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John Passant

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April 2010



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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)

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Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
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Refugees: Labor leads the race to the bottom

The bidding war for the racist vote has begun. The loser will be asylum seekers; those fleeing the persecution, poverty and war that the economic, political and military forces of Western capitalism impose on them.

Labor has frozen the processing of refugee applications from Afghans and Sri Lankans. In the case of Sri Lankans the ban is for three months; for Afghanis it is 6 months.

This means any new arrivals from these countries will be imprisoned without trial in the concentration camps on Christmas Island or the mainland.

They have committed no crime; they are among the most powerless in our global community. And yet we imprison them. At least Stern Hu had a trial. 

It will only get worse as both major parties outbid each other to be tough on asylum seekers. What matter the lives of a few thousand people when there is an election to be won?

The Labor Government has a trigger for a double dissolution. As I understand it, for constitutional reasons such an election must be held before mid August. However if it held before July then the Senators elected start their terms from the previous July.

So Labor may be eyeing off a July double dissolution.  The 3 month freeze on processing Sri Lankan asylum seekers expires on 8 July. Labor could roll over the ban for another 3 or even 6 months, and have a nice little package of even more brutal attacks on asylum seekers slap bang in the middle of a xenophobic election.

Even an October/November election (3 years after the last one) allows them the opportunity to use the expiry of the Afghan 6 month freeze to do the same thing. Welcome to reformist racism.

I wrote in ‘A simple man’s guide to the major parties’ population policies’ that the Liberals’ real aim in the immigration debate would be to shift the focus to boat people. I was wrong. The Labor Government has done that, judging, perhaps correctly, that further criminalising refugees will neutralise the Opposition on the boat people issue and win, or at least retain votes.

The Liberals will respond to this current outflanking with even more draconian policies. For example well known compassionate Christian and Liberal leader tony Abbott has already talked about towing refugee boats back. 

Then Labor will respond, and then the Liberals, and then Labor… They’ll be blowing their population policy boats out of the water soon.

The race to the bottom of the ocean has begun.

The justification Labor offers for freezing applications is laughable. The situation in Afghanistan and Sri Lanka is improving!  So let’s lock up those fleeing from these paradises on earth. 

Such is the despair among women in Afghanistan that it has the highest female suicide rate of any country in the world.

Now logic doesn’t enter into the calculations of the Rudd racists, or their conservative cousins, on asylum seekers.  But let’s try and introduce some evidence (a favourite buzz word of our beloved Prime Minister). 

You could read the Foreign Affairs website for these two countries. It strongly advises against travel to either.

On Afghanistan you might even accept the word of Air Vice Marshall Angus Houston, the chief of Australia’s defence forces. He told a Parliamentary Committee recently about the increasing danger to Australian troops in Afghanistan.

In Sri Lanka the end of the civil war has seen the Sinhalese Government launch a pogrom against Tamils under the guise of weeding out Tamil Tigers. There are still over 70,000 Tamils in concentration camps.

The Labor apologists for racism have the hide to argue that the democratisation of these countries has made it safer to return.

In Sri Lanka the main Opposition leader is in jail. In Afghanistan Harmid Karzai won rigged Presidential elections. The Opposition candidate withdrew from the run off in the face of the rigging.

The Government has used the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to justify its decision. Every 6 to 12 months the UNHCR issues reports on the situation in countries like Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. It has not yet released its reports on these countries. The investigations are still underway.

The Australian Government has used reports which do not exist to justify its actions. That’s a good example of evidence based policy. Of course it has nothing to do with evidence and everything to do with prejudice and pandering to the worst elements in Australian society.

The white thread of racism runs through us all. We are a nation founded doubly on racism – first through the 222 years of genocide against aboriginal people and secondly through the exclusivist policies of White Australia.

This colonial settler state mentality shapes our vision as a nation of the world and voices tat challenge it are drowned in the sea of xenophobia.

On top of this the war of attrition capital has successfully waged against labour over the last thirty years under successive Labor and Liberal regimes has seen the working day lengthen to the longest in the OECD and the returns going to workers the lowest in the history of keeping such records.

Even Australia’s left of centre party, the Greens, is not immune. They will cut skilled immigration.

This plays into the hands of the racists under the guise of environmental protection. The Greens by their actions have contributed to the current degeneration of the population debate into racism.

They could still save the situation and mobilise their thousands of members and hundreds of thousands of supporters on to the streets in support of refugees. And for real policies to address climate change. And to bring the troops home. 

They won’t. They are parliamentary cretins to whom mass action is a threat. They have been busy mainstreaming their politics to attract more and more votes on cross class basis, appealing especially to the upper class conscience.

What can we on the left do?  A small example helps explain. On Friday the fascists called an anti-immigration demonstration in Melbourne.

The left called a counter demonstration. Hundreds of us turned out and stopped the filth from marching.

Imaging then if the revolutionary left were bigger, with thousands of members across Australia committed to the idea of socialism from below. We could call the demonstrations the Greens won’t.

We would condemn Rudd Labor and get an audience.  We could shift the debate to the left instead of, as the Greens have done in their call to cut skilled immigration, pandering to the xenophobes.

We would agitate in our unions and workplaces for asylum seekers and for immigrants. We would rebut the reactionary Malthusianism of the Greens. 

And we could win an audience for our ‘put people first’ ideas; we could influence the thinking of hundreds of thousands.

No such organisation exists in Australia today. As the reactionary debate on asylum seekers shows, there is an urgent need for a revolutionary voice on the left that fights for the self emancipation of the working class and the liberation of humanity from the anarchy of capitalism.

The path to that vision is in the here and now. Open our borders. Let labour flow around the world as capital does.

Organise. Mobilise.



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