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John Passant

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May 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)



Women as support acts in the Liberal Party

If there was ever any confirmation needed that the Liberals and the Nationals see women as props to rich men’s politics, the Liberals’ election launch on Sunday confirmed it. Canberra Press Gallery member John Passant reports.

There was Prime Minister Scott Morrison, surrounded by three generations of women from his family – his mother, his wife and his two daughters.  I am sure they are perfectly decent people. I fail to see what they have to do with an election launch, other than in this case to hide the reality of the lack of women in the Conservative parties and the anti-women policies of the Liberals and the Nationals. It was almost as if they are the supporting actors, included only to help the movie win a wider audience.  

The disconnection between his party and women could not be clearer.  As Morrison wheeled out three generations of his female family members I could not help but think about the Biloela couple, Nides and Priya, who fled Sri Lanka in 2012 and 2013 and their two Australian born daughters.

The four have been imprisoned for over 12 months in immigration detention in Australia, awaiting deportation back to Sri Lanka, and the exhaustion of all appeals. It is alleged one of their daughters has not received adequate medical treatment in onshore detention.

Imagine if the Liberals treated Priya and her two daughters with the same respect they give to Scott Morrison’s wife, Jenny Morrison, and their two daughters, Abigail and Lily.

Or, as the Prime Minister says, the standard you walk past is the standard you accept.  I am reminded of the comment by the great left wing Labour Party UK MP Tony Benn (possibly misattributed) that ‘the way a government treats refugees is very instructive because it shows you how they would treat the rest of us if they thought they could get away with it.’

One of the other indicators of the second-class treatment of women in and by the Liberal Party was the absence of former Deputy Leader Julie Bishop from the launch. She was the one the mainly male Liberal caucus decided was not good enough to lead their old boys club. She got just 11 votes compared to Peter Dutton’s 38 in the first round, knocking her out comprehensively. The overwhelmingly male caucus went instead for another man, Scott Morrison.

The number of women in the Liberal Party Parliamentary Party after the election could possibly be less than ten. That is likely to be less than 20 percent.

Of course, Bishop was not the only no show. Former Prime Ministers John Howard, Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull were absent too.  Morrison and Abbott display a reality that cannot be denied – the Liberal Party is divided between reactionaries and half-hearted conservative ‘reformers’, groups at war with each other.

One political woman at the launch was Melissa Price, the Minister against the Environment.  Until now, she has stayed out of sight. The day before the PM called the election, Price gave the approval for the Adani mine ground water plan, despite scientific advice against doing so.  At the launch all we saw of Price was her robotically applauding when the prompt message came on, along with Ministers, hangers on, and the other few dozen or so supporters there.

Once the Morrison family con fest ended, (after some horrible little vignettes trying to humanise the man who used to run Australia’s offshore concentration camps on Manus Island and Nauru), the policies were pretty thin. There was money promised (but not specifically budgeted) for transport in Melbourne. Labor’s loop transport proposal far surpasses it.

That was about it. You’d think with the female family parade there might have been a few policies addressing the concerns of women. No.

Nothing about fixing the gender pay gap. Nothing about improving real wages for millions of women and men.  Nothing about addressing female poverty, female homelessness, female retirees in poverty, female pensioners in poverty, women on Newstart in poverty, helping working mums, helping mums … You get the idea.

Women are merely part of the support act in the Liberal Party and their government.  Men run the joint, for rich men and for capital.

John Passant is a member of the Canberra Press Gallery. If mainstream or other media wish to republish this, contact John to discuss the fee for doing so.


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