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John Passant

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June 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)

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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)



CEOs sleeping out won’t address homelessness

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics every night over 105,000 Australians are homeless.

On Thursday night the Vinnies CEO Sleepout will see a range of company high fliers and other well off people sleep out to highlight homelessness in Australia.

However these CEOs and others preside over a system which creates homelessness and the conditions which cause it.

As the ABS says:

Homelessness is not just the result of too few houses. Its causes are many and varied. Domestic violence, a shortage of affordable housing, unemployment, mental illness, family breakdown and drug and alcohol abuse all contribute to the level of homelessness in Australia (FaHCSIA, 2008). Homelessness is not a choice. Homelessness is one of the most potent examples of disadvantage in the community, and one of the most important markers of social exclusion (Department of Human Services, 2002).

Homelessness Australia emphasises the point. They say:

Homelessness is often a result of a number of complex issues which can include:

  • ƒ The chronic shortage of affordable and available rental housing
  • ƒ Domestic and family violence
  • ƒ Intergenerational poverty
  • ƒ Financial crisis
  • ƒ Long term unemployment
  • ƒ Economic and social exclusion
  • ƒ Severe and persistent mental illness and psychological distress
  • ƒ Exiting state care
  • ƒ Exiting prison
  • ƒ Severe overcrowding/housing crisis

Part of the reason people are homeless is because the very CEOs sleeping out run companies that don’t pay much tax or demand less government spending and services and tax cuts for the rich and powerful. As Vinnies itself notes:

The growing incidence of homelessness has not been accompanied by an increase in services to meet demand. While Vinnies operates a wide range of homeless services across the country, many areas remain without specialist homeless and housing services to support the needs of people experiencing disadvantage.

A couple of heavies from some of the big 4 banks and others are involved in the sleepout. These are the same banks who last month the Uniting Church in its report called Secrecy Jurisdictions, the ASX 100 and Public Transparency revealed had subsidiaries in tax havens.

ANZ is one doing its bit for homelessness. It has plans to to sack 600 of its call centre workers in Melbourne.

The Greens earlier this year suggested a 0.2% levy on the assets of the Big 4 banks that would, according to the Parliamentary Budget Office, raise $11 billion over 4 years.

The big banks reap huge super profits. They do this in part by gouging our accounts, by not passing on all interest rate cuts, by imposing criminal interest on credit cards and through receiving a government ‘too big to fail’ guarantee. A full blown super profits tax would raise much more than a small 0.2% levy.

Domestic violence is a big contributor to homelessness among women and children. Yet as Peter Switzer made clear on Sky News in plugging the CEO sleepout, the money raised in the New South Wales sleepout would go to support domestic violence services in Western Sydney. This is because the government provides no support whatsoever for domestic violence services there. No support whatsoever.

Indigenous Australians make up 2.5% of the Australian population but represent 25% of the homeless in the country. Indigenous homelessness is but one consequence of dispossession and genocide. No amount of CEO sleepouts is going to change that.

Only an overthrowing of social relations, i.e. of capitalism, and a democratic workers’ government negotiating a treaty with those who have never ceded sovereignty, and paying the rent, can address the systemic genocide of the past and present against Indigenous Australians and the homelessness which flows from that.

My favourite among sleepout supporters is Queensland Treasurer Tim Nicholls. Tim has, according to the Vinnies website, raised more than $24000 for the homeless.

This of course is the same Treasurer who has sacked 12000 Queensland public servants and I can confidently predict some of them are tonight among the growing number of homeless in Queensland. Tim has also cut funding to homeless support groups in Queensland and stopped funding tenancy advice services (TAAS). He refused to provide $2.5 million as part of a Gillard government proposal that would see the TAAS continue after 30 June this year.

This is not just hypocrisy on Nicholl’s part. It reveals a deeper truth – homelessness is systemic. It arises from the way society is organised. It flows from capitalism. Politicians who manage capitalism support homelessness as a necessary consequence of the system’s drive for profit at the expense of people.

Taxing the CEOs and their companies much more could provide enough money for public housing and social services to address the social issues that create homelessness.  For example a 1% wealth tax on the top 20%, the people who own over 60% of our wealth ($4 trillion of over $6 trillion), could yield about $40 billion a year.

However progressive taxes can’t in the long run however abolish homelessness because that arises out of capitalist relations. And no government in Australia is going to tax the rich.

The Vinnies CEO sleepout won’t address homelessness. What it will do is reinforce the system and the people who sit at the very top of the tree of the rich. CEOs are part of the problem; they are not a solution to homelessness.  Only in a world without CEOs will there be a world without the homelessness that they and their system create.



Comment from Howard Marosi
Time June 20, 2013 at 11:53 pm

The money raised by these events is miniscule compared to what the Government already provides- including billions of dollars worth of public housing.

The main political parties are pushing to give away public housing to private organizations, which includes charities.

Government does it much better than the private sector. It has built quality housing, keeps rents at 25% of income, gives security of tenure, and does not cherrypick those tenants on better incomes.

Join the fight to save public housing, join
1. Kate Borland`s Save Public Housing
2. Friends of Public Housing
3. Defend and Extend Public Housing
4. Adam Bandt or Steve Jolly who are both supporting PH.

Comment from @landrights4all
Time June 21, 2013 at 10:11 am

I believe we need to protect & promote our birthright of free access to land, as to air water and sunlight, and we need to be fully accountable to each other for using that birthright sustainably.

But to avoid scaring the horses by changing anything precipitously, we could start by looking first to the most in need of “sustainable” housing in Australia – the poor & the homeless for whom public housing exists and ask
– under what conditions could their right of access to land be fully recognised in public housing they occupy,
– could they be supported to cooperate rather than being forced to compete
– could they be held justly accountable for the way they use that birthright?.

Given that in a democracy, policy is determined by what the government thinks the voters will support, the question that also needs answering is
– could providing free birthright access to land for housing for those made redundant in this competitive economy become a popular move among the majority of voters who are committed to the competitive model & to ownership for their own survival?

Finally, given our fondness for asserting power over others and the consequence that this domination gives rise to resentment and the destruction of willing, positive or creative participation
– could all this be achieved without any form of coercion like that which has blighted Newstart and would continue to enslave us all to the agendas of hierarchy, power and the politics of manipulation or greed?


Comment from d. l. white
Time June 21, 2013 at 8:19 pm

Thanks John for another perceptive and pointed comment. As usual you leave little to debate. Capitalism as we know it has a lot to answer for. Sadly too many are caught in the trap of ignorance and apathy and are blithely unaware of the sinister nature and global reach of the current capitalist economic regime.
Den 71

Comment from Steve Carey
Time June 23, 2013 at 7:54 pm

Good points about the facile “sleep out” feelgood exercise. I don’t suppose anyone highlighted the hypocrisy of the Qld. minister’s tokenism?

Comment from John
Time June 23, 2013 at 7:59 pm

Other than me Steve, not that I know of.

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