John Passant

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I welcome any constructive feedback on articles. Note that comments on articles close after 7 days. Some may automatically be held up as SPAM and so may take a little while to clear the hoops.


Comment from BOB WILLSON
Time November 3, 2008 at 8:40 pm

Thanks John. I am glad that you have a blog now. Hope that you get some constructive comments.
I had an odd experience the other week when we were staying with our daughter and family at Blackheath. I had been reading about Professor V Gordon Childe, the famous prehistorian. He was born in Sydney the son of the Revd Stephen Childe, rector of North Syd. Young Childe went to Syd Uni and then Oxford and had a brilliant career. He became a convinced Marxist and rejected all religion and so on. Anyway I was reading about him and then went for a walk down Govett’s Leap road and looked out over the bast expanse of the mountains. I suddenly realized that that view was the last sight Childe had as he threw himself over that cliff. I was standing on the spot where he died. He left his bag and glasses and a note. IT happened in January 1957 I think and I can vividly remember reading about it in the papers At the time. Just an odd experience.

Comment from Abi
Time November 10, 2008 at 9:32 pm

I’ll be able to read your garble instead of listening to it when i miss our coffee sessions.

Great site

Comment from peter williams
Time December 26, 2008 at 2:36 pm

I find that I cannot share your seemingly dogmatic dichotomisation of labour and boss. I see capitalist society as a pyramid rather than a ‘them and us’ structure – the very antithesis in fact of feudalism. Modern society whilst undeniably favouring vested financial interests (it was ever thus) does make the franchise universally available, and education certainly available to all who seek it and can cope intellectually, and hence allowing repositioning of the individual within that pyramid.

Granted, this was not always the case and the modern situation does largely arise because of on-going agitation from the (for want of a better term) ‘working’ left.
I do however wonder if the present democratic structure (cf the last federal election) provides sufficient safeguards.
Despite the posturing by schoolteachers, academics, and many government officials my definition of a ‘worker’ is simply a person who has no direct control of day-to-day working conditions but is in fact guaranteed minimum working conditions as a trade off.

peter Williams

Comment from Steve Miller
Time January 28, 2009 at 3:44 pm

Hi John!

I am in Singapore at the moment, but through the wonder of the internet, came across your blog.

Enjoyed reading the short article from SA mag, just wondering if you/anyone else has read the McNally article that goes into a bit more detail:

I’m only about half way through, and travelling a fair bit, so may not finish any time soon. Anyway, thought you/others might be interested (you probably have come across it).

Salam Setiakawan,


Comment from John
Time January 28, 2009 at 8:00 pm

His Steve. Good to hear from you. I haven’t read Mcnally yet. Thanks for sending me the link.

How are things? I’ve retired and trying to carve out a little niche for myself on the blogosphere. And influence is a small way debate in Australia.

It’s beginning to work – slowly – as more and more people read the blog. But still only less than 200 a day, except for one day when it hit 850 or so. (Tax stuff.)

Keep in contact.

I’ll email you separately my email address. You may already have it.



Comment from Lawrie
Time February 6, 2009 at 10:40 am

To assist with jargon in the new venture

Rural Australian Computer Terminology

A bit of Aussie culcha.

LOG ON: Adding wood to make the Barbie hotter.

LOG OFF: Not adding any more wood to the Barbie.

MONITOR: Keeping an eye on the Barbie.

DOWNLOAD: Getting the firewood off the Ute.

HARD DRIVE: Making the trip back home without any cold tinnies.

KEYBOARD: Where you hang the Ute keys.

WINDOW: What you shut when the weather’s cold.

SCREEN: What you shut in the mozzie season.

BYTE: What mozzies do.

MEGABYTE: What Townsville mozzies do.

CHIP: A bar snack.

MICROCHIP: What’s left in the bag after you’ve eaten the chips.

MODEM: What you did to the lawns.

LAPTOP: Where the cat sleeps.

SOFTWARE: Plastic knives & forks you get at Red Rooster.

HARDWARE: Stainless steel knives & forks – from K-Mart.

MOUSE: The small rodent that eats the grain in the shed.

MAINFRAME: What holds the shed up.

WEB: What spiders make.

WEBSITE: Usually in the shed or under the verandah.

SEARCH ENGINE: What you do when the Ute won’t go.

CURSOR: What you say when the Ute won’t go.

YAHOO: What you say when the Ute does go.

UPGRADE: A steep hill.

SERVER: The person at the pub who brings out the counter lunch.

MAIL SERVER: The bloke at the pub who brings out the counterlunch.

USER: The neighbour who keeps borrowing things.

NETWORK: What you do when you need to repair the fishing net.

INTERNET: Where you want the fish to go.

NETSCAPE: What the fish do when they discover the hole in the net.

ONLINE: Where you hang the washing.

OFFLINE: Where the washing ends up when the pegs aren’t strong enough.

Comment from Jeff Sparrow
Time February 11, 2009 at 9:44 am

Hi John,
In the LP thread on the Bob Ellis essay, you mentioned getting a preview for your blog. Wasn’t quite sure what you meant but if you email me on this address happy to work something out with you.

Comment from John Nelson
Time February 23, 2009 at 12:37 pm

Hi John,

I just wanted to make you aware of how how your site helps some of the “little” people of the world. You see, I have an issue that has come up with the ATO, and having no insight into the ATO I’m not quite sure just what I should be doing about it. It seems that in trying to do the right thing I may have caused myself some serious trouble. Anyway, after searching the net for information on how to go about negotiating with the ATO, I came across your site and after reading your posts concernig the ATO, at least I’ve lost some of my fear, and feel I have a better perspective of what the agency is about. Moreover, having an interest in issues like the utter failure of the capitalistic model, I found many of your other posts quite interesting as well.


Comment from John Passant
Time February 23, 2009 at 1:39 pm

Thanks JSN

My pieces are general comment only. The philosphy of the ATO is OK – if you made an honest mistake, or told us about something before we audit you, they’ll treat you leniently when it comes to penanlites. But each is a case by case issue.

Don’t be too worried, the ATO staff are hardworking and OK and not the ogres they are sometimes painted as.

But I stress it depends on your own cicrumstances.

Inadvertent mistakes are treated a lot better than deliberate rip offs.

An accountant might help, if you can afford one.

Comment from skimitar
Time March 7, 2009 at 9:24 pm

Re “The Public Sector Union and Affiliation to the Labor Party”
Good post. So now what do we do?

Comment from Stewart_in_Oz
Time March 18, 2009 at 12:29 am

Re. Workers organising to protect jobs.
They’ll need to do more than organise if no one can afford to buy what they are working to produce. I thought that would have been self evident.
Re Global Warming.
I thought by this time every semi intelligent person would have worked out it is just a beat-up being used to create fear, control the populace and waste taxpayers money.
It’s all about the sun and the Sun-spot Cycle, not man made carbon dioxide. Expand your horizons while you are passing through.

Comment from JXJ
Time April 7, 2009 at 9:12 pm

oh god, revolutionary blog No. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX!!

Could there be anything more stultifying?

Comment from Hamish Davidson
Time April 14, 2009 at 6:07 am

Only just discovered your site. Seems pretty good. I’m broadly in line with you on everything. I’m only occasional in the letters as opposed to your own prolificity. I’m sure you’ve got Greenberg’s measure, but here’s my own bit of return fire (blunderbuss-like as usual). -

Dear Editor,

George Greenberg (Letters, April 13) in seeking to rebut John Passant’s letter (April 7) which draws attention to the US administration’s foreign policy hypocrisy lays a smoke screen or should that be a ‘white phosphorus’ screen of distortion and irrelevancies.

He blames Hamas for the huge civilian death toll in Gaza due to their living, working and fighting within the population that supports them. This accusation is trotted out ad nauseam. Maybe he thinks the Hamas fighters should gather at a football ground with targets painted on their backs and radio in the co-ordinates of their position to the Israeli military. In any case due to conscription to the Israel Defense Forces it could just as well be argued that the Israeli military is embedded within its own civilian populace.

To list the many crimes of the Israeli state one would have to write a couple of books but in short it has dispossessed the native Palestinians – blockading and ghettoizing Gaza and Bantustanising the West Bank (taking their cue from their old Apartheid South African buddies).

It speaks volumes of Greenberg’s views that he doesn’t think that the attempted destruction of Palestinian society is concerning. Passant’s world view is broad; it is for Greenberg to take off his blue and white blinkers and recognise the humanity of all the world’s peoples.

PS – My neighbour is a big fan of yourself.

Yours sincerely,

Hamish Davidson

Comment from John
Time April 14, 2009 at 4:16 pm

Thanks Hamish. Happy reading. Hopefully over time the readership will build up and feel free to comment and debate issues. With the economic crisis polarising positions and exposing bourgeois ideology for the fraud it is, I am confident that will happen. I think the dross that passes for commentary across the mainstream media and much of the web is going to be exposed – when the tide is out we can see who is naked.

This will especially be the case if some workers take action to defend their jobs or oppose Government attacks, eg the CFMEU and other unions against the Rudd Government’s ABCC or flight attendants against Qantas.

Comment from John
Time April 15, 2009 at 10:49 pm


Congratulations. As you no doubt know the Canberra Times published your letter. Thanks for the support. Now wait for the Zionist backlash.

I’ve been thinking about this ‘hiding among civilians’ argument. The Zionists force the Palestinians into a concentration camp called Gaza and then disingenuously wonder why they can only resist from within their Ghetto.

The best historical analogy I can think of is the Warsaw Ghetto where the Nazis forced Jews to live. They rose up against their inhuman oppressors and drove the fascists out for a few months. After fierce battles and immense courage from the ghetto dwellers the Nazis eventually destroyed the whole Ghetto by torching it.

Comment from Paul Rice
Time April 28, 2009 at 6:30 pm

Why does not the UN do a real job , looking not just at current problems but with the history behind these problems . And why does it not worry itself about terrorism , terrorist activities , and Mafia style groups , and governmental and religious misuse of power . Or is this too delicate or difficult for the UN , they would have to do real study and work , instead of being remotely piloted by western governments.
I am very very disappointed in the UN , like the financial system it needs a re-organisation and re-direction

Comment from Paul Rice
Time April 28, 2009 at 6:33 pm

In a follow up to my last comment . A classic example of non action by the UN was the terrorism and killings in Ireland which lasted for 40 years , nothing was ever done . No action as well concerning extremist religious groups who kill , maim , and oppress .
REVAMP THE UN into a real non political group , free of political interventions and manipulation

Comment from Glenn
Time May 6, 2009 at 10:13 am

In a shallow way, I’m surprised by advertising on your blog for American Express Credit Cards. By monetising your blog in this way you seem to have joined the entrepreneurial class and turned your back on the noble working class.

Comment from Leonie
Time May 6, 2009 at 8:03 pm

Thanks Glenn. Actually we do this for the love. It is running at a loss and the advertising gives me say 20 cents an hour. Most ignore it. Not sure how the logic follows anyway. We work or are retired and do this for enjoyment and spreading the word (hallelujah brothers and sisters.)

Comment from Doric
Time May 13, 2009 at 3:51 pm

To Paul Rice.
The UN is not a democratic non-partisan organization, it is, to quote Lenin “a thieves kitchen”

The same interests that that influence governments of individual nation states are present at the UN.

The UN secretaries are impotent figureheads whose actions are controlled by the major imperialist nations–especially the US.

The UN placed sanctions on Saddam Hussein, which caused the death of over 500,000 innocent Iraqis, but did nothing to the US and the coalition of the willing that launched a unilateral attack on Iraq–they even went so far as to recognize the puppet regime installed by the US.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for the UN to show some moral leadership

Comment from Mirek
Time May 26, 2009 at 8:53 am

Really impressed with your blog: `En Passant` – how droll!
As regards to `Pakistan: the new frontier in the war on terror?`, first of all, there cannot be a frontier as such, as it`s a never-ending war of the ruling class against perceived threats to it`s interests and contr4ol. In case of Pakistan, which is the most corrupt country in the world, save for Nigeria, the same class analysis applies. It`s a country with profound class divides, with the military the most powerful, followed by the landholders and the polity, on the one hand, and the mass of impoverished population, including the petit bourjouasie, on the other. The `Taliban` movement, is an expression of the mass frustration, hopelessness, grinding poverty and lack of any social progress despite government promises, Lately, the movement changed it`s politics by chasing out the landlords from Swat valley, and moving to distribute the land amongst the poor peasants. This, of course, posed an `existential` threat to the State, and had to be stopped. Washington also perceived a threat to it`s interesrs and control in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and even, to the `world`s peace`, as the media hysterically proclaimed. The current situation is a US-financed bloodbath with two million internally displaced, countless dead and maimed, infrastructure and trade destroyed, in a country barely able to sustain itself in the best of times. It`s like sawing the branch you are sitting on. The likely result? Either a popular revolution or a military coup, either way, more bloodletting and destruction. In the case of the `Taliban` gaining ground in a revolutionary situation, Obama will not hesitate to invade, and then the Iraq war will look like a Sunday School picnic.
Sorry, have to go now to start digging my bomb shelter!

Comment from Abi
Time May 29, 2009 at 12:18 am

Can somebody tell me why on earth did the South Australian Parliament move and then pass a motion condemning the “supposed” genocide that existed in WWI in the east of Turkey.

Is the South Australian Government becoming a puppet to Armenian minority in SA? Why should the SA Government care what happened in a region that it has no relations other than those that fought in Gallipoli or the south east of Turkey.

The South Australian Government was encouraged by the Turkish Embassy to wait until a final report was submitted by Turkish, Armenian and other historians commissioned by the Turkish Government to unravel the mess. What was the rush?

Finally, i’d like to know which historian will account for the thousands of women and children that lost their lives when the Armenian’s with the aid of the Russian’s destroyed towns and villages on their crusade towards the capital.

Comment from Tristan Ewins
Time July 3, 2009 at 8:24 pm

Dear John,

You may be interested – I’ve responded to you at Left Focus… Didn’t put it in a proper entry as such – but left a few thoughts…

all the best,


Comment from Jaime Mejia
Time March 22, 2014 at 6:25 am

Dear John,

I read your article on “Why I Resigned from Socialist Alternative”. I resigned for similar reasons in 2009. I was in the Brisbane branch and one of those who rebuilt the branch after the split in 2004. I went through similar experiences as yours.

What you said about its members accepting all the decisions from the leadership without questioning them is very accurate. I want to add that far from benefitting the organization it is quite harmful. I was the only one in the Brisbane branch who was not afraid of disagreeing on a number of issues. Whilst I am the first to admit being wrong about most of those issues, I was proven right in many cases.

I found the BC very unapproachable and often sectarian and I decided that it was best to resign.

I am still good friends with ex-members and one who is still active member. Ironically, they are more experienced than any other people in the branch with the exception of Tom Bramble. In contrast, I have experienced a high level of hostility from members who joined after the split.

I hope someday things will change and I will be a member again as I firmly believe in the need of building a revolutionary organization but at this stage I don’t see a reason to rejoin SAlt.

I want to send you my comradely regards and look forward to read more articles.

In unity,

Jaime —-

Comment from Mary Howard
Time May 17, 2014 at 11:21 am

Would be great to have Marchs in regional areas.

Comment from Colin Harriss
Time June 3, 2014 at 9:56 am

Just want to say thanks – without your commment the sad movement of our country to the right would drive me nuts.

Comment from John
Time June 3, 2014 at 10:57 am

Thanks Colin. Much appreciated.

Comment from Anthony Bromhead
Time July 16, 2014 at 8:49 pm

Great article in New Matilda, I worked in DSS-CL-DHS from 1979-Feb 2014. Wafsinvobed with Grey Collar which lead to the election of Trevor Demming to the left of the ‘left’ of ALP Barry Cotter in ACOA and out for 6 weeks twice – first stood down by Fred Chaney and then on 6 week strike under ALP government. We were so overworked we were demanding more staff. Was an organiser with UPU for demos against the current way left of ALP Malcolm Fraser at the Wentworth and UNSW and CISCAC (solidaity centra amer caribean) CISCAC fell apart when the SWP members tried to take it over and were resisted by the CP members. As a left wing liberation theology catholic I was never leninist as I basically accepted Solzinitzns and Georhe Orwell (Homage to C) account of USSR and I tend o ward anarchism.

I was NSW State Policy officer for Unemployment Sickness and Special benefit in the State Office from 1987-1992 when it was shut downdue to devolution. In 1987 I decided that I would neversupervise again in APS as I wasn’t able to lie and drive people when I knew we were understaffed. I reached the APS6 level in 1990 at a ;technical’ expert. As the only non management APS6 in the provinces ws the Authorised Review Office Job (apart from FISOs ie telling people how to arrange affairs to maximise pension) I did that job in Wollongong from 1992-2014.
In my Policy job I was the state project manager fro all the Budget changes for U&SB which basically was Treasury chipping away at the poor and workers via increased waiting periods assets waiting periods yand incomemaitenace periods. Very mean and counter productive because it grinds people down into povery by taking away the buffer that redundency payments and cash savings gace people. Prior to Treasury assual reduncy and temination payments were deemed as income recieved on last day worked and there was no imp now the imp can stretch for years. The mad thing is that they were hitting the savers as the people with arse out of their pants don’t accumulate cash assets or a redundency- maddness and cruel.

Anyhow I yook up I use the persona Joe_K67 and Joseph Kurtz which allowed me to tweet when I was in APS.
I may look up up some day
Yours in solidarity comrade Tony

reulmdpycgthey wWy

Comment from John
Time July 17, 2014 at 1:15 pm

Thanks Anthony. I was in grey collar in Canbera.

Comment from Margaret
Time August 11, 2014 at 11:11 am

Simple question:
Are the people of Gaza A) better off under the control of Hamas or B) not under their control?

Just one letter is required – A or B.

Comment from Margaret
Time August 25, 2014 at 12:15 pm

Silence. What a surprise.

Comment from John
Time August 25, 2014 at 12:57 pm

If you commented on my articles and not this thread you might get my attention. BTW your question is ridiculous. It is for the people of Palestine to decide who their leaders are. A democratic vote would see collaborators like Abbas swept from power.

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