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John Passant

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February 2019



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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)



From Manus and Medevac to mates’ rates

Bill Shorten has backflipped on Medevac for refugees and asylum seekers imprisoned without charge on Manus Island and Nauru. Last week, Labor supported the Bill to bring sick people from these two concentration camps to Australia, but watered it down to limit its application to those already on the two islands.

Then this Tuesday, the government confirmed that the real
reason for re-opening Christmas Island was to continue brutalising asylum
seekers and refugees,
even very sick ones. This rotten trick by
government was its way of showing it was supposedly for strong borders, or
border protection, or stopping the boats, or whatever the latest slogan of
xenophobia and racism is.

Labor capitulated.  Here
is a link to an ABC article with a recording
of what Shorten said about re-opening Christmas Island on Tuesday

‘If the medical treatment is required and it is delivered on
Christmas Island and it makes people well, well that’s fine. The issue here is
the safe treatment of people, within the context of safe borders.’

Shorten knows as well as I do, and as well as Christmas
Island Shire CEO David Price does, that the Island is not suitable for treating
sick refugees and asylum seekers. As Price
told Perth ABC Radio

‘We’ve got a hospital [but] it doesn’t do operations. People
are medivaced out quite regularly here for medical reasons as it’s only a small
regional hospital. ‘

Gordon Thomson,
the President of the Shire, said on the 7.30 Report
that the six-bed
hospital was inadequate for the people of Christmas Island. All childbirth
happens in Perth. Soo too does surgery. There are no mental health
facilities.  He thought that the people
of Christmas Island overwhelmingly reject the government’s move.

In my opinion Shadow Minister for Immigration Shayne
Neumann got it right the day before when he said in a BBC World Service Report

‘Labor believes that the Australian Prime Minister Scott
Morrison has engaged in a ridiculous decision to reopen Christmas Island
detention centre. It’s an hysterical and unhinged response from a desperate and
dishonest Prime Minister who has lost control of the Parliament. It’s a blatant
stunt. This is a government that actually has bought 900 people to Australia
for medical reasons and at the same time closed Christmas Island. Now that he’s
lost control of the floor of Parliament – and a very good bill has been passed
by Labor, the crossbenchers and the Greens, to improve the medical outcomes for
people on Manus and Nauru – he has decided on a whim to reopen Christmas
Island. It really is a ridiculous decision.’

Tanya Plibersek seemed to be hesitant about fully supporting
Shorten, although she later denied any rift. 
Labor’s support for the Medevac Bill was an attempt to appeal to humanitarian
voters but at the same time appearing tough on asylum seekers. Hence the internal
differences over Christmas Island. Labor is attempting to be the caring concentration
camp guard, the good cop if you like. The fact remains Manus Island and Nauru are concentration camps,
and bringing people to a concentration camp on Christmas Island for medical
treatment that likely does not exist there does not alter that. There are no
nice concentration camps.

In Question Time on Wednesday the government played to what
is perceives to be its strengths on refugees, asylum seekers and border protection.  Most Dorothy Dixers from its backbenchers
were on border security in some convoluted fashion. In response the government beat
its chest and unleashed its ’we are tough’ rhetoric. The government also
misrepresented the views of the member for Corio on mining jobs and made merry
with accusations that Labor wants to sack 55000 workers in Queensland.

Labor started off with a question mentioning the Queensland
floods and insurance company rip-offs, and the need to extend sitting days to
legislate for protect consumers from rapacious insurers (in part dealt with in
the Banking Royal Commission.) The Prime Minister waffled on about all the
support the government is giving those affected by the floods.

As time went on Jim Chalmers, Labor member for Rankin and
Shadow Finance Minister asked a series of questions about the Helloworld
, and in particular the apparent conflict of interest Joe
Hockey, Australia’s Ambassador to the US, and a significant shareholder in Helloworld,
has in relation to the travel company
and its bids for, and travel
contracts with, government and agencies.

The government fobbed him off with suggestions these were
mere accusations, not facts, and obfuscated with smokescreens about Hockey’s declaration
of interest in 2018 and not being involved in any decisions on the contracts.
Chalmers pointed out he was referring to meetings in 2017 on other travel matters.

Chalmers also mentioned the difference between the
government’s treatment of its Chumgate mates (Chalmers’ description of this ‘travel
for friends’ line of enquiry) and people on government payments, like
Centrelink. At a time when wages continue to fall, the government is getting
its mates to organise their free travel, or so Chalmers argued.

At one stage Christopher Pyne (representing the Foreign
Minister in the House) praised Hockey as an outstanding Australian, unlike many
Labor politicians.

Deep into question time Chalmers moved to suspend standing
orders to allow debate on a multipronged motion that basically said the Helloworld
circumstances of Corman, Hockey, and the PM, stank and the government should
come clean. That motion and debate revealed that Andrew Burnes and the Prime
Minister are old colleagues from Tourism Australia days. Here is its full text:

I seek leave to move the following motion:

That the House

(1) notes that:

(a) yesterday, it was revealed
the Finance Minister received free flights to Singapore from Helloworld, which
he booked by calling the CEO of this ASX listed company directly, just before
it was awarded a multimillion dollar whole-of-government contract by the
Minister’s own Department;

(b) today, it’s been reported
that US Ambassador Joe Hockey – who has a million dollar shareholding in
Helloworld – helped a Helloworld subsidiary lobby for the Embassy’s travel

(c) the CEO of Helloworld and one
of its largest shareholders Andrew Burnes is a Liberal Party heavyweight and
current Liberal Party Treasurer, with connections to a number of Liberal Party

(d) the Finance Minister told
Senate Estimates yesterday that he had “a close personal
relationship” with Mr Burnes;

(e) Mr Burnes was previously a
colleague of the now Prime Minister during the Prime Minister’s time at Tourism

(f) since being awarded
Government contracts, the share price of Helloworld has skyrocketed, making
shareholders like Mr Hockey and Mr Burnes rich; and

(g) this morning, it was reported
that the Herald Sun asked almost all of the 82 Liberal MPs in Parliament
whether they had received free travel from Helloworld, but only 14 said they
had not; and

(2) therefore, calls on the Prime
Minister to investigate and report to the House how far this              Helloworld scandal reaches into
his Government.

Note that Chalmers mentioned that Melbourne’s Herald Sun had
asked almost all the 82 Liberal Party members and senators if they had ever received
free travel from Helloworld. At the time of going to press, 14 had responded
they had not.  What then of the other 68?
 Paul Bongiorno
is hearing that there are at least 4 other Liberals
who did not declare
their free transport.

The implication in all of this is clear – it looks
suspiciously like a case of mates’ rates. Only by airing the dirty linen can
the Morrison government get rid of the rotten smell.  Don’t hold your breath.


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