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John Passant

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June 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)



Labor is not the answer

The Abbott government’s brutal Budget has united millions against it. Protests have broken out against the government. There were tens of thousands at the  March in May rallies and the protests to defend  Universities, Medicare, pensions and more. On Thursday 12 June in Melbourne the Victorian Trades Hall Council 10.30 am Rally has the potential to mobilise the one class that can Bust the Budget.

The government has had no honeymoon after being elected. After the Budget it is at record lows in the polls for such a young government.

Much of the left has been campaigning for Labor to block the Budget, for the Governor-General to sack the government, even for that ‘nice’ Liberal Malcolm Turnbull to take over from Abbott.

One of the aims is to force an election and have Labor swept back into power. At a superficial level the polls seem to justify this approach. Labor is ahead around 55% to 45% on a two party preferred basis. Over 70% of voters oppose the Budget or parts of it. Even 40% of Coalition voters support blocking some of the Budget measures.

Yet before minor party and other votes are distributed Labor’s primary vote has hovered around 36% or 37%, while the Coalition’s is somewhere around the same. The Greens vote has gone up a little from its September election result, at a bit over 10 percent, while in one of the latest polls the Palmer United Party is up to 7.5%.

In other words, rather than flocking back to Labor, voters, or rather those not disgusted with the whole political process, appear to be going to the smaller parties first.

This is not surprising. The September election was a vote against Labor, not a vote for the Coalition. People had had a gutful of the six years of Labor’s neoliberalism. Now they have transferred that hate to the Liberals who have the same neoliberal ideology. The salesman has changed but the shit sandwich remains the same.

There is logic to the actions of the Coalition in the Budget and of Labor in the previous six years. It is the logic of capitalism.

Inbuilt into the soul of capitalism is a tendency for the rate of profit to fall. The competitive drive to invest more and more in capital over time reduces the relative level of surplus value that can be extracted from workers compared to the amount of investment undertaken.

After the high profit rates in the 1950s and 1960s collapsed in the late 1960s and early 1970s globally, a procession of politicians committed to implementing policies to redress or counteract falling profit rates seized or came to power. From Pinochet to Thatcher and Reagan, the song was much the same. Weaken or smash unions, cut wages, dismantle the welfare state, lengthen the working day and privatise government enterprises became the stock in trade for various governments from the left or right and given the name neoliberalism.

In Australia it was the election of the Hawke Labor government in 1983 that heralded the arrival of full blown neoliberalism to Australia. The difference was that Hawke Labor co-opted an eager trade union leadership into the neoliberal project. In doing this they were more successful than conservative governments elected in other countries in shifting wealth and income from labour to capital, in cutting wages, in lengthening the working day, in beginning the process of winding back the welfare state, of privatisations, of increasing poverty.

Other structural inequalities like the gender wage gap and the third world poverty of many Aboriginal people remained untouched.

To divert attention away from the problems of capitalism and the attacks on the working class, scapegoating intensified. It is no accident that it was under Keating Labor that the mandatory detention of refugees began. It is no accident that under the Hawke government that the Builders Labourers’ Federation was de-registered or that the Labor government used the air force, and the trade union leadership, to smash the pilots’ strike.

It was the Hawke and Keating governments which laid the groundwork for the Howard government and the continuation and extension of the Labor Party policies to serve the interests of capital. It was the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd governments which tilled the ground for the Abbott ascendency.

Julie Digby Bunting's photo.

Labor’s six years of neoliberalism gave us this fine mess. (Julie Digby Bunting’s photo.)


In other words the last 30 years have not been a battle between two different political ideologies but a Mafia family dispute over how best to rob the rest of us for the benefit of the whole gang.

That is one of the reasons why calls for an election now, especially one solely brought about by parliamentary game playing, are misguided. Replacing one set of neoliberal politicians with another set won’t address the problems or systemic drivers forcing the parliamentary cretins to manage society in the interests of capital. The mafia dons of Labor are still mafia dons.

So do we just wait another two years to vote the Coalition out? If so that is a recipe of despair and defeat. We don’t have to wait two years. The working class is beginning to stir. In Melbourne on 12 June the 10.30 Victorian Trades Hall Council Rally to bust the Budget has the potential to see workers mobilise as workers to defeat the Budget. Our side’s strength lies not in how many neoliberal ALP members we elect but in our ability to withhold our labour and hence stop the profits we create flowing to capital.

Doing that has the potential to defeat the Abbott government and force an incoming Labor government to the left. Then again, it may be too late for the ALP. ‘Labor is not for turning.’ If so, then striking may also radicalise a section of the working class and open up opportunies for a genuine left formation, and see the first steps towards the working class setting up its own revolutionary socialist alternative to the parties of capitalism.

The immediate task is to bust the Budget, Stop work to stop the bosses’ Budget. From that position of strength our class can then determine the way forward and demand progressive reforms from a Labor government forced from below to move to the left.

The fact that the capacity of Australian capitalism to deliver reforms may be dead does not mean the class’s desire for reforms that benefit the working class and the poor has gone away. It is the mobilisation for such reforms that the class can begin to understand its own strength and throw off the muck of ages. But that is a discussion for another day, soon I hope.

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







Pingback from Labor is not the answer | OzHouse
Time June 4, 2014 at 11:12 pm

[…] Jun 04 2014 by admin […]

Comment from Kay
Time June 5, 2014 at 10:24 am

“The September election was a vote against Labor, not a vote for the Coalition.” At last – we agree!!!! And I think an election now would favour all the smaller, in my view ‘ratbag’, parties, although Labor would do better than last September, and could quite conceivably win.

I support a gradual return to surplus Budgets, and this is going to require a cut in spending, and an increase in revenue. However, this Budget seems to hit the poor and vulnerable too hard, and only touches the rich with a feather-duster. So, while I agree with some aspects of the Budget, I think it needs to rejigged away from the poor. And Abbott is proving to be a bumbling, indecisive PM. I had hoped he might have ‘grown into’ the job – much as John Howard did – but alas, no. So, very disappointing. And despite the hatred spewed towards Abbott by the Left (including Labor), I think Abbott is essentially a decent human being, albeit far too religious for my taste.

But would I vote for Labor? No. Enough of its incompetent, free-spending hypocritical policies! I simply don’t believe in spending so much of our revenue just paying interest on debt – and what was achieved by that debt? Yes, it helped provide jobs during the GFC, but very little beyond that. Thank heavens it lost power before the debt got really out of control.

For all Shorten’s hypocritical and purely opportunistic bleatings over the Budget, he has offered zero alternatives to reducing the debt. No, he would just continue the spending spree. Oh, for the days of competent Labor governments – like the Hawke/Keating ones.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time June 7, 2014 at 5:24 pm

Hawke and Keating were no good either.

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