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John Passant

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February 2019



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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)



The Morrison Government – avoiding parliamentary scrutiny and defeat is its main game

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling
From Senator Steele-John’s Facebook page

Thursday in Parliament House was another momentous day.

The Prime Minister tabled the 11th  Closing the Gap report in Parliament in the morning. It showed that far from improving, the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are going backwards compared to the rest of us.

Last year we were on track to meet 3 of the seven targets. This year it is only two. And next year? This report ‘Four lessons from 11 years of Closing the Gap reports’ by Nicholas Biddle in The Conversation explains in more detail the targets, their meaningfulness and progress towards them.

The platitudes and even action (such as the government’s current focus on education) will not change the systemic and fundamental issue at the heart of the problems – the genocide of ATSI people, their dispossession and death then and now at the hands of Australian capitalism. All the government and Opposition are proposing is band aids on the cancer, rather than addressing the cancer.

Image may contain: one or more people, text that says '14 February 1779 marks the death of Captain James Cook Killed while attempting to kidnap an Hawaiian chief, in order to reclaim a stolen cutter (small boat).'

In 2020 there will be another report, and more words, but
the situation will be much the same as it has always been – Indigenous people
die about ten years earlier than the rest of us on average; they have more
people living in poverty than any other group, they have the lowest education
levels etc etc.

Nothing that Morrison or Shorten talked about will address
that because they do not acknowledge let alone address the genocide and theft
of the land then and now.

Then there was question time.

The first bit of fun was when 12 people stood up in the
public galleries, one by one over about five or ten minutes and yelled that we
need to take action on climate change, stop subsidising coal, stop Adani and
the like.  After each individual was led
out, another stood up to proclaim a similar message.

Question Time begins at 2 pm on sitting days in the House, and goes till about 3.10 pm or 3.15 pm, when the Prime Minister rises to end the daily ritual. On Thursday, instead of getting to his feet at 3.15 pm and declaring Question Time over for the day Mr Morrison allowed it to continue. At 150 minutes, today’s Question Time was the longest in the Federal Parliament’s history

What was so important? Were there penetrating questions about the failure of Closing the Gap and how to fundamentally address the systemic genocide of ATSI peoples? No, not at all. Well one, but it was hardly penetrating or insightful; just a government backbencher asking a question about the government’s response to the latest Closing the Gap report and giving Morrison a few minutes to pontificate his platitudes.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, text

The rest of the questions from government backbenchers were almost exclusively on border security. It did not matter what the topic was, border protection got a mention in the question, and of course the Ministerial answers.

‘My question is to the Minister for the Arts. Can the Minister tell the House how strong borders helps Australian artists and are there any alternative approaches that threaten to destroy strong borders and with it the Australian arts scene?’ That basically was the calibre if not the reality of the Dorothy Dixers today from the Liberal and National Party backbenchers.

The answers of course included the usual lies from Ministers about rapists and murderers being allowed into Australia thanks to the Labor supported Medevac Bill passing the House on Tuesday and the Senate on Wednesday.

No photo description available.
Leahy’s view

Labor concentrated for the first half or hour or so on why Scott
Morrison had abandoned taking the big stick to Energy Companies
. The
Prime Minister called it rubbish. However the Government has removed its big
stick legislation from the agenda following the Greens foreshadowing an
amendment that, according
to Adam Bandt MP
, ‘… would also prohibit coal-fired power stations
from receiving public money.’ To avoid another defeat in the House the
government withdrew its big stick energy Bill from consideration.

Then in between a few questions about the leaks to the press
of the impending AWU raids, Labor changed its focus.  As the time moved on past the end of the
regular question time, Labor began to ask about a
Senate motion passed at 12.15 pm on Thursday to support a Royal Commission into
the violence and abuse against disabled people

By this stage, Greens’ Senator Jordan Steele-John was sitting just inside the exit doors of the House. He was the person driving the royal commission motion in the Senate. Government senators voted against the motion. The Senate agreed to send the motion as a message to the House of Representatives.  Senator Steele-John became angry as the penny dropped that the reason Question Time was continuing was to avoid dealing with the message from the Senate about the disability Royal Commission.  The government was basically wasting time to avoid another defeat on the floor of the House. ‘Call the vote, call a vote,’ he yelled.

Image may contain: text

After various questions on the issue, and intricate discussions
about matters of public importance, Senate messages, standing orders and
parliamentary practice, Bill Shorten moved a motion to suspend standing orders.
The aim was to allow a debate on his motion to allow enough time to debate the
royal commission issue. Morrison, after prevaricating for most
of question time about the royal commission question
, said during
this debate that the government had not resolved not to do it.

At 4.30 pm Question Time shut down, automatically under
parliamentary rules, and ended Labor’s attempt to suspend standing orders.

The disability violence and abuse royal commission will be on the agenda for debate next week. I understand that Morrison has now said the government would not oppose a Royal Commission, although as he pointed out during Question Time in his non-answers to Labor’s calls for a Royal Commission, the Government’s focus is the NDIS and the aged care royal commission. That is one way to remove a possible election issue, I guess.

However if your sole strategy is to avoid defeat on the floor of the House by any means necessary, what sort of government does that make you?

Meanwhile the banks continue to rob us, and Aboriginal people die ten years younger than the rest of us.

John Passant is a member of the Canberra Press Gallery.



Comment from John Bennetts
Time February 15, 2019 at 10:51 am

Excellent post. One of your best.

Crisp, factual, to the point.

Sadly, also true.

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