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John Passant

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October 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)



Remember when the Liberals supported covered faces?



Comment from Kay
Time October 5, 2014 at 8:51 am

I’m confused. What is this picture about? Looks like a union thug to me – or maybe a bikie holding up a service station.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time October 8, 2014 at 6:52 pm

I’m not sure I understand it either. Wharfies used to wear balaclavas when they had to unload frozen foods from ships, but that was decades ago.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time October 9, 2014 at 9:06 am

Okay, now I get it. At the top it says “Patrick Stevedores”. These would be the dock workers who loaded meat (often lamb and beef for export) onto ships from Patrick’s Wharf here in Brisbane.

My father worked as a wharfie and he was one of the guys who wore a balaclava to protect himself from the cold when transferring frozen meat from the store to the ships. He was also paid extra money if he was working in “Freezing” conditions.

That was in the days before cranes and containers were in use. My father later became a crane driver, after he had to have 3 discs removed from his lower back which was quite a dangerous operation at the time. From memory, that was in 1972.

In the days when wharfies wore balaclavas when working in freezers, lots of men still didn’t have a car. I know my father had to use public transport to get to and from work. As we know, wharfies were shift workers who had to travel in cold conditions at all hours of the day and night.

Maybe some kept their balaclavas on while travelling home. I could not say whether or not my father did this, but he was certainly no thug, just protecting himself from frost bite.

My dad also carried his own reefing hook, which was used to pick up sacks of goods for loading and unloading. To my knowledge, he never used this device to rip other people apart on his way home either.

To my knowledge, the relevant unions all had to combine into one Maritime Workers’ Union. Unfortunately the old days of good incomes and good working conditions that were hard won by people such as my dad bit the dust quite some time back.

When I was 15 years old, I won the Junior Bursary provided to only one student each year by the Waterside Workers’ Federation. A boy from my high school also won the Senior Bursary, which had our School Principal beaming with pride. He had also won the Junior Bursary 2 years previously.

Comment from Kay
Time October 9, 2014 at 5:57 pm

Interesting, Lorikeet. Sounds like your dad had a hard job.

My dad was a shearer, and the local AWU delegate. I won a NSW Bursary to go to high school (an external, State-based exam); then, at 15, another NSW Bursary (another external state-based exam) to complete high school. I also won an RSL scholarship (my dad was a returned WW2 soldier). All these bursaries etc were means-tested.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time October 10, 2014 at 2:52 pm

I did the last year of the Junior Public Examination (external) in 1970. The bursaries we won were not means tested, but only 2 bursaries were awarded each year to the top Junior and Senior student.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time October 11, 2014 at 7:35 am

John, are you suggesting that Patrick stevedores (dock workers) were thieves? I’m sure my father said some guys stole items such as sewing machines arriving from Japan. Certainly wearing a balaclava would make them less likely to be recognised. To my knowledge, balaclavas were only worn when working in Freezing.

Recently a friend of mine suggested that the wharfies stole goods whenever they were being given a hard time (cheated of a financial fair go). This may have been in the earlier days when they didn’t get paid if there was no work available. Later on, they were guaranteed a retainer for being on call.

My mother once gave my father the rounds of the kitchen for taking me into the Wharfies’ Club when I was only 8 years old. Although I heard a bit of bad language, the men were kind to me.

When I was a teenager, I overheard 4 men talking in our kitchen. All were close to tears when someone told the others that a paedophile had attacked all 3 of another guy’s sons aged 8, 10 and 11.

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