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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)



If this is how the Liberals treat bushfire victims, imagine what they plan for the rest of us

The day after the bushfires ravaged the Blue Mountains and other parts of New South Wales, destroying hundreds of homes and tens of thousands of lives, the Abbott government cut back on emergency relief payments.

This was a deliberate, cynical cost cutting measure to save a few million dollars, spurred by the possible looming payouts for those adversely affected by the fires.  The decision to attack the victims of bushfires was either brazen braggadocio  or political stupidity.

Whatever it was, it certainly shows the contempt the Abbott government has for ordinary people.  So what did they do?

The misnamed ‘Justice’ Minister Michael Keenan decided that people who have been denied access to their homes for more than 24 hours or who have had their electricity cut off will no longer receive the emergency payment of $1000 per adult and $400 per child in a household affected by the fires.

Under the Liberals only those whose homes have been destroyed or significantly damaged, who have been seriously injured or had a family member killed, will be eligible for relief. Those kept out of or kept in their homes, those without electricity or water, or those with less than substantial damage will receive nothing. Under Labor they were helped.

This callous cost saving shouldn’t surprise us. The Abbott government is a government of vicious ruling class bastards whose ascension to power was only possible because of the anti-working class actions of the other party of neoliberalism, the Labor Party.

Already the Abbott government’s actions show what it really thinks about workers – we are all the enemy and that doesn’t matter if we are building workers, child care workers, low paid workers struggling to save for our retirement, or even bushfire victims.

Of course they can’t always openly display their contempt for us, if they want to get re-elected, so they often try to channel our anger at enemies. Refugees are the main target but the enemies within – bikies openly and unions more quietly – are beginning to come into target range for the representatives of the 1%.

The Abbott government fully supports its kindred spirits in the Queensland government and their repressive unlawful associations laws. It has rushed to the High Court to prevent gays and lesbians – often a favourite ruling class target of prejudice – from marrying.

It is reviving the Australian Building and Construction Commission under whose last watch deaths on building sites went up. While the Abbott government has launched a judicial enquiry into 4 pink batt deaths, there will be no enquiry into the direct link between the ABCC and increased deaths on building sites.

Least of all will there be an enquiry into the contribution rich donors to the Liberal Party make to building site deaths by cutting safety standards in the name of profit.

The Abbott government has reneged on a deal by the previous government to give child care workers better pay as they improve their qualifications.

Tony Abbott will pay women earning $150000 a year $75000 for six months maternity leave. That rich woman can then drop of her child at a child care centre where the workers, mainly women, are paid less than $40,000 a year.

Tony Abbott will also abolish the Minerals Resource Rent Tax, the tax that wasn’t but could have been under Labor.  Evidently Gina and Twiggy and their companies don’t earn enough to pay the tax.  Evidently a tax on the super rich is class war.

But abolishing the MRRT also means the Abbott government will save $13 billion a year by, among other things, abolishing the school kids’ bonus of $410 for primary and $820 for secondary students, a payment received by 1.3 million families.

They are going to stop paying superannuation contributions of $500 for workers earning less than $37000. They will also abolish the superannuation tax on the 16,000 Australians with superannuation balances greater than $2 million.

None of this of course is class war.  Neither is cutting the tax free threshold from $18200 back to $6000. It is not clear if they will fully reinstate the Low Income Tax Offset.  Cutting LITO was the sleight of hand Swan used to save money when raising the tax free threshold.

Estimates are that moving back to $6000 as the tax free threshold will see an extra one million low paid workers dragged back into the tax system and paying income tax again on their small salaries.

Abbott will abolish the private health insurance rebate restrictions, a measure that will cost $2.4 billion and benefit couples earning more than $168,000. Those workers earning less that $84000, the vast majority of workers,  will receive no benefit from this measure.

None of this should surprise us. The Abbott government is a government of the rich and powerful. It has shown by its actions that we workers are the enemy.

If it feels emboldened enough to cut funding to bushfire victims then you ain’t seen nothing yet.

That is where the Commission of Audit comes in. The Liberal government has set up this Commission under the leadership of Business Council of Australia henchmen and former Howard Minister Amanda Vanstone to slash public services  and privatise government agencies and instrumentalities.

The Commission will hand down 2 reports – one in January and one in March  and the Government will implement the recommendations as it sees fit as part of the Budget. There will be no consultation.

Public servants, whose wages and on costs make up about 15% of government spending, will be a particular focus.  Of course given that cutting their numbers by eight percent only reduces the budget expenditure in the long term by $5 billion, the Liberals will cut more than their promised ‘12,000 by natural attrition.’ Or was that 20,000?

Either way it own’t make much of a dent in a $40 billion Budget deficit, a deficit likely to get bigger as business profits, and hence business tax, continues to fall.

The buzz words of the Government, of business and of the Commission are and will be efficiency and productivity. Labour productivity has increased markedly over the last decade with almost all the gains going to capital. Capital productivity has fallen.

Efficiency is just code for doing more work with less staff. All they can see by turning Post Offices into Centrelink Offices is the money they will save. They don’t see the long queues, the untrained post office staff having to deal with Newstart poverty and angry people everywhere.

There will be more of these harebrained schemes, all driven by the dollars saved and possibly implemented as a consequence.

More generally the Liberal government will try to slow down wage increases even more. Reviving the ABCC is an important part of that strategy because building unions are almost the last bastion of working class consciousness, and sometimes action, in Australia. If the Liberals can smash them then it will send a message to all trade unionists wanting to fight. ‘We smashed the most powerful unions; we can smash you.’

Of course the lapdogs of capital in the Australian Council of Trade Unions and most other unions won’t fight and won’t defend the building unions.

It is up to those unions and particularly the rank and file to lead the fight and for members of all unions and the Left to lend a hand at the picket lines, send solidarity messages, donations, make the case for the unions’ actions and the like.  Most importantly it is up to union members in the current lapdog led unions to try to build layers of resistance to the attacks of the bosses and their lackeys in the trade union leadership.

Let’s prepare right now for the conflagration the Liberals want to unleash on us in the May Budget and the spot fires the government arsonists have already been starting. Be Abbott aware now.

A more humane and just society where all bushfire victims are treated fairly can be won, but that means joining with all those under attack from the Liberals. Most importantly it means workers taking action to defend their own interests against the attacks of the one percent and their Liberal government. We can beat them back with strikes.

To comment or see what others are saying hit the comments link under the heading. Like all posts on this blog comments close after 7 days.



Pingback from If this is how the Liberals treat bushfire victims, imagine what they plan for the rest of us | OzHouse
Time October 28, 2013 at 7:02 pm

[…] Oct 28 2013 by admin […]

Comment from paul walter
Time October 28, 2013 at 11:14 pm

Too true. Yet look at the idiots who voted them in. But in the end, were they so idiotic, given the events acoss the nation over the last decade, involving the right faction in particular?

Comment from Lorikeet
Time October 29, 2013 at 9:56 am

I think the people would be wise to form new unions as I don’t think the ones we have already can be trusted. Anyone who would give donations to the ALP is certainly not pro-worker.

Another issue I have with Tony Abbott’s PPL scheme is that it doesn’t take into account household income. Women on $150,000 a year could easily be married to billionaires.

I am also concerned about a television report about a possible plan by Tony Abbott to run Centrelink services out of post offices. I think this is only a red herring to hose down numerous complaints regarding Medicare, Centrelink, Family Assistance Office etc et bloody cetera all coming under the enormous umbrella of the Dept of Human Services.

Several months ago, both Wayne Swan and Joe Hockey said they had an interest in introducing an Asian Style Welfare System. This sounds like none!

In regard to handouts to people who have had to leave their homes due to bush fires, maybe the government could try income or assets testing the payments. But I guess it could be cheaper just to give the money to everyone due to administration costs.

To my knowledge, people who lose their homes due to termite infestation get nothing at all from insurers or government.

Comment from John
Time October 29, 2013 at 4:19 pm

Paul, it is not a question of being idiots. There are complex reasons why workers and others voted for the Liberals, not least Labor’s neoliberalism and the weakness of the radical and revolutionary left.

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