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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)



Police say it is OK to pepper spray protesters away


According to both The Guardian and The Australian, New South Wales police (the ones currently having a few major differences between Deputy Commissioners) think it is OK to pepper spray protesters.

From The Guardian:

Police have defended the handling of the unauthorised protest.

“The NSW police force will not tolerate breaches of the peace or criminal offences being committed by persons who attend unauthorised demonstrations or public assembles [sic],” a statement said.

The Australian ran the same AAP report with the same comment in it.

Unauthorised protests? Breaches of the peace? Criminal offences?

OK, let’s deal with the last matter first. If there were criminal offences being committed why were there no arrests? Could it be this is just a self-serving justification for the violence the police unleashed on protesters? Perhaps what we will now see is some after the event action by police to retrospectively justify their attacks.

What breaches of the peace? I wasn’t aware demonstrating was a breach of the peace. This sets a dangerous precedent for all future demonstrations.

And unauthorised demonstrations and public assemblies? (Note the correct spelling of assemblies).

We need authorisation, from the police, to demonstrate. This is the police state beginning its long tortuous road to more and more repression.

Leaving aside the fact such laws may not withstand a High Court freedom of speech challenge, the idea that you need approval from police to demonstrate is deeply offensive to democratic principles. It was the police of course who did not authorise (i.e. banned) one protest at the Israeli Film Festival last year.

Why do police have this power? To regulate protest. What the ruling class fears is effective protest.  In the words of John Gorton:  ‘We will tolerate dissent as long as it remains ineffective.’ Now it appears even that illusion of freedom is under attack.

What to do? As I wrote in relation to the Charlie Hebdo protests:

The defence of free speech is an important struggle for the left. The demonstrations in defence of free speech prompted by the murder of the Charlie Hedbo journalists offer some hope for us to both join in that movement and argue for an expansion of free speech from the ruling class to all of us as well as fight Islamophobia. In Australia that means being involved, as best we can and when opportunities present, to mobilise against the growing neoliberal encroachment of and restrictions on free speech and other civil liberties and any racist outbreaks.  It also means pointing out the limited nature of free speech under capitalism and highlighting the attacks of the 1% on it and explaining the possibilities for its expansion to give voice to the voiceless, the vast majority in society.

Students are keeping that flame of free speech alive with their ‘unauthorised’ protests against Pyne and his attempted destruction of Universities. To defend free speech and Universities join with students in their just campaign against fee deregulation and funding cuts on 25 March across Australia.



Comment from Kay
Time February 14, 2015 at 7:25 am

It appeared to me (watching TV) that there was no problem with the peaceful protest outside the building where Christopher Pyne was speaking. I didn’t see any police going out and attacking these protestors – even if the protest march had not been ‘authorised’.

However, there did appear to be a problem when the students tried to force their way through the glass doors, to progress further into the building. What I saw was a lot of pushing and shoving by the students, and some civilians and police officers trying desperately to prevent the students from potentially smashing the glass doors, or at least from rushing further into the building. It looked a lot like the melee that occurred when Julie Bishop visited (Sydney?) uni a while ago. Some students seem to court violence by police by getting very physical themselves. Then they revel in the images of them nursing their bruises/washing capsicum spray out of their eyes.

I fully support the right of anyone to PEACEFULLY protest against anything. I support the right of the students to peacefully protest against Christopher Pyne and his policies. But when they start to get physical, they are simply courting a physical response. I think that is what they actually want – and they want it shown on TV. So no sympathy from me for those students who got sprayed. As far as I’m aware, those peacefully standing outside did not get ‘attacked’.

I would imagine the need for the ‘authorisation’ of protest marches relates to the need for police to ensure the safety of ordinary citizens and private property during the marches. They need to know which streets may be blocked by protestors, and when, so that traffic can be diverted. They also need to be on hand in case violence breaks out between the protestors and other citizens/groups, which may involve personal injury or property damage. Seems to me like there are several sensible reasons why protest marches need to be ‘authorised’. And I would imagine that the general public would support a need for such ‘authorisation’.

Comment from Chris Warren
Time February 15, 2015 at 11:01 am

Usual nonsense from Kay.

Even bigger and more forceful demonstrations were held against John Kerr and Pauline Hanson. All handled well without police threatening the lives of protestors or burning the eyes of blind people.

So what has changed.

No doubt Kay’s perverted logic was deployed by her British mates who fired rubber bullets against protestors and journalists in Northern Ireland, and her mates in Sud Afrika who used live ammunition against black mine workers.

So if police could handle the demonstrations against Kerr, why can they not handle relatively smaller outbursts today?

Why should people be peaceful when their livelihood is taken way from them?

Comment from Kay
Time February 15, 2015 at 6:28 pm


As usual, a personal attack. Quite offensive. You could have made your points without being personally offensive. But that’s the best you can manage, I guess.

In Australia, capsicum spray has only been used by police in more recent years – therefore not in use in the Kerr and Hanson protest days. Overseas capsicum spray is also used to help control violent protests, but only since the 1990s.

Peaceful protests may be very large, and often are when supported by many segments of society, but only when protestors turn violent do police react accordingly. Unfortunately, many student protests do seem to turn physical. It is not only the rights of protestors that need to be considered, but also the rights of other civilians (like those guarding the door at the building) and the rights of property owners (like the owner of the building).

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