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Keep socialist blog En Passant going - donate now
If you want to keep a blog that makes the arguments every day against the ravages of capitalism going and keeps alive the flame of democracy and community, make a donation to help cover my costs. And of course keep reading the blog. To donate click here. Keep socialist blog En Passant going. More... (4)

Sprouting sh*t for almost nothing
You can prove my 2 ex-comrades wrong by donating to my blog En Passant at BSB: 062914 Account: 1067 5257, the Commonwealth Bank in Tuggeranong, ACT. More... (12)

My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. http://sharonfirebrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/18-2-14-john-passant-aust-national-university-g20-meeting-age-of-enttilement-engineers-attack-of-austerity-hardship-on-civilians.mp3 (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. http://sharonfirebrace.com/2014/02/11/john-passant-aust-national-university-canberra-2/ (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. http://sharonfirebrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/4-2-14-john-passant-aust-national-university-canberra-end-of-the-age-of-entitlement-for-the-needy-but-pandering-to-the-lusts-of-the-greedy.mp3 (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
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Sick kids and paying upfront

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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. http://sharonfirebrace.com/2013/12/03/john-passant-australian-national-university-8/ (0)

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Police, the NBN, Parliament and free speech

The Australian Federal Police have once again raided the offices of Senator Conroy and his staff in a search for National Broadband Network whistleblowers. Some of you may remember the NBN. It is one of those pie in the sky promises that never eventuate. Across Australia, fast, cheap.

In fact under Lord Turnbull, in the bad old days before he was Prime Minister and when he was ‘just’ Communications Minister, the NBN became a complete load of shite at his direction and under his leadership. It is expensive, uses ancient infrastructure, and is pretty slow by comparison to other countries.  This was deliberate. Turnbull wanted to save money and the Abbott government made a series of decisions to give us broadband on the cheap that mean we have a slow (and hence expensive) 1990s communication system being rolled out. Ok, maybe not 1990s. Maybe early 2000s.  Or maybe late 80s?  I will leave the techos to debate that.

Some whistleblowers from inside NBN may have told Senator Conroy, the former Labor Party Communications Minister,  or his staff, the reality of this complete crock. Now Turnbull has admitted the cost could blow out by $15 billion.

But at least, says the PM, it will still be cheaper than Labor’s NBN plan. Yes, because paying for something that does the job properly is always more expensive than paying for something that doesn’t.

Back in May, during the longest election campaign in the history of the universe, the Australian Federal Police raided the Melbourne office of Senator Conroy and the home of one of his staff to try and find who was supposedly leaking the truth about the NBN to Conroy and hence to all Australians.

Conroy claimed parliamentary privilege over all the documents then, and is claiming the same now for the material taken during this raid.

This claim means the material the police have seized must be sealed and delivered to the Senate for that body to determine if privilege attaches to them. As Matthew Doran wrote on the ABC website back in May:

‘The AFP has guidelines about how to deal with carrying out search warrants where parliamentary privilege may be involved.

‘It says “parliamentary privilege applies to any document or other thing which falls within the concept of ‘proceedings of parliament'”. This includes “documents sent to a Senator, which the Senator then determined to use”.’

The Parliamentary Office describes how the Act codifying the law on parliamentary privilege operates. It says:

Section 49 of the Commonwealth Constitution provides that, until declared by the Parliament, the powers, privileges and immunities of the Senate and the House of Representatives and the Members and committees of each House shall be those of the British House of Commons at the time of Federation (1901). It was not until 1987, and following a thorough review of the whole subject by a joint select committee, that the Commonwealth Parliament passed comprehensive legislation in this area.

The main features of the arrangements in the Commonwealth Parliament are as follows:

  • each House, its committees and Members enjoy certain rights and immunities (exemptions from the ordinary law), such as the ability to speak freely in Parliament without fear of prosecution (known as the privilege of freedom of speech)
  • each House has the power to deal with offences—contempts—which interfere with its functioning
  • each House has the power to reprimand, imprison or impose fines for offences
  • complaints are dealt with internally (within Parliament)—they may be considered by the Committee of Privileges and Members’ Interests which will report to the House which may then act on the matter in light of the committee’s report
  • there is a limited ability for decisions of the House to imprison people to be reviewed in court
  • the Parliamentary Privileges Act 1987 creates a special category of criminal offence in order to strengthen the protection available to witnesses who give evidence to parliamentary committees

To me the Australian police raids on Senator Conroy and his staff look very much like a gross abuse of process and an attempt to undermine democracy and one of its outlets, parliamentary privilege. They are also I suspect an attempt to silence any future whistleblowers who might reveal inconvenient truths about this or other governments.

Turnbull said that the police are always act independently. That must explain all the failed AFP raids and failed prosecutions of building union members. Remember the charges of blackmail against former Canberra Raiders player Johnny Lomax for the crime of winning pay rises for members? Four months later the charges were dropped. That ‘independence’ might also explain why they haven’t arrested any of the war criminals who live here or visit here – people like Howard, Bush, Blair and the like. And I wonder how their investigation into the people who threatened to burn down Cessnock Council and the Mosque they had approved is coming along?

Yeah, independent. Right.

Remember too the assault on the bigots’ right to free speech that section 18C of the Discrimination Act represents? Yeah, all those ordinary citizens with billions upon billions invested around the globe in media, and their nutcase commentators spewing forth their filth night and day and denying free speech to anyone who disagrees with their line? Capitalism denies free speech to the vast majority of working class people and reserves it almost exclusively for the rich, their politicians and their journalists and commentators.

And what about the whistleblowers who tell us about the truth about the concentration camps on Manus Island and Nauru and who face two years in jail?

Anyway, I am looking forward to the right wing free speech defenders supporting the NBN whistleblowers and condemning the police raids on Conroy and his staff.

We are losing our freedoms over time and the NBN police raids on Conroy and his staff are just another striking example of that loss.

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