ga('send', 'pageview');
John Passant

Site menu:

June 2009



RSS Oz House



Subscribe to us

Get new blog posts delivered to your inbox.


Site search


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)



Is Labor getting ready to go early?

It was John Kenneth Galbraith who said that economic forecasters exist to make astrologers look good.  (Or words to that effect.)

How much more perilous then for someone making predictions about what politicians will do?  But let me say this.  All the tea leaves point to an early election.

Look at the Cabinet reshuffle.  Rudd got rid of the two people from his ministry and parliamentary secretary ranks who could cause any expenses trouble with the electorate – Fitzgibbon and McLucas.

Rudd convinced Bob Debus to retire from the ministry to open the way further for ‘new blood’.  New blood just means younger versions of Rudd. That’s partly why most of the beneficiaries of the changes are men.

In undertaking this reshuffle Rudd has surrounded himself with like thinkers – always a dangerous organisational thing to do.  Group think destroys Governments.

In one sense all capitalist Governments are exercises in group think – worshipping in the house of greed.  But recognising that, healthy debate and difference is one sign of a vibrant, politically attuned and relevant organisation. Indeed internal debate and difference should be public, not hidden behind the closed doors of Parliament House.

Fixed factions don’t address the issue either, but that is another question.  It’s certainly true in a revolutionary party but maybe not so true in a bourgeois party with attenuated links to workers like Labor.

Putting John Faulkner in charge of Defence highlights the point.  Faulkner is from the Socialist Left and supposedly a cluey person.  (But you’d have to have your doubts about this since Faulkner bought in Cheryl Kernot to the ALP, supported Latham in his rise to the leadership, and possibly helped engineer Family First’s Fielding into the Senate.)

Will this Socialist Left Minister withdraw troops from Afghanistan?  Will he cut Defence spending markedly so the money can be used for socially useful purposes? Will he reject the recent White Paper which commits Australia to an expanded and expansionary military role in the region?

No. So why have a Socialist Left in the ALP?  Wouldn’t it make more sense for good socialists in the ALP to join with the revolutionary left in the fight to defend living standards? To join with us in the fight against racism, for women’s liberation? In short, for a better world.


But I digress (as is my want). 

The Ministerial reshuffle is hardly Aegean stables stuff. I suspect that, like Matty Johns, Joel Fitzgibbon will be back – after the next election in November.

It’s not just the reshuffle.  Increased pension payments will begin to flow in late September.

Unemployment will not be at high enough levels to cause major political problems for Labor this year.  In 2010 they will be.

In the UK for example a similarly pro-boss, anti-worker Labour Government is in terminal decline and this seems to mirror the rise in unemployment (and the expenses crisis showing the public the real side of politicians grown fat on the public teat and completely divorced from their constituents.)

All that is missing in Australia is an expenses crisis of some sort – vale Joel and Jan to kill any public whiff of that – and a big increase in unemployment to undermine Labor’s hold on power. 

The dole queues will grow rapidly over the next 18 months.  Labor’s own predictions are of over one unemployed by the end of next year.

The stimulus packages were timed to produce enough of a stabilisation before the end of this year to enable Labor to choose, if they want, to go to the election year early.

Finally, increasing unemployment may (and I stress may) see rank and file union members force their reluctant leadership to take industrial action,  and Labor wants to  avoid that as a backdrop to an election.  Going early may do that.

How much better to get this irritation of re-election and pretence of consulting the people out of the way before unemployment really takes off. Much better to have an election when Labor are receiving kudos for seemingly saving Australia from the Great Recession before the slow slow slide of Australia going into that Great Recession suddenly quickens.

All the more so since the 2009 Budget merely postponed the inevitable attacks on wages, jobs and services that the Great Recession will force from Labor, and which Labor will embrace with glee.

With an early election out of the way Labor can begin what they see as the the necessity of taking a meat axe to workers’ living standards in the 2010 Budget to restore profit rates.

Senator Fielding’s dance with the sun spot fairies provides Labor with a perfect opportunity to call an election. Fielding and the Coalition have the numbers in the Senate to defeat Labor’s ETS.

 ‘We have a mandate for our Emissions Trading Scheme’ the ALP could well thunder.

‘We want to help save the world from global warming.  The Liberals and Fielding want to, once again, do nothing.’

I can see Rudd now proclaiming around the countryside that Labor are the party of action on the economy and the environment.  The Liberals, he will say (correctly)  are the Party for doing nothing.

All that is missing is Vote for us.  Now.

It may not be too far away.



Comment from Phil
Time June 11, 2009 at 9:53 pm

I don’t think Debus needed much convincing. He’s noit running in Macquarie again and is a s good as retired.

The ALP needed Debus to stop a complete goose from the NUW called Mark Ptolemy running for the seat (again), and mninimnise an almighty preselection stoush.

The sensible men in suits don’t like that kind of thing. The Murdoch press must be placated at all costs – after all, they do write most of Rudd’s policy. And Ptolemy wasn’t Murdoch friendly.

Now Bob is trying to organise his succession, in much the same way as Nero appointed his horse to the Senate. And the fallout shows exactly why Bob was installed in the first place.

I doubt th ALP can hang on to Macquarie.

But all this points away from an early election. No preselections are planned. The candidates are months away from declaring. And then there is the matter of the NSW and Qld preselection.

Richmond have greater hope of winning four games on the trot than the Rudd government has of going to an early election.

Remember, we are not talking about people that are too bright here. They will hang on until late 2010, and they will probably win at this rate. And why shouldn’t they? After all, they do hold the natural Liberal ground.

Comment from Bill
Time June 11, 2009 at 10:43 pm

Thanks phil. I agree it is not as clear cut as I have argued, since there are arguments against.

But the fear Rudd must have is unemployment will increase rapidly – I am sure Treasury give him updated short and medium term estimates regularly – and he could be a oncer. Who would want to be the next Scullin?

If the recession worsens (I fear this is the calm before the storm) then political polarisation could rise and the swing could be to the libs and even fascists.

Rudd does not want to be Gordon Brown. So going early might tempt him.

I would assume that actually holding preselections now would give the game away.

I have no idea about ALP rules – maybe you could enlighten us – but assume if an election is called these things can be fast tracked, and maybe even the various state leadership bodies could appoint nominees. That would suit Rudd – he could create more little Rudds in positions of power around himself.

Comment from Mark Ptolemy
Time July 1, 2009 at 1:37 am

Dear Phil,

Gee, those comments are most unkind. Calling someone a goose is fairly anti-social. Perhaps you’d like to do so to my face rather than hiding like a cockroach behind a blog.

Like most of the armchair generals that frequent political blogs, you know, sad arses who never had any real backbone to actually run for public office, you are wrong in your assumptions. I have no intention of running for any seat at the next election.

Feel free to email me so we catch up and you can rustle up to bottle to call me names to my face….do you have the backbone enough for that or will that entail getting off your fat butt away from your computer?

Please let me know.

Comment from Mark Ptolemy
Time July 5, 2009 at 7:31 pm

No response yet? Typical. Just another cockroach on a political blog. Insect.

Comment from John
Time July 5, 2009 at 7:40 pm

Dear Mark

I have tried to track down Phil to reply but to no effect.

Write a comment