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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)



Malaysia, outsourcing refugee torture and the failure of the Greens

The outsourcing of refugee imprisonment to Malaysia and the inevitable and further and more systemic mistreatment of these asylum seekers there is a ‘solution’ to a problem that does not exist.

Processing refugees in Australia, in accordance with our international and national obligations and responsibilities, could be done easily and quickly on Australian soil. The overwhelming majority of asylum seekers – more than 90 percent on the long term figures – are in fact found to be refugees. 

We could set up processing centres near the hot spots, for example on the borders of Iraq and Afghanistan and close to Sri Lanka.  Or we could take many more refugees from the UN.

Paul Keating – Labor saint in some misguided eyes – introduced mandatory detention as a deterrent and as part of the attempt to wedge a then resurgent Opposition conservative coalition.

Today’s Malaysian solution is part of that long Labor tradition. The policy has as its goal ‘stopping the boats’ , the same goal as the Conservatives.

This is self-evidently good policy. 5000 asylum seekers somehow threaten our very existence as a nation.

It is all nonsense of course but the success of the ruling class in tying working class consciousness to the fake concept of a unified bourgeois nation, and the long history of racism in Australia as a tool of that ‘unity’, combines in a perfect storm of xenophobic self-flagellation among the backward sections of the working class.

This is a policy to win back the lost working class to Labor.  Abandoning neoliberalism rather than playing in the gutter of racism and xenophobia might be a better and in the long term effective way of doing that.

The Malaysian solution mirrors perfectly Howard’s ‘Pacific solution’ but substitutes another horrid recipient of our outsourcing of torture – Malaysia.  

Malaysia is a country which systemically and systematically abuses and debases refugees. It denies them basic rights. It canes them. To imagine the Malaysian dictatorship is going to go soft on 800 asylum seekers because a piece of paper with Australia says so is to live in a fool’s paradise.

Gillard and Bowen know this. They know Malaysia will mistreat all refugees, including those sent from Australia to Malaysia as part of this deal with the devil. That is the aim. ‘Don’t come to Australia because we will send you to Malaysia which will torture you’ is the message.

Malaysia is the country which recently arrested a socialist MP and 28 others recently for the ostensible crime of having Che Guevara T-shirts. Their real crime was to campaign for democratic reforms. This is the country that arrested hundreds for attending a rally for demcoracy. That is how the Malaysian dictatorship treats its own people.

It will mistreat our refugees.  That is the point. Gillard has outsourced the torture to Malaysia because our brand of torture – mandatory detention in concentration camps – has failed to ‘stop the boats’ and this has alienated some sections of the working class. 

This ‘failure’ to ‘stop the boats’  is because people are driven to flee war (Iraq, Afghanistan) and genocide (Sri Lanka).  Those factors, to which we contribute with our troops in both countries and our support for the mass murderers in Colombo, are not going to go away. Neither will the refugees.

The Greens have rightly condemned the fake ‘solution’. Sending vulnerable people to more misery is not a solution. Yet despite the fantasy of the Murdoch press that Bob Brown drives Labor policy – we might get some better policies on some issues if that were the case – the Greens have not prevented Labor from implementing this despicable trade in human misery.

The live export of human beings to Malaysia is a key issue for many. The Greens have huffed and puffed against it. They even got Parliament to pass a motion condemning the Malaysian solution. That has worked a treat hasn’t it? Parliamentary cretinism of the highest order.

The Greens introduced a Bill to amend Section 198A of the Migration Act, to give Parliament the power to approve any deal to expel asylum seekers to a third country. That power currently resides with the Government. It arose from John Howard’s Tampa amendments, law the ALP is now using.

This again is parliamentary cretinism. It hasn’t stopped the Gillard Government signing the agreement with Malaysia.

Call me a cynic, which, when it comes to politics I am, but the Greens are in practice soft on Labor and its Malaysian solution because Gillard is implementing a neoliberal carbon tax. What a  trade off- refugees for a carbon tax.

The Greens do have one power. They could threaten to or actually bring the Government down. The vote of Adam Bandt in the lower house is crucial to Gillard remaining in power.

Alternatively they could vote against all Government legislation in the Senate until the Government rescinds the Malaysian deal. Given that 90 percent of the time the Opposition votes with the Government, this would put the Greens in a small minority. But on those areas in which the two factions of neoliberalism, the Labor Party and the Opposition, disagree, the Greens could make Government unworkable.

More importantly the Greens could mobilise their membership and call demonstrations in support of refugees across Australia and in particular in support of those to be sent to Malaysia. The time for parliamentary pussyfooting is over, Greens. Challenge this Government head on and stop the Malaysian solution with real action inside and outside Parliament.