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John Passant

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March 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)



Labor, Labor, why don’t you give me a call?

It seems everyone has a view on Labor’s collapse. Most of it is laughable – banal explanations about an it’s time factor to half grasped truths about privatisation.   Everyone is offering advice so here’s my two bob’s worth.

Give me a call, Labor,  to discuss a left turn. My fees are very reasonable.

The editorial in the increasingly erratic and Australianised Australian Financial Review – its editor, Michael Stutchbury, is the former neoliberal economics writer for the Australian – says that ‘Labor is a captive of the vested interests of militant unions and rent seekers.’ 

Well, the rent seeker part is right. The mining companies, whom the editorial praises, are the classic rent seekers, along with the banks, supermarkets, petrol companies, car manufacturers and all the profit bludgers feeding on the tax teat to the tune of tens of billions. 

But militant unions? Seriously?  The figures tell a rather different story,  one where the union leadership are more the poodles of profit than its nemesis. 

The strike figures in Australia for 2011 and previous years are at historic lows, not withstanding minor blips in 2011. As Michael Janda put it: 

When one smooths out the volatility, Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) figures show industrial disputes have declined steadily and significantly since limited protected industrial action was introduced in 1993. 

The typical rate of work days lost per thousand employees at the start of the 1990s was between 40 and 60, for most of the 2000s it has been under 10. For the last half-decade, generally less than five.[1] 

Comparing strike days lost now to the 1960s and 1970s shows an even bigger decline. As Jade Eckhaus writes ‘… in the 1970s annual strike days per 1000 workers varied between 600-1200…’[2] 

In other words since the 70s strike days lost in Australia have declined from up to 1200 per 1000 employees to five per 1000 employees. That is a fall of 240 to one or 2400 percent. 

And the lack of class struggle has had entirely predictable results. Wealth has shifted to the already wealthy. 

In Australia the richest 20 percent own 61 percent of the wealth while the poorest 20 percent own just one percent of the wealth, according to an Empirical Research study done for the Australian Council of Trade Unions.[3] 

The gap is widening. For example the Australian Bureau of Statistics has said that ‘[t]he wealthiest 20% of households have increased their average net worth 15% since 2005-06 (CPI adjusted), while the poorest 20% of households saw only a 4% rise…’[4] 

The wealthiest 20% held ‘… around two-thirds of total household wealth’[5] and the poorest 20% ‘… accounted for 1% of total household wealth.’[6]     

According to the ACTU’s Matt Cowgill ‘[t]he share of income going to the top 1% in Australia has doubled in the past 30 years or so.’[7]   

The ACTU also reports that: 

The wages share of national income fell from 54.5% in June 2009 to 52.7% in June 2010. The profit share of national income showed a corresponding increase, from 26.6% in June 2009 to 28.5% in June 2010. 

The wages and profit shares of national income measure the proportion of all income that is paid to labour and capital, respectively. The wages share of national income is now at its lowest point since December 1964. [8] 

Imagine workers being pissed off because the rich are getting richer while they work longer hours for less pay. Gee, who’d have thought they might twig this was Labor’s fault and vote against them. 

The solution seems pretty obvious doesn’t it? 

Develop and implement polices that redistribute wealth from the super rich to working people and the poor.  Increase real wages, fix the gender pay gap immediately, tax the rich till their pips squeak, employ more teachers and nurses, invest in public transport, renewable energy and a universal Dental health care scheme … 

 And while we are suggesting a left turn, withdraw from Afghanistan, welcome (not imprison) refugees, end the Northern Territory intervention, recognise equal love… 

Take on the bosses, not crawl to them.

Labor won’t do any of this because it is a party of capital now, too divorced from its working class base to try to win their support with pro-working class policies. 

As I pointed out in Bligh Bligh Labor? the social surplus out of which Labor has provided a few goodies in the past has dried up. The ALP  now rules for the one percent.

Nah, on second thoughts, don’t bother ringing me Labor. You are beyond redemption. 


[1] Michael Janda, ‘Qantas dispute no reason for rushed IR reform’ The Drum 1 November 2011 <>. See also Rick Kuhn and Tom Bramble, Labor’s conflict: big business, workers and the politics of class (Cambridge University Press, Melbourne 2010). 

[2] Jade Eckhaus, Why strikes are good’ Socialist Alternative 28 November 2011 <>. For a graph showing the dramatic decline see Tom Bramble, above n 37, at 7. 

[3] David Neal, Cassandra Govan, Mike Norton and Dan Ariely, ‘Australian attitudes towards wealth inequality and the minimum wage’ ACTU 15 April 2011 at 2. 

[4] Australian Bureau of Statistics, ‘Richest households 15% richer’ ABS Media Release 127/2011 14 October 2011. <>. 

[5] Ibid. 

[6] Ibid. 

[7] Matt Cowgill, ‘Inequality and the top 1% in Australia’ We are all dead October 17 2011 

[8] ACTU, ‘Economic Bulletin Issue 3, 1 October 2010’ ACTU at 6.



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