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John Passant

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April 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)



Eleven days into the election, and?

At first I thought all the hallelujahs were for the risen Christ. Not so. I mistook the relief people felt for the election campaigns going quiet for the joy of Christians celebrating the resurrection of their Lord and Saviour.

In the secular but not really secular society that is Australia it is an easy mistake to make. A few days without Scommo and Shorten has been blessed relief.

For too short a time there were no three word slogans, no accusing the other side of being liars, and no promulgating ‘policies’ that will have little impact on people’s well being and no impact on addressing climate change.

All that quietude disappeared with the release of the photo of the Prime Minister, a Christian fundamentalist, at prayer.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and wife Jenny sing during an Easter Sunday service at his Horizon Church. Photo: AAP

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and wife Jenny sing during an Easter Sunday service at his Horizon Church. Photo: AAP

I have no problem with Morrison being religious, although I am not sure Christian fundamentalism is religion. I do have a problem with him politicising his ‘religiosity’ in an attempt to win votes. In this he is aided by those on the left who mock him for a supposedly Nazi style salute or for attending Church. That is ridiculous and self defeating.

Presumably Morrison invited the media in (with the agreement of his Church) because he thought it would advantage him politically. I suspect that might not be the case.

The other problem I have with Morrison’s Christianity is the what appear to me to be UnChristian aspects of his government. For example Christ’s exhortation to love your neighbour as yourself sits very uncomfortably with locking people up on the concentration camps that are Manus Island and Nauru.

Why is the election campaign so uninspiring? I think ultimately it is because both sides are offering us more of the same on the big issues. Even Labor’s reforms are hardly radical.

However, ignore the mainstream media propaganda about the set backs for Labor, over for example superannuation. Shorten’s answer was correct, taking into account the already announced changes. Nothing will turn on this, despite the conservative media, and the reactionary media, painting this as a major gaffe. It wasn’t. That media (Murdoch and Channel 9 newsprint) were merely beating up a story to make Labor look bad.

More interesting will be the unfolding of the water sale controversy, which I hope to write about soon.

As to tax, Labor getting rid of a few tax benefits that flow overwhelmingly to the well off (and in the case of dividend imputation credit refunds doing so hamfistedly and catching some less well off people) is hardly radical. The lie the Liberals were spreading that Labor had a secret agreement with the Greens to introduce a wealth tax (or death tax) was so far from the truth that everyone believes Labor’s denial.

It is a pity really that Labor is not considering a wealth tax as part of a program to reduce inequality in society. I wrote about this in a chapter in a book in 2017. Picketty recognises the threat growing inequality poses to democratic society. It’s time, time for a wealth tax. Unfortunately Labor won’t say that, now or in the future. Neither will the Greens, since they abandoned their wealth tax policy not so long ago.

As the Greens leader, Senator Richard Di Natale, also made clear, there is no deal.

Image may contain: 3 people, text

As a long term lung cancer survivor (almost a year now, touch wood) Labor’s cancer plans will benefit me. They mean I will be able to have a second PET scan for free, rather than the $800 I was quoted by my oncologist. All well and good Labor, but where is a free fully funded Medicare system for all?

Labor will attempt to overturn the penalty rate cuts that exist already for workers in some industries, and in the pipeline for other industries. However the Greens, among others, are pushing Labor to make sure unions cannot trade off penalty rates. Such a restriction would upset the SDA, the shoppies ‘union’, which has a long history of doing dodgy deals with the bosses on penalty rates and other negotiable items.

More generally, Labor this week will campaign on wages, calling the election a referendum on wages. For a number of years now wages have been flat-lining or falling in real terms. More and more people are feeling the pinch as the real value of their wages declines.

Labor has made noises about supporting fair wage increases for workers. While workers might be fooled by Labor’s words and wishes (or should that be thoughts and prayers?), the party has not set out any clear policies for achieving this.

The decline in workers’ living standards is a consequence of Labor and Liberal neoliberalism over the last 36 years. The decline in Labor’s share of the national product and the consequent increase in capital’s share began in the mid-1980s under Hawke and Keating and has continued ever since.

Saul Eslake in The Conversation has helpfully put the wages and profits share of national income since 1960 into one graph for us to see the long-term results:

Source: The Conversation

One of the main reasons for this is the lack of class struggle by workers over the last almost four decades. Strikes are at historic lows. Labor has no intention of making striking easier, let alone enshrining the right to strike in legislation.

The Director of the Australia Institute‚Äôs Centre for Future Work, Jim Stanford, found a close statistical relationship between the level of industrial action and the growth of wages over time.

Source: The Australia Institute

Without a turn to strikes and other industrial action workers will continue to suffer the systemic decline in living standards we are witnessing now, with a consequent growth in inequality and increase in the number of Australians living in poverty.

One way to address some inequality would be to raise Newstart. All Labor has promised is to review it over 18 months if it wins power. Hardly radical.

This slow tango of Labor and Liberal in step policies continues into climate change, with some slight left shoe shuffle by Labor over electric vehicles and renewable energy. Too little too late comes to mind. Labor’s failure to openly state that it will halt Adani is one clear case in point. The Notre Dame that is our planet is on fire. It is burning to the ground.

I want Labor to win this election. If socialists are running in my electorate and the Senate in the Territory in which I live, I will vote for them. People before profit resonates with me.

I suspect strongly that the Socialists are not running here – nominations close in a week – so I will vote Green and then Labor to send a message to neoliberal Labor that some of us want humane policies and reforms that benefit the working class. We do not see Shorten Labor and its sweet words as delivering that.


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