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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)

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)



Canberra’s budget: razor gangs, efficiency dividends and wage restraint

Tuesday’s ACT Budget is about attacking workers. 

The Stanhope Labor Government will set up a razor gang to make deep cuts to programs.

A new one per cent ‘efficiency’ dividend will cut further into the Territory public service. 

Bus fares, fees, fines and rates will also rise.  The bus fare increase is 11 per cent. Why not make them free for $20m instead?

In some cases parking fees will increase 50 per cent. This will drive some people on to the inadequate and expensive bus service.

The funding to the community sector went up by a miserly 3.15% percent, well below expectations and well below the amount needed to continue to deliver much needed services for the increasing number of poor and less well off in Canberra.

Despite all this cost cutting, the underlying deficit will be$247 million, and borrowing will increase to fund that.

Extra borrowing is ‘delayed’ pain – we will pay in the near future through higher borrowing costs, and taxes, for the delayed cuts.

And we will pay through the run down of social spending and postponed capital expenditure.

The Treasurer, Katy Gallagher, predicts budget deficits for the next seven years. And, said Gallagher, ‘The next three budgets would be a lot harsher’.

On top of all this, the Government is pushing wage restraint for its workforce.  Not profit restraint, or more taxes on the rich, but wage restraint.

Labor wants to make us pay for their crisis.

This is the logic of neoliberal keynesianism, and one Labor federally may follow. 

Of course Labor federally already has an efficiency dividend of 1.25% (but temporarily increased last year to 3.25%) so they may well retain that ‘temporary’ increase  or lower it a little to say 2 percent. 

Rudd Labor will, I think, also impose some form of wage cuts – perhaps a wage freeze – public servants.

The overall Territory model seems clear enough.  Borrow, raise Government charges on the working class, cut social spending after a review, and cut labor ‘costs’  by reducing staff and cutting real wages. And throw a few crumbs to the environment, education and health.

Then sell it as postponing the pain in the hope the economy will recover before the Government has to really screw Territory workers, especially its own workforce.

While the specifics are obviously going to be different, it is a model the Rudd Labor Government is likely to follow.

The Greens here in the ACT support this anti-worker budget.

The problem is this neoliberal Keynesianism won’t work. 

It doesn’t address the underlying problem from the point of view of the capitalist class – low profit rates. 

Only massively driving down wages and conditions, sacking people and destroying capital can do that.

How will the unions respond to the Budget?  The leadership will acquiesce.  Its ‘their’ government after all. Not ours but theirs.

In doing that they lay the groundwork for further and more savage attacks on Territory workers.

Maybe its time for workers in Canberra to say enough.  Make the bosses pay for their crisis.


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