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John Passant

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February 2016



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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)



Could Labor really win the 2016 election?

ABC News: Nick Haggarty

I was as stunned as the no doubt shell-shocked Turnbull-Joyce Government backbench. The latest Newspoll, released on Monday, shows the Labor Opposition and the Liberal National Party coalition government 50/50 on a two party preferred vote. How could this be? After all, reflecting a widespread sense of despair among Labor and its rusted on supporters, only a few days ago Gary Gray, former chief Labor Party machine man and Minister under Rudd and Gillard, announced his retirement from politics at the next election, saying Labor could not win.

The commentariat (including me) had written Labor off too. This isn’t just because Shorten is shithouse (which he is), or because Labor shadows the Liberals on most policies (which they do, but read on) but also because the memory of Rudd/Gillard/Rudd is fresh in many voters’ minds. Now that the coalition have a smooth talking intelligent adult politician in charge instead of a buffoon, what could possibly go wrong? A lot, evidently.

Of course, the 50/50 could be a statistical aberration. Certainly, the Roy Morgan poll released the same day shows no change on the L-NP lead of 52.5% to 47.5% over Labor.

Most commentators are talking in terms of what a bad month it has been for the government. This is true. But it is only half the story.

Take Turnbull’s decision to rule out any changes to the Goods and Services Tax, such as increasing the rate from ten to 15%. People reacted against this not only because it is a bad idea and they know it is about screwing them to provide tax cuts for the rich and for capital. It was also that Labor actually campaigned against any GST increase.

It was the same with the cuts to pathology services and now the threat to privatise the Medicare payments system. People know they will be worse off if this happens and Labor made the arguments that reflected their innate class feelings.

On top of all that Labor seized the tax policy initiative and announced negative gearing changes which it could paint as addressing unfairness in the tax system and at the same time increasing the supply of new houses. Despite the Government’s scare campaign that this would destroy the value of current homes, in the Newspoll 47% of voters approve and only 31% disapprove, according to Newspoll.

Labor bounced back because they actually opposed some government measures that were all about benefiting capital and their rich mates at the expense of workers and the poor. They did so in ways that resonated with working class people. And they proposed their own (admittedly fairly minor) policies.

Imagine if they adopted more anti-capitalist class and pro-working class policies. Imagine if they opposed offshore detention. They could do so on specific class lines, linking the attacks on asylum seekers to attacks on workers. It would have the potential to ignite a fightback against the rotten social and economic policies of the L-NP and previous Labor governments.
Imagine if Labor proclaimed it would tax the rich until their pips squeak. Imagine if they campaigned in defence of unions under attack because the witch hunt and promised to abolish all restrictions on the right to strike and empower unions to enforce safety at work.

These are not lessons that the neoliberal ALP are going to learn. Imagine will remain a John Lennon song, unless we build a mass movement against austerity, especially among workers, that drags Labor to the left. We have seen the beginnings of a movement around defending baby Asha. There is deep discontent around the globe with politics as usual. The rise of SYRIZA (before its capitulation), Podemos in Spain, self confessed democratic socialist Bernie Sanders in the US and the socialist leader of the British Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, all show the yearning for more left wing anti-austerity and possibly anti-capitalist policies and politics.

The desire for a better world is engraved on the hearts of workers and that longing gives hope to Labor. They will dissipate that desire for a change away from business as usual politics if they don’t make their arguments in class terms. Bill Shorten is no Bernie Sanders, but he is also not Malcolm Turnbull ether.

Turnbull can smile and pontificate all he wants. Ordinary workers want to see government action that improves their lives and that of their kids. The dilemma for Turnbull is that if he does that he has no room for cutting taxes on business. His shine is wearing off as the class nature of his government becomes clearer to us all.



Comment from Lorikeet
Time February 23, 2016 at 7:21 pm

In a word, yes. The global umpire has blown the whistle again and the ball will be passed to the left.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time February 23, 2016 at 7:24 pm

I’m sure the whistle was blown one day last week.

This is why today (Tuesday) we saw Bill Shorten get up in the parliament and deliver a long hard hitting soliloquy without anyone interrupting him.

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