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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)



The People’s Climate March in Canberra

I went to the vibrant People’s Climate March in Canberra on Sunday. There were more than 6000 people there.

More than 6000 people turned out for the People’s Climate March in Canberra on Sunday. Photo: Graham Tidy

We walked from Parliament House to the Aboriginal Tent Embassy where there was a welcoming ceremony. On the way we chanted various pro-environment and anti-climate change slogans.

Welcoming ceremony at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy: Photo Phoebe Howe

This was Canberra’s contribution to marches across the country and the globe.  In Melbourne on Friday night about 60,000 marched and in Sydney today there were 40,000 to 50,000 according to some socialists there.

The focus of the demands from the speakers and marchers was very much on world leaders taking concrete action to address climate change.  This strategy might work if the movement becomes more militant and begins both to think about civil disobedience and how it can link up to the one section of society that has the power and a real interest in addressing climate change – the working class.

Of course that is easy to say and might seem somewhat off the planet in an environment of weak unions unprepared to strike or fight for improved wages, in defence of jobs and the like and social movements who have retreated from any form of direct action like mass sit-ins to stop traffic and work or even polluting industries. Some of the anti-CSG and coal and other mining campaigns in rural areas give a hint of a way forward.

The other problem with relying on world leaders in Paris (or Copenhagen, or Kyoto or wherever in the past and into the future the gasbags have or will meet) is that our leaders and the states they run are firmly entrenched in capitalist system.  This means they put profits before all else, and since addressing climate change imposes costs on business which they may not always be able to recoup from workers in the form of reduced wages and conditions, or cuts in wages, or job losses, our leaders will be and are reluctant to act in any meaningful way to the clear and present danger climate change poses to humanity and to capitalism itself.

Australia’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions highlights the subterfuge and inaction of world leaders. The Turnbull government has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28% on 2005 figures. As Lenore Taylor points out in the Guardian, Australia will achieve this while actually increasing its emissions.  She says, among many other excellent points:

‘Australia is promising to reduce emissions by between 26% and 28% by 2030, based on 2005 levels. The “based on 2005 levels” bit is important, because that calculates our percentage reduction from the highest base year. It’s a lacklustre but not ridiculously low goal when compared with other developed economies.’

Given the vested interests involved, and the short termism that engulfs both business and governments, coupled with each country battling for a competitive advantage over the others, I do not think capitalism can solve the crisis of climate change.

Our marches show we can raise our voice for action. However to win our demands for real results (‘Turn bull into action’ was one clever sign at the Melbourne Rally) we need to have a say in the outcomes. That means in my opinion not making polite representations to the representatives of a system addicted to and dependent on fossil fuels but fighting for greater democracy to win real action on climate change.

Post script

This is a photo of me selling Solidarity magazine before the march began. You can’t see it in this photo but a small group of Reclaim White Australia people (Ralph C, for example) had stationed themselves nearby trying to tell anyone who would listen the truth about climate change. Evidently it is not human induced, according to this dangerous group.






Comment from peter piper
Time November 30, 2015 at 9:35 am

“our leaders and the states they run are firmly entrenched in capitalist system” that because the ‘People’ voted for them in the first place? Or are the ‘People’ wrong…and only persons like you know what is best for them?

Comment from John
Time November 30, 2015 at 9:44 am

What a stupid comment. Then again at least you are consistent in your stupidity. Yes, people vote for bourgeois governments. In the UK, the US, Spain, Portugal, Greece they are voting, or have voted, or may have the opportunity to vote, for a left wing alternative. People are fed up with the current neoliberal tango between the conservatives and the old social democratic parties. As the rise and fall of Syriza shows the solution however is not to imagine a left wing government elected through parliament – a limited democracy – can win much by way of reforms and concessions from capital. The task I believe is to build a revolutionary socialist organisation so that when the working class does begin to move onto the centre stage of history we are there to learn from them and help give them direction.

Comment from John
Time November 30, 2015 at 10:00 am

I am a radical democrat. I want to see democracy spread, not be further limited as is happening now under successive neoliberal governments. I’d especially like to see democracy in the workplace. As the article makes clear the battle against climate change is a battle for democracy.

Comment from Michael
Time November 30, 2015 at 10:23 am

It is that capitalist systems cannot address the issue or more that they are unlikely to address the issue in a timely fashion?

Also, would greater democracy lead to greater climate action? I fear that the majority of people will , like businesses, put their short-term economic interests ahead of long-term preservation. What is clearly lacking is bold political leadership which should endeavor to convince the public that short-term economic pain is far better than long-term environmental devastation–something which doesn’t necessarily require more democracy to be accomplished.

Otherwise, it was a great day and I’m blown away that there were over 6000 there!

Comment from Fred
Time November 30, 2015 at 11:05 am

Democracy in the workplace.

Well start your own business, inject some of your personal wealth into it, give the workers control and see how it goes.

Comment from John
Time November 30, 2015 at 12:58 pm

Yes, that is the question Michael. Maybe the two are interlinked? Maybe the slowness is in fact its inability. I and a comrade have had discussions about this very issue. He thinks capitalism can; I think it I too late anyway, a position he is coming to, but that the impediments to change are so great that it might not be able to address the issue anyway. Kyoto, Copenhagen, and now Paris do not inspire confidence that anything near appropriate will eventuate. I am haunted by the image of Nero fiddling while Rome burns. But yes, either way the changes already in place will lead to horrific outcomes.

By democracy I don’t mean every 3 years voting for another version of neoliberalism; nor do I mean left wing heroes coming along to save us. I mean the empowerment of ordinary people, by ordinary people. Something that ordinary people win by their own struggles. Workers reclaiming their unions, members reclaiming their notionally left-wing parties; mass movements for social change run by their members etc etc…

Comment from John
Time November 30, 2015 at 8:23 pm

Also Michael this article by Marxist economics professor Michael Roberts on his blog The next Recession touches on the issue. Cop21 – time is running out.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time December 1, 2015 at 3:24 pm

The people will vote for whoever gets the most positive media time, after the smaller parties, independents and anyone else who has been labelled “obstructionist” have been effectively blocked or misrepresented.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time December 1, 2015 at 3:32 pm

I would argue that there are huge profits to be made from the Climate Change Religion, as looking at our household bills will quickly attest. As we know, water used to fall free from the sky and the cost of electricity was only a fraction of what it is now.

I saw Greg Hunt on TV waxing lyrical about the excellent job the government is doing in reducing emissions. He needed someone to interject by saying: “That’s only because Australian manufacturing has been sent offshore.”

The working class are likely to be the people hardest hit by increases in costs that are linked to climate-caused disasters, some of which are wildly exaggerated and fudged. The last I heard, insurance companies intend to ramp up premiums again.

I think it would be a mistake to take away baseload electricity generation altogether, as lengthy periods of heavy cloud cover (and ash clouds) will negate the productivity of solar panels. This could cause widespread death in colder places.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time December 1, 2015 at 3:34 pm

The Climate Change Religion is being used to take away democracy, and put the housing market in the hands of capitalists. Once poorer people’s costs become too high, they will have to reverse mortgage their homes (to the bank!) or sell them (possibly to the bank!) to downsize.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time December 2, 2015 at 10:14 am

I am interested in reading any suggestions as to how workers can reclaim their unions. Big Business and UN global bodies have sway over both government and unions.

I think the main solution would be to very carefully wind back and remove the corrupt superannuation industry. This would need to be coupled with a big increase in Australian manufacturing to provide jobs and refill the government’s kitty. The government should also cease giving too many handouts to the young and the strong, encouraging employers to take on older workers while mothers of young children take a few years off.

I agree with Mark Butler when he says that superannuation was only ever meant to supplement the Age Pension. Money hungry bankers were never meant to be given the opportunity to profit-shift or encourage the government to put a financial squeeze on elderly widows in order to force them out of their homes.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time December 2, 2015 at 10:15 am

A Greens government trading off the Climate Religion will not be at all democratic. It will simply reduce the living standards of most ordinary Australians.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time December 2, 2015 at 10:18 am

To my knowledge, Amcor used to give its workers shares in the company. This kept them happy and willing to work hard to reap at least a small portion of the profits.