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John Passant

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August 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)



Wayne Swan: a working class hero is something to be

Wayne Swan is a working class legend in his own lunchtime. Just ask him. Or rather just read his John Button memorial speech last night.

Swan is a big big fan of Bruce Springsteen. He used that as an introduction to a couple of his themes – fighting for the battlers, accountability and responsibility.

Like Springsteen, Wayne comes from battler stock and like Springsteen he talks about being accountable and responsible to those people.

Swan and Springsteen evidently remember their roots, even if neither are now members of the working class. For Springsteen that remembrance and celebration is actually a form of money making. He has grown rich on the commodification and exploitation of a particular image and tradition of the US working class and an appeal to blue collar workers.

But unlike say Woody Guthrie or Pete Seeger, his songs are about the working class, not of them. They are pictures of the past not flames of the future; words, not action. They offer no alternative vision. They do not challenge the status quo.

With that, Springsteen has much in common with Swan. 

Swan is attempting to appeal to blue collar workers, not through his actions in defence of their jobs and living standards, but through Springsteen. 

The longer Labor languish in the 20s and low 30s in the polls, the more the rhetoric of attacking the rich will come to the fore. I think the record’s stuck, Wayne. I think the record’s stuck, Wayne. I think the record’s stuck, Wayne.

Swan is Australia’s Treasurer and has been for 5 years. Supposedly he is in a much more powerful position to change the world for the better for his battlers than Springsteen could ever be.

Managing Australian capitalism is about making sure the exploitative relationship between capital and labour – where labour creates the wealth and capital expropriates it – continues and functions smoothly.

The Labor Party is an important part of this process of managing capitalism. The Party is an expression of the trade union bureaucracy – a group who retail workers’ labour power to the bosses and who balance between but are not part of either of the two main classes.

 Because of its relationship with that bureaucracy the ALP in power may be able to impose solutions on capital that benefit the system as a whole even if individual capitalists or sections of capital are disadvantaged.

However over the last 30 years Labor has embraced neoliberalism. In one sense this is true to form. The ALP adopts the dominant economic ideology not only because that is its nature but to show itself fit to govern to the bourgeoisie.

But as I have written before, this means that the ALP, a capitalist workers’ party, is at the moment more like a CAPITALIST workers’ party.

Swan is at the heart of that neoliberalism, that open ideology of the bosses. He worships at their altar of profit.

Part of Swan’s speech was an attack on 3 mining magnate – Gina Rinehart, Clive Palmer and Twiggy Forest. Why?

It is spin of course. Gina Rinehart has, under Swan’s watch, increased her wealth from $4 billion to $29 billion. Swan won’t tax her wealth in any concerted way.

He has picked these 3 because they are easy targets – the stereotype of rich miners living off the rest of us. He hasn’t attacked the heads of the 3 biggest mining companies in Australia – BHP, Rio Tinto and Xstrata.

They are the ones he and Julia Gillard did a rotten deal with over the mining tax and replaced a fairly small resource rent tax applying to all resources with the Minerals Resource Rent Tax that applies only to iron ore and coal and at a much lower rate.

Swan was instrumental in knifing Rudd and installing Gillard as Prime Minister to get that rotten deal done.

So when Swan says, as he does, that he is about sharing the wealth, we can rebut that argument with the specific example of the mining tax.

Under Swan’s leadership of the Treasury over the last five years what has been happening to benefit workers? Here are a few facts that can help us discern if Swan is Bruce Springsteen or Alice Cooper.

As I have mentioned ad nauseum the share of national income going to labour is at its lowest and that to capital its highest since records began to be kept in 1960.

Inequality under Swan has increased. The OECD’s Divided We Stand report on global inequality found it had increased across the developed world and said that in Australia this was due to two factors – growing inequality of incomes and less progressive tax and transfer policies and outcomes.

Part of the mechanism for transferring wealth and income to the rich has been restrictions on unions and the ability of workers to strike except in certain limited circumstances.

Labor’s Fair Work Act continued these WorkChoices restrictions, and a report released today basically gives the tick to Labor’s rotten WorkChoices Lite.

If Swan were really a working class hero instead of a rich man’s suck-hole he’d remove all restrictions on the right to strike.

In the building industry, the hated Australian Building and Construction Commission policed workers to make sure they don’t strike or take other action to, among other things, enforce safety on site. The consequence? Deaths on building sites increased after the ABCC came into being.

Labor’s response has been to make the Commission an arm of Fair Work Australia called Fair Work Building and Construction. It retains its powers and funding. If Swan really were a working class hero he’d abolish the FWBC and its anti-union powers.

Unemployment is officially just over 5%. Roy Morgan research puts the real figure at over nine percent. If you throw in the figures for the underemployed who actually want to work longer hours but can’t, the combined figures for unemployment and underemployment are closer to 20%.

Swan wants to win back blue collar workers to Labor. Perhaps then he could unveil a plan for taking over all those big companies like Ford, Holden, Toyota and the others who are sacking workers. nationalise them and convert their plants into renewable energy infrastructure providers and tax the rich to pay for it.

In Queensland Campbell Newman with his old man ideas is sacking thousands of public servants. Welcome to an Abbott government writ small. Where is Swan’s defence of these workers?

If Swan really was a working class hero he’d tax the rich to provide real jobs and better pay for all who want to work. That could include for example a Snowy Mountains style renewable energy vision for Australia with solar and wind power across Australia.

Women workers continue to be paid 17% less than their male counterparts for equal work. The figure increased slightly at one stage under Labor. If Swan was a working class hero he’d legislate to rectify that immediately.

If Wayne Swan was really serious about sharing the wealth we workers create, he’d tax the rich. He’d support workers fighting to defend jobs and win pay increases. He’d legislate for a 30 hour week without any loss of pay or conditions.

He won’t do any of these things because Swan isn’t a working class hero; he’s a puppet of the rich.

Like all posts on this site, comments close after 7 days. To have your say or see what others may be saying hit the comments link under the heading above.


Here’s John Lennon’s view.



Comment from Terry Cane
Time August 3, 2012 at 10:08 am

Unfortunately most of the “true believers” disappeared from politics with the Dismissal. The mutilation of the union movement by the Siver Bodgi enabled the crumbling of workers rights.

Comment from Anthony
Time August 3, 2012 at 10:31 am

One point – Wasn’t the Mining tax exactly an attempt to tax the wealthy?
More, wasn’t it an attempt to tax the wealthy, many of whom live in other countries?
And didn’t working class people rise in multitudes to prevent the wicked mining tax from going through, thus leading to a watered down version which reduced taxes on the wealthy?
The answer to all three questions is ‘yes’.
SO, I think you’re being a bit harsh on Swann.
And is it just possible that working class folks need to think hard rather than be sucked in by ads sponsored by, that’s right, by the wealthy.

Comment from John
Time August 3, 2012 at 11:12 am

Not really. It was an attempt to tax economic rent – super profits if you like. It was narrowly based, and government effectively underwrote the whole thing with the indexation of losses. It would have raised a bit more than the current mickey mouse MRRT, but it itself was still Mickey mouse. I am not sure it was the working class who opposed the tax. It was big mining companies who opposed it and the ALP knifed Rudd to get the new weaker tax in under pressure from the mining companies. The fact they kept some of the bones of the previous tax was because of pressure from workers for the ALP to be seen (if only in a small way) to tax the rich. The trend of tax under Swan has been to become less progressive and impose less on the rich and wealthy.

Comment from Denis L White
Time August 3, 2012 at 9:05 pm

Are you refering to the pragmatic silver haired “b”! who betrayed the working people of this country. But he’ll be ok, God knows he has a mate in some remote corner of heaven, what’s his name, Judas or Iscariot or such.

John I’m sure that you must be aware that the adoption of the globalized theory of free market capitalism in this country is when the rot started. Our workforce were not then able to compete with the slave labour which became exploited in the manufacturing sector on a global scale and nothing has changed in this respect in the last 40 years.

Unless our workforce is subsidised by protective measures or indeed is prepared to work for the equivalent of $2 a day the status quo remains. The silver “b” pulled the rug out from under the feet of the unions by pursuing de-regulation.

There is not much point in making demands when your position of value is undermined by cheap overseas or imported labour.

The major corporate players operating in Australia will almost without exception be registered as companies operating out of one of the 100 plus tax free havens who vie for their business around the world.

So on the one hand our populace is dis-enfranchised and side-lined from contributing to the growth or even the maintainance of the national wealth and on the other side the companies who are producing wealth are able to avoid a heavy tax obligation to Australia.

Where to from here?

Comment from John Richardson
Time August 6, 2012 at 3:04 pm

I totally agree John.
And don’t forget the 40% of awstraylens struggling to survive on casual work or the tens of thousands stranded on fixed incomes …
Wayne has nothing to say to Indigenous Australians & along with his fellow labor heroes, obviously expects that they should be grateful for the continuation of a program of genocide dressed-up as paternalism….
Wayne & his pyjama pals have nothing to say or offer in respect of the future of our country, content to slavishly pay lip-service to the interests of our ‘special friends’ no matter how inimical they might be to the interests of Australians….
Wayne & his fellow leather-huggers routinely boast about their legislative record, not understanding that, to most Australians, new laws don’t put food on the table or pay the electricity bill. Until our politicians come to realise that good government is about producing worthwhile & beneficial outcomes for our country’s citizens – all of them – & not about arguing the toss in fruitless debate or passing rafts of meaningless laws & regulations requiring an ever-increasing host of public servants to police them, Wayne & his ilk will have no value to ordinary Australians…
Wayne, Julia & Tony are all in the same business: keeping the dream alive for big business, whilst the basic needs of the majority of Australians are routinely ignored….
Wayne & his crew have the gall to agree with big business that Australian workers need to be more productive, ignoring the fact that the share of GDP going to profits today is greater than its ever been, whilst the share of GDP going to labour is lower than its ever been. But nary a word about the productivity of management: oh no. The movers & shakers continue to gouge billions from the national pie, whilst presiding over record corporate failures & disastrous investment returns, but not a word from Wayne about their productivity & not a word about their needing to lift their game or exercise restraint….
Not a word from Wayne about how he & Julia are working to reduce the power of the grocery, banking, pharmaceutical, media or energy oligopolies; not a word from Wayne about how he & Julia are working to remove the obscene privileges enjoyed by the bevy of rent-seekers that we all routinely subsidise, such as the doctors, lawyers & pharmacists.
As far as I’m concerned Wayne, Julia, their colleagues, the Australian Labor Party & the Trade Union movement have all been corrupted, intent as they are on enjoying the benefits of office at the expense of the Australian electorate.
A pox on all of them.

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