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John Passant

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February 2015



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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)



Abbott says good government starts today. Seriously?

You just can’t make this stuff up. After today’s spill motion and near death experience, Tony Abbott, Australia’s Prime Minister, said that ‘good government starts today.’ So what have the last 520 days been about Mr Abbott under your ‘leadership’? Bad government? Well yes, but that couldn’t really what the great man meant, could it?

No, of course not. Abbott clarified his remarks by saying what he meant to say was that good government ‘starts the beginning of every day’.  One can only assume based on our experience of the Abbott government that every day starts off like that but ends up a disaster.  Certainly for University students, pensioners, the unemployed, the sick, those on the minimum wage or receiving penalty rates, working mothers, refugees and asylum seekers, Muslims and gay people, to name just a few, every day is a reminder of Abbott’s ‘good’ government. As Australian Unions says:

Good governments don’t attack our:

– penalty rates
– the minimum wage
– all our rights at work
– jobs and job security
– Medicare
– affordable education
– a secure retirement
– our public sector including – the ABC, SBS and CSIRO
– support for our most vulnerable and community services

And as 39 of Abbott’s colleagues know, this ‘good’ government is on the nose with many many voters.  That is putting it too politely. Voters hate Abbott and all he stands for.

The latest Murdoch newspaper poll shows Labor on a two party preferred vote of 57% and the Coalition on 43%. If an election were held now the government and many of the seats it currently holds would be wiped from the face of the earth. Good riddance. Yet the party room kept him. For now. Partly that was self preservation of Ministerial perks, and partly the fear of becoming another ALP with ongoing leadership intrigue in government. It was also the fruitcake faction understanding that Turnbull might threaten some of the shibboleths.


Many commentators see the problems this government has as ones of personality rather than policy. Certainly Tony Abbott is sometimes like a Young Liberal Student heavy set loose to play in the big boys’ pit. He is also the representative of the climate change denier faction in the party and other fruitcakes, mainly neoliberal fundamentalists.

It is also true that Malcolm Turnbull would be a much better snake-oil salesman.  However he would still be selling us much the same snake-oil. Therein lies the problem for the Liberal Party, and I might add for Labor.

The rejection of Joe Hockey’s unfair Budget by a large majority of people, the disdain we now have for this openly neoliberal government as a consequence and the swing back to an unremarkable Labor Party, gives little room for the slashers and burners to pursue their wet dreams, at least in public. Therein lies the contradiction for this government (and, let me add, for the incoming Shorten government.)

Big business is demanding reform – cut social welfare, cut taxes on business (their version of tax reform, together with making us plebs pay more through increasing the GST and applying it to fresh food, heath and education,) ‘reform’ industrial relations, rein in union ‘power’… On and on the dreary ‘make workers and the poor pay’ list goes.

What Abbott’s near death experience means for this Liberal zombie is that the pace of ‘reform’ (the attempts to shift more wealth from us to capital) may slow, or it may go underground, or do a bit of both.  There may be some surface recantations – I am listening, I am consulting and other lies – but the reality is the slowing down of the Australian economy requires, from the point of view of business, government measures to quarantine capital and its profits from the downturn and impose the recession burden on workers.

Unemployment will increase despite the interest rate cut. Abbott and co have no response, no vision, other than to create more unemployment by sacking more public servants and cutting much needed social services.

Revenue is already in decline and might hit free fall if commodity prices drop even more, the Chinese economy slows further and less workers are in employment.

Labor will inherit this mess from the Liberals. However they too as the managers of capitalism have no plan or vision for addressing the slowing economy either, other than fiscal restraint and perhaps tax increases. They might tidy up some of the more outrageous tax avoidance arrangements but it is unlikely they will remove the tens of billions of tax concessions for capital and the rich.

The essentially social democratic desires of the majority of the Australian people are in conflict with the needs of capital. At the moment the political consequences of this are what seems like the eternal roundabout of Labor and the Liberals. The Labor Party attacks us for 3 years to be replaced by a Liberal Party that attacks us for 3 years to be followed by a Labor Party that attacks us for 3 years. That at least appears to be the current cycle.


The advantage of Labor, at least in the short term and for the bosses’ purposes, is that its links with the trade union bureaucracy make it often better able to transfer wealth from labour to capital.  However the weakening of the links, and of course the weakening of the union movement (in part as a result of the rotten class collaborationist Accord), coupled with a change in the class nature of Labor representatives and to some extent membership (itself a declining force), plus ongoing working class illusions in Labor as the party of the fair go,  means Labor both gives hope and destroys it and might be less able now to undertake its undercover role for capital.

Is there an alternative? The radical and revolutionary left in Australia is very small, miniscule in fact. Unions now command the support of less than 20 percent of the workforce. Strikes are at historic lows.  There is no sense at the moment that this is going to change overnight, or in the near future. However the pressure is building for an explosion and a few years of Labor in power, or even a supposedly chastened Abbott overplaying his hand, could give that hope life.

In the meantime we on the left have to keep plodding along, educating ourselves, involving ourselves in and building campaigns, and making the arguments that crises are endemic and systemic to capitalism and that the way to resist them is not to surrender but to fight back.  ‘If there is hope, it lies in the proles.’

That is why the Australian Council of Trade Unions call for nationwide demonstrations on 4 March to fight for our rights are a good first step in stopping Abbott and his rotten government and forcing labor to take notice.









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