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John Passant

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Keep socialist blog En Passant going - donate now
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)



Abolish the Senate

The Greens have combined with the Turnbull government to push through Senate reforms that will effectively silence the Senate voice of those who are not supporters of the big four, the Liberals and Nationals, the Labor Party or the Greens (plus Senator Xenophon in South Australia.)

At the moment the Senate has not only those big party representatives but a hodge podge of former Palmer United Party senators, a former Democratic Labor Party member, a Family First person, a Liberal Democrat, Xenophon and a car aficionado.

Ricky Muir, for example, from the Motoring Enthusiasts Party, received 0.39% of the Victorian Senate vote on first preferences but won a quota (16.67%) and hence a Senate seat because of preference deals with other minor parties.

The Senate is an undemocratic institution, even by bourgeois standards. Thus for example, Tasmania, with a population of about 516,000 elects 12 Senators, the same number of senators as New South Wales with a population of 7.5 million, almost fifteen times bigger.

The reforms will make the Senate even more undemocratic. The three million Australians who do not vote for the big 4 plus Xenophon will have no voice whatsoever. Of course preference whispering means that people and parties with very different views agree to share their small number of votes to create a unified vote big enough to win a seat.

The 3 million might be unified in not voting for the big four but they aren’t united in who they vote for. Ricky Muir or Jacqui Lambie do not represent that 3 million. Electing someone whose initial support is less than one percent on the basis of support fro other parties and people whose policies and views might be diametrically opposed is not democratic either.

Is there a solution, this side of revolution? Abolishing the Senate is the first step in democratising the bourgeois institution of Parliament.

The second would be to have a proportional representation system so that those whose vote reaches a certain low level (say 2%) win a seat or seats.

The third step would be annual elections, held for example in the period after the government hands down its Budget.

These demands might sound outrageous but abolishing upper houses used to be Labor Party policy. It is why for example Queensland has only a single House and has had so since 1922.

The great British working class democrats of the 1830s and 1840s,the Chartists, demanded annual parliaments. This might lead to some extent to representatives interested in reflecting the economic will of workers, not big business. That is one of the reasons why the bourgeoisie hate it and instead prefer much longer terms where they can spend a few years attacking us and then give a few scraps from the table in the last pre-election year. .



Comment from Lorikeet
Time February 24, 2016 at 11:47 am

Yes, I am quite annoyed with Nick Xenophon for supporting this attack on democracy.

The major parties would do well to remember that they also benefit from preference flows, particularly from the Greens and right wing centrist parties.

Someone suggested to me that we could be getting a referendum on fixed terms for the state parliament in conjunction with council elections on 19 March. This idea would be completely unconscionable in a state (Queensland) that has no upper house.

Comment from Chris Warren
Time February 24, 2016 at 8:39 pm

This needs to be re thought. There are traps for the unwary.

The only way that minor parties preferences come into play is based on them firstly receiving a significant first preference vote, equal in significance to the total first preference vote of some lowly figure from the major parties PLUS the surplus they would have received from party candidates further up the group.

Secondly, their first preferences must exceed the total vote accumulated by such a lowly surviving party hack at the bottom of a group from the major parties.

Then, only at this point, do minor party 1st preferences come into play ie AFTER all major parties candidates have been excluded after adding up all first, second, third or twentieth etc preferences from excluded candidates plus surplus from succesful candidiates (ie declared elected).

More often, minor party candidates are excluded early on and major parties do not seem unhappy if these preferences flow to their candidiates no matter how low down on the list and how unknown the candidate is. Preferences count as 1 vote – surplus votes only count as proportional part of 1 vote.

Under socialism there will be continuous parliaments with workers councils and retired workers organisations filling delegate positions when ever they like and recalling whenever they think this is justified.

While it is fashionable to poo-poo Ricky Muir’s rise to the Senate – the real underlying fact is that his final vote actually represents a confused directionless expression of the growing “none of the above” voting response. It was a fluke it ended-up with Muir.

This quantum of valuable votes is what the major parties are after – to steal these votes to assist their own private squabble between each other.

Bertold Brecht said it best – “Wouldn’t it

Be simpler in that case if the government

Dissolved the people and

Elected another?”

And so it is today – they don’t like what the people are saying freely so they dream of excluding these people’s views and recasting them as enforced voters for the major parties.

Today the current system splits the right, but it can favour different more progressive politics in the future.

Comment from John
Time February 25, 2016 at 4:27 am

Well said Chris.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time March 1, 2016 at 7:21 pm

The government does not need to dissolve the people. Most of them couldn’t care less what happens and are very easily indoctrinated via the media, from which minor parties and independents are largely excluded. At polling booths, only around 30% of the people accept a how-to-vote card. It is very interesting to watch who they accept them from, particularly if they only accept one or two HTVs. For example, some accept them from Labor and Greens. At the last federal election, quite a lot accepted Liberals and PUP.

I dispute that there is any real squabble between the major parties, other than a game of charades. It is also clearly the case that the Greens are only in the parliament to vote up someone else’s heinous policies in exchange for a certain amount of horse trading regarding heinous global agendas.

Both of the major parties were in love with the Senate voting procedure, until it became clear that there could be a landslide to minor party and independent candidates.

In any case, another $50 says the Coalition is in the process of falling on its sword, hopefully suffering a terminal injury.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time March 1, 2016 at 7:23 pm

I’d love to dissolve the people and elect another. I am sick of these perpetual dopes. Bring it on!