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John Passant

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April 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)



Inside the Canberra bubble: Tuesday 16 April

It has been five days since Scott Morrison called the election. Already I feel underwhelmed.

First there is the bullshit. For example, according to senior government Minister Michaelia Cash, Labor with its electronic vehicle policy, one that looks suspiciously like the Government’s, is going to steal tradies’ utes. I mean, seriously, is this the calibre of conservative politicians these days? Not only that, they can utter tripe like this but that they think it will resonate and won votes.

Cash is not alone. Anyone who saw Senator James McGrath on Q&A on Monday night knows he not only joined Cash, he surpassed her. Maybe he even made it to the highest ranks, previously only enjoyed by the likes of Liberal Party Federal Vice President Teena McQueen and her train wreck on Q&A a few weeks ago.

Clearly the conservative side of politics has a problem. Their gene pool looks pretty weak. Just ask yourself, who will become Liberal Party leader when they lose the election? Tony Abbott is already spruiking his wares.

In August it was Peter Dutton plotting to take the top job. Dutton is the man who frightens Victoria, and much of the rest of Australia. He is the man who terrorises innocent asylum seekers and imprisons them on the concentration camps that are Manus Island and Nauru.

Dutton is also the man who said his Labor opponent Ali France was using her disability – she lost part of her leg in a car accident protecting her child – as an excuse not to live in the area.

On top of that, the uneasy alliance between conservatives and liberals is unravelling. In part this is because the Conservatives have the upper hand, and the liberals are leaving or have left, or been pushed out. In part it is because the overly conservative message does not resonate. Peter Dutton in Victoria is but one example. In part it is because some conservatives, like Bernardi, have left and can carp from the sidelines, or, like One Nation and others, attract voters away from the Coalition.

Against a background of division and leadership change, and falling living standards and increasing inequality, it seems unlikely to me (unless there is a new Tampa) that the Coalition can retain government.

Unlike the Coalition, the ALP, after 5.5 years of the one leader (compared to 3 Prime Ministers in almost 6 years in Government for the Coalition) presents a picture of unity. What they do not present is a coherent approach to addressing the problems of Australian capitalism or the Australian working class.

The elections is being fought out over tax, and the economy, and public health, education and transport. The tax debate always amazes me. Australia is a low tax country. Labor’s ‘reforms’ fix a few legal loopholes that benefit mainly the well off. Labor’s appraoch could be tax the rich till their pips squeak, but it isn’t.

There has been a bit of sparring over climate change, but as Adani shows, both sides support coal. Labor has talked a bit about renewable energy and emissions targets but these are small change compared to the environmental revolution needed to stop and ameliorate climate change.

In the land of the climate blind, the one eyed Shorten is king. We need much more than an one-eyed leader whose good eye is occluded.

As real wages stagnate or fall, workers everywhere are feeling the pinch. For the Liberals this is part of the grand economic plan, according to Finance Minister Mathias Cormann. For Labor it is a problem that can be addressed by bosses and workers sitting around the campfire and chanting the Accord Kumbaya.

The trouble is that the Accord started the process of decreasing the share of GDP going to the working class, and increasing the share going to the capitalist class. The outcome of this logic, the logic of disarming the working class, has resulted today in stagnating wages while the income and wealth of the ‘top’ ten percent grow at rates well above inflation.

Only a return to class struggle can challenge the flow of profits going into the pockets of capital at the expense of labour. The ALP has not committed to enshrining an unfettered right to strike in legislation.

Then there is the reality that over 3 million Australians live in poverty. Newstart for example is almost $150 a week below the poverty. Labor has only agreed to review the level of Newstart. Over one third of Australian pensioners live in poverty. Over 100,000 Australians are homeless. Nothing either party proposes addresses any of this.

We need drastic action now to end poverty. Neither of the major contenders for power offers that.

And so it goes on, and on, and on. Electing Labor will not solve climate change, or increase real wages, or get rid of poverty.

Workers striking for better pay offers the best way forward, a glimpse of the future of a world without bosses, without war, without poverty; a world in which each of us can live decent lives.

John Passant is a member of the Canberra Press Gallery. Media outlets wishing to use this material should first contact him to make arrangements for payment and use of the article.


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