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John Passant

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February 2009



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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)



Father Kennedy shows us how to fight back

There is a battle going on in Brisbane. No, not the phony Queensland election war between the political twins, both vying to show us who is the least incompetent. (By the way, will city people really vote for a not so disguised Country Party?)

I am talking about Father Peter Kennedy from St Mary’s Parish in Brisbane. This priest actually believes in Vatican II. You know, all that stuff about love and inclusiveness.

However, blessing homosexual couples and allowing women to preach is apparently outside the orthodoxy of catholic thought. So much for the hierarchy’s views about love and inclusiveness.

But I’m not writing to give a homily on the teachings of the Catholic Church. Father Kennedy faces eviction from his spiritual home and the sack. The Archbishop has turfed him out as parish priest and appointed someone else to take over.

What has been Father Peter’s response? He has occupied his church. He is effectively running the parish with the support of the 1600 people who turned up to mass on Sunday, singing We shall not be moved. All of this is happening despite an order from the Archbishop for him to leave.

There are lessons here for renters being evicted and workers facing the sack. Fight back. Defy authority. Do the unorthodox. Make your home a fortress. Occupy your workplace. And get mass support (no pun intended) to do it if you do want to have any chance of success.

Take renters or home owners facing eviction. You can defy the landlord or bank if there are enough local and other people prepared to resist the bailiffs or police. That means building community organisations committed to defending you. Father Kennedy is doing it.  Why not you?

Does this sound like a pipe dream? During the Depression this is exactly what happened. Communities formed groups, often with the Communist Party heavily involved and leading the defence, that physically prevented the bailiffs or cops from throwing people out onto the street. Where the groups were big enough they were often successful. As Diane Fieldes wrote in a  Socialist Alternative article called Politics and struggle in the Great Depression:

The CPA [Communist Party of Australia – JP] was at the centre of many of the battles against evictions. The Sydney Morning Herald described how the “most sensational battle Sydney has ever known was fought between 40 policemen and 18 Communists” in Newtown, Sydney in June 1931. “Entrenched behind barbed wire and sandbags, the defenders rained stones weighing several pounds… on to the heads of the attacking police, who were attempting to execute an eviction order. A crowd hostile to the police, numbering many thousands… threatened to become out of hand… When constables emerged from the back of the building with their faces covered in blood, the crowd hooted and shouted insulting remarks.”

So it can be done. It needs strong organisation and commitment but it is possible to defeat the bailiffs and the police. Don’t sit back waiting to get thrown out. Start organising resistance now.

Father Kennedy is ensconced in his spiritual home with thousands ready to defend him. But in doing that he has also occupied his workplace. Police advised the appointed replacement not to go in to St Mary’s  to celebrate mass given the level of community support the rebel priest has.

The occupation and public support means that Father Peter can continue his work. It seems in his case that occupying his workplace has worked, at least so far.

Workers’ occupations in Australia are rare. Yet Father Kennedy shows they can succeed.

Suddenly the Archbishop wants to negotiate, but Peter is holding firm.  What’s to negotiate?  I’ve been unfairly sacked. Investigations will prove this.

His demand is simple.  I will keep my job. Peter’s example is one that workers faced with the sack everywhere should follow.

Certainly international experience is that workers can defend their jobs if they occupy their workplaces.

Facing the sack? Occupy the mines. Take over the factories. Run the schools, hospitals and transport systems ourselves.

The bosses need us.  We don’t need them.

But workers can’t succeed on their own. As Father Peter’s case shows they need cooperation and support from other workers and the general public.

As unemployment begins to threaten more and more workers with ruin, the need for urgent and radical action to save jobs becomes greater.

Relying on the do-nothing leadership of the trade union movement – mired in the shit of responsible unionism (ie doing the bosses’ dirty work) – won’t save jobs.  It’s like relying on the Pope to protect Peter.

Only militant action from below, from rank and file  workers, can defend jobs. That will mean defying the cardinals of the council of trade unions.

If Father Kennedy can, with mass support, hold his boss at bay, so can workers. If you are facing the sack, or fear that you soon might be, begin organising immediately for support from other workers and the public for possible strikes and occupations.

The stakes are high. Now is not the time to piss fart around.

If unpaid misery looms, follow Father Kennedy’s lead. Take over your workplace to stop sackings.



Pingback from St Mary’s South Brisbane – the stoush goes on – Andrew Bartlett
Time February 24, 2009 at 1:18 pm

[…] Pssant at En Passant blog provides his take. Comment (1) | […]

Comment from Abigail Petit
Time February 24, 2009 at 4:11 pm

Pablum, pablum, pablum!!

Comment from Chris Warren
Time February 24, 2009 at 5:22 pm

Silly Abigail…

It’s “pabulum”

Comment from John
Time February 24, 2009 at 6:29 pm

Thanks Andrew.

Comment from robert halsey
Time March 2, 2009 at 2:08 pm

Either the Roman Catholic Church got it wrong with Vatican II or the Church is getting it wrong today. Whatever happened to infallibility?

robert halsey

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