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John Passant

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January 2013



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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)



Nova Peris and the bankruptcy of Labor

The Prime Minister has anointed Gary Foley, Michael Mansell, Robbie Thorpe, Barbara Shaw, Nova Peris for Labor’s top senate position in the Northern Territory in the Federal election some time later this year.

This is their only winnable position in the Senate there. With just 2 seats up for grabs every 3 years, it is virtually one seat guaranteed for the Country Liberal Party (CLP) and one for the ALP. Labor’s 2 party preferred vote would have to drop below 33 1/3% for Labor to lose it.

Who is Nova Peris? According to Koori Mail:

Nova Peris is a Muran woman from Kakadu and Arnhem Land and was a ‘treaty ambassador’ for the former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC).

Peris won Olympic gold as part of the Australian Hockey team in 1996 and Commonwealth Games gold as part of a relay team a few years later.

With more than a decade, a day as an ALP member, and a lifetime, a week of fighting for Aboriginal people, Peris brings important attributes to the job. She is an Aboriginal woman who won’t rock Gillard’s boat.

She supports the racist Northern Territory intervention. Well presumably she does because there is no record of her having said much at all about the issue; and she sure as hell would not have been parachuted into the position if she, like her principled bothers and sisters Foley, Shaw and many many others, opposed the intervention. 

Peris has made one comment on the Intervention. According to Michelle Grattan in The Age:

Asked whether she supported the federal intervention in the NT, Ms Peris said that ”something needed to be done” but the way it was done was wrong. The government now had its ”stronger futures” legislation, in which she hoped to play a big part.

Stronger Futures is the Commonwealth Labor Government’s rebadging of the Intervention. They are the same thing. For Peris it looks like a case of four legs good, two legs better.

Peris has benefited from the Intervention. She has done publicity work for a health program that didn’t in the end work (no fault of hers) and received $1 million over a couple of years.

Why Peris? Even within the context of bourgeois parliamentary games, there were a range of other candidates like Marion Scrymgour who could have been imposed on the party or won Senate preselection in their own right.

 Scrymgour is a former Deputy Chief Minister in the Territory, Aboriginal and a long term ALP member. This latter almost certainly disqualified her, and the fact is she probably wouldn’t have beaten Crossin in any Party contest for the Senate seats this time around. But in 3 years time when Crossin was going to retire? Maybe.   

Gillard couldn’t parachute Scrymgour in because the former Deputy Chief Minister opposes the Northern Territory intervention, describing it as vicious new McCarthyism. When she was a Labor Minister in the Territory she accused the party of lying to Aboriginal people and in protest went to sit on the cross benches for a while before returning to the party. 

Scrymgour indicated she would nominate for the top Senate position 2 weeks ago and it is possible Gillard imposed Peris as the top Labor Senate candidate on the Northern Territory Labor Party to prevent Scrymgour becoming the candidate this time around or in 3 years’ time.

By forcing Peris on the ALP in the Northern Territory Julia Gillard has trampled the very limited democracy and choices the members in the Labor Party have. She has imposed an Auntie Tom on the membership and the community, including especially Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander society in the Northern Territory and more generally across Australia.

This is indicative of a wider problem of lack of democracy in the party and a membership dying on the vine.

Of course it is an indictment of Labor that it has never in the 112 years since Federation preselected an Aboriginal person for a winnable seat in the Federal Parliament. Not once.

Parachuting in Nova Peris doesn’t address that systemic fault in Labor; it reinforces it. It reinforces the bankrupt nature of pre-selection in the party, even with rank and file participation; it exposes the bankrupt nature of the leadership and the party that allows the PM and the National Executive to impose their will on the membership; it highlights the bankrupt nature of the Left of the party that has gone along with this decision.

I will shed few tears for Trish Crossin. She is one of those hard working non-entities who have in fact been part of the problem of Labor in the Territory, never challenging the Intervention in any concerted way.

She is also the parliamentary head of Emily’s List, a group of middle class women looking for a safe sinecure in Parliament without challenging the systemic nature of women’s oppression that is capitalism, but rather reinforcing it through their parliament first and at all costs view of the world and their (in)action. So the ultimate symbol of all that is Emily’s List, Prime Minister Julia Gillard, has knifed its head.

In the Territory elections last year Labor lost in the regional and remote areas. Aboriginal voters deserted the party. On a two party preferred basis the swing to the Country Liberal Party was 5.4%. In pastoral and remote areas the swing was over 15%.

 Of Labor’s 8 seats in the 25 member Parliament, 6 are from Darwin and just 2 from remote regions.

Why did Aboriginal voters desert Labor? A major part was opposition to the Intervention and condemnation of Labor’s failure to make life any better for Aborigines and others outside the cities. (It didn’t do much for city dwellers either.)

Labor ‘rationalised’ local councils – from 63 to 8. People outside Darwin felt they had lost power as a consequence of this super-sizing.. But the real vote changer was the Intervention. As AAP reported in the AFR:

The intervention in Aboriginal communities, started by John Howard and re-named Stronger Futures after the ALP took it over, has been deeply unpopular in many indigenous communities.

Some Aboriginal leaders have said the laws unfairly branded particular communities as harbouring drunks and paedophiles and unable to manage their own affairs.

If Labor were serious about addressing the loss of Aboriginal votes they would abandon the Intervention and admit it was a racist attempt to control indigenous lives. Of course, having successfully imposed non-solutions such as income management on Aboriginal people, the Labor Government has extended the program to control unemployed whites in some major cities. 

Parachuting in celebrity candidates does not address the systemic racism and genocide against the original inhabitants. If Peter Garrett is any guide the host takes over the parasite.

Gillard’s action also assumes that Aboriginal voters can’t think for themselves and will be bedazzled by a Peris candidature because she is Aboriginal. Of course the idea that Aboriginal voters might look to Labor’s abysmal record on Aboriginal Affairs and Peris’s defence of it in deciding who to vote for is just too far blown for the Gillards of the world to contemplate. 

In that rarefied world of Labor politics, Aboriginal people don’t think for themselves. They will evidently be sucked in by appearance rather than substance. This racist paternalism is part of the problem for Labor.

A treaty, recognising prior ownership and sovereignty, paying the rent to the indigenous owners of the land and allowing Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders to run their own affairs is a set of systemic solutions to the systemic problems of dispossession and disempowerment, systemic solutions to the past and ongoing genocide against the indigenous peoples of this country. 

DEADLY photo from Brisbane Invasion Day march (Jan 26) #IdleNoMore

That program would require an attack on capital in Australia and its interests. Labor won’t do that. Far better from the point of view of Gillard as the captain of the second level of capital to pick Nova Peris to open the batting in the battle for the Senate than actually take on capital to address the real issues. Nova Peris will be a willing accomplice to Gillard’s anti-Aboriginal agenda. 

The Invasion Day protests, the burgeoning Idle No More indigenous peoples’ movement in Canada which is spreading across the globe, the campaigns against the Intervention and deaths in custody, all offer an alternative approach to winning better lives for Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders. They are movements from below, not machinations from above. That way lies the future, not one bum on one seat for a Gillard puppet in the Senate.

Like all posts on this site, comments (see the link under the heading) close after 7 days.



Comment from Ross
Time January 28, 2013 at 7:41 pm

Aborigines like most people have to face a reality John.The Romans and the Vikings invaded Britian.Humans have always been a war like species just like the Chimpanzees.

Tribes in NZ South America ,Africa and here, have all practised genocide against their own kind.While it does not make it right for whites to do likewise to our native Aussies ie we should have known better,it happened and it was wrong.

Eternal apologising for past wrongs will not improve the current Aboriginal dilemma.Being the enternal victim makes all of us impotent slaves to doing nothing and expecting someone else to take up the cause.

So let’s stop the division and accept that all sides of this confrontation have faults and need to take up the challenge of understanding our own foibles in a world that uses social division as a tool of repression.

WTF ! I’m sounding like a socialist but I believe in the free market. That is another story which we will debate later.

Comment from John
Time January 29, 2013 at 5:13 am

This has nothing to do with playing the victim. It is about justice and redressing the wrongs that echo down the pages of history to today. Using your logic, Ross, let’s not address the consequences of an ongoing and fundamental, founding, wrong; let’s not address the ongoing and current genocide against indigenous people; let’s leave everything – the racism, the dispossession, the genocide – is. And to portray this as ‘all sides have faults’. Yeah the oppressors and the oppressed are both at fault. Those indigenous people were and are just asking for it eh?

Comment from Lorikeet
Time January 29, 2013 at 7:16 am

I need to make a correction here, John. At the time when Julia Gillard offered the top Senate position to Nova Peris, she had not yet joined the ALP. This was stated in the initial television interview.

I believe this is a move on the part of the PM to curry favour with indigenous people throughout the nation, not just in the NT.

Nova will certainly make an excellent “yes woman” if the interview I saw is anything to go by. She will probably attract a lot of votes because she is a former Olympian and Commonwealth Games champion.

As much as I have no love of the ALP, I think Trish Crossin may be wise to quit the party and run as an Independent.

Even some of Ms Crossin’s political enemies think Julia Gillard has done the wrong thing, and it is certainly a smack in the face to some far better aboriginal contenders.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time January 29, 2013 at 7:32 am

I would certainly support aboriginal and TSI peoples being able to start their own businesses in the NT.

This would also help to put an end to unemployment, drug/alcohol addiction, paedophilia and resultant incarceration.

I would also like to see an end to racial division and associated arguments, with all peoples living together in peace.

The main reasons there are so many problems throughout the world are:

. that people are in no rush to accept each other’s belief systems or physical appearances (religion/race)

. that people want to fight over land ownership hundreds of years after their regime has been conquered.

I think politicians of various persuasions should stop trying to make political mileage from minority groups.

I think it is true that some aboriginal people have very long track records of playing the victim, despite leading white people’s lives.

Comment from Jolly
Time January 29, 2013 at 11:29 am

I am all for the well being of our indigenous Australians. Yes, we stole their lans, denied them their language, culture and way of life. We did horrible things … all in utter ignorance and greed. I believe that as we progress as a nation, we must embrace and include all Australians in our attempt to redress past mistakes. But the current PM is not sincere in her attempts to right the wrongs with our indigenous brothers & sisters. She is the Queen of Treachery; she is doing Nova Peris a disservice. There are many well qualified, well respected indigenous people for the job. What she is looking for is some politically naive, subservient female individual who will be another “YES, Ma’am”. Buying the votes of indigenous Australians? Another shameful and deceitful crime against our Indigenous people. They will be, again, a forgotten lot after the election.

Comment from Mary
Time January 29, 2013 at 12:34 pm

Since when does an MP think they are in a job for life? Many of the union factioned men and women think it is their riight. They have the numbers at every preselection and decide who will be the candidate.
In Africa women have taken over politics to sort out the mess the men have made. The problem with women is many follow the mens’ easy road into politics by becoming one of the BOYS CLUB in the factions. they do not represent democracy they are shoring up their faction mates instead of representing the community. The unions do not want to reliquish their power. That is what’s wrong with the ALP they have lost touch with locals and allowed the union factions to take over preselection at the 3 levels of Government. i know this from experience. See Gamit comments today.
About Emilies list it is an academic women’s group looking to enter parliament albeit through a faction! They have done nothing to improve the representation of women since its inseption. I was convenor of WEL in the 90’s. Some ALP women tried to control WEL and that is why it has withered on the vine. Also Howard cut back lobbyist funding for WEL and Aboriginals by MAINSTREAMING these grass roots groups and thus making them invisible through lack of funds. The only lobbyist today are corporations and business. Anyone outside is considered a pest and anoyance that is ignored. the voice of the people have been silenced as it is in in the UK today.
When I read these negative comments just before an election I can see all the undermining being done. Are these people actgually liberal supporters planted to discredit Julia. if not they are dong a great job of the ALP losing the electiion. Now the liberals keep all their dirty wahing in house. The media is offside with the ALP si it makes it easier for them to discredit everything the ALP does and not report any positive moves. In the UK they are tacking the problem of energy by giving it free to install bettewr technology in homes that cannot afford it. The ALP simultanious policy gave free power tot eh middleclass few poor could afford the differance. Nosw they are paying more for those who are gettign it free! Not much sense in that. No Homes WEst homes in WA received free installation and so they are now paying the price. Middleclass welfare is all we get from both parties. That is because all politicians are actually middle class xsend their kids to private schools and live in blue ribbon suburbs.

Comment from Mary
Time January 29, 2013 at 12:39 pm

Indigenous policy is not just one policy they are factioned as much as the two major parties. The men there do not want to lose control and power and hand it over to a women of substance. She will make them all look bad.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time January 29, 2013 at 2:48 pm

Some interesting comments, Mary. I think most people are aware that men like to use women to do their dirty work.

I wouldn’t agree that all politicians come from the middle class, send their kids to private schools and live in blue ribbon suburbs, but I think it is true that rich people are more likely to have the financial capacity to buy their way into the parliament.

If the government gave all candidates for election equal funding and equal media time with no private donations, we would probably get a better group of people to represent us.

To my knowledge, the women who belong to Emily’s List are pro-abortion. If this is the case, I see no reason to have any of them in the parliament.

I certainly agree that the only successful lobbyists seem to be corporates and big business. I have no doubt they are also the main purveyors of various recidivist ideologies attributed to the Greens, which serve their money grubbing purposes very well.

Comment from Allan
Time January 29, 2013 at 2:55 pm

A treaty, recognising ownership etc etc , get real! Aboriginals from 1788 were going to cop a flogging no matter what. With an expansionist Europe of that era it was just a matter of who got here first.
I wonder what the landscape would be if France, Spain, Portugal or Czarist Russia landed first but it dosn’t really matter, the Aboriginals were never going to be able to stop others from taking over the continent of Australia. Be thankful that we havn’t been like the Middle East with ongoing war and occupation for the past couple of thousand years by different contesting religions and invaders.
As far as I can see there is equal opportuity for any individual to shine in Australia if they put in the work.
There are any number of succesful and well educated people of Aboriginal descent to hold up as an example.
Everyone needs to work to improve their position and Govt should only get involved if a person can’t look after themselves.

Comment from John
Time January 29, 2013 at 8:12 pm

Oh dear, all the tired old bullshit about Aborigines. I especially love how if you work hard you can improve your life. Not true but why let the truth get in the way of a fairy tale and justification for genocide. Capital has stolen their land, 120,000 Aborigines died as a consequence of the invasion, had their children stolen, didn’t get paid proper wages, were driven off their land, etc etc but if you work hard it will all be OK.

Comment from Shockadelic
Time January 29, 2013 at 9:03 pm

Pay the rent? Let’s see, the natives didn’t farm, raise livestock or settle permanently on the land, and those are the only reasons land has value.
No crops, no herds, no homes = no value. The rent on land with no value would be zero dollars.

As for the intervention, damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
If the government does nothing, they’re “racist” for allowing Aborigines to destroy themselves.
If they interfere, they’re “racist” for imposing external control on communities. Can’t win.

Comment from John
Time January 30, 2013 at 5:51 am

Actually the Little Children are sacred report set out a process for addressing the issues that involved wide spread communication with and involvement from the communities. Howard, and after him Rudd and and Gillard, used the very carefully examined and worded Report to launch an Invasion of the Northern Territory and ride roughshod over indigenous people. I suggest you read the report which was not a case of ‘damned if you do and damned if you don’t’ but a well argued case for Aboriginal solutions to the problems, not the white state imposing solutions.

And I love your analogy. Because it is only under capitalism that value is created (not true but we’ll leave that aside) then only capitalists should receive compensation for loss of land. So if someone steals my home – unproductive in the immediate capitalist sense you refer to – I should receive no compensation. I guess you haven’t heard either of compensation for loss of land and suffering?

Comment from Lorikeet
Time January 30, 2013 at 7:08 am

In some ways the traditional aboriginal people were very clever. They knew how to reap the land, rivers and oceans of their resources (food, implements, weapons) without doing much work or building anything other than primitive shelters.

Before they moved on, they burned the area for regeneration purposes, thereby also avoiding widespread death of humans, animals and birds from uncontrolled bush fires. The next “crop” would be waiting for them on their return.

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