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John Passant

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November 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)



The banality of Australian politics

God forbid that the AWU fraud fiasco will be pushed off the front pages by politics. Instead, Friday’s papers may well headline with Ricky Ponting’s retirement from test cricket. There will be photographs of Australian captain Michael Clark crying, of the Punter holding back tears, of team mates embracing him.

It will be a close run thing. It is not every day, as part of a schoolyard tantrum which has been going on since Abbott narrowly lost the August 2010 election, and as part of the ruling class strategy to make Labor a full Liberal Party, that the Opposition leader accuses the Prime Minister of a crime, and then recants, or rather moderates his language.

I had the pleasure of listening to parts of Question Time today. Hell, somebody has to do it. For once I agree with Julia Gillard. Abbott should put up or shut up.

Of course he won’t because the game is not to actually link the PM to any criminality – it is to further raise doubts about her in voters’ minds.

But Labor too benefits from this sideshow. Gillard can paint herself as tough and strong, as the wronged woman against the sexist and misogynist Abbott.

Whether this changes any votes is a moot point, although Labor’s stocks did rise after Gillard’s famous ‘I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man’ speech a few weeks ago.  I suspect that what will happen is that the AWU altercation will cement support for both major parties and reinforce the prejudices of supporters from both sides.

At the same time this nonsense was going on, the Government introduced legislation for a National Disability Insurance Scheme. Too little is the best description for this scheme. As Sandra Bloodworth wrote in an article in Socialist Alternative:

Any genuine policy to provide the needs of people with chronic disease or disabilities could, and should, make them accessible through improvements to Medicare. A universal health scheme which pays for the actual needs of people, not just those the government deems worthy of funding, is what we need.

Not only that but yesterday the Government introduced legislation for the first stage of the Gonski education reforms. No money mind, and nothing legally binding, but evidently their heart is in the right place on education. Yeah, it’s good cover for saying that in the run up to an election next year.

What else? Well, the government also got its  legislation on poker machine pre-commitment technology and trial in the ACT through the House of Representatives. Watered down would be too strong a description for this weak-kneed lily-livered capitulation to the self serving clubs’ industry.

The vote at the UN on upgrading Palestinian status from observer to non-member state is about to come up and Australia will abstain rather than, as one would normally expect, vote against. Gillard got rolled but the new approach is still a complete capitulation to Zionist genocide under the guise of ‘even handedness’.

Oh and a parliamentary committee has found Newstart for the unemployed is too low and wants it increased by $50 a week. The Labor government will do nothing. Evidently a budget surplus is more important than the unemployed living with some modicum of decency.

On Nauru a number of detainees have attempted suicide. Omid, an Iranian asylum seeker, has been on hunger strike for almost 50 days for justice. According to Green Left Weekly Omid said:

I don’t stop it until they transfer me back to Australia or let me die here. I want justice. I am human. I’ve never wish this situation for any human in the world. I want FREEDOM and NAURU must be close[d].

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has refused to bring him to Australia for medical treatment. Here is how the Sydney Morning Herald put it:

Mr Bowen told Labor MPs an asylum seeker who has been on a hunger strike for 47 days on Nauru will not be transferred to Australia, despite claims by others on the island processing centre that he is close to death.

Mr Bowen said any decision to transfer hunger strikers to the mainland could act as an incentive for others to take similar action.

Chris Bowen look like the criminal to me.

None of this will likely make the front pages. Ricky and Ralph will, in that order.

Politics in Australia is gripped by the banal, wrapped in the irrelevant, reported by the circle jerkers.

There is a simple explanation for this banality. Both sides have essentially the same politics. Both major parties (and the Greens I might add) are in the grip of neoliberal fundamentalism. So any differences are not normally of substance but of emphasis, of nuance, of minuscule difference.

It means that the seeming substance of change I mentioned above about disability insurance, education, pokies, Palestine, refugees and Newstart won’t be discussed in any detail, let alone exposed for the chimera I have argued they are.

It means irrelevancies dominate because the differences over the AWU scandal appear real (although they too of course are manufactured beyond the limits of hyperbole).

This similarity of politics goes back to the Hawke Labor Government and its embrace of neoliberalism on the back of the trade unions’ grovelling at the altar of class collaboration. The Accord destroyed rank and file organisation and struggle, so much so that strike levels today are about 1% of what they were in the late 60s and some of the 70s.

The reality has been a shift of wealth and income to the rich and powerful.

Without class struggle no alternative working class political ideas can prosper, can break through, can shine, let alone lead.  

So enjoy your reading about Ricky’s retirement and Ralph’s rort, about Abbott’s allegations and Gillard’s gadflying.

One day politics, real class politics, will burst forth and we will be able to say, like Marx, well grubbed old mole.



Comment from Kay
Time November 30, 2012 at 6:38 am

Actually not a bad article about the current pathetic political situation. I have no interest in reading about either Ralph or Ricky, but ‘the news’ does unfortunately seem to be full of that crap.

Of course I don’t agree about the “class struggle” stuff, but I do hope the quality of Australian political debate can one day return to discussion of the real issues affecting the community – the sooner the better!

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