Bull in Geelong. Yes, I too wonder what this vote for openly socialist candidates means. And with the success, where too now for the candidates. Sue Bolton at the refugee rally to stop Anjan’s deportation was great in that context.