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John Passant

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December 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)



Let’s liberate Tony Abbott right now

Holden is going to close down car manufacturing in Australia in 2017. Almost 3000 workers at the Holden plants in South Australia and Victoria will lose their jobs.

Estimates vary as to the flow on effects but 50,000 job losses may be a conservative estimate.

Here is what our esteemed Prime Minister said about those workers losing their jobs:

Some of them will find it difficult, but many of them will probably be liberated to pursue new opportunities and to get on with their lives.

Idiot boy thinks being sacked is liberating. That is because he is a member of the ruling class who does’t understand what it is like to survive, to bring up a family on the average wage or less. Abbott has no idea of the ravages of unemployment. He only sees the world from the vantage point of capital and the buying and selling of labour power.

All the sacked workers need to do is offer themselves on the labour market and hey presto new job. I mean, how liberating is that?

Apart from the fact you may not get a job, don’t have any money money to pay the mortgage or the rent and maybe don’t have enough to feed yourself as well as the kids.

Analysis from the closure of Ford shows that about one third of the sacked will become long term unemployed, one third will eventually  find new jobs on lower pay and on third will get employment at around the same wage.

Some liberation.  The worst aspect is that Abbott intends to liberate lots more workers. In the May Budget he will cut many more public service jobs and services in the name of a budget surplus.

Tony the liberator is a free market fundamentalist. One consequence of this is withdrawing direct government support to failing companies like Holden, or not agreeing to save relatively new disasters like SPC.

The fact that before the election he promised support for a chocolate factory in Tasmania and will keep that promise is the exception that proves the rule. Abbott did this for purely electoral reasons – to win Labor seats in Tasmania.  It worked.

But now that he is in power he is turning off the tap for industries and companies which the market is driving to the wall.

The high Australian dollar is part of the explanation for the destruction of the car industry specifically and the decline of manufacturing more generally. It makes imports that compete with the products of Australian manufacturers cheaper.

The mining boom drove the dollar to record highs. The failure of any Government, Labor or Liberal over the last decade to rein in the mining boom, has contributed to the destruction of the car industry in Australia and the loss of thousands of jobs.

A full blown resource rent tax should have been one arrow in the armory of reining in the bloated mining magnates and their industry.

What Abbott and the rest of the barbarians are doing is not standing in the way of the structural readjustment of the Australian economy and the job losses flowing from that. They are encouraging it.

One spin off from this is the weakening of the trade union movement. Manufacturing has traditionally been a stronghold of unions, and sometimes of militant unions and actions.

The militancy is long gone, such that the union leadership is at the forefront of managed restructuring which for workers is mainly about ‘transitioning’ them from a job to the unemployment line. When a major manufacturer like Holden closes down, the union leadership that has worshiped at the altar of profit for so long cannot think of, let alone offer, an alternative

Strikes against Holden’s decision might be one option.  Another might be for workers to occupy the plant and begin making socially necessary products like trains, trams, buses, solar panels and wind turbines.

The fact that the union leadership, and union members, have accepted the closure of Holden without a whimper shows the bankruptcy of the trade union bureaucracy’s class collaborationist strategy over the last 30 years.

The Government’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) released on Wednesday  predicts unemployment will hit 6.25 percent in the coming year from its current 5.8 percent, in part because of further falls in the price of iron ore, coal and other resources.

Official unemployment is well below what is actually happening in the economy. Roy Morgan Research for example has unemployment in November this year at 10.2 percent, and underemployment at 9.1 percent.

Abbott’s agenda, like that of Labor before him, is to shift more of the wealth labour creates to capital. One part of that is shaking out the economy through structural change, i.e. getting rid of unprofitable enterprises and with them jobs.  In this regard Abbott is hands off in managing the change compared to Labor.

Part of that strategy of shifting wealth from labour to capital is to cut government spending and use the savings to benefit companies, for example through company tax cuts. The government spending under attack will be the social wage and government employment.

For example the shake out in universities continues apace, with jobs losses, precarity and long, long hours the norm. various public service departments are cutting staff. The ATO (which costs $3 billion to run and collects more than $300 billion) is cutting 900 jobs or almost 4 percent of its workforce.

Health workers are under attack.

This may be a government of big mining and the big banks.

The rate of return in manufacturing is about 6 percent, while that in mining is 20 percent and that in banking about 16 percent.  However mining is capital intensive and makes up only about 2 percent of the workforce. That employment is very dependent on high commodity prices. During the GFC the mining bosses sacked 15 percent of their workforce, so the mining industry won’t be a jobs saviour.

Neither will the banks whose cost cutting is seeing jobs losses and outsourcing overseas.

The problem is that the impact on the working class of cutting down the trees to let the weeds grow is unemployment, not liberation.

Can workers protect jobs? I mentioned before Holden workers occupying their factories and producing socially necessary products. Tod that would require a massive change in the attitudes of workers. Yet there is no other alternative on offer that can save thousands of workers from the slag heap of unemployment.

Well, another alternative could be for Abbott to pump more of our money into the hands of Holden bosses, but that isn’t going to happen and even if it did under the rules of capitalism we workers would pay for it.

Abbott could nationalise Holden, but without any shop floor revolt at the plants that isn’t going to happen.

Workers can continue to follow the failed strategy of the union bureaucrats of class collaboration or they can fight to defend jobs and conditions.

A mass working class response to the effects of restructuring and job losses also has another possible benefit. Given both the incompetence and viciousness in waiting of the Abbott government, we cannot afford to wait another 3 years to vote them out and bring in carbon copy Labor.

If mass strikes to defend jobs, wages and conditions were to happen Tony the liberator could become Tony the liberated.

Like all posts on this blog comments – see the link under the heading – close after 7 days. 



Pingback from Let’s liberate Tony Abbott right now | OzHouse
Time December 19, 2013 at 9:12 pm

[…] Dec 19 2013 by admin […]

Comment from Lorikeet
Time December 20, 2013 at 10:50 am

Yes, the people should rise up and fight for their rights, but I think they are probably afraid they will be thrown into jail.

To my knowledge, the government can hit union leaders with huge fines if they organise strike action in essential services. I doubt if it will be too long before a similar strategy is applied to non-essential services.

In 2005 the Australian government signed a Free Trade Agreement with Thailand. Since then we have imported 200,000 cars from them without applying any import tariffs. At the same time, we have sold them only 100 cars, with a huge excise being applied at their end.

This kind of sellout of our own nation cannot continue. In a bygone era, anyone found to be participating in treasonous acts against their own people was quickly executed.

I like the idea of using existing factories to build public transport vehicles. Is this work currently carried out overseas?

Pingback from En Passant » Saturday’s socialist speak out
Time December 21, 2013 at 2:08 pm

[…] Abbott described those losing their jobs as being liberated. […]

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