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John Passant

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June 2014



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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)



Tell the Americans to pressure Egypt to release Peter Greste and his colleagues

Egyptian ‘President’ Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is the US’s new Mubarak. He is their strong man, brutally keeping in check all the dissidents, the democrats and the dangerous and keeping close to Israel.

Such is the importance of Egypt under al-Sisi to US imperialism that the US will reward him with $1.5 billion to spend on arms. Almost $500 million has already gone quietly to the dictatorship.

Part of the suppression of dissent (apart from jailing thousands for protesting, killing some of them and sentencing 182 to death) involves cracking down on reporters for telling the truth. The jailing of Peter Greste and his two Al-Jazeera colleagues is part of that wider campaign to keep the lid on and brutal control of the democratic, Islamist and other forces the 25 January 2011 revolution unleashed.

In my opinion if Abbott and Bishop were serious, rather than just mouthing platitudes about the jailing of Greste, they’d ask their good friend Barack Obama to pressure his client President in Egypt to release Greste and his colleagues.

If I were Tony Abbott, which thankfully I am not, I’d also mention Pine Gap and the Darwin military base in that conversation. No threats, of course. Just a gentle reminder that Obama’s pivot to Asia (aka containing China) needs support from Australia and our assistance to Obama in key areas might be less than fulsome.

Of course Abbott won’t do that. One Australian journalist is not worth risking the US alliance over for him and for the Australian ruling class.

I wouldn’t either because I am opposed to Pine Gap and the Darwin base and would close them down. Let’s suspend that reality for a moment. International relations is a dirty game.

If Abbott and Bishop really want Peter Greste freed, then it is time to play dirty. Threaten Pine Gap and the US base in Darwin if Obama doesn’t get the Egyptians to release Peter Greste and his colleagues. The task for the Egyptian people, again, is to overthrow the tyranny and this time defeat reaction. Only a working class socialist revolution can do that.

They won’t because the Alliance with the US is in the interests of the Australian ruling class both as insurance for the future against other ruling class and as the umbrella under which our ruling class can expand its influence and reach in the region.



Pingback from Tell the Americans to pressure Egypt to release Peter Greste and his colleagues | OzHouse
Time June 24, 2014 at 10:11 pm

[…] Jun 24 2014 by admin […]

Comment from peter piper
Time June 25, 2014 at 8:43 am

yes, of course, it Mr Abbott’s fault..not islamic ‘justice’.

Comment from Dion Giles
Time June 25, 2014 at 11:21 am

The permanent Australian government didn’t allow the murder of five Australian journalists plus countless East Timorese and West Papuans to ruffle its cosy relationship with the Indonesian fascists and is hardly likely to lift a real finger for the Al Jazeera journalists.

What goods on sale in Australia are from Egypt? One I can think of is Cairo holidays.

Comment from Jim Brash
Time June 25, 2014 at 1:57 pm

John, the world is dominated by a milieu of greedy arrogant parasites. I honestly think President Obama, fits in well with this crowd. Black vampire, White vampire, blood is still being sucked. The Aussie ruling class is so subservient to the declining US hegemon, it’ll be the first to raise its sweaty hands to arrange for Abbott to send troops to Iraq to assist the puppet regime in Bagdad. The Peter Greste situation is actually good for the Aussie ruling class: it will help them keep Australian journalists in line with the fear of they’ll be hungout to dry and left to rot too.

Comment from Caroline Storm
Time June 25, 2014 at 4:46 pm

New York Times, this morning. Kerry has expressed U.S disapproval of the verdict. Apparently USA weapon funding for Egypt, as recently promised, will still be given.

Comment from paul walter
Time June 25, 2014 at 5:29 pm

The persecution of Greste and his colleagues fits in well with the global policy of suppression of dissent.. they are not in trouble for doing wrong, but for doing right.

People like bankers on Wall St and City of London, or CEO s and Executives get bonuses or severance pay akin to the $25 million paid the appalling Rebekah Brooks for incompetence down to downright criminality, but people like Aaron Schwarz and Dennis Kelly are in their graves and others like Assange, Snowden and Manning in jail or on the run for doing right.

But all this money spent on arms, what checks are in place to prevent graft.
Arthur Sinodinis and Eddie Obeid would thrive in such a place, you’d suspect?

Comment from Lorikeet
Time June 25, 2014 at 7:29 pm

Maybe Obama also has an interest in gagging the media when it suits him. To my knowledge, Aljazeera journalists work for ABC24, and I think we all know that those with corporate/capitalist agendas want to shut down the ABC.

Here’s an interesting comment made by a UK journalist in relation to the way in which politicians behave when they are being interviewed.

He said: “They all tap dance on a pin head.”

I take this to mean that they will not allow the slightest divergence from the narrow topic they are discussing i.e. actively discouraging any kind of tangential or interactive thinking, or alternative opinion.

There are also plenty of people in the blogosphere accusing others of going off at tangents or espousing conspiracy theories.

I’m sure the term “conspiracy theory” was coined to shut down people’s thinking and any interest they might have in listening to alternative opinions.

I refuse to “tap dance on a pin head” to suit anyone, no matter how many of these stupid accusations fly.

Comment from Alan Austin
Time June 25, 2014 at 10:10 pm

John, if any of us think for one moment that a Coalition government will lift a finger to enlist the support of the US to help an innocent Australian citizen we are forgetting David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib.

Comment from John
Time June 26, 2014 at 8:40 am

I agree Alan. Just reinforcing that point.

Comment from John
Time June 26, 2014 at 8:41 am

Of course Caroline. Their actions speak louder than their words.

Comment from John
Time June 26, 2014 at 8:42 am

Good point Dion re the Balibo five and East Timor and West Papua. .

Comment from Kay
Time June 26, 2014 at 2:07 pm

Peter Greste and his colleagues may well have to wait a fair time to be released from that Egyptian hellhole. Unfortunately, they are pawns in a political dispute between the current Egyptian government and its rich neighbour, Qatar. Qatar, where Al Jazeera is headquartered, provides support and safe haven to the Muslim Brotherhood, outlawed as terrorists by el Sisi, the newly appointed Egyptian President.

Saudi Arabia strongly supports el Sisi, and Saudi Arabia also has had skirmishes with Qatar over its borders. Saudi Arabia is the main ally of the US in the Middle East.

On the other hand, the US has a large air base in Qatar. All quite messy really.

The Muslim Brotherhood has a chequered history of violence and non-violence, having started out doing charitable works, but progressing to taking a political role – which is one reason for some Middle East countries to be concerned. But it has a very conservative approach to Islam, wants to run the State along Islamist lines, and to introduce Sharia Law – all of this not favourable to women. The MB government under Morsi started a crackdown on moderate Muslims, Christians and liberals, leading to widespread discontent and the downfall of the MB government.

Can the US provide pressure for the release of the Al Jazeera journalists? I hope so. But it would require deft diplomacy, not something the US is noted for.

Comment from Kay
Time June 26, 2014 at 2:15 pm


Al Jazeera has 2 main branches – Al Jazeera Arabic (which had its offices raided and shut down in Egypt), and Al Jazeera English, a very reputable international news broadcasting service. Both are headquartered in Qatar.

The ABC obviously buys news broadcasts from Al Jazeera English, and screens them on ABC24. SBS also broadcasts Al Jazeera news. In my view, Al Jazeera English is a high quality news broadcaster – by far my favourite. I find it very balanced and unbiased in its presentation of news events. Al Jazeera journalists do not work for the ABC!

Comment from Lorikeet
Time June 26, 2014 at 4:06 pm

Kay, I think that would be narrow perspective on both Al Jazeera and the ABC. Journalists (whether print, online or television) are working for whoever screens or distributes their material, not to mention all consumers of same.

Comment from John
Time June 26, 2014 at 9:20 pm

I think I accidently spammed one of your comments Lorikeet.

Comment from Kay
Time June 27, 2014 at 6:54 am


Actually, Al Jazeera’s news broadcasts are purchased by a wide range of broadcasters around the world. Al Jazeera English reaches an estimated 250 million households in 150 countries, including the US. The network has bureaus in more than 70 countries, with a staff of more than 1,000 from 50 nationalities.

A bit hard to specifically cater for all those media outlets, not to mention the audiences, I would think. Broadcast services simply purchase the news segments. And they are of high quality and very balanced, thus accounting for their popularity.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time June 27, 2014 at 11:17 am

What does that mean, John?

Let’s hope somebody learned something from it.

I hope it was the one about “tap dancing on a pin head”.[

Comment from Lorikeet
Time June 30, 2014 at 8:59 am

I think it is very hard to assess whether anything we see in the media is balanced or not. Most journalists give a particular slant.

I was once interviewed by a current affairs program on a union based issue. The person interviewed the union leader at great length, and another woman and me for a short time each.

When the segment was screened, the union leader’s input was completely cut out. They didn’t even show her face. The first unionist’s face was shown along with a few comments. Then my face was shown with a short voice-over.

Following this, they showed a long interview with a very nasty doctor cruelly attacking injured workers.

No one watching the show would have known that the union leader and her comments were ignored completely.

The message delivered was very negative towards unions and workers. That was around 1988, when we were being governed under Bob Hawke, so-called Champion of the Worker.

It was a federal public sector union whose injured members he was sacking.

Comment from Kay
Time June 30, 2014 at 12:55 pm


I certainly do agree that different media outlets slant issues in very different ways. I think it is clear to all and sundry that the ABC loves to seize on any issues that may paint the Coalition in a bad light, and gloss over any issues that may cast a negative veil over Labor.

A recent example of the ABC’s reporting on the government’s varied fortunes are 2 Supreme Court decisions. The ABC gave little coverage to the decision in favour of refugee processing on Manus Island, but called on countless people to comment on the fact the Court found against the government’s per annum cap on permanent protection visas.

Then there was the asylum seeker “burnt hands” beat-up earlier this year (claims that their hands had been burnt as a result of orders from naval officers). The case damaged Australia’s reputation in the region, especially through airings on the ABC-run Australia Network. The offence to Australia’s standing would have been entirely defensible if the burnt hands report was credible, but no credible evidence ever came to light. While the ABC reported the Australian Navy denials, it went further, promoted the story across all platforms and generated considerable debate based on what remain unfounded claims. That performance certainly gave rise to many viewers thinking it was high time the ABC had its funding cut. The MD’s defence? It is difficult to find more conservative journalists that want to work for the ABC! No wonder!

I find the best thing to do is to watch/listen/read media outlets from as many different countries/biases as possible, then draw your own conclusions, using common sense, as to what is most likely closest to the ‘truth’. The ABC’s News Radio station includes news coverage from the BBC, Deutsche Welle, Radio Amsterdam, and NPR (the US’s version of the ABC). I love listening to these while I’m driving.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time July 1, 2014 at 8:04 am

Kay, if you are thinking of supporting Rupert Murdoch’s idea that we need to get rid of the government owned television channels, I think it is a mistake.

I have no idea if anyone’s hands were burnt because I was not there to see it.

I don’t think the ABC is particularly biased against the Coalition. Their supporters appear to get plenty of say on political programs. I have also seen reports that virtually “tar and feather” people from other parties, including Labor.

My experience has been that any mention of the ABC in comments on the Courier Mail blog (Murdoch Press) will see your entire comment deleted. If you make a tiny amendment to your comment (e.g. saying you saw something on TV… not specifically the ABC), your comment is allowed by the editor.

Still fresh in my mind is an article from the Murdoch Press that was printed just 3 days out from the federal election which absolutely hammered Clive Palmer, in the faint hope of keeping him out of the parliament.

To my knowledge the Coalition spent $1,000,000 trying to kneecap Clive in order to drive him out of political contention.

I think we all need to vigorously oppose all attempts to wipe out the ABC, especially since there have been fairly heavy cutbacks in recent times.

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