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John Passant

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October 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)



Gillard, Abbott, sexism and single mums

Inspired by the success of the social media campaign against sexist pig Alan Jones, Julia Gillard went on the attack when Tony Abbott moved a motion to remove Peter Slipper as Speaker. She labelled Abbott a sexist and misogynist, which he is.

Abbott disgracefully, and clearly echoing Alan Jones, said the government should die of shame.

It was a good fighting speech from the Prime Minister.

However Gillard stood up to Abbott’s sexism by in effect defending vile sexist Peter Slipper who, after Abbott’s motion was lost by one vote, then resigned as Speaker.

Worse, Gillard’s policies attack women.

The same Gillard that morning had pushed $750 million in cuts to the single parent payment through the caucus. 90% of the 100,000 recipients who will lose $60 a week when their youngest turns 8 are women, single mums.

Gillard runs a sexist (and racist) Government. She manages capitalism for the bosses and an important part of that is the bosses and their governments using gender and race to divide workers.

Instead of making poor single mums poorer, why doesn’t Gillard tax the rich?
The top ten percent of income earners get around $10 billion worth of superannuation tax benefits (effectively government grants). A report in the Financial Review indicates the government is not going to attack that gift to the rich.

It’s all about priorities isn’t it Labor? Attack single mums and let the rich get away with superannuation tax murder.

Gina Rinehart’s wealth increased form $5 billion to $29 billion under Labor, so much so that she is now the world’s richest woman. A small wealth tax could produce a billion just from her.

You’d be looking at perhaps $30 billion a year if it applied to all the multi-millionaires in Australia. And a fully fledged super profits tax applying to all companies making super profits would bring in tens of billions.

That is more than enough to reverse the attack on single mums, increase the dole, fund a real denticare scheme fully, really improve pay for nurses and teachers and begin the transition to a renewable energy society.

Instead of taxing the world’s richest woman, Labor is attacking some of the least well off women in Australia.

Maybe it’s time for the social media crowd to defend single mums in a massive campaign against Gillard.



Comment from Jolly
Time October 9, 2012 at 11:05 pm

Let’s tax the rich and redistribute that to single mums and those on the dole. Let’s encourage more teens to abandon high school and become single mums. The more children they produce, the better and more dole they should receive. I know of a young lass of 20 who has 5 kids already (all with different fathers). She and others like her deserve as much help as this rich nation can afford. To hell with all those hardworking students who plod along for years on end. These students are fools for they could live easy lives from the taxes of the hard working productive fools of this land. Yeah, let’s tax the rich. Let’s drive them off this land and turn Australia into another Greece. This land then would be paradise. Many thanks John.

Comment from Kay
Time October 10, 2012 at 7:20 am

I hear everyone constantly saying that Tony Abbott is sexist and a misogynist. I recall my anger when he banned use of the ‘Morning after’ pill when he was Health Minister, but my anger in that case was because I saw him applying his Catholic beliefs to the law of the land. That to me was a lack of separation of Church and State.

But what is the actual evidence for his alleged sexist and misogynist views? Perhaps you can ‘enlighten’ me because the evidence for those accusations has escaped my attention.

As for Julia Gillard and her continuing to stand by Peter Slipper even after evidence has become available of his disgusting emails, that seems to me to be indefensible. By doing so, she has effectively continued to endorse a person who has shown himself to be far more sexist and misogynist than Tony Abbott could ever be! What a hypocrite! The ALP should be ashamed of itself!

Comment from John
Time October 10, 2012 at 11:08 am

Abbott banning RU 486 was an anti-woman decision, based on a misintepretation of advice to him and driven perhaps by his Catholicism. Catholicism has a long traditon of anti-woman positions. His comments about women being less suited to leadership are another example. His constant attacks on Giaalrd are disguised sexism I am coming to think. She is unfit to be PM because A, B and C, but really nudge nudge wink wink because she is also a woman. His defence of Alan Jones. By the way I think criticisms of her policies from a left wing position are important. But Abbott doesn’t do that.

Comment from Kay
Time October 10, 2012 at 1:11 pm

I think one has to be careful when we talk about ‘sexist’ behaviour or attitudes. I take that to mean that someone treats a woman differently BECAUSE she is a woman, or has a lower opinion of a woman BECAUSE she is a woman.

Certainly the banning of RU 486 (thanks for reminding me of the drug’s name) had a detrimental effect on WOMEN – no arguments about that. Also, no arguments about the fact that the Catholic Church has a long tradition of anti-woman positions. In fact, all the main religions are products of men and are anti-woman. But I saw his decision as more based on the Church’s ‘right to life’ stance, which is only indirectly discriminatory against women. But I guess indirect discrimination is just as damaging as direct discrimination in its outcome even though the intent might have been different.

I can’t recall his comment about women being less suited to leadership, but I’ll accept your word he said it. He has a long history of saying stupid things!

With regard to his attacks on Gillard – is that BECAUSE she is a woman? Or is it because she is the PM and he is the Opposition Leader – and the role of the Opposition Leader is to criticise the policies/performance of the government and the PM? Would he/did he attack Kevin Rudd in the same way? I suspect he would be equally critical and negative towards a male PM as he is towards Gillard. And your assuming his criticism of Gillard being unfit to be PM because of A,B or C is “really nudge nudge wink wink because she is also a woman” is your interpretation of his comments. There is no evidence that in fact you are correct in your interpretation.

But I must admit it is difficult to be squeaky clean on the topic of sexism. Obviously I am a woman and believe I am a reasonable driver, but I must admit that sometimes when I see a car refusing to move to the left on a 2-lane highway, thus causing other cars to pass on the inside (an unsafe practice), I often say “I bet it’s a woman!”. Sadly, I’m usually right!

Comment from Warren Ross
Time October 10, 2012 at 1:53 pm

I am a some time Labor voter who is often, these days, forced to vote Green by the neo-liberal policies of Labor Governments. The disappearance of the tax base evaporated by policies such as negative gearing and regular reduction of the top tax rate is a major reason for the criminal inability of our society to look after the most vulnerable. Negative gearing is simply a tax dodge. What Governments might tax as rent is instead rolled into second and third mortgages and paid to our new feudal lords: the banks. The growing financialisation of our economy has seen the loss of money to the real economy where people buy from shops and businesses and into the hands the rentier class as interest payments. What is business thinking when it argues cutting penalty rates and industrial relations reform. These people are their customers, Yet, it is the financial class we go to for their opinion of how to fix the economy. From this perspective it should not be surprising to hear the leader of ANZ bank say that the answer is to apply the screws tighter on the unemployed. Now, with the support of people such as Gerard Henderson, David Murray and Joe Hockey, we are to go after the single parents. What has my country become. And one last point. The smarties in the Sydney Morning Herald tell us that all our jobs are going overseas. Asia will rise and we will set. Kill me, I can write this nonsense myself. What are the solutions. That seems to be beyond all of our governments. We will inevitably turn to the financiers for the answer. They will tell us austerity is inevitable. Austerity for us and business as usual for them,

Comment from John
Time October 10, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Funny to me most of the speedsters on the road appear to be men. I think the attacks on Gillard are becuase of her policies and the fact she is a woman. I think Labor of course are being too clever by half and exploiting this for all it is worth despite their institutional sexism.

Comment from Sara
Time October 10, 2012 at 3:36 pm

John, while I completely agree with you on the issue of cutting payments to single Mums. I think you are wrong when you say that Gillard defended Slipper (and by implication the sexist text messages). What she did was stand up to a misogynist who has been personally attacking her for a long time, Tony Abbott. Predictably, the coalition, who obviously have no clue about what sexism actually is, have now accused Gillard of playing the “gender card”. It just goes to show that if you are a woman, in a position of leadership, you are still damned if you do and damned if you don’t. For many months she has taken this abuse from Abbott without directly responding, when she finally stands up, this is the predictable response from the aggressors. I think, as people on the far left, we are intelligent enough to criticize government policy, such as attacks on welfare, at the same time as denouncing the misogyny and sexism aimed at the Prime Minister. There is a way of conducting this debate and waging a campaign on behalf of single parents, in a more nuanced and effective way. Many women on the far left identified with Gillard’s passionate speech yesterday. We recognised the courage and strength it takes to stand up and defend yourself. It is hard, it is emotional and gut wrenching and that was clear in her voice. Does this mean I support her welfare policies? Of course not.

Comment from John
Time October 10, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Some quotes:

4. ‘The problem with the Australian practice of abortion is that an objectively grave matter has been reduced to a question of the mother’s convenience.’

5. ‘I think it would be folly to expect that women will ever dominate or even approach equal representation in a large number of areas simply because their aptitudes, abilities and interests are different for physiological reasons’

6. ‘I think there does need to be give and take on both sides, and this idea that sex is kind of a woman’s right to absolutely withhold, just as the idea that sex is a man’s right to demand I think they are both they both need to be moderated, so to speak’

7. ‘What the housewives of Australia need to understand as they do the ironing is that if they get it done commercially it’s going to go up in price and their own power bills when they switch the iron on are going to go up, every year…’

Comment from Kay
Time October 10, 2012 at 5:51 pm


Fair enough re your quotes – sounds like he is still back in the 1950s or even earlier!

Re the driving reference: I was referring to those (usually women by my observation) who insist on hogging the right passing lane in a 2-lane (or more) highway, going at well below the speed limit, in spite of signs saying “Keep to the left unless overtaking”. That’s what the left lane is for – the slower vehicles – not for unsafe overtaking manoeuvres! This is not inconsistent with your observations that most speedsters are men.

Re Gillard: I believe, in spite of your quotes, that Tony Abbott would behave very little differently were the PM a male. But you are certainly correct that the ALP is milking this for all its worth despite their own similar sexist attitudes.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time October 10, 2012 at 8:20 pm

Yes, I agree with most of this, John.

However the attack on sole parents was commenced by John Howard. Julia Gillard has just continued it. Instead of dumping them on the dole, it would be better to require them to volunteer in schools.

Further attacks on women have also been commenced by Campbell Newman, with the axing of jobs in community services and health.

I’m afraid that dreadfully sexist attitudes are very common among male politicians. It doesn’t seem to matter what brand of politics they are pushing, but I think those from the richest right are the worst.

I don’t think there’s much to be proud of when Aussie mothers deliberately kill their own babies. That’s quite a shameful thing to do.

In answer to Jolly, how about we make young men take greater responsibility for the children they create, and actually put a wedding ring on the woman’s finger and lead a responsible life.

The Age Pyramid is suffering in the younger generations. Australia needs all of the babies our young women can produce.

Comment from John
Time October 10, 2012 at 8:32 pm

Yes, Howard started it but his proposal was only to apply to people who were single parents after the start date. Labor opposed it, condemning it for sentencing young kids to poverty. It was defeated in the Senate from memory. Labor’s cutbacks to the single parent payment are thus actually worse than the Howard ones they opposed.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time October 11, 2012 at 10:37 am

Under the Howard government’s legislation, women whose youngest child was over the age of 8 were expected to work for 15 hours per week in either voluntary or paid work if they wished to continue to access Parenting Payment (married or single rate). Women with 4 or more children were exempt. I think the plan to drop the age of the youngest child back to 6 might have been overturned.

Most women chose paid work and this really ramped up public transport demand, which was also increased by the GFC making retirement difficult. Lots of retirees returned to work part-time or delayed retirement.

This also concurred with the state government’s TV campaign to get grandparents to volunteer in schools, since parents had selected paid work over voluntary work. The last I heard, teachers could not get anyone to volunteer in classrooms.

Your excellent points are proof that the major parties are working to basically the same agenda.

The decision to run trains every 15 minutes during off peak hours probably concurs with the latest push to get more sole parents out to work, and also to make all women work for the whole of their lives. Paid Parental Leave is also a move in that direction.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time October 12, 2012 at 6:37 am

I think there must also be a plan to further deregulate the labour market, so that more people are expected to work at all hours of the day and night for standard rates of pay (no penalty rates).

This would certainly account for the ramping up of public transport to “on peak” availability (with fares probably going the same way for everyone).

Many sole parents are already required to work for dreadful money in corporate run aged care centres. This requires shift work which is either not conducive to getting children off to school in the mornings, or to being at home in the evenings to supervise homework or cook meals.

Any move to dump sole parents on the dole will simply ramp up costly societal problems such as vandalism, drug/alcohol abuse, unplanned pregnancies, youth suicide, homelessness, and dependency on church run welfare agencies including Foodbanks.

Comment from Kay
Time October 12, 2012 at 7:12 am


IF you can get part-time work once your youngest child has started school, it is a good thing. That is, a big IF you can get suitable part-time work. It does introduce into the household the concept of working for a living, as opposed to living off welfare payments. And that is not a bad thing. So there are some pluses.

I had 4 children within a 6 year time frame. I was a full-time mum. Once the youngest started school, I sought part-time work – at the very menial end of the scale – and part-time work was very rare in the 70s. I had a husband, but his salary (scholarship, then low-paid research) was barely sufficient to survive on. Many interviewers laughed at me because they maintained that with 4 young children, I’d be a very unreliable worker. But, eventually, I did get a job and went on from there, including completing qualifications. And I did go on to a good, senior management career. So perseverance pays!

I was watching a program the other day about Clayfield, a Housing Commission suburb in Sydney. Very depressing! But those in that program who really did inspire me were those, many of them single mums, who insisted on getting and keeping paid employment, even if it was only part-time. They believed it was important to create in their children a belief in getting an education, and working for a living, as opposed to living off welfare all their lives. And there were many families there who had never experienced a working parent or even grandparent, and whose ambition in life was to play truant from school, then go on to welfare payments.

I am not arguing with the points you have made. I am just saying that trying to break a welfare cycle in families has a lot of merit too.

Comment from Kay
Time October 12, 2012 at 8:23 am


Correction: I can’t be sure, but maybe I inadvertently referred to “ClayFIELD” as the impoverished Sydney suburb. As a Brisbane resident, you would appreciate that Clayfield is definitely NOT impoverished. I actually meant “Claymore”. If I correctly said “Claymore”, then just ignore this post-script.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time October 12, 2012 at 4:30 pm

Kay, I raised 2 children with a husband, and one on my own. When a child has only one parent, it is imperative that the person is available both before and after school.

The idea of a “welfare cycle” may happen in some families, but not in others. Most sole parents are divorced women, not young single parents with a variety of children from different fathers, as often portrayed in the media.

Integrated housing would be a better approach than dumping all of the unattached women into a public housing estate together, where the older boys tend to form gangs and create trouble.

I have worked full-time with 2 children and that was very taxing, even when I was very young. Part-time paid or voluntary jobs work well for married women, but are much more difficult for sole parents to manage.

I have lived in an area where there were lots of sole parents who could barely afford to feed their children vegemite sandwiches.

In the days before Bob Hawke set up the Child Support Agency, 75% of sole parents got no financial support from the father and precious little from the government, but at least most had affordable housing and no one expected them to do the job of 2 parents while also working outside the home.

Schools need a lot of volunteers to work with children from Prep to at least Year 3.

I have always tried to do my share of the voluntary work regardless of marital status or disability, whether it has been knitting for the homeless, as a leader with The Scout Association or working in primary schools.

I agree with your comments on the difficulty of accessing part-time work in the 70s and bad comments from employers regarding whether or not women with young children should be working outside the home at all.

To dump sole parents on the dole at a time when the real rate of unemployment and underemployment is running at 18% is a recipe for even more costly social problems.

Corporate employers don’t seem to care if young children are left without supervision, and sole parents are being forced to take whatever work is available.

If they have to leave young children with someone they are dating or don’t know very well, the children may also be exposed to molestation.

Comment from Kay
Time October 13, 2012 at 10:27 am


I did say “suitable part time work”! And by that I mean school-hours work when the children are old enough to go to school. I’m glad I didn’t say I disagreed with your comments!

The interesting thing is that there is a fair bit of work around the house that time-poor workers need to get done – like cleaning, ironing, gardening etc just to mention a few. It is almost impossible to find someone to do these types of jobs – my elderly mother has tried and tried. There is work that can be done within school hours, but few are interested. But I guess that certainly would only employ a limited number, anyway. And I would hope that some part-time work could be undertaken without a reduction in welfare payments.

I switched to full-time work when the children were older, and yes it is very tiring. But I strongly believe that it is important that children are not brought up with an expectation that they can ignore their education and just go on to collect the dole. After all, Australia does seem to have a shortage of skilled tradesmen, doctors and a whole range of other professions/occupations that require education and training. The focus should be on educating/training the population such that we don’t need to import skills. That would help the unemployment statistics too.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time October 14, 2012 at 7:51 pm

I’m afraid the government has deliberately orchestrated the importation of foreign workers at the behest of the UN.

More and more TAFE colleges are closing and the shortage of skilled tradespeople is another creation of government.

We have plenty of medical graduates now, but a shortage of places to put them in for ongoing training.

I really think it is necessary to live and work among the poor to really understand their circumstances and needs. Married women are often shielded from the harsher realities of life.

A man I know gained custody of all 4 of his daughters and was trying to hold down a job as an electrician. He had to take time off whenever one of them became ill and it eventually made him unemployable.

Comment from Kay
Time October 15, 2012 at 7:29 pm


I just wish you would use words like: “I think…”; “I believe….”; “It is my view that…” etc. when you make these ‘ex cathedra’ type statements about the activities of the UN and other organisations. You state your views as if they were FACTS – which they are not.

And I find your comment that “Married women are often shielded from the harsher realities of life.” to be very demeaning, patronising, absolutely untrue and, dare I say it, sexist!

But none of these comments contradict my view that encouraging children to get a good education, combined with their seeing work as the best way to earn money (as opposed to picking up welfare payments) is the best way to break the welfare and poverty cycle.

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