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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)



Will unions fight to defend Medicare?

There will be a demonstration in defence of Medicare at 1 pm on Saturday 4 January at the Town Hall in Sydney. Organised by the left it will I hope draw in thousands in opposition to the possibility of a $5 or $6 co-payment for visiting the doctor and the hospital emergency department.

The Melbourne rally in defence of Medicare is at 1 pm on Saturday 11 January at the State Library.

The threat of making poor people pay to go to the doctor is galvanising many against this rotten Abbott government.

This government is following in the tradition of all the other governments, Labor and Liberal, of the last 30 years. They have all been about shifting more and more wealth to capital and the rich from workers and the poor.  The trade union leadership, the do-nothings at the Australian Council of Trade Unions, have been the key to the success of this project.

Under Labor, the ACTU’s class collaboration has seen them police the workforce and accept every restriction and attack on the right to organise such that the share of national income going to capital has risen dramatically and that going to labour fallen. ┬áLast year those shares were at their highest and lowest respectively since records began to be kept although wage increases in the building and a few other industries have eased that back slightly.

Under the Liberals, the ACTU has refused to lead any fightback against the conservatives and their open attacks on unions and workers, other than a passive vote Labor campaign against Howard’s horrendous WorkChoices in 2007 and a few big demonstrations to support the electoral strategy.

It was a recipe for disaster. And so it proved. Under Labor we ended up with 90% of WorkChoices.

Now we have a new Liberal government in power feeling its way. To date its attacks have been on sections of the poor, indigenous people and others. The kite-flying about a co-payment for attending bulk-billing doctors suggests the Abbott government may be considering generalising the attacks.

This makes defence of Medicare the key for defence of a whole range of social services and union rights that will be under threat if the Liberals can get away with this co-payment suggestion.

In 1991 Labor got away with it for 3 months under the Accord but the political voter backlash was so great that new Labor Party Prime Minister Paul Keating reversed the co-payment decision.

We need not just the same backlash now. We need more. We need to train our forces for ongoing fights against the ongoing attacks the Liberals are lining up. However a clear and decisive victory by our side in defence of Medicare could force the extreme neoliberals currently in government back into their lairs for a while.

In the face of the Fraser government’s attempts to dismantle universal health care, in 1976 workers across the country struck in defence of Medibank. That strategy has the greatest likelihood of success today.

Indeed the ACTU could threaten to call a general strike in defence of Medicare and the government would likely back away, even if only to pick what it thinks are softer targets.

Of course the do-nothings in the trade union bureaucracy have grown rich on not fighting. They won’t use strikes to defend Medicare.

Every rank and file unionist should organise in their workplaces to instruct their union bureaucrats to fight back and organise independently of them to make sure that the ‘on the ground’ rank and file defence happens.

In doing that we have the chance of re-building militancy and action to defend the social gains of the last fifty years and to stop this government going on the offensive on a range of fronts.

As the Builders Labourers Federation says: If you don’t fight, you lose. The time to fight is now.

Details to date of the rallies in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide in defence of Medicare.

Medicare Rallies – National Details:

1pm, Saturday 4 January
483 George Street (Sydney Town Hall)

1pm, Saturday 4 January
Victoria Square Adelaide

1pm, Saturday 11 January
328 Swanston Street Melbourne (State Library)




Comment from Ana Milosevic
Time December 30, 2013 at 8:06 pm

It’s time to fight, again!!!!!

Pingback from Will unions fight to defend Medicare? | OzHouse
Time December 30, 2013 at 9:11 pm

[…] Dec 30 2013 by admin […]

Comment from Ross
Time December 31, 2013 at 8:12 am

People should pay something to visit the Doctor. It reduces unnecessary visits for minor ailments.

A lot of the prescribed drugs are not good for us since they cover symptoms rather than addressing the root cause. We should be looking at proper nutrition and healthy life styles as the avenue to good health.Money would be better spent on health education.

Socialised medicine is good for big pharma because they sell more drugs.

There should be a balance between affordable necessary health services and one which is very wasteful and costly.

In this approach people with real chronic ailments can be better cared for by reducing their medical costs.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time December 31, 2013 at 10:18 am

My understanding is that a co-payment of $5 or $6 would not be applied to people living on welfare.

I agree with Ross.

A lot of doctors are also guilty of overservicing people who pay nothing out of their own pockets to visit a GP.

Comment from John
Time December 31, 2013 at 10:32 am

You know capitalism is a sick system when the ‘problem’ is ‘too many people’ visiting the doctor.

Comment from Byon
Time December 31, 2013 at 12:21 pm

As Marx put it, “the ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas”.

The dominant ideas of the ruling class today are those of neoliberals, who know the price of everything and the value of nothing. To the rest of us the ideas of the ruling class gain the currency of common sense. We then loudly and unquestioningly squawk these ideas out at every opportunity — much like a flock of caged psittacines who have been drilled to repeat the line “we parrots are parasites and our loving master knows best”.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time December 31, 2013 at 12:27 pm

That’s right, John.

It gives the government an excellent excuse to allow corporates to take over, wastes lots of government money, and puts even more money into the hands of Big Pharma.

These things trade straight into the UN agenda to bring the whole world down to the lowest standard, while empowering the rich and the capitalists who provide their superannuation.

Doctors and dentists used to give large families a group discount. A medium sized medical practice in my area is now bulk billing all children under age 16 just to keep the existing clientele, even if their parents are lawyers and surgeons.

There is also an interesting nexus between the rise in bulk billing corporate clinics, increasing numbers of people living on welfare, not to mention mass sackings.

Corporates are also trading off high levels of depression created by the downward trend in affluence being suffered by the poor and average.

It’s the capitalist system that is creating a high level of illness and then profitting from it.

Comment from Byon
Time December 31, 2013 at 12:58 pm

Cacatua galerita squawks:

“Socialised medicine is good for big pharma because they sell more drugs.”

This would be exactly why Big Pharma has been pushing for socialised medicine everywhere. In fact, in US elections, big pharma has been generously donating funds, not to the two parties of big business (the Republicans and the Democrats) and other devotees of the cult of Ayn Rand, but to socialists and campaigners for universal health insurance such as the Physicians for a National Health Program (see or Ralph Nader.

Yeah right.

Comment from Byon
Time December 31, 2013 at 1:09 pm

“A lot of the prescribed drugs are not good for us since they cover symptoms rather than addressing the root cause. We should be looking at proper nutrition and healthy life styles as the avenue to good health. Money would be better spent on health education.”

This cannot and will not happen today precisely because production is based not on not social need but on the sacred principle of private profit. If private profit demands that toxic or obesogenic food-like substances of little or no nutritional value have a mass market and fill the supermarket shelves, then that will be and is the case.

Good luck with “health education”. Like health care, the ruling class today sees no value in any form of public education — unless a dollar of private profit can extracted from it.

Comment from Chris Warren
Time December 31, 2013 at 5:23 pm

Medical care is a human right, and a socialist society will provide free medical services funded through open, agreed deductions from incomes.

Why should rich capitalists have better, more comfortable, and longer lives than workers.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time December 31, 2013 at 8:43 pm

When I attended the Brisbane North Medicare Local Conference, I had a chat with a research scientist who works for a well known eminent research organisation here in Brisbane.

It was the first time I heard that statins (cholesterol lowering medications) did little to combat heart disease and were useless to most of the people taking them. In fact, they are now believed to cause dementia in some patients.

The same researcher also complained about the mottly bunch of people she is now required to use in control groups associated with drug trials.

I was also quite upset when a practising physiotherapist had an objection to treating the elderly so they could continue to enjoy life.

My GP used to have me taking 4 prescription medications. My BP became so high from taking NSAIDs, I could have died from a stroke. This required me to take BP medication. These days I take none of these drugs and my BP is normal.

In a recent interview on national television, some doctors said they believed people were being given BP medications at too low a reading.

I take a few health supplements and mostly give doctors a big miss. Some of them don’t want to see anyone they might have to bulk bill anyway.

Comment from John
Time December 31, 2013 at 9:19 pm

Well said Chris.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time January 2, 2014 at 12:32 pm

Yes, Chris is right, but what about those living on welfare?

Comment from Matthew
Time January 4, 2014 at 8:10 pm

What are you rallying against when you don’t know the details?

Defies logic.

Comment from John
Time January 5, 2014 at 7:18 am

It is to stop any attacks on it – a shot across the bows as the forces of reaction manoeuvre against Medicare. The spur is the possible co-payment.

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