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John Passant

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September 2015



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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)



Only a re-packaged $100 million for addressing domestic violence Prime Minister- seriously?

The Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has announced a $100 million package to help address domestic violence (DV).  Here is how he describes it:

‘Today the Australian Government is announcing a $100 million package of measures to provide a safety net for women and children at high risk of experiencing violence.  The package will improve frontline support and services, leverage innovative technologies to keep women safe, and provide education resources to help change community attitudes to violence and abuse.’

It is great that Turnbull has highlighted this issue and the media has taken it up.

However we have to see this announcement in the context of the ongoing violence against women and the gross inadequacy of this package and the failure to address both the consequences that flow from DV such as homelessness and just as importantly the deeply rooted causes of DV.

This year alone male partners or ex-partners have killed 63 women in Australia. That is almost 2 women a week. One in six women have been subject to domestic violence.


Yet, this announcement looks to be a Tony Abbott set of proposals re-packaged and with accompanying rhetoric about respecting women. As Shalailah Medhora points out in The Guardian these initiatives ‘are not substantially different from those proposed by Turnbull’s immediate predecessor, Tony Abbott.’ Abbott had been sitting on the report making these recommendations since July.

Further, it is not new money. Shalailah Medhora in the Guardian again:  ‘The domestic violence prevention measures announced on Tuesday will be paid for from the nearly $100m set out by successive governments as part of the national plan to reduce violence against women.’

Finally, it is but a small return of the $300 million in cuts to refuges, homelessness and legal services Abbott made in the 2014 Budget. If Turnbull were serious about the issue he’d begin by restoring that funding and then increasing it. This poster from the Greens captures some of those cuts that impact adversely on women suffering DV.


The spending itself isn’t great and reflects a mindset of stay at home, or at best band aids on cancer. Here are some of the minor and inadequate things the money will be spent on – money for a study on GPS trackers, safe mobile phones, CCTV cameras in homes, ‘a grant to the Salvation Army to work with security experts to conduct risk assessments on victim’s homes, help change their locks and scan for bugs,’ and more money for Queensland police to address domestic violence in remote communities,  plus DV training for police, social workers, community workers and so on, and a bit of money to try and convince men who bash or might bash women that women are human beings.

As an aside that isn’t, the Salvation Army of course is involved in the organised abuse of asylum seeker and refugee women that are the concentration camps on Manus Island and Nauru. So too is the Abbott-Turnbull-Shorten triumvirate. Abusing women and kids on Manus Island and Nauru creates and reinforces DV at home.

So too does war, and the government’s recent decision (supported by me-too Labor) to bomb Syria and kill innocent women, children and men only reinforces the climate of violence. The 2003 invasion of Iraq and the death of over 1.5 million innocent people sends a message to every man, woman and child in Australia – violence is OK.

You will notice there is no extra money for refuges, or for relevant legal or homeless services, elements of which the Abbott government cut in the 2014 Budget and 2015 Budget and restored in some cases by a lesser amount.

About one quarter of the calls to the DV hotline RESPECT (i.e. over 18,000 calls) go unanswered because there are not enough staff  to deal with the huge number. According to a report on the ABC radio program PM on Thursday night, 3000 women fleeing DV are turned away from refuges every year because they are full.  In NSW, according to the same report, there are no available spots tonight in the state for women fleeing domestic violence. The estimate is $68 million could ensure every woman who wanted refuge could have it. That is a pittance. It is also $68 million that the government hasn’t committed.

Much more money for refuges and for legal and counselling and other services is obviously one part of addressing the consequences of domestic violence. This package doesn’t do that. In fact its focus is on technology to keep a woman in her home (a totally inadequate response) or in educating society (again, totally inadequate.) Malcom Turnbull going around saying it is un-Australian to hit a woman won’t stop it and his comments look to me as if they are cover for not doing anything substantial to address the results that flow from a sick society where women are treated as chattels or brood mares for capital.

None of this however address the causes of domestic violence. Those causes are systemic. To say that is not to blame the patriarchy; it is to recognise the abuse of women as systemic, i.e. it flows from the system we live under, namely capitalism.

Malcolm Turnbull made the call to respect women. Yet that is precisely what the system does not do. The gender pay gap is now about 18% and is growing all the time.  Just as it grew  and grows under the Liberals it grew under Labor’s Julia Gillard. I have been told Victoria Health research suggests that societies which have equal pay for equal work have less domestic violence.

The system, or key elements within it, constantly tries to regulate women’s bodies.  It assumes they will rear children, do the housework and other traditional roles, and all of it at no or little cost to capital. And that is the key role of the family under capitalism – to provide a source of child rearing labour that does not cost capital much (except for the usual price of labour power covering raising the next generation of workers and the pressure on that is always downward in the current economic environment).  Indeed such has been that downward pressure on the family wage that it now often takes two wage earners to cover the cost of child raising adequately.

Indeed while domestic violence occurs across all classes, it is more widespread in poorer areas. Address unemployment, low pay, lack of adequate schools, good public transport and cheap health facilities and the alienation of capitalism is ameliorated and DV rates fall. A more equitable society is a less violent one.

We can see these contradictions played out in relation to DV in Aboriginal communities. According to the Prime Minister, ‘[f]or Indigenous women the situation is even worse – they are 34 times more likely to be hospitalised as a result of family violence.’ Yet what is the ‘solution’ proposed? More cops on the beat, the very cops responsible for black deaths in custody, for over-policing Indigenous communities, for ensuring their oppression continues. Such heavy handedness will only increase the sense of powerlessness and dispossession, and increase the impact of the ongoing genocide. It won’t help Aboriginal women. It will continue to trap them in the system of alienation that drove them and their men off their land.

A systemic response to DV in indigenous communities would include not just talking to women and men in the communities about what to do but addressing the root causes – the dispossession  and the genocide that oppresses Aboriginal people. A systemic response would include recognition of prior ownership and sovereignty, a treaty,  and paying the rent.

None of that is on the agenda because to do that would threaten the profits of major sectors of Australian capital. And what is true for Indigenous women is true for all women. it is the profit system that makes women second class citizens.





Comment from Lorikeet
Time September 25, 2015 at 9:14 am

I agree with a lot of this, John.

However I am extremely appalled that when women address the issue of Domestic Violence in forums such as the National Press Club, their focus mostly seems to be narrowly directed and fails to take into account the societal pressures that help to drive DV.

For example, do we hear anyone speaking out about the high cost of living? High rates of unemployment and underemployment? Corporates harassing people via email, snail mail and telephone helping to turn people into alcoholics? Workplace abuses?

Well, I think the answer is: “No, we do not.”

I would also like to point out that Tony Abbott wanted to put $200 million into Relationships Counselling, but it was voted down in the Senate. I think couples counselling could be part of the solution.

It is also important to remember that men are also victims of Domestic Violence. Some have bullies for wives and some are abused in same sex relationships.

I think there is some value in community education. I would like all men to go back to “being their brother’s keeper”. When people turn a blind eye to problems in their family or street, they are highly likely to escalate.

As an intelligent woman of 60, I sometimes find it hard to believe that there are still a large percentage of men who think they are here to treat women like children and boss them around. This seems to be very common in men in their 50s, 60s and older, especially those who have been divorced. However I am assured by very young women that there are plenty of young males with the same bad attitudes.

I think women need to be taught to stick up for themselves from the very commencement of a relationship. From observation of my own parents, I know that a woman who backs down every time ends up suffering from low self-esteem, along with the man. The man will then up the ante on the abuse in the hope of eliciting a more suitable response. If none comes and the police are not contacted early in the piece, someone could easily be killed.

Some men also have high levels of testosterone which could be a contributor to Domestic Violence.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time September 25, 2015 at 9:37 am

To address the other side of the coin, I’m sure there are men and women in relationships who are very difficult to live with for various reasons including:

. Disinterest in contributing to the household economy, even if there are no young children.

. Alcoholism, drug abuse.

. Turning the house into a pigsty and consistent failure to carry out household chores.

. Refusing to cook anything decent for dinner.

. Failure to adequately care for children.

If a man has some of these problems with his partner, he needs to know what solutions are available to him besides physical violence, or carrying out all of the household and childcare work himself.

I would like to add that the government needs to lift access to surgery in our public hospitals, as I’m sure ongoing health problems are responsible for a lot of Domestic Violence cases. Instead of covering up everyone’s symptoms with increasing numbers of pharmaceutical drugs and sending them to Pain Clinics, let us have timely diagnosis and treatment by experts.

I would like to see proof that The Salvation Army supports violence on Manus Island and Nauru.

I’m sure the bombing of Syria is connected with the UN plan to redistribute populations throughout the world. It certainly seems to be working well at the moment.

I don’t think the profit system is the main driver of domestic violence. I have younger neighbours, a couple who are both well educated and working outside the home. The woman is tall and strong, but she still believes that women will never have equality with men because they are nearly all physically stronger than we are.

It comes down to who is capable of smashing the other person. But of course there are ways of actively discouraging further attacks, which I don’t believe are printable here.

Comment from Mike
Time September 25, 2015 at 10:44 am

Rosie Batty’s son Luke was murdered by a man, his father, who had four warrants out for his arrest.

Yet Victoria Police find plenty of resources to enforce petty road rules, march in gay parades, issue tickets to cyclists without helmets and, just this week, are having a crackdown on jaywalking.

I would have thought a great place to start would be arresting people that have warrants out for their arrest. After all, what is the point of an arrest warrant?

Comment from Lorikeet
Time September 25, 2015 at 5:00 pm

Yes Mike, I have also experienced a problem with a male police officer who did not take my concerns seriously regarding my ex-husband’s proposed plan for our teenage son to drive through the outback at night while he was on “L” plates. When I went along to the station, the woman on the desk thought my concerns were valid, but they were quickly poo-pooed by a male cop who said he had been in the army and been subjected to greater risks. The woman and I both glared at him.

On a different trip through the outback at night, and on a full licence, my son wrote his father’s new car off. Luckily no one was injured.

I’m sure my ex-husband is now experiencing karma for other bad decisions he has made that have left our son with a possibly permanent disability affecting his ability to work. The father now has an advanced case of bowel cancer, and may not survive the next 2 years.

Comment from AnneC
Time September 26, 2015 at 9:41 am

Thanks for your thought. Agree that this initiative is a smoke screen for actually taking real action. The 63 are women killed violently this year not necessarily by fa

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