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John Passant

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October 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)



Grandstanding about repression, refugees and money

Sri Lanka stops a number of desperate Tamils fleeing to Australia and the Abbott government is forever grateful. That is why, despite consistent findings of war crimes by the Sri Lankan regime against the Tamil people, the Abbott government supports the government there.

The next Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting is in Sri Lanka. Stephen Harper, the Canadian Prime Minister, won’t be going because of Sri Lanka’s human rights violations. Abbott will because he hopes the Sri Lankan government will help him ‘stop the boats’ or rather give that impression. It also takes back deported asylum seekers. Some have been tortured on return.

It is the same with Indonesia. The Indonesian government is a key for Abbott in any ‘success’ against refugees coming to Australia seeking asylum. So Abbott will do nothing to upset the Indonesian leadership.

When three West Papuans scaled the walls of the Australian consulate in Bali just before the recent meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Council, it is alleged the Consulate told the West Papuans that the Indonesians would be called in to arrest them unless they left peacefully. They left after calling for the release of all political prisoners and to allow reporters into the province. These are basic demands for freedom.

In 1969, after 6 years of Indonesian brutality, in an act of Free Choice – it wasn’t – West Papua joined Indonesia. Instead of the 800,000 West Papuans voting, a hand picked group of 1026 tribal leaders, under intense pressure from the occupiers, voted to become part of Indonesia.

The result suited both Indonesia and the US, and Australia and the Netherlands, the former colonial master.

Indonesian rule is brutal. In 2012 Aljazeera estimated that 500,000 West Papuans had died as a result of the incorporation of the country into Indonesia. A program of transmigration has disrupted and destroyed traditional life. Of the more than 3 million now living in West Papua about half are non-Papuan.

Because West Papuans have resisted the occupation and genocide the Indonesian armed forces have repressed the indigenous population, abused human rights and killed both those fighting back and the innocent. The killers have included Australian trained special forces.

Tony Abbott soothed the Indonesian government. This is what Australia’s Prime Minister said:

We have a very strong relationship with Indonesia and we are not going to give people a platform to grandstand against Indonesia. And people seeking to grandstand against Indonesia, please, don’t look to do it in Australia. You are not welcome.

Protesting genocide and human rights abuses is not grandstanding. Exercising freedom of speech and bringing the reality of the abuses in West Papua to the notice of the people of Australia is to be defended, not threatened. However this is a government of silence, both its own and imposing it on others.

Even worse, Abbott became an apologist for the abuses when he claimed that the ‘situation in West Papua is getting better not worse.’ It isn’t. In any event ‘better’ is relative in these circumstances. People are still being killed, arrested, tortured, silenced.

There is another reason besides refugees for Abbott to ignore the human rights abuses (leaving aside Australia’s own rotten record, for example the Intervention, deaths in custody, early Indigenous morbidity.).

Predictions are that by 2050 Indonesia will be the fourth biggest economy in the world. Such a growing and expanding economy over the next forty years will need more and more resources, and who better to supply them than mines in Australia?

On top of that, as a middle class develops further in Indonesia and its eating habits begin to mimic the meat eating West more and more, Indonesia requires secure and stable supplies. This includes both live cattle exports and Indonesian investment in cattle stations in Northern Australia.

When Tony Abbott says Australia is open for business what he means is that Australian profits built on the bones of dead West Papuans are OK by him.


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