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John Passant

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April 2013
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Keep socialist blog En Passant going - donate now
If you want to keep a blog that makes the arguments every day against the ravages of capitalism going and keeps alive the flame of democracy and community, make a donation to help cover my costs. And of course keep reading the blog. To donate click here. Keep socialist blog En Passant going. More... (4)

Sprouting sh*t for almost nothing
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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)



Saturday’s socialist speak out

Multi-billionaire Clive Palmer, one of Australia’s richest men, has set up a political party, the United Australia Party. If the name sounds vaguely familiar that’s because it was a party formed in 1931 by dissident Labor members and conservatives. They united against Labor’s Depression policies and for austerity to address the Depression, and in 1932 former Labor minister Joe Lyons led the party to victory. He governed for 7 years, to be followed by Bob Menzies.

Lyons was from a working class background. Palmer is a filthy rich miner and resort owner. It is difficult to imagine working class Australians throwing their support behind a member of the 0.000000001 per cent. It will be a titanic task for the old dinosaur to win any seats let alone the majority he says he has his eyes on, with him as Prime Minister. (Bad puns intended.) It really is tin foil hat time.

Palmer was a lifelong member of the Liberal National Party in Queensland before he spat the dummy after personal clashes with the rest of the hierarchy. His complaint, that there is no difference between Gillard and Abbott, is in one sense correct. The Labor Party and the Liberals are both parties of neoliberalism. They may disagree about the best way to oversight the shift of wealth to the rich and capital from labour and the poor but they share that common goal.

Such is the degeneration of Australian politics that no-one on the Labor Left or in the mainstream union movement has made public the same criticism and fought openly against Labor Party neoliberalism.

Thus for example unions in Canberra for the first time in many years have organised May Day rallies which will basically be rah rahs for the current Gillard government against the looming evil of an Abbott government. The idea that the neoliberalism of Gillard is laying the groundwork for the neoliberalism of Abbott and that to fight Abbott we need to fight Gillard seems lost on the union bureaucrats. This is not surprising because they have since the mid-80s adopted the trickledown theory and this has shifted society so far to the right that any hint of Keynesianism let alone socialist rhetoric is silenced.

There will be joint Socialist Alliance and Socialist Alternative blocs marching in the May Day rallies across Australia next weekend. Join us. We will be the ones with red flags and chants for example against Labor’s cuts to higher education and single parent payments. Fight Abbott by fighting Gillard.

At the Australian National University on 1 May (May Day) students will rally against Labor’s attack on higher education. The National Union of Students has called rallies for 14 May, when the Budget is handed down. There have already been student rallies in various cities against the cuts.

Taking $2.8 billion from the higher education budget is the biggest attack on higher education since John Howard in 1996. The main union, the NTEU, is going quiet on the issue with a bit of bleating calling on Gillard to withdraw the cuts. But the milksops won’t organise a real industrial fight back. They are inviting Abbott to cut even more from the higher education budget.

On Labor, such is its degeneration that Joe Bullock, a former state secretary of the Shop Assistant’s Union and vehement homophobe has won number one Senate spot in Western Australia. Almost his first words after pre-selection were that he opposed equal marriage.

France and New Zealand recently legalised same sex marriage and there will be demonstrations across Australia in mid to late May to keep the pressure on Labor.

In the US the ruling elite are turning the Boston bombing into a festival of reaction. The idea that invading or bombing other countries and killing innocents might be an explanation for these atrocities on US soil is one that the US elite cannot accept or more importantly allow to gain traction.

At the same time the West fertilizer plant explosion in Texas shows that the bosses’ neoliberal terrorism against workers continues. As the death of over 200 garment workers in Bangladesh shows, this is a global phenomenon.

In Australia there will be rallies on 28 April as part of global commemorations for those who have died at work. Building workers in Victoria will commence there remembrance at the Grocon site on Swanston Street where 3 members of the public were killed at the end of last month by a falling wall.

They are being criticised for politicising the deaths. This gets it, like most things under capitlaism, arse about. What could be more political than putting profit before people? The 3 enquiries are, the building union says, whitewashing any real investigation.

Building workers at the Grocon Myer Emporium site in Melbourne tried to get Grocon to accept union nominated safety monitors on site. The Liberal Government mobilised up to 1000 police to defend the right of Grocon to make profits at the expense of people’s lives.

A few weeks later building worker Bob Ramsay fell to his death at the site.

Deaths on building sites went up after the Australian Building and Construction Commission was set up to weaken if not destroy the power of building unions. Deaths on Australian building sites are about twice those in the UK because there they have a strict set of regulations which are enforced.

The solution seems obvious to me. Give workers and their unions the power to close down unsafe sites. That seems to work well enough in New South Wales mines.

The US may have found its excuse for intervening in Syria, or at least for ensuring its puppets come to the fore. Whether or not the chemical weapons tune out to be like weapons of mass destruction – cover for invasion or increased support for puppets – is a secondary point. The best way we can defend the Syrian revolution from Western imperialism and defend the possibility of democracy from below there is to build the movement against war, and specifically against Western intervention in Syria, in our own countries.

Preumably if Assad’s weapon of choice was drone bombs to kill innocents that would be OK since that is the preferred US method.

To have your say on these or any other issues hit the comments button under the heading. Like all posts on this site comments close after 7 days.



Comment from Chris Warren
Time April 27, 2013 at 2:38 pm

It is a pity that the need to expand school education funding is being seen as a cut to higher education. Why should one sector be played-off another? TAFE/VET has long been underfunded, but this post-secondary path may have greater import and share the wealth more effectively than degree-level pathways.

The funding for education is better drawn from the billions being wasted in strange defence purchases we don’t need and in effect only prop-up Yankee capitalism.

The issues were well explored in an ABC program:

“A significant number of young Australians can’t stand school and many people are ill suited to a university education. So is it wise to insist that everyone complete year 12? Should we be encouraging ever more young people to get an uni degree? Do we need a complete overhaul of vocational education and apprenticeships? Paul Barclay questions an expert panel about what the ingredients are to a successful transition to work and adulthood for Australian youth.”


Comment from Kay
Time April 27, 2013 at 3:46 pm

Guess what, Chris – I agree with you!

Comment from Calligula
Time April 27, 2013 at 8:45 pm

Gawd, give us a break; male or female, artificial construct for the purpose, or whatever it is – what is the thing about your persistent white nurse shark like attack against people wanting to write something, somewhere, anywhere.
Not only have you promoted yourself to the authority to order me to piss off from Mr. passant’s blog – but you’ve essentially told me to shut down my own.
Hell’s teeth, I’ve only come back to visit for a while to sharpen my ‘vitriol skills’.
What a democrat you are; what a supporter of free speech.
Ain’t no broad church for you.
Is there?
And no sense of humour whatsoever.

Is that why (since you keep harping on about being some sort of ps manager – that nothing, absolutely nothing either private sector or public sector is managed ethically in any way, manner or form these days in this sorry confection of a pretend commonwealth?
Strikes me it is a certain class of dimwit that has brought us to this pass.
Understand what I mean?

The main point is that I cannot fathom what inkling a retired BS/ps, whatever, manager, like you, would have about education – especially since it is so long since you attended seventh grade.

As it happens I’ve taken the time to google kay through the track record of ‘enpassant’.

She/it rears its ugly head and strikes (increasingly, more lately) at anyone who disagrees with its limited view (I refrain from saying world view ‘cos it doesn’t have a world view other than her temporary luck at being able to buy cheap computers from China).

Strikes me that the creature should be given one of those rattle things that women in the Salvation Army band used to crash about with in pubs and outside brothels back in the bad old days.
Now if she could rassle up a few trumpet players and a subbo with a bass drum – she’d be perfectly welcome to bring her fundamentalist, narrow minded band to bellow and clash away outside our front door.
That might scare away a few of the customers from the meth lab just opposite us.

Or more likely she/it’d find common cause with the chemically challenged idiots – since their cause is the same as her/its – greed, stupidity and selfish, narrowband gratification.

And if any of you out there can’t work out the problem with that sort in a functional, sustainable, modern nation state then that wouldn’t surprise me in the least.
Of course none of this has anything to do with Mr.Passant’s article – but what ever does.

Comment from Kay
Time April 28, 2013 at 7:47 am


My, oh my – I do bother you, don’t I? Maybe I should be flattered by such constant attention? I can’t even safely agree with another blogger! Why do you waste so much time attacking me? I really seem to have gotten under your skin! Nothing else better to do? You do sound very bored and frustrated! Whatever… Not that I take any notice of your mainly unintelligible ramblings, anyway. And, as you say, nothing to do with the topic.

Comment from Chris Warren
Time April 28, 2013 at 11:46 am


Don’t worry too much. Those who try to boost their interventions by applying some vanity qualification about being a public service manager, only damage their credibility.

In my experience of over 30 years Commonwealth public service, I can assure you that managers were more often than not the dross in policy development and analytical areas. Managers were good for administering grants, payrolls, event coordinating, recruitment and purchasing etc but the heavy-lifting in policy areas was best left to others.

The worst managers were those who jumped to ridiculous conclusions by fabricating facts and opportunist, disruptive, argumentation.

Often enough they ended up, edged out of the service, due to many complaints about their interpersonal skills and/or workplace bullying behaviours.

Comment from John
Time April 28, 2013 at 9:04 pm

Can we concentrate on the issues not the personal abuse rap. That is reserved for me when I have the shits with someone.

Comment from Calligula
Time April 28, 2013 at 9:42 pm

Mr Passant,
When I began my engineering traineeship in 1969 the workplace safety situation was fraught with danger for anyone stupid enough to take the slightest risk.
Yet risks they took by the bucketload.

I remember a rigger one morning walking, tightrope style, along a two inch diameter pipe, over a span of about 20 feet, about forty feet over a cold, hard, concrete floor.
He stopped halfway over and rolled himself a smoke and continued on his way doing a mock, whoops, slipped there for a mo, before he reached the other side.
These days he’d be keelhauled for such an activity and at least dismissed instantly.
In the flavour of those times all he was doing was getting ready for the day since such stupidity (as we’d see it these days) was little different than the sort of thing he’d have to do a dozen times a day to keep his job.

I can remember countless such incidents in my working life.
It was commonplace for highly qualified machinists to be standing in front of lathes with sometimes white hot, razor sharp continuous shavings coming off the workpiece being directed down the machine shop floor.
Yet that was a matter of course.

Now forgive me for saying that such danger in the industrial workplace has not been stopped by union action or any regard for expendable workers – but by the fact that such industry has become redundant in modern Australia. – except, except I repeat, in the very tag end of our once reasonably sustainable manufacturing sector where people (who would be entitled to call themselves professionals in more sensible nations) have to continue enduring this risky environment in what remains: specialised manufacture, prototyping, R&D and the like.
And by the way – in those environments very often it was the sort that you call bosses taking exactly the same risks as those you’d call workers – when they had the chance to get a break to do something less oppressive other than the endless, grinding ulcer causing, paperwork and government generated bullshit in the office.
Now that I’m retired I have some time to relate the truth of this to your readers.

Some of your readers who have had (how can I put it?) a less strenuous bludge in some office somewhere; most probably have considered the workers in industry as being merely a background to their careers and have probably never considered that some nitpicking little cost-cutting measure they’ve dreamt up often cost lives on the factory floor. (Yep. Like what we’ve been reading lately.)

But I seriously have the impression that what you call socialism and what I know should be socialism are two entirely different things.

But as a socialist (or given my own propensity to be affected by the Dunning Kruger syndrome as anyone else) I find it remarkable that when I first began writing to your pages that I was confronted with this article – was it ‘Graham Dooley’ and now some months later this ‘Kay’ creature pops up with a similar act, the same diffracted faux pretence at logic and no effing sense at all.
So, as previously stated I’m only here for a little while, just honing my ‘vitriol’ but meanwhile trying to discover (in fact waiting for some inkling, whether anyone else out there from any sort of industry or working class background) has ever worked up the confidence to futilely attempt sensible discourse with the sort of overweening creeps who believe they have a monopoly on the emerging hate politics in this sorry place.
“Cos if a few thousand of them did those comfortable crackpots would never shut up themselves – but they might (heaven forfend) read a bit of truth.