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John Passant

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August 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)



Gay marriage: a binding vote, not a conscience vote

According to the latest Roy Morgan survey, 68 percent of Australians support gay marriage. 

Yet capitalist politicians in Australia prevaricate. Any conscience vote in the Parliament is likely to see, oh about 68 percent, vote against equal love.

This is for two reasons. First heterosexual marriage is at the centre of capitalism and the reproduction of the next generation cost free to captial.

The second reason relates to Labor’s neoliberalism and the concomitant of that – its swing to the hard right on social issues. Labor has been the party of the free market and trickle down theories since the rise of Hawke and Keating in the early 1980s.

Their policies were instrumental in the rehabilitation and then accession to power of John Howard. The competition between the two parties of the market has been fought out over minor differences in economic policy – workchoices versus workchoices Lite for example – and the downward spiral of demonisation and scapegoating to divert working class anger away from the increasing inequality that is the product of the shift of wealth from labour to capital which is at the heart of both parties’ policies.

The most obvious targets of the demonisation have been refugees, aborigines and Muslims. While the vitriol directed at refugees is openly racist, the battles of the past for land rights and against racism mean that governments have to be more surreptitious about their scapegoating of aborigines and Muslims. The Northern Territory intervention and war on terror are the cover for those attacks.

Similarly the magnificent struggles for gay rights in the 60s and 70s and the victories they won have shaped the debate today over equal love. Most conservatives can no longer openly scapegoat homosexuality.

A key issue at the moment surrounds gay marriage. Those of us on the side of human freedom and liberation support the campaign for equal love.  Despite some risible comments from the Labor ‘left’ that they have put  this on the agenda, and less risible but still incorrect claims from the Greens that their actions have done so, in fact equal love is on the political agenda today because of the magnificent actions of activists around Australia, building the demonstrations and making the arguments. 

As the Morgan survey shows, as a consequence of this activism Australians overwhelmingly support gay marriage.

ALP policy currently opposes it. At its December National Conference there will be moves to overturn this and support gay marriage.

However the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and her right wing ally and union leader Joe de Bruyn, oppose such a move vehemently. Gillard does so for crass political reasons, de Bruyn because he is a Catholic bigot and conservative.

My guess is Labor will decide on a conscience vote. This is a cop out by the Left too afraid to challenge the Right. The conservative Opposition will oppose any gay marriage Bill and so the Bill will be defeated as one third of the Labor Right will join with the Opposition to vote against it.

Our focus should remain the struggle on the streets and in the workplaces, not the parliamentary games. Disgracefully the Greens have called for a conscience vote on the issue. In a recent article Senator Hansen-Young argued:

We advocate that Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott should let MPs and Senators have a free vote and the freedom to vote for what their community wants. Consenting adults should be able to marry whomever they love, and the major parties should not block a conscience vote in parliament.

As I argued above, this is in practice a recipe for defeat and will give the conservatives of both parties a powerful stick with which to beat the campaign back. ‘You had your vote in Parliament. You lost. Get over it. There will be no marriage equality in Australia.’ That is the sort of line the bigots and fake left politicians like Gillard will use when the conscience vote delivers a defeat.

A Labor conscience vote on gay marriage is not the answer. It is a capitulation to the Right, to bigotry and inequality and a defeat for the movement. Bind all Labor politicians to support equal love. Most importantly keep the pressure on and the struggle alive – on the streets and in the workplace. 


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