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John Passant

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December 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
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)



Of police and other deaths

On Friday Detective Inspector Bryson Anderson attended a dispute between neighbours. He was stabbed and died. Two people have been charged with his murder.

By all accounts Anderson was a decent man who helped a number of people.  The police, media and politicians have made much about his serving the community and the danger that police officers face.

According to the NSW Police Honour Roll site 14 officers have died on duty since 2002. Some of them have been on the way to or from work. If we add Anderson it makes 15 in ten years, 4 of whom died as result of being attacked. 

Anderson’s death received lots of media coverage of grieving, of police commissioners, politicians and others mourning our loss.

Aboriginal deaths in custody between 2002 and 2008 totalled 99. As far as I know not one police or prison officer has been convicted over the death of any of those prisoners.

On building sites, according to Dave Noonan, the head of the CFMEU, the building union, about 50 workers die a year as a result of workplace injury or illness. As far as I know not one building boss has been charged, let alone convicted of a criminal offence in relation to deaths on building and construction sites.

According to Leighton Holdings, that figure of 50 deaths a year on sites could trend up to 100 a year. Leighton Holdings also pointed out that the rate of deaths on building sites in Australia was twice that of the UK because in the UK they have strict safety standards.

In the same radio interview, Dave Noonan from the CFMEU said that if unions could enforce safety standards on site, the number of deaths on building and construction sites would fall. It makes sense. Those who have a vital interest in safety are workers and their unions. The bosses have an interest in profit, not safety.

In Australia, the criminalisation of strikes over safety and the establishment of the Australian Building and Construction Commission to police the industry and handcuff the union and workers from taking industrial action, saw deaths on site increase. The CFMEU again:

Deaths in the construction industry increased, from 3.14 deaths per 100,000 workers in 2004 to 3.86 in 2005 [when the ABCC came into operation], 5.6 in 2006, 4.48 in 2007 and 4.27 in 2008.

Labor has changed the name of the ABCC but it still polices  building sites. The solution? Dave Noonan again in 2010:

Ultimately it’s bad laws that cost lives. Bad laws that are used to intimidate workers. Bad laws that stop experienced union organisers visiting sites to review safety. Bad laws which mean a worker like Ark Tribe is facing six months in prison after safety concerns got so bad on his worksite, workers decided they had to take some action.

Too many workers have a story to tell about workplace accidents. Every worker has the right to come home safely. We know when there is a strong union presence on construction sites, with active union members, safety is better.

What happens when workers at places like the Myer Emporium Grocon site try through action to win safety rights by having union representation on site? Hundreds of police, courts, lawyers, injunctions, contempt of court orders, possible million dollar fines and imprisonment.

No mourning the building worker dead, no outpourings of grief, no media championing those killed in the name of profit. Just vilification and the full force of the state thrown at workers and unions daring to fight for better safety on site.

Perhaps the difference in treatment in death is that police protect the profit system, whereas workers don’t. We workers make the profit for the bosses. We are expendable and our deaths at work are nothing to them compared to the death of a police officer.

By their eulogies shall ye know the bosses and their system.



Comment from Kay
Time December 9, 2012 at 8:32 am

The recent death of the NSW police officer is a very tragic event. As is the death of any person killed whilst undertaking their normal work activities (as was this officer). And clearly more attention needs to be paid to all work-related deaths, especially if the incidence of such deaths is increasing (as your data shows).

However, if you are talking about deaths in police or prison custody, you should include the fact that the number of non-indigenous deaths in custody greatly exceeds the number of indigenous deaths in custody, notwithstanding the disproportionately higher number of indigenous people in police/prison custody.

And I suspect the number of police deaths in the line of duty across Australia is probably more than, or at least similar to, the number of other work-related deaths (I don’t have access to actual numbers). Of course, some mining accidents claim multiple lives, so that could impact on the numbers. And it seems to me that workplace accidents always receive their fair share of newspaper and TV coverage – police officers or otherwise.

Perhaps much sympathy goes out to the families of police officers killed in the line of duty because the police are seen as those who are charged with protecting the community – that means us. Only the socialists would view the task of the police as “protect(ing) the profit system”!!

Comment from Gary
Time December 9, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Kay has nailed this well.

Your diatribe is quite offensive John. You prescribe a motive to all police and then try to justify a death of an obviously fine officer by reflecting on other tragedies.

I presume if you are robbed or assaulted or need the police for any reason, you wouldn’t call them, as that would be supporting the upholders of profit?

So when women are assulted, young people bashed, innocent people robbed … the police are not there to help, but to uphold the profits of the bosses?

So what are you saying – get rid of all police? Remove all state security and protection and allow the workers to look after their own protection? maybe an armed militia or some such arrangement whereby no profit is involved?

This man was killed while at work, same as construction workers you site. It is horrific no matter what your occupation is – to be killed while going about your work.

This is beneath you John.

Comment from John
Time December 9, 2012 at 9:10 pm

Their objective position is to defend profit. They also try to address crime – often badly when it is physical and often property crime. They have a low death rate at work. Where is all the hand wringing over the workers who die on building sites every week, rather than one cop who gets killed every year? But I guess expecting people to actually read my articles properly is a forlorn hope.

Comment from John
Time December 9, 2012 at 9:31 pm

Cop spills all on WA police

Comment from Richard
Time December 13, 2012 at 2:53 pm

Hi John…As a new reader pf your comments, it would seem you don’t much like police per se ?

Comment from John
Time December 13, 2012 at 2:57 pm

It is not a question of like or dislike Richard, it is about trying to understand their role in our society.

Comment from Richard
Time December 13, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Hi (again) John…

Many thanks for your very quick response.

I spent many years in the job and was a detective when I retired. I do understand that many folk are confused at their role in society, particularly that of the HWP, handing out ‘Traffic Infringement Notices’ all day long.

Most peceive they’re just part of Govt’s. revenue gathering apparatus, rather then attempting to reduce the road toll. Then again, perception is everything I guess.

I would agree with you assertion that there are many more killed or severely injured on building sites, than police are annually.

However, there are many more injuries occasioned to police than merely physical injuries. In my time, I’ve had three of my colleagues suicide, in the short space of just under twelve months.

Two of which were due to fallacious allegations of misconduct whilst on duty. The other due to personal reasons.

Another high casualty for serving police is, marriage breakdowns, and then divoice.

A copper’s life is no bed of roses, there again these days nothing is I suppose, is it ?

Thanks John.

Comment from John
Time December 13, 2012 at 5:16 pm

I understand that. Injuries are rife too among building workers, but I don’t know about the suicide rate. The NSW honour role, even if we include service related or caused suicides, is 15 over ten years. And yes, police will obviously be under stress. But my point is to understand the specific social role they play. Why is it for example that the police force is a modern capitalist invention? By the way I am not that worried about parking police at all. A rotten job born of inadequate urban planning and design and inadequate public transport.

I also have a bee in my bonnet about speeding and the need to stop it but think again that that is a societal issue born of time being money and inadequate public transport and long haul transport. Building a rail network across Australia would be safer and more efficient to carry goods currently transported in long haul trucks, for example. But that would undermine current arrangements and the profit flowing through to road transport operators.

Comment from Kay
Time December 14, 2012 at 6:24 am

Re the rail network comment: surely a major problem with rail networks is the huge construction costs. Plus, from my limited knowledge, they mostly run at a loss and have to be subsidised by the public – that is the case with suburban networks, anyway. In fact, many rail lines have been closed because of their continuing cost to the the taxpayer. But even the more profitable freight lines can only go so far – and then there is another unloading/loading operation to get the goods to the delivery location. Rail networks can only service a limited number of locations – they always require trucks for the final section anyway. And even if you look at the main highways (I frequently travel from Brisbane to Sydney and back on the New England and Pacific Highways), there are countless towns along the route that are supplied with goods – not just Sydney and Brisbane, for example.

But certainly the scariest things on the road are the trucks – almost invariably exceeding the speed limit with apparent impunity. But I see the main problem as the unreasonable delivery schedules demanded by those ordering the deliveries – not the truck drivers themselves.

Comment from John
Time December 14, 2012 at 7:50 am

Currently long haul road users don’t pay for the damage or wear and tear they cause to roads. You and I do, so we are subsidising them. And yes a real rail network would be costly; nation building is. But the saved lives and the saved transport costs, not to mention the benefits to the environment, make it worthwhile in the medium to long term. It is true you will require trucks for delivery at the end point. Trucks doing 60 kms an hour rather than 110? Sounds OK to me. And it is true the businesses push their drivers to the limit. That is why the TWU campaign for safety is and was important.

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