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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)



Election 2019: Preferences – fools rush in

Liberal Party Prime Minister Scott Morrison and billionaire wannabe re-minted politician Clive Palmer have struck a preference deal. The Liberals will preference Clive Palmer’s aptly named United Australia Party, ahead of Labor. It is aptly named because it is a return to the 1930s, when the UAP was the party of Lyon and Menzies. In return UAP will preference the Liberals (and presumably the L.N.P. in Queensland) ahead of Labor

Palmer has already spent $40 million on Trump like election advertisements. There are still over 3 weeks to go until the next election. Imagine how much this man, grown fat off the labour of many workers, will spend over the next 20 days.

And spend he will. In Clive Palmer’s world the rich and powerful rule, and part of that is having enough money to buy almost anything. Palmer thinks his way back to the Parliament is by spending lots of money. What is $80 million on advertisements (my guess, based on $40 million so far) if it gets him into the Senate?

Palmer is, as one journalist suggested in a question to Scott Morrison, a spiv. Unlike the snake oil salesmen of the mainstream political parties, Palmer however does not have any policies. Make Australia great? That is it. Three words.

It is not as if his last time in Parliament, as the member for Fairfax from 2013 to 2016, is very memorable. Oh, hang on, this photo sticks in my mind.

Exhausted: the 60-year-old billionaire MP fell asleep on the green leather benches of the House of Representatives
AAP Image

His attendance and voting record were pretty poor too. Then again rich capitalists are beholden to no one but their own riches and the continuation of the system that makes them rich. That system exploits its workers to make a profit.

Palmer has been in dispute with former workers he sacked when he closed his Queensland Nickel refinery in Townsville. Eight hundred workers are claiming entitlements of $7 million. After 3 years of not paying them, once the election was announced Palmer promised to repay them. After the election. Seriously? Could any worker trust him? Could any worker vote for him?

The resurrection of Palmer is premised not only on his massive spending but on a rise in his party in the polls in 4 marginal seats, including one in Queensland and one in WA. They show a range of support from 5% to 14% for UAP. Maybe the spending is working? Or maybe the polling is unreliable. Or maybe a bit of both.

The other complicating factor in this appears to be the collapse in the vote for the openly racist party, One Nation. After the One Nation and National Rifle Association meetings were revealed, it looks as if Hanson’s vote may have halved from 8 or 9 percent to 4 percent. Those voters may be transferring their protest to Clive Palmer.

It looks like it is a case of anybody but the mainstream parties and mainstream politicians for some voters. In the land of the apolitical, the person with the biggest advertising Budget may be king.

Palmer may also have other reasons for standing. He wants government approval for a huge coal mine near Adani.

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The preference deal might spell trouble for the Liberals. It will reinforce the idea that their party is for the billionaires, not ordinary people. Specifically the failure of Palmer to pay his workers will rebound on the Liberals.

How can you stoop so low as to do a deal with such a man of mining and money, a man who treats his workers with disdain. Have you no principles?

Another problem is that voters do not follow how to vote cards. And even if they did, Palmer does not have a squadron of people to hand them out in the 151 electorates he is contesting.

Antony Green has pointed out that the number of seats in which preferences decide the outcome is low – about ten per cent or so, and in most cases the leader on primaries retains their lead. At the last election there were 16 seats decided on primaries.

Green also says that in the last few elections Labor has won 86 seats on preferences, the Liberals just 2.

Penny Wong captured the mood of many when she called the preference deal ‘a marriage of convenience between an ad man and a con man.’ The problem for Labor is that they too have talked to Palmer about preferences. A lover spurned, perhaps?

So Morrison has rushed into a deal with Palmer that may see people either switch to Labor or find an intermediary through which to send their vote ultimately to Labor. For the sake of a seat in Queensland (probably a dream anyway) Morrison may have sacrificed quite a few in Victoria.

Colin Barnett, the former Western Australian Liberal Premier, knows a thing or two about preferencing and losing elections. His advice to Morrison is pretty emphatic. Don’t preference Palmer. You will lose votes.

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.


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