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John Passant

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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)



The real face of terrorism in Australia

The Australian government has arrested Renas Lelikan, a journalist, for the ‘crime’ of allegedly being a member of the PKK, the Kurdish Workers’ Party, one of the groups fighting ISIS. Echoing Billy Hughes’ outlawing of the Industrial Workers of the World in 1915/16, the PKK is a proscribed organisation in Australia (but not all Western countries) and membership per se is ‘illegal’.

At the same time the Cessnock City Council on Wednesday narrowly approved building a mosque. The response of those racists opposed to this should be, but won’t be, eye opening. According to Georgina Mitchell and Sage Swinton in the Sydney Morning Herald today (Thursday):

‘The mosque’s opponents immediately took to social media to decry the decision and some promoted violence against both the planned place of worship and the council chambers.

‘”Sounds like the council chambers might need a bomb,” one man wrote on an anti-mosque Facebook page, while three separate people proposed setting the mosque on fire.

‘ “If it is approved I hope it is burnt to the ground,” a man wrote on the STOP the Buchanan Mosque – kurri kurri page.

‘ “I bet a packet of matches and a litre or two of petrol it won’t last long,” another said. A third man added: “Isnt that a bushfire prone area? We can only hope!”

‘Another poster on the page said residents “need to bring out the fighter in all of us and make them think twice about where they want to lay their hijabs”.’

That is the voice of real terrorism in Australia – angry right wing racists demanding death for councillors who voted to allow a mosque to be built or threatening to burn down the mosque when it is built.

There will be no prosecutions. Certainly there will be no arrests for what these threats are, terrorism, and there will be no media condemnation of these threats as terrorism.  These are after all white people ‘expressing their fears.’

These right wing terrorists perform a vital function for capital. First they are the logical expression of state racism and its demonisation or ‘othering’ of asylum seekers, Aboriginal people, and, nudge nudge wink wink, Muslims.

Second their actions reinforce the agenda of fear the government wants to promote.

Third they distract from other issues that impact on working class people such as government attacks on welfare recipients, cuts to Medicare, public schools, Universities, wages, jobs…

And forth, the ruling class thinks it can control these racists, reactionaries and worse and use them against the left when (not if) the working class mobilises around its own interests.

These are Malcolm Turnbull’s allies.

Nathan Paterson holds his fist in the air in a rally against Buchanan Mosque in Cessnock in 2015. Photo: Perry Duffin


Meanwhile Renas faces 10 years in jail for the crime of reporting the struggles of the Kurdish militia, the People’s Protection Units, or YPG. The YPG is one of the main groups successfully fighting ISIS. According to Lauren Williams, writing last year in the Lowey Institute’s, Interpreter ‘YPG is considered the military arm of the Democratic Union Party (YPD), the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK)…’

Our first response must be to defend Renas. Our second response must be to try to build a mass movement against the normalisation of racism and right wing terrorism, driven by the State and the media, in Australian society today.

The roots of Hansonism

Australia was built on the genocide of Aboriginal people. The ideology to justify this removed any trace of humanity from Aboriginal people and spawned a whole industry of racism, a racism that enabled the theft of Aboriginal land and the murder of the people. As capitalism developed in Australia this racism tied working class Australians to their white bosses.

There were various other targets of the ruling class, including Catholics, the Irish, Jews, the Chinese, the Japanese, the Russians, the Germans, Kanaks, Greeks, Italians, the Reds … On and on it goes. The enemy is everywhere. Huddle together against them.

The ‘enemy’ changes from time to time. Aboriginal people remain the eternal other. The failure of the Australian ruling class to recognise the genocide, to negotiate a treaty and sovereignty continue that eternal othering.

The uneasy settlement between labour and capital that was the dream of reformists became a reality of sorts on Federation in 1901. The White Australia policy and Conciliation and Arbitration were two of the glues the bosses hoped would bind Australian workers to the ruling class. Certainly the crimson thread of racism ran through significant sections of the white working class and almost all its leadership.

The increasing integration of Australian capitalism into the global economy after the second world war saw our ruling class step back from the formalism of the White Australia policy in the 1960s and 1970s. However it retained racism, xenophobia and othering in its armoury as a means to create a false us and them and distract from the real us and them – bosses and workers.

The end of the long boom in the late 1960s and early 1970s globally and in Australia saw the rise of neoliberalism in the UK in 1979 and the US in 1980. In Australia the election of the Hawke Labor Government in 1983 saw our first neoliberal government come to power.

Capitalist globalisation and neoliberalism saw an increased freedom for capital to flow into and out of Australia, no matter what its colour, and for skilled labor, again, within reason and under strict control, and with the inherent de facto colour bias associated with skilled workers.

While the Australian ruling class paid lip service to non-racial policies, the racist undercurrent remained. Thus in the same year Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating was making his famous Redfern speech he also began imprisoning asylum seekers, setting in train the great scare campaign of Australian capitalism over the last 24 years against refugees. Huddle together against the invading hordes.

The Redfern speech was itself part of the grand fakery. Keating’s words did not improve the situation of Aborigines one iota. It did not address, nor lead to actions that addressed, the genocide, the dispossession, the poverty, the early death rates.

Growing inequality in Australia and increased precarity at work, together with increasing often unpaid work hours, and increasing debt, saw the rise of the specifically racist One Nation in the period 1996-1998. It built on the insecurities of the middle class and sections of the working class, (especially blue collar workers in rural and regional areas), winning 11 seats in the Queensland Parliament of 89 seats in 1998.

In 1996 Hanson’s ‘enemies’ were Asians and Aborigines. Today they are Muslims. The point is not who the enemy is but the fact of enemies and playing on the fears of Australian workers and others.

In part Prime Minister John Howard undermined One Nation by adapting to it and dog whistling racism. This became a loud hailer during the 2004 election with the Tampa and Howard’s catch cry ‘we will decide who comes to our country and the circumstances in which they do.’ Labor fell into line. The bipartisan racism and othering of refugees set in train a sequence of events that leads to the concentration camps on Manus Island and Nauru and has garnered support among large sections of voters, including working class voters.

The other aspect to this is the failure of the left (both social democratic and revolutionary) to build and grow in these conditions. While inequality has been growing, the mining boom in Australia provided the ability of the ruling class to give some increase in living standards for many workers, and a low level of unemployment.

That mining boom has now ended and the ongoing attacks on living standards and public services will only accelerate as the Australian economy worsens. Without a strong left as an alternative, this will make the siren song of racism and othering more attractive to more.

Pauline Hanson is one expression of the 30 years of state Islamophobia, racism, locking up refugees, the Northern Territory intervention etc etc. We need to fight Hanson AND the Labor and Liberal policies that create the cesspit in which she and all the others like her can and do live. We need to build a mass movement.

Ban bigots, not Muslims

Television ‘celebrity’ Sonia Kruger has joined a long conga line of media arseholes like Eddy McGuire, Steve Price and Andrew Bolt.

Kruger is the host of Channel 9’s The Voice. On Channel 9’s Today program she called for a ban on Muslims migrating to Australia.

But not all Muslims apparently – just working class ones?


The Australasian Union of Jewish Students has condemned Kruger’s comments.

They said in part:

We know too well the consequences of social isolation and treating a community like a pariah. We know too well the paralytic effect of hateful speech on a community; the resentment and the dejection that often follows comments like Kruger’s.

It is our shared historical responsibility as Jews to defend the rights of a member of any faith, cultural, ethnic or community group, to participate and contribute to the rich tapestry of Australian society.

We urge the Jewish and broader Australian community to approach the discussion of violent terrorism and its links to Islamists intelligently and with the maturity that the debate demands.

If the answer to terrorism is a White Australia, then the question is wrong.

At the time of writing, Pauline Hanson, one voice of White Australia, is about to appear on the ABC’s Q&A program and will feel emboldened by her election to the Senate and the support she has received from sections of the media like Kruger, Bolt, Price The Australian, the Herald Sun, the Courier Mail, The Daily Telegraph, Fox News ….

This ABC report confirms it was a festival of Islamophobia made respectable by her appearance and the polite and oh so liberal responses which did not address the real issues of us invading other countries, of the racism this country was and is built on or on the alienation vast swathes of Australian society feel.
As one of my friends wrote after the program: I’d like to thank ‪Q&A‬ for proving they’re actually Sunrise for university graduates. At least everyone’s clear on that now.

Michael Brull in New Matilda demolishes the Andrew Bolt article Kruger uses support her views.

Apparently Kruger wants to feel safe. Perhaps then the Australian ruling class should refuse to join with the US and others and stop invading other nations and killing millions. And she wants to feel safe by creating unsafe conditions for Muslims?

How to deal with this?

Ban bigots, not Muslims.

This meme has a good point.

This protest is good too.

Here is footage from that great protest.

Join the fight. Stop the Islamophobes, racists and fascists.

A mass movement can force the racist scum back under their rocks for now.

As Padraic Gibson wrote:

The intensified anti-Muslim racism since the election of Pauline Hanson must be fought back, but how? One disturbing feature of Hanson on ‪#‎QandA‬ was the way it made the dominant politics of Fortress Australia seem progressive. In response to her call for a ban on Muslims, Liberal Birmingham reckon ‘‘bans on categories of people wouldn’t be useful”, with Dastyari nodding along, while both of course support indefinite incarceration on prison islands for anyone who tries to come on a boat.

It was a real problem that no one answered Hanson’s consistent question about why there is a real contemporary threat of terrorism. Larissa Waters had one very good one line “because we are bombing their people”, but it was nowhere near enough. Apart from that not a word about the continuing invasions of the Middle East. A fresh “Chilcot report” about how it was mass slaughter in Iraq by good ‘Christian’ ‘western’ soldiers that created ISIS not worth a mention for 40 minutes of her asking the same question.

Everyone applauded Birmingham condemning racist abuse, as though he was a hero. When he’d just finished an Islamophobic lecture about how in Christianity there is an “identifiable hierarchy” that “doesn’t exist in Islam”, making it somehow more coherent and accountable as a religion!

There of course should be zero tolerance for Hanson’s vile bigotry and she should be fought at every turn. But a big part of actually defeating it will require building a far more serious challenge to the racist “border security” regime and “war on terror” being driven by the Liberal government and dutifully followed by Labor.

The Price is wrong: violence against women

Jokes about violence towards women are indicative of systemic misogyny that normalises the oppression of women, writes John Passant In Independent Australia.

To read the whole article click here.  Violence against women: the Price is wrong

Murrandoo Yanner gives Pauline Hanson some advice

Image result for murrandoo yanner
Aboriginal leader Murrandoo Yanner lets Pauline Hanson know what’s what.

Statement by Turkish revolutionaries: No to the coup! Fight for democracy!

This is a statement by the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Socialist Workers Party (DSİP) of Turkey on 16 July 2016 against the coup attempt

We have been living through an attempted coup for the past few hours. A group within the army have been attempting to take power. Air Force jets have been flying low over Ankara. The Turkish Radio Television building has been bombed. There are still sounds of bombs exploding.

Those attempting to take power have made an announcement on TV, claiming to represent the armed forces. It seems clear, however, that they are a particular group within military.

We are against all attempts at a military takeover.

Those involved must be held to account.

Thousands of people have taken to the streets against the attempted coup. We stand together with the thousands who are resisting the troops.

While fighting against the coup, we must, at the same time, fight the conditions which have given the military the grounds for this attempt: the anti-democratic conditions, the conditions of war.

The fight against the coup must be a fight for democracy, it must continue and be turned into a fight against the restrictions on democracy.

Those who want to set up a military junta cannot win!

The people will win!

Central Committee
Revolutionary Socialist Workers Party (DSİP), Turkey

16 July 2016

Upside down world

Greens’ moderation a road to nowhere

Whether over refugees, equal marriage or fighting further cuts, it is not The Greens’ actions in parliament that will be decisive, writes James Supple in Solidarity. What matters is the strength of the movements in the workplaces and on the streets. If The Greens continue to ignore that, they will be left on the margins.


“It’s only a matter of time” before more seats go Green, leader Richard Di Natale said, after missing out on any new seats in the election. Given other independents and minor parties picked up record votes, this result was a disappointment.

Under Richard Di Natale the party has adopted a more pragmatic style. During the election campaign he celebrated the way The Greens have become part of parliamentary wheeling and dealing and “used our influence and demonstrated our ability to negotiate important reforms”.

The Greens’ period working in minority government with Labor, and more recently working with the Liberals to pass bills through the Senate, has made them look more like part of the political establishment.

There was a modest increase in the Greens lower house vote of 1.5 per cent, recovering some of the losses of the last election. But they lost one Senator, in South Australia, as their vote declined in the upper house.

The party’s best results were in Melbourne, where it came close to winning the seat of Batman. Alex Bhathal received a 10.5 per cent increase in her primary vote but Labor has held on.

There were also large increases in their vote in Wills, Melbourne Ports and Higgins. Adam Bandt easily retained his seat of Melbourne with 44.5 per cent of the primary vote.

Grayndler, where The Greens had their best chance in Sydney of winning a seat, was a major disappointment. The Greens’ vote actually declined and the party remained in third place behind the Liberals.

Sections of The Greens have attacked the NSW branch for running a campaign in Grayndler that was “too bolshy”. Labor attacked Greens candidate Jim Casey as a socialist who wanted the end of capitalism.

This was just a cheap shot. The Grayndler campaign was no more left-wing than elsewhere, focusing on the local WestConnex motorway and climate change (read coal mining) rather than a clear anti-Turnbull stance. Labor’s campaign in defence of Medicare, public education and opposing Turnbull’s tax cuts for big business offered a more explicit defence of working class interests.

Casey made a point of his background in the firefighters’ union, but there were no unions that formally backed his campaign. This was a crucial component of Adam Bandt’s initial breakthrough in 2010, which received endorsement and donations from a number of left unions. Local Labor MP Anthony Albanese also retains a left-wing reputation and Labor still have deep community roots to draw on.

The Greens’ support for Senate voting reforms, which opened the door for the re-introduction of the ABCC, did not help. The Greens were attacked by left unions like the CFMEU, which had previously supported them in the Senate. But The Greens simply ignored the issue, helping contribute to the view that workers’ rights were not a central priority.


The Greens’ successes in Melbourne have been based on an increasingly single-minded electoralism and a professionalised machine that organised months of door-knocking and phone calls to voters.

This simply results in a Greens campaign that tailors its approach to maximise votes. And it is part of a strategy based on the idea that social change can be brought about by a process of winning this or that seat in successive elections.

They even made Higgins, a blue ribbon Liberal seat, one of their four “target seats” in Victoria.

But taking such a seat requires winning over significant numbers of Liberal voters from some of Melbourne’s wealthiest suburbs, including Toorak. Focusing on seats like this creates a pull to the right in order to appeal to traditional conservative voters.

Di Natale showed where all this is taking the party in his pre-election address to the National Press Club. In the event of a hung parliament, he outlined the same approach the Greens took with Gillard in 2010, when they demanded the limited concessions from Labor that reduced action on climate change to the disastrous carbon tax.

Only this time The Greens’ aims seem even more modest with Di Natale simply saying, “political donations reform and the establishment of a corruption watchdog will be one of the key issues in any negotiations”. Afterwards he described The Greens’ opposition to detention on Manus Island and Nauru as “the starting points of any negotiation”, indicating that closing Manus and Nauru would not be a threshold issue for any deal with Labor.

Whether over refugees, equal marriage or fighting further cuts, it is not The Greens’ actions in parliament that will be decisive. What matters is the strength of the movements in the workplaces and on the streets. If The Greens continue to ignore that, they will be left on the margins.

State racism and Hanson’s resurrection

I write in Independent Australia that Hanson’s resurgence combined with a Coalition Government and a renewed racialised right in the Reclaim Australia movement, signal dangerous times for Australian politics.

To read the whole article click here.  The Coalition, Hanson’s resurrection and the rise of racism

In support of workers in the greyhound industry

Mike Baird waited until after the federal election to announce he was banning greyhound racing in New South Wales from 1 July next year.  Compare that deceitful action to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews who had the decency and honesty to try to sort of the Country Fire Authority dispute during the election.

Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull then cynically used the dispute to lie about the bogyman of union control and help keep the swing to Labor in Victoria to the  lowest in the country and to win the seat of retiring Labor member Anna Burke.

You have to wonder if Baird had been honest and made the announcement before the election whether Labor might have picked up one or two more seats in New South Wales.

Baird’s decision will disrupt if not destroy the lives of thousands of workers in the industry.  That is of no concern to the Liberals or the Nationals. There is no plan for helping them through this difficult time, no job creation, no extra social services, no counseling, no training.  When they get their plan together it will of course be totally inadequate.

Here is what Anna Tarasov and staff writers on ABC News said:

AWU State Secretary Russ Collison has spoken out against the greyhound racing ban in NSW. (AAP: Dean Lewins)

Australian Workers’ Union secretary Russ Collison, which represents many of the thousands of people employed by the industry, said the Government seems to have given zero consideration their fate.

“The greyhound racing industry is made up of thousands of decent working-class people who do not earn large sums of money,” Mr Collison said.

“It’s all right for people to sit in their ivory towers and say they’ll get another job, but where?

“In many parts of regional NSW, unemployment is twice the rate of the eastern suburbs or northern beaches.

“The Premier’s elitist, arrogant approach shows he is completely out of touch.”

Collison is right.  The working class once again bears the brunt of reform. The ruling class dismisses them.  My suggestion is the AWU begin organising in other sections of the racing industry to strike to support the workers in the greyhound industry. Of course they won’t.

I had been going to title this story ‘In defence of workers in the greyhound industry’, but of course one man with a keyboard cannot defend those workers or their futures. Those workers and their union can, if they take industrial action across the various racing industries and in other workplaces where the AWU is strong and can stop production.