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John Passant

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September 2013



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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)



It’s Mad Men for Abbott’s government

It might be early days to make the call – the Coalition government will only be sworn in on Wednesday – but the fact that the incoming Abbott Cabinet will be composed almost exclusively of rich white ruling class men indicates a return to an era of extreme conservatism when Liberal men ran the government and women ‘knew their place.’

The Abbott government is the Mad Men of politics today.

Of the 20 Cabinet members 19 will be white men. Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop will be the only woman among the band of hostile brothers.

Abbott says the cabinet was picked, by him, on merit.  So no other woman has the ability to be a Cabinet Minister? Unlike say Warren Truss or Barnaby Joyce who just brim with talent.

Of course merit is really about being white, male, rich and educated at a private school. Occasionally a woman is admitted to the boys’ club.

Abbot also downsized the titles of Ministries. There is no ministry for science, none for aged care, none for disabilities, workplace relations,  higher education, youth or climate change. There is however a Minister for the Anzac Day Centenary, another for Border Protection and one for Sport.  The whiff of backwardness and populist nationalism grows stronger and stronger.

Of course we need to think about this in class terms as well as gender terms.

If this is the way Abbott treats ruling class women imagine what he has in store for working class women.

Already the incoming Coalition government has announced it will rescind the pay increases for up to 350000 aged and child care workers, the overwhelming majority of whom are women.

The new Government is the party of the 1% so will attack workers and social spending to improve profitability if the economy worsens, as predictions indicate it will.

Of course Labor have been painting themselves as different. It is true they had 6 women in Cabinet and the first woman as Prime Minister.

But this is more about show than reality for the vast majority of working class women. The gender pay gap was 15% under Howard in 2004. Under Labor it grew to 17.5%

Nowhere was Labor’s tokenism and hypocrisy more on display than the day Gillard launched her admirable attack on Abbott’s misogyny. On that day the Gillard government shifted over 80,000 single parents from the single parent payment and onto Newstart, cutting their benefits by between $60 and $1000 a week and condemning them to increased poverty. Over 90% of single parents are women.

Having a female PM and six women in Cabinet didn’t save poor women from Labor’s vicious attack. That’s because Labor runs the system for the capitalist class not poor or working class women.

To imagine that having more women in a capitalist government will benefit working women is to imagine having more women as bosses will save working women’s pay and jobs. Sue Morphet sacked 1850 mainly women workers when she became head of Pacific Brands.  Her salary package rose from $685,000 to $1.8 million.

Julia Gillard’s efficiency dividend cut the public service by 5000, and the majority of lower level public servants are women.

What Abbott’s male dominated cabinet shows is a government trapped in the past, reverting to the thinking of the 1950s. It reveals an anti-woman attitude which will translate into attacks on poor and working class women, if we and our unions let them.



Comment from John
Time September 18, 2013 at 10:45 am

Kay, I have accidentally removed your comment. Too much just hitting spam to remove the tens of pieces of crap from spambots and yours got hit as well. can you re-post? I want to reply since the Daily Mail and the Australian reports on the IPCC aren’t correct.

Comment from Kay
Time September 18, 2013 at 1:10 pm


I somewhat facetiously questioned the urgency of having a Minister for Climate Change. I look forward to the release of the final of the forthcoming IPCC report – given the reporting in the Daily Mail of the draft. I have also seen the article in The Guardian – which tries to heap ridicule on the Daily Mail article.

The Daily Mail article does give some quotes – and its interpretations seem reasonable to me. Whether the quotes are correct, or have been taken completely out of context – we will have to wait for the final report and look for ourselves.

Personally, I put no more credence on The Guardian article than on the one in The Australian. At least the Daily Mail article has some quotes. But the IPCC report is still a draft.

The accuracy of computer modelling is ENTIRELY reliant upon the parameters being fed into the models. And much of the knowledge of climate change is still evolving and is limited in many areas. The causes of climate change are multiple and extremely complex. All science is an iterative process. Climate change is happening – always has – and is it not unreasonable to consider mankind’s role in this – given our constant abuse of our natural resources. But do we know everything yet? – NO.

There is much criticism of this ‘consensus’ style of science. It probably was considered necessary given what many thought was a rapidly looming climate catastrophe. Consensus is useful from a political point of view – and useful for policy makers. But rigorous experiment and robust debate is the normal scientific method. Eventually an agreed theory starts to evolve. Trying to force consensus is not a normal way for science to progress.

Here is a link to the Daily Mail article:

Comment from John
Time September 19, 2013 at 3:17 am

John Quiggin points out the Daily Mail also runs the lie that vaccines cause autism.

Comment from John
Time September 19, 2013 at 3:19 am

That rigorous experimenting and debate have been going on. The Australian’s story is a beat up to fit in with their denialism and to encourage this denialist government.

Comment from Kay
Time September 19, 2013 at 6:28 am

This ‘climate change religion’ versus the ‘climate change deniers’ approach is NOT a helpful way to continue this field of research. The truth usually lies somewhere in the middle!

Whilst I am aware there are those who prefer to ignore any evidence of anthropogenic climate change, there are equally those trying to avoid the new research results, who, with the zealotry of a religious convert, continue to use the most extreme arguments to defend their point of view. Neither have much credibility in my view.

I await with interest the final IPCC report. BTW there is some discussion that because of the difficulty of gaining consensus on every aspect of the IPCC report, this report may be the IPCC’s last.

Comment from John
Time September 19, 2013 at 12:11 pm

The truth usually lies in the middle? Really? Like somewhere between the earth being flat and round, between it going round the sun or being the centre of the universe, between evolution and creationism. Is that the sort of duality you mean – between lies and scientific truth?

Comment from Kay
Time September 19, 2013 at 2:34 pm

Clearly you are not the sort of person who understands shades of grey. And life is full of shades of grey. Nor do you understand science! There is no such thing as “scientific truth” – only the level of knowledge available at a particular time. Science is an iterative process. There is no end point.

God preserve us from religious fanatics, including those who absolutely believe in the climate change religion. Why? Because religious fanatics have closed their minds!

I, on the other hand, look forward to what developments in our climate change knowledge have occurred since the last report. Knowledge of what causes climate change is in its infancy. It is an exceedingly complex topic to which scientists from many disciplines and fields of research contribute. And, as time goes by, we will come to understand more and more about climate change – and whether we can do anything to mitigate the negative impacts of that change – or whether that change a good thing – who knows.

Climate change has always happened. No change there. Is it changing more rapidly/differently than in the past? Well, there were periods (the Medieval Warming Period, for example) when temperatures were also high – at least where they could be measured and recorded – and that was only part small of the world. And there were times when temperature rises were quite rapid. Why? This was pre the industrial revolution. What were the mechanisms?

My point is, even on past climate events there is limited understanding. And suddenly, the climate change religion declares “the science is decided”! What? Only politics could explain this extraordinary leap of “logic” – or more precisely, the lack of logic.

No, you may have closed your mind – but I am very interested in how the climate studies around the world are progressing. And what it means for us. And I won’t be relying on ‘shock jocks’ like Tim Flannery to inform me – nor the Daily Mail – nor The Guardian.

Comment from Kay
Time September 24, 2013 at 6:55 am

Why have you deleted half a dozen or so comments that were previously published?

Comment from Kay
Time September 24, 2013 at 7:06 am

Sorry – my mistake – I was looking at the wrong blog strand. Forget my earlier comment!

Comment from John
Time September 24, 2013 at 8:43 am

I haven’t deleted any comments Kay.

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