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John Passant

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If you want to keep a blog that makes the arguments every day against the ravages of capitalism going and keeps alive the flame of democracy and community, make a donation to help cover my costs. And of course keep reading the blog. To donate click here. Keep socialist blog En Passant going. More... (4)

Sprouting sh*t for almost nothing
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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)



Turn back their yachts

I wrote this a few years ago. Last year I updated it a little to recognise who the possible winners of the yacht race might be and the wealth behind them.


Boxing Day in Australia is the day of sales and sails. And the first day of the cricket at the MCG.

The test broadcast now starts half an hour early. This as to enable us to watch the beginning of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race at 1 pm during lunch at the cricket.

Overturning the 11 am traditional start time of the cricket for a yacht race. Is nothing sacred?

As Marx and Engels so eloquently put it in The Communist Manifesto:

All fixed, fast frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real condition of life and his relations with his kind.

That is what is happening in cricket as the commercialisation of the game makes tests compete with Twenty20 big bashes for our sporting dollar.  The big bash attracts more people than the tests.

But this is not about cricket. It is about yachting, in particular maxi yachts.

The Sydney to Hobart yacht race has always been a plaything of the rich. But it too, like cricket, has become more commercialised. Now the boats of the super rich carry advertisements for sponsors.

The supermaxi Wild Oats XI is again one of the favourites to win line honours. Billionaire Bob Oatley owns it. He also owns Hamilton Island and the Wild Oats, Robert Oatley and Montrose wine labels. Ragamuffin Loyal won first cross the line last year as Investec Loyal. Loyal presumably refers to remaining loyal to naming rights and money.

Owned by Syd Fischer, Loyal ‘whatever its name is’ will also be in contention for line honours this year too. Fischer was a property developer. At its height, his organisation included ‘two high-rise office buildings in Sydney, the Gazebo Hotels in Kings Cross, Parramatta, Brisbane and Canberra, a building company, a joinery and a boat-building company.’

A  previous year’s handicap honours winner and also in the mix this year is Loki, owned by Stephen Ainsworth. He made his money by being the son of Len Ainsworth, founder of gaming monopoly Aristocrat.

So it helps if you want to do well in this Sydney to Hobart yacht race to have some serious money

As D D McNicoll put it in the Australian:

Having a new supermaxi designed and built today would cost up to $10 million then, with over $1m a year to campaign the yacht and keep it competitive. Moving it around the world to contest the major long-distance ocean races would double annual costs.

Those costs make winning the Sydney to Hobart Yacht race the preserve of the rich and the race their plaything.

Yachting is an exclusive sport. It is the polo of the sea. And as everyone seems to remark, watching sailing is like watching grass grow, or paint dry.

Of course there are many less well off sailing enthusiasts. Indeed most of the members of sailing clubs own fairly cheap off the beach boats. They are sailing, not yachting.

They are as divorced from the Sydney to Hobart as you and me. They are not in the race.

Imagine if we used the money the rich waste on this frivolous exercise to improve public health and education in Australia. Imagine remains a John Lennon song, unfortunately.

The Sydney to Hobart yacht race is a race for the billionaires and multi-millionaires, the one percent. These people lead a very different life to us. They live off our hard work. They don’t and won’t mix with the rest of us. They inhabit rich ghettos. They speak a different language of finance and investment and money. They even eat different food. We don’t want them here. It’s time to turn back the yachts.

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