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John Passant

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June 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)



Put the bankers, not journalists, in the dock

Two things happened on Tuesday that caught my attention.

The first was the decision of the Reserve Bank of Australia to cut the cash rate by 25 basis points or 0.25%, from 1.50% to 1.25%.

According to the RBA, the cash rate is ‘the overnight money market interest rate.’ It is essentially the rate the RBA lends at in the overnight money market.

The cut flows on to other commercial rates, including home mortgage rates and interest earning deposit rates, at the discretion of the banks themselves. Two of the major banks – the Commonwealth and NAB – have said they will pass on the full rate cut of 25 basis points to their standard variable mortgage holders.

Two – Westpac and ANZ – have said they will not. ANZ will cut its mortgage rate by 18 basis points, not the full 25, while for Westpac its rate cut will be 20 basis points. The partial cut means more profit for these two banks.

The second event that got me thinking (and I will write more on this in later articles) was the raid of the Australian Federal Police on the home of News Corp journalist, Annika Smethurst. Over a year ago Smedhurst wrote a story based on what appeared to be leaked information that Australia’s security agencies were pushing for legislative changes to enable them to spy on ordinary Australians. The ABC reports that ‘the new powers, if adopted, would go to the ASD [Australian Signals Directorate] to secretly access bank records, emails and text messages without leaving a trace.’

As an aside, my long ASIO file shows that as a socialist I am not an ‘ordinary’ Australian. Evidently working for a world of justice and equality makes me an enemy of the current society and a major target for one of Australia’s quasi-STASI to spy on.

Remember the Banking Royal Commission? It exposed a culture of greed and dishonesty in which banks ripped off customers for their very big profits. The thing about Australia’s banks is that they are so good at ripping us off they have been among the most profitable banks in the world, year after year after year. They make super profits (or economic rent in the language of bourgeois economists.)

So on the day the AFP raided a journalist’s home, and two of the big four banks refused to pass on interest rate cuts in full, I started thinking – why hasn’t the AFP raided the homes of senior bank officers in pursuit of evidence in any potential criminal cases against them?

Why not? Well the banks are a key part of Australian capitalism, which is why Scott Morrison voted 26 times against holding a royal commission into them. It is not just that they account for about 9 percent of GDP. It is also the key part they play in many of our lives as providers of long term big debt to purchase our homes over our lifetimes.

Upsetting the banks would upset Australian capitalism and the key role finance capital plays in underpinning the ongoing viability of the system. So the Government will not touch them. After the Royal Commission it has been a case of business as usual for the super profitable banks.

Neither the Government nor the Opposition have proposed any actions that challenge the power of the banks. No rent or super profits tax, no price controls, no people’s bank, no nationalisations. Not even meaningful regulation. Nothing but the nonsense of ‘more competition’.

Put the bankers, not journalists, in the dock.

John Passant is a member of the Canberra Press Gallery. If you are a media organisation and want to reprint this article, contact John for permission and rates.



Pingback from Am I living in a police state? – Civil Liberties Australia
Time June 10, 2019 at 1:00 pm

[…] state. For example Smethurst’s report revealed that intelligence authorities were discussing greater powers, in effect to spy on Australians. Clearly the government does not want sensitive material that exposes its machinations, its crimes […]

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