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John Passant

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July 2011
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Sprouting sh*t for almost nothing
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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)



Saturday’s socialist speak out

With primary support flat-lining at around 30 percent, Gillard Labor looks terminal. Is Gillard the disease, or Labor?

My view is that Labor’s version of social democracy is dying. The Greens are gaining some support among the social radicals and egalitarians, but won’t be able to break out of their electoral ghetto because the party is not a working class party in any sense, for example in relationships or policies or overall approach.  

Not only that, the Greens’ neoliberalism will also repulse the egalitarians currently rejecting Labor. Nick McKim, Greens leader and Education Minister in Tasmania is, like a true conservative, closing down schools. This is a possible future for the Greens nationally.  

The Greens now hold the balance of power in the Senate. Not much will change. Labor will pursue the Malaysian solution. The Greens will huff and puff. The Australian Building and Construction Commission will continue its attack on building unions. The Greens will huff and puff.  The Northern Territory invasion will continue and expand. The Greens will huff and puff. Australian troops will stay in Afghanistan. The Greens will huff and puff. Women workers will continue to be paid less than men for similar work. The Greens will huff and puff.  Education and health will continue to be underfunded. The Greens will huff and puff. The carbon tax will be introduced. The Greens will huff and puff that it isn’t a big enough attack on workers.

Unlike Bob Brown I don’t think the Greens will replace Labor. Both will wallow in neoliberal reformism and fight over a declining electoral base for an essentially common but failed vision.

Bernard Tomic is going to live in Monaco. It is a tax haven. The money he earns from playing tennis around the world won’t be taxed in Australia (except for any earnings from Australia). And his investment income, if appropriately structured, won’t be taxed.  It’s a business, as he says. And business cares nothing about its home base as long as it makes profits. It cares only about the bottom line at the expense of the rest of us. We are of course the people who funded Tomic’s development as a young tennis player through the Australian Institute of Sport.

But Tomic is small beer compared to big business in Australia. Between 2005 and 2008, according to the ATO, 40 percent of big business paid no income tax. That figure is likely to be higher after the global financial crisis.



Comment from Ross
Time July 2, 2011 at 10:32 am

What alarmed me about Bob Brown was his statements the other day supporting the UN’s concept of Global Governace.This is not about democracy or our sovereignty.

Gillard has already agreed to 10% of our Carbon taxes going to the UN. Did we vote for this?

They are going to increase Greece’s GST to 23% to pay for debt created by private banks.The IMF admits to creating money from nothing which is really stealing via devaluing our currency and has the audacity to charge interest on it! Are we stupid or just plain subserviant.

Comment from Ben Courtice
Time July 2, 2011 at 12:29 pm

“The Greens will huff and puff that it isn’t a big enough attack on workers.” I think you misread the Greens. It’s true they could go in many directions, but the conservatism of McKim and Brown isn’t likely to get an outright victory in the party. I predict they will be around for some time as a sometimes friend of the left and working class, sometimes compromised. I think what you miss is that, on the scale of capitalism as a whole, the environmental crisis stems from a separate contradiction of a similar magnitude to the primary contradiction between private ownership and social production. It drives a movement that is not constituted along class lines and hence has very different features (and isn’t as strong as the working class potentially is) but nevertheless finds it hard to completely reconcile with capitalism. We all know that individuals do and possibly the Greens will as a group, but I suspect that their conservative wing will find it hard to shed the radical green wing.

As to Gillard. It’s miles off from an election, so who knows what will happen there. But clearly the Gina Rineharts of the world would rather Abbott. Given that the big miners basically own this country, I wouldn’t discount the possibillity they will cause another overturning of the Labor leadership or its course. But I think they’d be fools – they are sticking their necks out so far that quite a few working class people are starting to see who actually runs the country. I think other less vain and overconfident sectors of Australia’s capitalists might like to rein in these mad dog miners in the public debate. Which would give Gillard more space in the long term.

Just my saturday soapbox off-the-cuff thoughts! cheers

Comment from Terrance
Time July 2, 2011 at 1:44 pm

As you know John, I have a soft spot for the Greens, at least over Labor and Coalition.

That said, your concers raised here are valid and perceptive, however having followed the schools closure debate in your ACT, it is not a ‘socialist’ tenet to keep schools with almost no students open.

If a university course attracts say 7 students, I suspect UC would look to integrate it, or postpone it until further enrollments, or yes, cancel it. There are subjects – Latin for e.g. – where I reckon there is no longer an argument to teach it.

Keeping small schools with limited resouces, teachers and students open is not socialism nor capitalism – it is good policy to ensure all students have access to a quality education, and if the demographics of a region, suburb or community change, then governments should respond to that change.

On a positive note, I see your ALP-Greens Agreement in Canberra has led to the best health, mental health and disability funding models in the country, so that surely is a good sign.

Maybe they could do something to help the Canberra Raiders?

Comment from Magpie
Time July 2, 2011 at 3:49 pm

So, what’s wrong with “our” ABC’s The Drum Unleashed?

Since the beginning of the year, Chris Berg, from the Institute of Public Affairs, has published 23 pieces at The Drum Unleashed: except for the 3 first weeks of the year, he has published one piece every calendar week.

Now, even though I find Mr. Berg’s opinions objectionable, I must recognize he has the right to express them. And I admit he expresses himself with a modicum of decorum and respect. If he expresses his views within the limits of civility, I, as a taxpayer and a citizen, have no objection to his articles being published (contingent upon Mr. Berg being published free of charge for the ABC).

But since the beginning of the year, Ted Lapkin, also from the Institute of Public Affairs, has published 15 pieces at The Drum Unleashed.

Unlike Mr. Berg’s case, in Mr. Lapkin’s pieces the line separating rudeness and outright slander is completely blurred.

Here are some samples from Mr. Lapkin’s crop:

From “The pot calling the kettle Green” (30-03-2011):

Speaking of the Greens’ Sarah Hanson-Young: “After all, the Greens show no hesitation about collaborating with radical Leftist groups that explicitly call for armed insurrection to destroy Australian democracy.”

Insurrection and sedition are crimes and Mr. Lapkin is accusing one person in particular of committing them.

See also Mr. Lapkin’s anti-Chomsky defamation piece “Ethical perversion, not peace, is Chomsky’s raison d’etre” (09-06-2011).

I admit my ignorance on how this works; thus, my question is: are contributors to The Drum Unleashed being paid with taxpayers’ money to write propaganda material, which on top is openly insulting and defamatory?

When I wrote to The Drum editor asking those questions, the answer was a deafening silence.

And I must assume The Drum editor has not taken any measure on that issue, as Mr. Lapkin keeps publishing the same kind of material. My question is why?

Why has Mr. Lapkin changed his original profile? In the original profile it was stated that he was an IDF Intelligence captain (presumably, he is just a former one).

Is there anything we can do so that “our” ABC keeps an eye on this kind of abusive behaviour?

Comment from John
Time July 2, 2011 at 7:27 pm

Terrance and Ben, this is part of an article in Eureka Street on the Tasmanian Greens’ neoliberalism and breach of their own policies.

In February McKim stood down 56 guards at Risdon Prison without pay. The workers were preparing for industrial action over safety concerns they had been trying to negotiate with the government over a period of months. McKim locked out the workers and brought in police to deal with the situation.

Unions Tasmania secretary Kevin Harkins stated that McKim had acted against the Greens industrial relations policy while the CPSU likened McKim and his actions to those of John Howard in the 1998 waterfront dispute.

Last week the Greens-Labor Government handed down its budget which seeks to slash $1.4 billion from the public sector over the next four years, including a $100 million cut to health within the next financial year.

1700 full-time jobs will be scrapped, including 100 police jobs. The 5 per cent cap on water prices will rise to 10% and public sector worker will have pay rises capped at 2% per year, well below rising inflation and cost of living increases.

This is in conflict with the the Greens election promise not to accept redundancies of public sector workers.

Since the budget release McKim has also been spruiking the sale of the Hayes Prison Farm, a low-security facility in the Derwent Valley.

Recently McKim also took up the Education portfolio. He has promoted the governments plan to close over 20 public schools. He argues that smaller schools struggle to teach a broad curriculum and that money would be better spent upgrading larger schools.

Comment from Ben Courtice
Time July 3, 2011 at 10:34 am

That’s a good article. Thanks for the link.