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John Passant

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August 2015
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Sprouting sh*t for almost nothing
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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 don’t have a visa – what are you going to do Australian border fascists?


A brilliant demonstration of hundreds of protesters in Melbourne, organised in a hour or so against the launch of Operation Fortitude, the Australian Border Force and Victoria Police drive to check people’s visas, has stopped both the launch and, for now, the campaign.

This was a campaign of division – Team Australia and the rest – and uniting us in fear, fear of the undocumented, the’illegals,’ the foreign.

ABF planned to stop everyone walking past. As the Sydney Morning Herald reported, initially Don Smith, ABF Regional Commander for Victoria and Tasmania, had said in a press release:

… officers would be positioned “at various locations around the CBD speaking with any individual we cross paths with”.

‘You need to be aware of the conditions of your visa … if you commit visa fraud you should know it’s only a matter of time before you’re caught out,” he said.

A later report denied that they were going to target anyone but the reality had become clear.

Even if ABF were only going to target ‘suspicious’ people – the remit they and police have – to ask for their visas, how do you do that? The answer is pretty obvious isn’t it? Racial profiling. (Don’t forget, the Border Fascists’ partner in crime in this activity, Victoria Police, has form on racial profiling.)


Of course, if they weren’t going to racially profile people as they now claim, then the checks had to be random.

Uniformed and armed public servants asking anyone on the street for their papers sums up the growing and deepening authoritarianism that has been the hallmark of both Labor and Liberal governments over the last 3 decades.

It is no accident that this strengthening of the repressive arms of the state has occurred as economic liberalism – neoliberalism – became the accepted ideology of the ruling class to try and address the crises of profitability.

Neoliberalism requires a strong state to smash workers’ resistance and that of others and impose the market on all sections of society. In addition Labor parties often can deliver this weakening of the labour movement by co-opting the leadership in class ‘collaboration’ which essentially means giving in to the bosses but occasionally get a few scraps from the table of the rich.

Australian Border Force is Tony Abbott’s militarised Immigration Department. As well as attacking their wages, Abbott has put public servants in uniform. Immigration is now, falsely, a national security issue.

This militarisation flows from Abbott’s stop the boats rhetoric and demonisation of asylum seekers and refugees, which itself flows from Labor’s demonisation and locking up of asylum seekers.  From Labor’s Keating on to the Liberal’s Howard and then on to Labor’s Rudd and Gillard and now with Abbott, there is a continuity of degeneration.

As I have argued consistently on this site, demonising one ‘foreign’ group doesn’t end with just those people. A government that attacks those seeking refuge here will attack  those living here.  And so it is with this government.

Anti-Nazi Pastor Martin Niemöller captured this when he said.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Aborigines for 227 years have been the foreigner within. The Northern Territory Intervention (invasion) was but the latest step in this othering. It is no accident that the Government is now spreading the invasion’s basics card to poorer working class suburbs.

The Heydon witch-hunt into trade unions and the Labor Party is another example of attempted demonisation, designed to further weaken unions and workers’ ability to win wage increases and defend jobs. This culture of demonisation is easier in a climate of ‘acceptable’ othering of Aborigines and asylum seekers and the lack of Labor Party opposition.

Bill Shorten criticised not the operation but announcing it before carrying it out. He said:

“If you’re going to do a blitz, I don’t know why you’d necessarily telegraph it to the media first.”

So Labor is to the right of the Liberals on this ‘papers please’ issue and can only attack Abbott for his incompetence. They no doubt would have had a successful visa checking operation. I suggest Labor’s next election slogan should be: Vote for our racism not theirs.

The great protest made the police and Border fascists cancel the launch, and then cancel the operation. But this government, nor based on what Shorten said, the Opposition, won’t let up in its increasing oppression. They will, I suspect, take Shorten’s advice and do their racial profiling without prior announcement. Abbott can then hold a press conference after it to say the Border fascists had caught four people without adequate explanation or papers and they were now in detention. It still won’t win him the 2016 election.

The demonstration against Australian Border Force shows the way forward to beat back this deepening authoritarianism – protest, protest, protest. Do as those in Melbourne did. Occupy the centre of town. It is a lesson the refugee movement more generally and other movements like the equal marriage campaign could learn. On the streets to beat the new authoritarianism, defend the oppressed and win or win back our rights. The next time Border Force tries it on let’s bring out thousands against them.


For those who are stopped here is a good guide as to what to do by Paul Farrell in The Guardian.

My guess is that the next time ABF and the Police try this, it will be in a different less politically organised city and, following Bill Shorten’s advice, they won’t announce it till after its ‘success’ is clear. They will fix up the procedure so they won’t stop everyone. The police will stop and question those they ‘reasonably’ suspect (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) of anything (having dark skin would be my guess) and then refer them to the Border fascists.