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John Passant

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January 2011



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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)



Make the rich pay for the cost of the Queensland floods

Warwick McKibbin is a respected bourgeois economist and member of the Reserve Bank of Australia. He reckons the costs of the Queensland floods could be up to one percent of Gross Domestic Product. That’s $13 billion.

Who is going to pay for this? The rich and powerful or you and me?  Silly question isn’t it? In a society divided by class and ruled by the rich and powerful it will be you and me. 

Here’s what neoliberal deficit fetishist and Labor Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, said: ‘We will bring the budget to surplus in 2012-13, and yes that will entail some tough choices.’

Tough choices?  With a hit of an extra $13 billion to the budget bottom line tough choices measn making workers pay. That means taking the razor to social and public services like public health, education and transport. Maybe the maternity leave scheme is in their sights. And will they now openly welch on equal pay for equal work.

We can’t afford it will be their cry to every vaguely progressive proposal already in place and future ones.

More public housing in safer areas? Can’t afford it. It’s the floods in Queensland you know.

More money for the Bureau of Meteorology to improve their predictive capacities? Can’t afford it. It’s the floods in Queensland you know.

More money for State Emergency Services? Can’t afford it. It’s the floods in Queensland you know.

Money for protection in flood prone areas? Can’t afford it. It’s the floods in Queensland you know.

Public service jobs and pay increases? Can’t afford it. It’s the floods in Queensland you know.

Improving public education funding? Can’t afford it? It’s the floods in Queensland you know.

Addressing climate change? Can’t afford it. It’s the floods in Queensland you know.

Better public transport? Can’t afford it. It’s the floods in Queensland you know.

Better pay and conditions for nurses? Can’t afford it. It’s the floods in Queensland you know.

Equal pay for equal work in  the community sector? Can’t afford it. It’s the floods in Queensland you know.

A generous maternity leave scheme? Can’t afford it. It’s the floods in Queensland you know.

And on and on they will go. Can’t afford it, can’t afford it, can’t afford it…

I have a few suggestions. 

Bringing the troops home from Afghanistan and cutting the defence budget by only 50 percent would save $13 billion easily. Put people before guns.

Taxing the super-profits of all the miners would bring in that amount with another ten billion left over to fund social spending. Taxing the super profits of all big business would produce even more. Tax the rich.

No doubt readers can suggest a range of options for making the rich pay for the crisis in Queensland.

Make the rich, not us, pay for the cost of the floods.

Readers might also like to look at The Queensland floods, community and profit and Capitalism and the floods in Australia.

I think Socialist Alternative gets it right in its article ‘Government should rethink priorities to deal with flood region’ when it says:

All those who have lost their homes need a guarantee that they will have another rebuilt at no cost. All those who have lost their jobs should continue to receive their full pay, or where that is not possible, should be guaranteed a job through the government. All those who were unemployed and wanting work should be given a full-time well-paid job assisting the clean up. That’s just for starters.

The government won’t go close to it. It continues to commit itself to putting the budget into surplus. It should stay in deficit. If there are financial trade-offs, “sacrifices” to be made, let them be borne by those who can afford it:

The Afghanistan war cost $1.2 billion last financial year – scrap it.

Gross operating profits of business totalled $248 billion over the last year – tax it.

The coal industry receives subsidies equivalent to around $1 billion per year – stop them.

Private schools will receive $28 billion in government funding between 2009 and 2012 alone – end it.

Put those savings and extra revenues into development projects that are desperately needed. 

The Maritime Union of Australia – many of whose members have been affected by the floods – has set up a flood appeal fund: 
BSB Number: 062-006
Account number: 1001 0464
CBA Swiftcode: CTBAAU2S
Bank Address: George Street, Haymarket, NSW, 2000
Reference for lodgement:  Flood Appeal




Comment from Walter
Time January 12, 2011 at 8:34 am

Totally agree John – it should be mandatory. Remember the Ansett levy imposed after it went under? Why not a flood levy on people earning over say $150,000?

Comment from marianK
Time January 12, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Agreed. Also, no prizes for guessing which social class is bearing the brunt of the Qld flooding in the first place. Certainly, some expensive Brisbane yachts and moorings have broken loose and gone down river and some multi-million dollar riverfront homes have been hit. However, most of the residents by far of the flood-prone areas of Ipswich and Brisbane, as well as the other regional centres hit, are mostly low to middle income earners.

Comment from Ross
Time January 12, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Why not the banks who under the fractional reserve banking system can create from nothing ,1000% profit on deposits and create nothing of tangible worth.

Was it the Commonwealth that made $6.1 billion profit in one year and all the big 4 banks made 4 times the cost of the floods?

They should at the very least match $1 for $ 1 on donations but no,will be ready to fore close on anyone who looks like being a risk.

The greedy tug at the heart strings of the very people they shaft, to give money, yet donate almost nothing themselves.

Rahm Emmanuel ( former chief of staff to Obama)said,”You should never let a good crisis go to waste.” He was referring to the attacks of 911.”You can do things that ordinarily were never thought possible.” Watch the elites try to use this crisis to their advantage.

Comment from Calligula
Time January 12, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Hello Walter –
Have been reading “The World That Never Was – A True Story of Dreamers Schemers Anarchists & Secret Agents” – Alex Butterworth.
Amazing stuff compiled there and so much reminding me of the interconnectiveness of our complex lives – especially those crazy Russians & French.
Alex B has an angle on the ‘Great Game’ leading up to the First Innings (WW1) that well relates to modern times.

By comparison Aussies appear to be a mob of soulless dullards who have let social reform go on the trash heap through the tacit acceptance of sheer applied ennui as official policy.
John suggests some sort of excuse machine will be utilised toward generating excuses why this, that and the other cannot be implemented.
And he’d be right.
I’ll risk burring up a few people by mentioning that those crazy European Commies met in conference back in the 1880s and concluded that the civilized world would get along fine if every person able to work did an honest three hour day.
Now that coincides amazingly with the medieval scenario nowadays accepted by historians/archaeologists – see – “The Medieval Machine”.

But of course I’m talking about two different ages – an earlier, when the ruling classes were not completely driven by abstract concepts of ‘growth’ but also had a generally more intimate, mutually necessary association with the populace – and a latter where anyone but a complete fool could recognize that a workman’s life meant complete misery and an early death.

Calligula’s point is that noises are already coming from our ‘masters’ that fairly indicate that the peasantry, whether they like it or not, are indeed going to begin ‘tightening their belts’ and ‘making sacrifices’ in order to see US through the crisis. Bit of an attitudinal dichotomy, what?
In other words while the peasantry’s been the ‘masters’ have done diddly squat for decades about improving infrastructure to even a flood/fire/famine resistant status – let alone a disaster proof status.

In other words alles ist in ordnung in the minds of the elite.

But should the wealthy actually pay for all this broken stuff all those peasants use?
Stap me!
What a funny question.
Part of what they call the social contract isn’t it?

What if the peasants went bolshie and refused to fix all that stuff that they’ll be expected to pay for?
What if instead they demanded the capitalist bludgers sign a ‘fair deal’ contract – that the repair work and long overdue infrastructure improvement be paid for in advance of a stick of work on their part. Oh, and accommodation repair/ replacement/ relocation thrown in for good measure.

Wouldn’t that be fair?
But bugger it, brand me a religious fundamentalist. All this is God’s/Gaia’s punishment for us being too bloody complacent when stupid greedy amoral politicians started corporatising our collective assets.
One day scientists will dream up a theory and more secular way to quantify it (Hubris Index?) but until then I can find no other way to state my profound belief.

Comment from Walter
Time January 13, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Calligula, I have read this twice and have no idea what you mean.

The floods have wiped out more than peasants or working class – it has destroyed the homes and lives of middle and upper class people, it has destroyed the wealthy and the unemployment. It even damaged the sacred home of the mighty Maroons!

What if they didn’t rebuild? Then many many people would suffer, starve, die even. They will be homeless, destitute. There is no class here, no ideology. It is a disaster – and so you rebuild and you use the wealth of the nation to do it!

Here’s a history lesson – look at the rebuilding of Lisbon after it was destroyed in 1755. The King banned the elites from rebuilding mansions and estates and mandated a common housing design. He also hung anyone who disagreed with this socialist reconstruction doctrine! We should be so lucky….

Some of the poorest and some of the wealthiest homes were along the riverbanks and have been washed away.

As for improving infrastructure, not sure if you were familair with BrisVegas in 1974? You may have noticed it’s changed a bit. The odd new building, transport, housing development and (dare I say it on John’s site) wealth creation. I know, smite me down, but people’s economic and social standing has generally improved.

So I agree with John, impose a tax on the wealthy and use it to fund the reconstruction of this great city and its surrounds.

Pingback from En Passant » The Queensland floods, community and profit
Time January 13, 2011 at 8:24 pm

[…] might also like to look at Make the rich pay for the cost of the Queensland floods and Capitalism and the floods in […]

Pingback from En Passant » Capitalism and the floods in Australia
Time January 14, 2011 at 12:41 pm

[…] Readers might also like to look at The Queensland floods, community and profit and Make the rich pay for the cost of the floods in Queensland. […]

Comment from Calligula
Time January 14, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Walter –
Good to read that you agree the rich should be taxed to pay for a rebuild.
If they are they’ll bitch that they have no dough left to finance economic growth.
Solve greed and you’ve solved that problem.
Solve that and overconsumption and you’ll be the new messiah.

I didn’t talk about Brizvegas ‘cos in my opinion that place is lost – unsustainable – not quite Sodom or Gommorah but close enough in a materialistic sense.
But since the place has been mentioned –

Like when stupid riverside floating promenades break loose and threaten the integrity of bridges and where the rich (and nouveau riche they’d have to be) setting up house with (under) water views.

But I’ve just wet myself laughing Walter. You say that the Mighty Maroons were Marooned.
Walt; what’s a wet Maroon?
Does the colour run?
P’rhaps Bob Newhart would know.

As for Lisbon and the thought processes of Catholic Kings – I believe Hubris, as much as anything else might influence reconstruction decisions after a massive earthquake and disappearance of more than a city.
A Portugal intent on maintaining political/economic independence from Spain had military matters to deal with as well.
In short your foray into history is a bit bent in that the Royal consideration was all about rebuilding prudently, safely and well.
We should do the same (perhaps with less heavy handedness).

As for Brisvegas – in my time there it was affectionately known as ‘Brisbore’ – a delightfully corrupt place where jobs running the ‘Bag’ for the rozzers were offered peacemeal to any competent motorcyclist.

I agree, it has changed; she’s now frighteningly corrupt, overpopulated, overcomplicated, increasing socially divided and amazingly tacky.

Beattie created a showcase for his ego and the weather proved its inadequacy.

Pingback from En Passant » Rebellion in Tunisia; floods in Queensland – Have your say in Saturday’s Socialist speak out
Time January 15, 2011 at 7:11 am

[…] like to have a look at Revolution in Tunisia and The Queensland floods, community and profit,  Make the rich pay for the cost of the Queensland floods and Capitalism and the floods in […]

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