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John Passant

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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)



Is the Australian media regressing to a crabby stone age?

The mainstream media is excelling itself. With headlines and articles about student ‘thuggery’ and ‘violence’, and describing student and other protestors as ferals, the facts are a distant memory. There was no thuggery, no violence and the protesters certainly aren’t ferals like James Packer and David Gyngall. Now there was real violence.

The class violence of the Budget against workers and the poor goes unmentioned.

Vanstone and Crabb with the Grub.

Thus we had Amanda Vanstone writing a totally incoherent piece in the Fairfax media about supposed student thuggery and selfishness, with Vanstone then pontificating about peaceful protesting and ending up with a warning about totalitarian societies.

And of course the students only want to suck on the public teat, said Vanstone on her parliamentary pension of, my guess, $150,000 a year and free air travel on her non-public teat (sarcasm) Gold Pass. While she is travelling ‘free’ at our expense this Government is withdrawing funding to States and Territory government for concession card subsidised travel for seniors and others.

We had Gerard Henderson in The Australian (No right to make your case) using Marcuse to convince himself that what we were seeing was the students putting into practice what Marcuse called repressive tolerance. They weren’t of course doing it after having read Marcuse, (which, given his rantings, I doubt Henderson ever has either,) they were doing it in practice. According to Henderson we need to be very very afraid. Luckily for free speech the students had no right to dissent.

The piece de resistance (or in this case non-resistance) was Annabel Crabb’s piece of ‘journalism’ in the Fairfax papers decrying the ‘Soviet-style era’ student activism as so passé. And those chants! Oh those chants! We hadn’t moved on from the …[insert appropriate decade here].

Then there is the Daily Telegraph, a Murdoch tabloid and the most read ‘newspaper’ in New South Wales. On Monday protesters were ferals and the unemployed were bludgers. On Thursday it was the turn of the disabled to be labelled bludgers and unpatriotic to boot. All the time the Budget crisis and the anger against Abbott went unmentioned. Far better to target the poor and protesters than the rich and so distract attention away from the real enemy. This week no doubt the rugby league State of Origin game between New South Wales and Queensland will take over as the new distraction from the violence of the Budget.


The ruling class’s version of truth. The line on the left is of Swedish students. The one on the right is a disabled soldier.

Let’s put this student violence nonsense to bed. As Ridah Hassan, one of the well-known student protesters and a member of Socialist Alternative said in response to accusations from Education Minister Christopher the Grub Pyne, that the protests against the Foreign Minister were assault:

Of course we didn’t assault Julie Bishop.

I think it shows how out of touch the politicians are – both Labor and Liberal – the fact that they’re calling that assault.

I think what happened at Sydney University yesterday had [no] more jostling than the average bus. Maybe Christopher Pyne has never been on a bus.

Maybe he’s seen one through his limousine window, but it definitely was not assault or violence that occurred yesterday.

What is happening is that after years of shooting star protests in between long periods of doing nothing students and others are making themselves heard. This is the ‘violence’ the ruling class and their paid apparatchiks in the media object to. For them the loud voice of ordinary people disturbs the ‘peace’ of the one percent and their civil discussions of how to screw the rest of us.

We should know our place. We are the recipients of their largesse. That is the message coming from all the mainstream media and the parties of neoliberalism. Don’t fight back, don’t resist, don’t protest. We are debating ways to screw you. Be happy because in a few years’ time the rich will have gorged themselves so much that they’ll vomit up a few scraps for the rest of you. If you are lucky.

This presents a problem for newspapers that is on a par with electronic communication and social media. How do they relate to their audience and keep a readership interested in their version of ruling class ‘truth’? Vilifying students, the disabled, pensioners, the poor and average workers, [put in favourite hate target here] doesn’t seem a good strategy for future readership.

That is why occasionally we get the likes of Jacqueline Maley writing in the Fairfax papers about the rage of a new generation. It was even handed. Shock horror, she actually interviewed some of the students involved in the Q&A protests.

But the overriding message from the mainstream media is that the protests are violent and useless and that we shouldn’t do it. The student protests are of course so useless that the Australian Financial Review had an article ‘Pyne seeks ad-hoc fix to appease students’. And what has been one of the major stories for the last few weeks? Not just the protests but the issue itself.

Tell me again how protests don’t work?

Of course the Pyne changes will be minor which means students, and workers (unions anyone?), need to keep the pressure on to force deregulation, fee hikes, debt traps and cuts off the agenda.

The strength of the protests has surprised the ruling class and their media mouthpieces. They thought their neoliberal project had turned and was turning young people into obedient automatons. The tens of thousands of students and others demonstrating show that the apathy is on the surface but that a spark, like the Budget attacks, can catch fire across the country. Our task as socialists is to fan the flames of resistance and rebellion wherever we can.

This Budget is about further dismantling the welfare state and setting up systemic drivers like abolishing unemployment benefits for the under 30s for six months to drive down wages. It is not just students and pensioners and the unemployed who should be worried. It is workers.

To date the union bureaucrats have done nothing to defend their members from the multitude and magnitude of the anti-working class Budget attacks. In Melbourne it looks as if rank and file delegate anger has forced the Victorian Trades Hall Council to call a rally for 12 June at 10.30 am to Bust the Budget. Workers across Melbourne might walk off the job to attend.

No other State or Territory trade union council has had the courage or been subject to the same pressure to call a work day rally.

Students are leading the protests against the Budget, and socialist students are at the forefront of that. Some workers will be cheering them on and wanting to do something against this vicious ruling class Budget. Agitate for Union called rallies to Bust the Budget in your Sate or Territory like the one in Melbourne.

Stop work to bust the bosses’ Budget.



Pingback from Is the Australian media regressing to a crabby stone age? | OzHouse
Time May 26, 2014 at 11:11 pm

[…] May 26 2014 by admin […]

Comment from Kay
Time May 27, 2014 at 10:29 am

It is interesting that the student protests are being criticised by both the left and right wing press. Maybe you should blame the TV cameras? Those protests definitely did not look all that benign to me – having seen Julie Bishop being jostled amidst screeching, pushing-and-shoving students! Perhaps these foolish journalists also believe their eyes?

Comment from John
Time May 27, 2014 at 5:46 pm

Left wing press? Oh you mean the Fairfax rags? Right wing crap with a left wing tinge.

Comment from John
Time May 27, 2014 at 5:49 pm

Brisbane Times has a poll at the end of a John Birmingham article about the protests. 64% of the almost 2500 who have responded fully support the students. FULLY SUPPORT THE STUDENTS. How wrong can the merdia and politicians be? Only 10% oppose the protests and their casue.

Poll: What do you think about the student protests against the deregulation of university course fees?answer in the comments) View results
I fully support the students expressing their democratic right to protest 64%
I support their protests but not if they get physical or violent 18%
I support the cause but think they need to find a more effective form of protest to get their message across 3%
I oppose their actions and don’t support the cause 10%
I don’t care. I’ve already got my degree 0%
I don’t care, just don’t cause traffic problems 0%
In my day kids didn’t make so much noise! 0%
Others (please leave

Read more:

Comment from Ross
Time May 27, 2014 at 8:42 pm

We have Christine Lagarde head of the IMF on fraud and embezzlement charges but no mention in our popular press.

Remember Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac that many of our super funds bought into ? No one charged there and it was fraud.

Bernie Madoff was jailed because he stole from the elites.

Our big 4 banks and the Bendigo have share holdings by JP Morgan, Citigroup and HSBC of 40% ownership.So half the profits go OS.

These huge corporations also have major share holdings in all our media which in turn decide which politician/party gets elected. So where is the democracy ?

Comment from Kay
Time May 28, 2014 at 6:23 am


The Brisbane Times is hardly a well-read newspaper! In fact, I’ve never seen it! Must be an inner city rag – maybe popular in the unis. An amusing article written with a very left-wing bent by a journalist who was probably a student protester himself. Maybe with a bit of a point to prove?

And the survey? Probably most of the respondents were uni students anyway. Hardly representative of the population as a whole. Is that’s the best you can find to support violent protests?

I do support the right of students to protest – always have. The Brisbane protests seem to have been peaceful. Good on them. As a person from a very poor home who did get to uni, I too have concerns about any impediment to higher education opportunities for poorer students. I went to uni in 1964 courtesy of a Commonwealth Scholarship (all my friends also got their higher education courtesy of either a Commonwealth or Teachers College Scholarship). As you may be aware, these were won on merit at an external exam (Leaving Certificate) – and you had to matriculate, of course. I also received a tiny means-tested allowance – just enough to pay bus fares etc.. That’s how it was before Whitlam.

But I did not like the behaviour that I saw on TV! Counter-productive, in my view. And the comments by the wider-read journalists, and even the ALP, support my view that these were counter-productive once they became violent.