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John Passant

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October 2016



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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)



Australia tortures asylum seekers

Children playing near the Refugee Processing Centre on Nauru.

Children playing near the Refugee Processing Centre on Nauru. Photo Amnesty International

It’s official. According to Amnesty International Australia tortures asylum seekers. Anna Neistat is Amnesty’s senior director for research. She travelled to Nauru in July. She said:

‘We have a system where people have to be subjected to extreme levels of suffering so that others who try to seek asylum in Australia are not tempted to do so,’ she said.

‘In our assessment that pretty much amounts to torture.’

This torture is not your average waterboarding, sleep deprivation and electric shocks to the genitals but the very act of locking innocent people up in concentration camps on Nauru and Manus Island for the ‘crime’ of seeking asylum. Stopping the boats (itself a lie) is built on starting the torture.

Inflicting mental and physical harm on these people, by the simple fact of being held on these islands prisons, and compounded by the rotten treatment and rotten facilities there, is deliberate.  It is done to win political support in Australia.  Both major parties compete with each other in the brutality stakes. We have been on a downward slide of more and more brutality over decades.

Malcolm Turnbull, the torturer in chief, has defended the actions of his government. Like all torturers he argues it is for the greater good, in this case stopping drownings at sea. What he actually means is exporting the deaths and misery elsewhere, even further out of sight than the secret camps on Manus Island and Nauru. Mike Pezullo, the head of Australia’s Department for Torture, rejected the findings of Amnesty International that locking innocent people up for years in concentration camps and mistreating them there is itself torture.

It should come as no surprise that the policy torturer-in-chief and his administrative henchman reject the idea that denying children their childhood for example is torture. In the words of Mandy Rice Davies, they would say that wouldn’t they?

The majority of Australians appear to support the torturers in their denial. This should come as no surprise. Class and social struggle is at very low levels. The propaganda of the state and the two main parties of capitalism has been force feeding us the demonisation of asylum seekers and refugees for more than 24 years.

Couple that with a growing sense of anger and despair among sections of Australian society and the lack of a fighting left-wing in Australia or major class and social struggles to give them life and widespread currency, and some workers will be tempted by the siren song of ‘othering’.

How do we stop the torture? Somewhere around one quarter of Australians agree with Amnesty International. On 30 October various refugee groups and those who support them will protest against offshore detention and argue to bring them here.

And yet Turnbull, and I should add, Shorten, feel confident in their brutal refugee policies. How do we challenge them? History shows that civil disobedience has been a key weapon in the armoury of those fighting for civil rights. Stop the cities to stop the torture. Occupy to free the refugees from the concentration camps and bring them here.



Comment from Craig McDodnough
Time October 19, 2016 at 9:45 am

I remember the days when we had strong unions with an active voice on social issues they would strike in solidarity – where are they now? We need a general strike and stay out not just until this has been rectified but until the entire Turnbull cabinet resigns!

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