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John Passant

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February 2012



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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)



Gina Rinehart and a newspaper as plaything

I’ve always wanted to own a newspaper. Unfortunately, I didn’t pick my parents very well.

Gina Rinehart did. Her Dad was right wing nutter Lang Hancock. He stumbled across the largest iron ore deposits in the world at the time in the early 1950s. He made a motza.

Today Rinehart is the richest person in Australia. Her wealth was estimated last year at $9 billion. That has doubled this year to US $18 billion because of a deal to sell some of her iron ore company Roy Hill to the South Koreans.

Forbes magazine has speculated that expanding her  Hancock Prospecting iron ore operations and developing coal projects could soon make her the richest woman in the world – worth about $25 billion.

Her entry price into Fairfax is about $200 million. That is chickenfeed to someone of her wealth.

What it does give her is a place at Fairfax’s table and the ability to influence the paper’s direction and editorial line. Who knows, she could perhaps even get more sympathetic reporting of the family battle and current suppression orders?

She is moving to buy a sizeable stake – just below 15% – in the Fairfax media. They own the Australian Financial Review, the Age and the Sydney Morning Herald.

Most of the debate will centre on ‘diversity’. In Australia for example Murdoch owns 70% of the newsprint media.

But the process of monopolisation going on in the media in Australia and globally is common to most major industries. The banks in Australia, the supermarkets too, are industries dominated by  a few very big players – oligopolies in other words who can manipulate the market and its returns.

That’s where the liberal section of society gets worried. After all, if the Fairfax media turn then it will be wall to wall conservative newspapers.  

Sounds dreadful doesn’t it? The Sydney Morning Herald as Tony Abbott’s friend.  But they already are. 

Certainly Rinehart’s mining interests make her opposed to Labor’s very mild Minerals Resource Rent Tax and the Carbon Tax.

Addressing climate change threatens Rinehart’s interests, so she is a denier. Expect more non-science of the type of ignorance displayed in The Australian to find its way into the Age and the SMH.

Most of the Fairfax stable have been supporters more or less of Labor and of these taxes, although the Financial Review, as the paper of the intelligent section of the bourgeoisie, has been less supportive.

This argument about diversity mistakes the pulpwood for the newsprint. 

Diversity is a relative concept. The monopolisation of capital and declines in profit rates since the 1970s have been accompanied by a similitude of parties in Australia, and on the part of Labor, its abandonment of social democracy and enthusiastic embrace of neoliberalism.

Media diversity now involves picking over the carcasses of the two parties to debate differences in their rotting entrails in detail.

Most ‘progressive’ journalists, or at least those who are not mere amanuenses like Michelle Grattan,  seem to want a return to Whitlamism, or some variant of keynesian neoliberalism in contradistinction to the rabid neoliberalism of Gillard and Abbott, both of whom cloak the iron fist of the market in the velvet glove of platitudes about jobs and working together.

I read The Australian, the Financial Review and the Canberra Times every day.  I look forward to an anti-capitalist headline once in my life time from any one of them.

I look forward to an ant-capitalist writer in their ranks once in a blue moon. I do seem to remember Rick Kuhn getting a run once in The Australian and once or twice in the Canberra Times.

Here’s some statics. According to Tuesday’s Newspoll, the Greens are on about twelve percent of the vote federally. Even allowing for the fact that they are not the Government or alternative government at the moment, does their support in society find reflection in the reporting let alone analysis in the mainstream media?

No, because in the minds of the capitalists who run the media outlets the Greens are a challenge to the established order.

Of course they aren’t, but if you read The Australian you could conclude that the Greens were Lenin and Trotsky incarnate about to wreak an epoch of workers’ power on Australia. Sans the workers, evidently.

Where was the diversity in the reporting on the Aboriginal Tent Embassy protests? From the ABC to The Australian, this was a riot, full of violence and threats to Gillard and Abbott.

The ‘diversity’ disappeared and a uniformity of reporting and then condemnation took its place as one of the fundamental pillars of Australian capitalism – the  dispossession and genocide of the Aboriginal people – was challenged all too briefly by a couple of hundred people demonstrating outside the Lobby. 

Lack of diversity isn’t the problem. Ownership of the media by the rich is.

Is there a solution? One of the reasons the Murdochs of the world can get away with imposing their views on their editors and staff is because of the destruction of the print unions.

The best way to retain independence and some form of capitalist (ie narrow) media diversity would be to strengthen unions. The members and their unions have to do that. If they don’t, then eventually the Fairfax press will be full paeans of praise for the great work the mining companies do in providing jobs for all of Australia (ie 2 %) and what great environmentalists they are.

Let me repeat what George Orwell said and I quoted yesterday. In an era of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

Of course, what Orwell didn’t analyse was how we stop the era becoming one of universal deceit. We are already well on the way.

The alternative – truth and freedom of expression – lies in the resistance around the globe – in the Arab Spring, in the strikes and demonstrations against austerity, in the Occupy movement, in the Aboriginal Tent Embassy demonstration.

It lies in rebuilding our unions, rebuilding rank and file organisations that runs our unions, not careerists and hacks.  

For the media union it means standing up to Murdoch, and Rinehart and the Fairfax mafia, it means fighting the media moguls, fighting for large wage increases and the defence of jobs and the right to examine critically the actions of government and the bosses.

That is the way to ensure freedom of expression. If, as Orwell also wrote, there is any hope, it lies with the proles.



Comment from Ross
Time February 2, 2012 at 9:47 pm

Good article John. The way forward is the internet.I refuse to buy mainstream “Here are the Headlies Tonight”. Time for a good laugh.

Comment from ewen
Time February 3, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Try reading the Green Left Weekly. It’s the only newspaper I read.

Comment from neolip
Time February 3, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Acquiring any portion of a business stuck in the rut of 20th century media strategy sounds more like angling for a tax loss than anything else.

Comment from John
Time February 3, 2012 at 3:57 pm

I read Socialist Alternative. I write for Socialist Alternative too.

Comment from John
Time February 3, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Yes neolip, the AFR said it would not be a money spinner. Pretty obvious really. I think however it buys influence and makes the mining voice and the anti-climate change voice even louder. Or may do so.

Comment from Ross
Time February 3, 2012 at 8:04 pm

John,just because I agree with many of your ideas does not mean I agree with you basic philosohpy of a centralised Govt controlling everything and individuluals counting for nothing.

We actually have this communist system right now.It is called the Banking Communist System in which a few elites screw the masses via their fractional reserve system of counterfeiting our money.

The elites care not which system we adopt,be it socialist or free market,since they still own our increases in productivity and loan it back to us as debt.It is a win,win for them.

We have to move beyond the concepts of left/right and look at what is fair in a free market philosophy.

The market in the realm of money,energy,politics and media is not free and has not been since the instigation of that private institution called the US Federal Reserve in 1913.

Comment from John
Time February 3, 2012 at 9:24 pm

Ross, you have been reading my posts and commenting for perhaps four years and obviously based on your comment about me favouring state control as socialism have not understood one word of what I have said or written in the 1600 posts I ahave made. And your comments about what is free and fair in a free market philosophy are right wing clap trap and just show the need for the left/right distinction. The idea that things began to go pear shaped after 1913 ignores the depressions before then. And the post war boom.

Comment from John
Time February 3, 2012 at 10:30 pm

Marx said that the individual could only truy bloom in a society that cared. A free market economy cares only for profit, not people.

Comment from Ewen
Time February 3, 2012 at 11:50 pm

Well stated John, you keep up the good work. I am with Socialist Alliance and am studying Marxism as best I can. I love reading your articles every day. However we get to where we want with Socialism as long as we can at least make a difference for the better, that’s what counts.

Comment from Ross
Time February 4, 2012 at 4:30 pm

In 1873 the elites in USA and Britian decided to replace silver money with their gold money.Since the elites had all the gold,they then assumed most the wealth.By the 1890.s they brought about an enormous recession by reducing in the USA the money supply by 80%.Even though Congress in the USA had the power to issue new money,the gold domination by the elites was just too much.This is why L Frank Baum wrote the Wizard of OZ.

Bill Still in “The Secret of Oz’ has revealled the books real intentions.In the book Dorothy had silver slippers and not the Ruby ones worn by Judy Garland.The silver slippers represented the people’s money and the yellow brick road the gold of the elites which they were forced to walk upon.

The Tin Woodman represented the factory worker who needed oil or the liquidity of money to move.The Scarecrow represented the farmer who really wasn’t that stupid and knew the basics of economics.The Cowardly Lion represented William Jennings Brian,whom L Frank Baum helped in his quest to become president.

The wicked witches of the east and west were JP Morgan and JD Rockerfeller the two major banking interests in the USA.

All Dorothy have to do to defeat the wicked witches was to click her silver slippers 3 times and the Witches would be defeated.In the end they threw water over the evil witches which again represented the liquidity of money.

Dorothy awoke from her dream to find the sliver slippers gone and the bankers having their way.

In the book Baum out of nowhere talks about 7 flights of stairs and 3 hallways.This is ref to the crime of 1873 when the elites repalaced the people’s money with their gold.
Bill Still is now running for President.He disagrees with Ron Paul on backing currency with precious metals.It matters not what backs your currency but who controls and issues the quantity.

Comment from eddie
Time February 5, 2012 at 11:10 am

Uhhh, Ross. Try to stay on topic mate.

Comment from John
Time February 5, 2012 at 10:00 pm

That is the only topic for Ross. And 9/11 conspiracies.

Comment from Bob Dey
Time February 6, 2012 at 5:41 pm

John, you might go back 30-40 years to see how Hancock & Wright (Rinehart’s father and his business partner) handled ownership of a newspaper. As I understand it, Wright was instrumental in setting up the Sunday Independent in Perth towards the end of the 1960s boom and Hancock was instrumental in disposing of it. The paper was sold to Perth Sunday Times owner News Corp in the 80s, after I left town, and closed shortly after. In the early 70s, at least (when I was on the ABC in Perth), the Independent was a far better read than the Times. I don’t recall it being particularly disposed to its owners’ views, though time might have warped my memory.

Comment from Ross
Time February 6, 2012 at 8:15 pm

John ,unless you face the truth and debate the facts,there is no future for your socialist alliance.I suspect some corporate power has you in their back pocket just like Labor ,Greens and the Coalition.Goodbye.I will not post again.

Comment from John
Time February 7, 2012 at 5:30 am

Thanks Ross. I have no connection with Socialist Alliance but I am pretty sure they aren’t in the pocket of big business, medium sized business, small business, or indeed any business, just as Socialist Alternative, the organisation of which I am a member, isn’t either. I am happy to debate facts but conspiracy theories and this obsession with 1913 and fractional reserve banking isn’t debate and it isn’t based on facts. Neither is the 9/11 ‘inside job’ conspiracy. Not posting on my site mustn’t leave you with many spots now.

Comment from John
Time February 7, 2012 at 8:33 am

Thanks Bob. I think it might be different now. I think she wants to sue her wealth to influence the debate. What better way than to buy into the media, especially one she sees as wrong (that is inimical to her interests) on climate change, mining etc.

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