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John Passant

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September 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)



Rees, fixed terms and democracy

I have three words to say to those who support fixed parliamentary terms –  New South Wales.

Here is a totally incompetent Government who fell into another term only because the Opposition was viewed rightly as even more incompetent.

Having won Government again, New South Wales Labor then began to really unravel, with the trade union movement rightly booting out Premier Bland, Morris Iemma, for attempting to privatise electricity generation.

This influence of the trade union bureaucracy shows that the ALP is qualitatively different to the Liberals.

Labor is, as Lenin so presciently wrote 96 years ago, a bourgeois workers’ party.  More bourgeois now perhaps, but still the only political party in Australia with real, even if grossly distorted, links to working people. 

But I digress.

The Rees Labor Government in New South Wales remains in power only because of the legislated fixed four year term provisions and the lack of class consciousness among significant sections of the working class.

A democratic society would have swept this rabble away long ago – not through Kerr coups and the like but through replacing them with new representatives, on a daily basis if needed.

Workers’ revolutions extend democracy.

It has been a consistent hallmark of workers’ revolution that  their representatives were paid the average wage and were subject to immediate recall.  From Paris to Russia and Germany, from Hungary to Poland, in revolutionary times workers have set up democratic workers’ councils to run society.

Workers would meet daily in their workplaces to debate their positions and elect their representatives to the workers’ councils for decision making. They would mandate what positions their representatives were to take on the particular issues of the day.

If they didn’t like what their representatives had done, they would replace them immediately.

Imagine that in New South Wales.

No more Rees, Della Bosca, O’Farrell and the like. In would come ordinary working people whose sole certainty of tenure was that they were in the  council that day.

Every major working class revolution from the Paris Commune on has established workers councils – organs of rule that extend the limited democracy we enjoy under capitalism into a richer and fuller democracy, into all facets of social life, including production. Marx described this fuller democracy in his book the Civil War in France:

The Commune was formed of the municipal councillors, chosen by universal suffrage in the various wards of the town, responsible and revocable at any time. The majority of its members were naturally working men, or acknowledged representatives of the working class…. The police, which until then had been the instrument of the Government, was at once stripped of its political attributes, and turned into the responsible, and at all times revocable, agent of the Commune. So were the officials of all other branches of the administration. From the members of the Commune downwards, the public service had to be done at workmen’s wages. The privileges and the representation allowances of the high dignitaries of state disappeared along with the high dignitaries themselves…. Having once got rid of the standing army and the police, the instruments of physical force of the old government, the Commune proceeded at once to break the instrument of spiritual suppression, the power of the priests…. The judicial functionaries lost that sham independence… they were thenceforward to be elective, responsible, and revocable.

 The ability to recall representatives instantly is one of the key elements of workers’ democracy.

Compare that to the piddly vote we get every 3 or 4 years for one lot of capitalist cronies who then lord it over us, virtually unaccountable.

What a paradox.  The Rees government of today shows us the past; the Paris Commune of yesterday shows us the future.

Four year fixed terms are not about democracy – they are about entrenching the dictatorship of capital in the interests of capital.

They give a Government virtual unlimited power (or so the bourgeoisie hope) to impose their policies and outcomes on ordinary working families.

The certainty they provide is the certainty of absolute rule in the interests of capital.

These fixed parliamentary terms deny citizens their right to participate fully in all aspects of socialised life. 

The sacking of Morris Iemma shows that with the Labor Party, at least occasionally, that capitalist ‘certainty’ can be challenged and defeated, although only withing the overarching rule of one party and in a bureaucratic, backdoor way rather than directly through automatic recall of representatives.

To sweep away Rees and the like before 2011 and make sure this institutionalised dictatorship of vicious anti-worker bourgeois mediocrity doesn’t happen again (as it undoubtedly will under the Liberals and O’Farrell) we workers need to sweep away the whole rotten edifice of bourgeois democracy and set up truly democratic institutions of rule.



Comment from Jane Birch
Time September 6, 2009 at 11:21 am

I agree!! Let us all join the revolution and help Barack Obama destroy the United States of America!!

Comment from Arjay
Time September 6, 2009 at 3:53 pm

The deceased Michael McGurk may well bring on an early election if his tapes do exist.The only way to bring this about is that the Govt has done something illegal.

Nathan Rees repeated his usual line.”I know nothing….” Perhaps Nathan should now be named Sgt Shultz and go hunting for mysterious black cats.Apparently there are panthers at Penrith that can play football.

Comment from John
Time September 6, 2009 at 7:14 pm

Jane, after 8 years of Bush neoconservatism, built on Clinton neoliberalism, I think the more rational members of the American bourgeoisie see Obama as a saviour, not a destroyer. Frankly I find the whole republican right politically mad, and if Palin and Limburgh are the best they can come up with no sensible member of the ruling class is going to go near them. Maybe it is a case of whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad.

Comment from paul
Time September 7, 2009 at 3:41 pm

My problem is not with the fixed terms for government.

We just need vote each year on third saturday in June to make government accountable – and far more attentive to the wishes of the electorate.

At same time we should be electing our Governor to head the executive arm of government, required to select Ministers from those elected to either house of the Parliament, to keep them all a lot more accountable to the voters. Not otherwise restricting selection likely would promote quality in preference to party membership.


Comment from John Davidson
Time September 7, 2009 at 6:17 pm

Somehow the conservatives have convinced itself that Rees would call an election NOW if it wasn’t for fixed terms. If they really are as illogical as that it proves they are not fit to govern.
Flexible terms make it easier for governments to stay in power, allow governments to seek support when their agenda is being blocked by upper houses and balance of power parties and avoid the prolonged US style campaigns. But they don’t speed the departure of incompetent governments.

Comment from John
Time September 7, 2009 at 7:55 pm

Paul, the great British labour movement, the Chartists, argued for yearly parliaments for the reasons you put.

John, I wasn’t arguing for flexible terms; I was arguing for automatic recall. That is something very different.

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