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John Passant

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May 2014



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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)



Saturday’s socialist speak out

The Commission of Audit Report contains the wish list of the Business Council of Australia. Its recommendations include the imposition of a $15 fee for visiting the doctor,  a freeze on the minimum wage for a decade (effectively abolishing it), sacking up to 25000 public servants, freeing up fees at universities and cutting funding, shifting all responsibility for health and education back to the States and Territories, lifting the pension age to 70, making only those older than 25 eligible for the dole, lengthening the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme by 3 years and on and on and on.

This is the good co- bad cop routine. Abbott and Hockey won’t implement them all or where they do take some of them up, won’t always implement them to the degree  recommended .

Hockey has already outlined in general terms  what the budget to ‘end the age of entitlement’ will do. It will cut public service jobs. It will privatise various government owned bodies. It will introduce co-payments such as a Medicare bulk billing fee of $6. It will increase the pension age to 70 over time.

The Commission of Audit gives further ammunition to the Abbott government to ‘justify’ an austerity budget. It is nonsense of course. Australia is a low taxing and low government spending country with low and very manageable government debt, now and into the future.

The attack on workers and the poor recommended by the Commision of Audit is basically about making profits bigger, at our expense.

Abbott and Hockey will follow through on the intent  of the report to shift more wealth to capital from labour, but not in extremis.

Some may be fooled by this. Oh look, the Commission of Audit recommended a $15 payment per visit to the doctor. We are limiting it to $6, aren’t we the good guys? Well some may think that, but you don’t have to be a genius to realise that poor people can’t afford $6 to go to the doctor.

What a co-payment does is introduce the user pays principle into a sort of universal health system. It will only be a few years before it is increased, and then increased again so that by 2020 it will be $15.

This destroys the whole rationale for a decent public health system – that everyone gets adequate health care no matter how rich or poor they are.  Of course we already have a two tier system where the rich and well off pay for private health insurance and so by-pass the bottlenecks in the public hospital system.

The Commission of Audit wants an insurance system for rich people visiting the doctors too. Again that will be a two tier system if it comes about. But over time the insurance scheme will be spread to more and more  (and less and less rich) people until we have an American style health system.

Shunting all health and education and some income taxing rights back to the States and Territories is a pipe dream which has two motives. They are to create tax and other competition between different areas of the country and to force the States and Territories to underspend on these two areas and shift any blame to them.

The more sensible members of the bourgeoisie know that a strong central government under the control of the Liberals, their first eleven, or Labor, their second eleven, is a better way to run Australian capitalism than devolving responsibilities to the States and Territories.

At the May Day rally in wet soggy Canberra Labor and Union luminaries liked Ged Kearney from the ACTU, Nadine Flood from the Public Servants’ Union,  and Kate Lundy and Andrew Leigh, ALP parliamentarians, told us we needed to unite and fight. None of them mentioned the ‘S’ word once. Not one mention of striking to defend jobs, wages and the social wage.

You can see where this is heading. Vote Labor and things will be better. This completely misunderstands what Labor in power is about – ruling for the one percent and dragging us along.

Labor will be just as useless in addressing the global crisis of capitalism when it hits our shores as the Liberals. They will join the Liberals in the bonfire of austerity. Their cuts and attacks lay the groundwork for the Liberals.

What the Commission of Audit does is till the soil for future severe cuts to benefits, jobs and wages if the economy does worsen. It also gives Abbott and Hockey cover for doing some of that now.

Interestingly Hockey announced that the government will increase the pension age to 70 earlier than the Commission recommended.  But he won’t touch the really booming area of retirement costs – superannuation tax concessions to the top 5 percent of income earners costing in revenue foregone of up to $15 billion next year.

Abbott and Hockey have also floated the idea of a deficit tax. It might be one applying an extra one percent to those in the $80,000 to $180000 tax bracket and an extra 2 percent to those above it. One alternative seems to be to impose the extra one percent on incomes above $100,000.

Estimates are such a tax would raise about $2.5 billion. If it is confined to those earning above $180000 the revenue raised would be about $1.3 billion.

This isn’t Abbott and Hockey taxing the rich.  It is a fig leaf, a minor imposition to allow the deadly duo to argue that like everyone else the rich are also bearing the burden of austerity. Yeah, sure. They won’t even notice it.  They’ll still be buying their Grange.

Imposing a rate of ten percent on those earning more than $150000 would raise about $8 billion.  A wealth tax on the top ten percent would raise about $30 billion annually (since they own almost half of Australia.) Abolishing the superannuation tax concessions for the top ten percent would raise an extra $10 billion, if alos followed by abolishing negative gearing and other lurks. Increasing the company tax rate to 35 percent gives you an extra $10 billion. Halving dividend imputation would add billions.

Funny isn’t it how real attacks on the privileged and capital are not on either the Liberals’ nor Labor’s agenda.  Not funny, really – predictable. Tax the rich.

Workers are in the $80,000 tax bracket, although by the time the pay reaches around$150,000 those taxpayers are unlikely to be workers (except for some mining workers perhaps).  Workers are those who sell their labour power to survive and have little control over their work.

This is a government of open class war against workers and the poor. However the economics and politics at the moment demand from them a ruling class war of position (steadily escalating skirmishes and attacks) which could become for the ruling class a war of manoeuvre (full scale class war, taking no prisoners). The Budget will be that war of position, getting ready for the war of manoeuvre.

Our response should be open class warfare by our side. Shut down factories and offices across Australia to stop the flow of profits to the bosses.  That will stop them in their tracks if it is wide spread. Given the last 30 years of open class collaboration by the trade union leadership there is no guarantee anything other than tepid advertising campaigns and a bit of huffing and puffing before surrender will eventuate. Unless rank and file unionists take back their unions and run the campaigns to defend wages, jobs, conditions, workplace safety and social services.

Some of my centre-left friends have been talking about forcing a double dissolution by denying supply. I would if in the Parliament vote against Abbott’s Budget of Entitlement for the Rich.

However without a mass campaign on the streets and in the workplaces – specifically shutting Australia down –  forcing a double dissolution won’t of itself politicise the masses and may not see the bastards kicked out.

The real task is to win those threatened and angry to the side of direct action.  Then we can talk about parliamentary games.

Like Labor before it, this Liberal Government attacks and demonises the ‘other’ from afar – refugees.  It will now attack the ‘other’ within, the unions, the poor, the disabled, the sick, low paid workers and the like.

They will extend the campaign of cruelty from asylum seekers to pensioners.  The defence of refugees is the defence of Australia’s poor and low paid workers.

Tony Abbott didn’t go to Indonesia because Operation ‘Sovereign’ Borders is right now illegally turning back an asylum seeker boat.   So much for closer relations with Indonesia, a country on the edge of development and whose trading ties with Australia could explode over the next few decades. Abbott is destroying current and long term relations with Indonesia with his refugee ‘policy’.

One possibility is that Indonesia will be drawn into China’s sphere of influence. Certainly Indonesia have not joined in the US encirclement of China, most notably economically through the Trans Pacific Partnership.

Ukraine is a pawn in the battle between Western imperialism and Russian imperialism. So too is Syria but in Syria the revolutionary forces for freedom and food exist and are fighting.

To have your say or see what others are saying hit the comments link under the heading. Like all posts on this site comments close after 7 days. 






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Comment from Chris Warren
Time May 4, 2014 at 12:30 pm

Abbot’s Audit Commission represents pure class struggle. It exposes the ugly face of capitalism and the true face of capitalism. The latest blitz against workers also demonstrates the futility of mortgaging Australian workers to supposed decent wages and conditions, public services, and retirement incomes through the so-called “social wage”. The reality of capitalism will always tear this tenet of labourism to shreds. This is an old story best exemplified by Colin Clark’s 1958 declaration that Australia needed “a proletariat which is poor enough to be willing to work under conditions manufacturers will require” and “low wages and hard working conditions”. Clark was a celebrated Keynesian imported in 1938 to advise the Queensland government. He died in 1989.

Australian workers went through bouts of savage attacks under Malcolm Fraser and John Howard, but the latest is the worse to date. Abbott’s Audit Commission is a direct and pure attack on all those who live on wages and pensions. To protect capitalism, the Audit Commission in effect, calls for the hard working conditions and for the proletariat poor enough to accept low wages – tools that Keynesians have always held in reserve. Abbot’s Audit Commission directly attacks Australian wages and conditions. It recommends that minimum wage adjustments be kept below CPI increases by a full 1%. [AFR – 2 May, p11]. Keynesian capitalists have always sought to plunder whatever wool, wheat, gold or minerals that are in demand and maximize profits by attacking wage and salary earners – a particular class within capitalism.

The only solution is to develop not-for-profit enterprises and cooperative forms of production. This is the only way Australian workers can protect themselves from Keynesian policies that firstly, delay matters through ‘social wages’ but to then require new weapons – low wages and oppressive working and dire civil conditions.

Comment from Ross
Time May 4, 2014 at 6:26 pm

Good article John, you’ve made some very perceptive observations.

Dr Paul Craig Roberts was the deputy secretary to the US Treasury during the Ronald Reagan era. He says that the US Federal Reserve should be nationalised. The US Fed are the private bankers who create from nothing, all money for the US Govt to function. Our Banks also borrow from them. This banking military industrial complex are the most powerful force in the West.

China and Russia have many Govt Banks that can create infrastructure/Govt services debt free. This is why China/Russia are being demonised by our Western Capitalist Oligarchs.

Dr Paul Craig Roberts says that the reserve status of the US $ is under serious threat since they’ve created too much money for their derivative ponzy scams to continue stealing from we the people.

Hyper-inflation is on the horizon. Our banks have now increased their fractional reserve ratios many fold. Dr Roberts says we’ve been told to depreciate our Aust $ to prop up the US $.

In all our major banks JP Morgan, Citibank HSBC etc have major shareholdings of up to 40%.These same banks have ownership in the US Federal Reserve which our banks borrow from.

Our banks have be told to increase their fractional reserve ratio ie money printing, to prop up the US $.This is why our $ will continue to fall against the US $.

Both our major parties are toady boys to the US financial Oligarchs and will take us to a nuclear war with Russia/China to steal more energy/resources.

Comment from John
Time May 4, 2014 at 7:46 pm

Except you forgot to mention the Labor Party’s role in all of this – same outcomes of shifting wealth to capital from labour, and often more successfully than the Liberals.

Labor lays the ground work for the liberals more open class warfare.

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