ga('send', 'pageview');
John Passant

Site menu:

September 2013



RSS Oz House



Subscribe to us

Get new blog posts delivered to your inbox.


Site search


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)



Fighting back against Abbott’s agenda

The Australian ruling class got their wish – the Liberals have won government under Tony Abbott’s leadership. Six years of rotten, racist, right wing ratbaggery and neoliberal policy from Labor made this possible.

At around 34% Labor’s primary vote is its lowest since 1934. The swing against the ALP was more than 4%.

The swing against The Greens was more than 3%. The swing to the Liberals was a bit over 1%. The swing to others, mainly the Palmer United Party, was over 5%.

It looks as if a large number of people pissed off with Labor found alternatives to going straight to the Liberals, alternatives which weren’t The Greens. Of course reactionary populism like the Palmer United Party is no real alternative.

The Greens could draw the conclusion that playing parliamentary games and being supportive of Labor’s neoliberal agenda doesn’t win votes and that a better way would be to mobilise their thousands of supporters in demonstrations for equal love, refugees and unions. They could draw that conclusion, but won’t.

The spin from Labor is that disunity cost them the election. This is fantasy land stuff. If only they had all united behind rabid neoliberalism then Labor would still be in power. Yeah, right. I have a bridge in Sydney to sell you too.

In fact Rudd and Gillard shared a common ‘Labor values’ philosophy – make workers pay for the crises of capitalism by shifting more and more of the wealth workers create to the rich and capital. Maybe workers were rejecting Labor’s neoliberalism, not embracing Abbott’s agenda.

The disunity theme means that the real reasons – Labor’s massive shift to the right economically and socially over the last 3 decades and the collapse of class struggle over that period – can be and will be ignored by the neoliberals who are the ALP.

None of the parliamentary party will argue for a shift to the left, for taxing the rich, for welcoming refugees, for really addressing climate change, for redistributing some of the wealth we create back to workers and the poor through for example restoring single parent payments, increasing University funding, improving hospitals by paying nurses much more,  increasing pensions and Newstart etc etc.

The long term goal of the ruling class is as Abbott put it to make Australia ‘open for business’. Of course it was open for business under Labor but what Abbott means by open for business is attacking unions, wages, conditions, jobs, social services, minor regulation. To do this there will be an increase in attacks on refugees, indigenous Australians, gays and lesbians and perhaps women as workers.  Racism, homophobia and sexism will become less wink wink and more nudge nudge.

In essence open for business means open slather for business. The philosophy and action are simple. What is good for Gina Rinehart is good for the worker on $16,$14, $12 $10 an hour.

Building unions, as the symbol of the most militant defensive section of the working class, will be the first point of attack by Abbot and Abetz. An Abbott government victory over them will set back the ideas and reality of working class struggle and resistance.

Abbott will do this by re-establishing the Australian Building and Construction Commission.  Labor watered it down a little and shifted it to Fair Work Australia. Abbott will strengthen its powers.

The end result will be to criminalise all industrial action on building sites with a vicious cop on the beat to prosecute any worker who walks off the job over safety issues. When the Howard Government introduced the ABCC in 2005 deaths on building sites went up.

It will happen again if the Liberals can get away with reviving the ABCC. Abbott will have blood on his hands but because the bosses will have more money in their pockets the ruling class will be happy.  As long as the building bosses can weaken the unions and increase their own profits who cares about a few extra dead or maimed workers? Not the ruling class nor its politicians.

This makes it imperative for building workers and their unions to resist Abbott’s attacks on them. It might seem odd talking about resisting a resurgent Liberal government.  But in 1996 workers demonstrated against the newly elected Howard government and stormed Parliament House.

In 1998 waterside workers fought back against Howard’s attempts to destroy the unions and run the ports with scabs. While the Maritime Union won in the courts, over time they lost in the ports because they didn’t continue their industrial action and didn’t bring the ports to a standstill for weeks.

During the long post war Conservative reign workers fought many battles, the most famous of which in 1969 saw general strikes free tramways union official Clarrie O’Shea from jail and smash the penal powers.

This fight was won because left unions worked together and organised outside the conservative ACTU to bring out workers across Australia in rolling general strikes. After 5 days o’Shea was free and the penal powers were a dead letter, not used for a decade for fear of provoking similar responses.

It is that sort of militancy that is needed today. Yet the union movement is in a much weaker position, mainly because major sections of the leadership think they can’t fight anymore.

Three decades of class collaboration have seen strike levels collapse, union membership plummet, the death of rank and file organisation and the bosses’ share of national income increase to record levels and that of labor to very low levels historically.

The union leadership won’t lead a fightback. The more militant leadership feels isolated and lacks confidence. It will be up to rank and file unionists to rebuild their unions if there is to be any chance of successful resistance to Abbott’s agenda of open slather for business at our expense.

The struggles too will be more intense. 2013 is not 1963. The main difference is that the post war boom provided the revenue basis for the ruling class to buy off workers undertaking industrial action and provide for basic social services and welfare payments.

The social surplus value then no longer exists today. As profit rates around the globe fell in the late 1960s and early 1970s, neoliberalism replaced Keynesianism as the prferred ideology of the ruling class and Labor adopted it with gusto in Australia. It was the Hawke Labor government who led its full fledged introduction here, beginning in 1983 with the Accord and the process of holding down real wages.  Indeed, because of its close links with the trade union bureaucracy, Hawke Labor could cut real wages, something Thatcher in Britain was not able to do.

Will there be an upsurge in class struggle? The class traitors in the ACTU and the many do-nothing unions will try to prevent it. And they may succeed for a while. The point about capitalism however is that it forces workers to fight back, and if that occurs it could lead to a conflagration across industries as workers move to the left industrially and perhaps politically and outflank the current discredited union and ALP leaderships.

Of course none of this might happen, which makes it even more imperative for those small groups of workers and students who do want to fight back to understand what is happening in society and why. That means understanding the nature of capitalism and being involved in a political organisation providing that understanding and involving itself in the struggles of today. Socialist Alternative does that.

A homophobic and racist Abbott government will attack refuges even more to divert attention away from its attacks on workers.  It will do nothing on same sex marriage other than talk about marriage being between a man and a woman, emboldening the homophobes in our society.

There will be a number of anti-war, deaths in custody, equal love and refugee rallies in September and October in various cities as the first challenge to Abbott’s reactionary agenda. I hope Labor Party and Greens’ rank and file members join us.

Let’s build these demonstrations as part of building the wider fight back. In doing that we can also give hope to union activists and militants and the wider working class that we can fight back, we can resist.

There is an alternative. Its name is struggle.

Rally to stop the US bombing of Syria: No Australian involvement

5 pm Friday 13 September Sydney Town Hall.


1 pm Sunday 15 September Sydney Town Hall

Rally: 30 Years and still No Justice! Stop Aboriginal Deaths in Custody

12 noon Saturday 28 September Sydney Town Hall

Tell Tony Abbott – refugees are welcome here.

Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Sunday 29 September


Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 12 October

Post- Election Rally – Let The Refugees In!

Melbourne State Library 1 pm Saturday 21 September



Comment from Kay
Time September 10, 2013 at 8:13 am

Sounds as though your ‘rent-a-crowd’ is going to be busy! They always look so young, unkempt, use foul language, scream loudly all the time, and are sometimes even violent. They have lost credibility. It is a pity they spoil their message on some very worthwhile causes in such a way.

Big peaceful marches, comprised of a wide cross-section of the community, are highly effective, though. That is democracy in action.

Comment from Tyra
Time September 12, 2013 at 8:56 pm

Why not put your money where your mouth is, Kay, and come along then? Bring the whole family!

Comment from Kay
Time September 14, 2013 at 10:17 am


Been there, done that! Vietnam. Retired from protest marches, as well as work. Too exhausting these days. In any case, none of the above appeal to me, except perhaps trying to prevent the bombing of Syria.

Write a comment