ga('send', 'pageview');
John Passant

Site menu:

February 2012
« Jan   Mar »



RSS Oz House



Subscribe to us

Get new blog posts delivered to your inbox.


Site search


Keep socialist blog En Passant going - donate now
If you want to keep a blog that makes the arguments every day against the ravages of capitalism going and keeps alive the flame of democracy and community, make a donation to help cover my costs. And of course keep reading the blog. To donate click here. Keep socialist blog En Passant going. More... (4)

Sprouting sh*t for almost nothing
You can prove my 2 ex-comrades wrong by donating to my blog En Passant at BSB: 062914 Account: 1067 5257, the Commonwealth Bank in Tuggeranong, ACT. More... (12)

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)



Media paints black as white and might as right at Tent Embassy

The media has gone into overdrive to smear Aboriginal protesters who dared to put a crack in the shiny veneer of “Australia Day” pomp writes Josh Lees in Socialist Alternative. This, after all, is supposed to be a day to celebrate our imagined unity, a day to forget about the past, to put aside the present, and don’t think too much about the future.

Its supposed to be a day of smiling for the camera, giving out medals, and patting some new immigrants on the head while we swell with pride at how generous we are to allow these foreigners to share in our civilisation.

But then something went wrong. A group of angry blacks and their supporters shattered the illusion by pointing out some inconvenient truths. The sycophantic, vacuous narrative had to be re-written. And now the media are taking their revenge by constructing a new narrative.

Murdoch’s Daily Telegraph ran with “Wild Mob Put Our PM Under Fire”. The Fairfax papers The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald went with “Australia Day Shame” while digging through the archives for some 15 year-old dirt on one of the Aboriginal leaders Paul Coe. Right wing Fairfax columnist Paul Sheehan told us that the “antics” were “a disaster for the cause”. I always treasure such advice from people who have never supported the cause to begin with.

For the ABC it was all about “Aboriginal leaders condemn violent protest”, while wheeling out their usual conga line of bought-and-paid-for Aboriginal conservatives who White Australia have dubbed “leaders”. This time it was Mick Gooda and Warren Mundine, weighing in from their respectable positions with their respectable opinions which are all the more respectable for having achieved nothing for Aboriginal people.

As Mark McMurtrie, one of the Tent Embassy leaders, said while under attack from an ABC journalist about the “violent protest”: “How else do we bring this to the attention of the supposed law-makers when they refuse to speak to us and only want to speak to the likes of Gooda and Mundine who are in their pocket?”

The most insidious claim in all the media reporting and comments from politicians is that the protesters are an ungrateful “mob” who don’t really have much to complain about anyway. This is what was so offensive about Abbott’s comments that “I think a lot has changed for the better since then… I think its probably time to move on from that”. And its the line the government and the media have been pushing ever since Rudd’s fake apology.

40 years on – if you’re not angry, get your head checked

The reality is that the situation for Aboriginal people in Australia is as dire as ever, with no real improvement in the 40 years since the Tent Embassy was first established in 1972. Racist measures like the Northern Territory Intervention are making things worse.

The gap in life expectancy remains massive, with Aboriginal people living on average 15-17 years less than non-Aboriginal people. This was brought home to us at the Tent Embassy demonstration, during veteran radical Jenny Munro’s speech. In it she listed over 300 participants in the original Tent Embassy protests of 1972, most of whom were young at the time. Over a third of those heroes are now deceased, including 3 out of 4 of those who first planted that famous beach umbrella.

Aboriginal incarceration rates and deaths in custody have dramatically increased since the Royal Commission 20 years ago which was supposed to reduce them. As Crikey documented last year: “Indigenous people were eight times more likely to be imprisoned than non-indigenous people at the time of the Commission’s final report… Today, they are 14 times more likely.” Deaths in custody are 50 percent more than in the 1980s. Still, not one police officer or prison guard has ever been convicted out of the hundreds of deaths.

The land-grab continues, most recently with “Twiggy” Forrest’s Fortescue Metals Group robbing Yindjibarndi land and the planned doubling in size of BHP’s Olympic Dam uranium mine on Arabunna land.

As Amnesty International recently reported, around 500 homeland communities are being starved of essential services and infrastructure, with people “living with no running water, toilet, shower and electricity in one of the richest countries in the world”.

The Intervention, with its dehumanising and humiliating “income management” measures, has revived the worst of the rations system of the bad old days, and created apartheid-like segregation in supermarkets across the NT.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin is now rolling out further punitive measures which cut family’s welfare payments if children don’t attend school. There are now less children attending school than when the Intervention was announced. Its not surprising, given that teaching in Aboriginal languages in schools has been banned for the first 4 hours of the day in the NT from 2008, as yet another act of cultural genocide.

Attempted suicides and self-harm cases have doubled in remote communities since the Intervention was introduced.

Hence the Invasion Day protest in Canberra began with the chant “Close the Gap is a load of crap!”

What is losing a shoe compared to losing an entire continent?

These are the issues the media never meaningfully discuss, let alone probe our politicians about. There is no doubt that if protesters hadn’t disrupted Gillard and Abbott’s love-in, the Tent Embassy protest would have rated a 30-second grab on the news, if that. Never to be heard of again.

Instead we get talk of constitutional changes. Yet another token gesture to whitewash an ongoing genocide, and Aboriginal people are supposed to be grateful?? Thankfully, the bitterness at the betrayal of the fake apology by Kevin Rudd, an apology accompanied by no compensation or change in direction, means no one is falling for this latest con.

While ignoring the devastating oppression faced by Aboriginal people in every aspect of life since British invasion in 1788, now the media would have us believe that the protesters are the violent aggressors! That we should pity our poor PM. That we should do anything but rejoice at the undignified departure of terrified, shoeless dignitaries.

The only remarkable thing about the protest, if you consider the sheer scale of the inequality and hardship and lies suffered by Aboriginal people, is actually how peaceful it was, besides the actions of police. Channel 9 recorded Tony Abbott as saying from the inside, “I think it would be very easy for that glass to be smashed”. I must admit, the same thought crossed my mind and probably a few others. But it never actually happened. The only damage done was to Gillard and Abbott’s pride, and the sanctimonious propaganda of “Australia Day”. Seeing Gillard flee in shame was one of the highlights of my life, and a general feeling of jubilation was in the air as Gillard’s shoe was displayed as a symbol of our victory. This is the kind of reception which should greet Gillard wherever she goes.

Immense pressure is now being put on Tent Embassy protesters to back down, to “confess” and “repent” for the crime of justified anger and interrupting polite society. So far protesters have responded in the best possible way. First they held a defiant press conference, then another angry march, breaking through police lines, to reach parliament and burn the Australian flag.

This is the flag that has flown over every police station in which racist cops have murdered Aboriginal people, the flag that flies on top of the military vehicles that are enforcing apartheid and dispossession via the Northern Territory Intervention today, the flag of the Government that stole their children for generations and continues to steal them today with barely a word in the media, the flag of the Government that closes their schools and makes it illegal for children to learn their traditional languages. This is a shameful, blood-stained symbol of genocide. Let it burn.