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John Passant

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May 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 left in Australia, Assange, and sexism

Can we on the left chew gum and walk at the same time? When it comes to Julian Assange it appears for many the answer is no.

Of course, we have to oppose Assange being extradited to the US.  The major imperialist power wants to punish him for his service to humanity in revealing, yet again, the crimes of the leaders of the so-called free world. In jailing or executing him they want to send a message to the rest of the world, especially potential leakers, that revealing the truth about US imperialism, that it pursues its own interests ruthlessly and is the enemy of humanity, will be punished severely.

Wikileaks revealed recent Western leaders like Bush, Blair and Howard for the liars and, in my humble opinion, the unprosecuted war criminals they are.  The Collateral Murder video for example shows US troops shooting from a helicopter and killing 18 people (non-combatants, including 2 Reuters staff). The reality is clear. The US wants to stop the world from knowing about its litany of war crimes and other dirty actions. 

For that reason alone we on the left must oppose Assange being sent from the UK to the US.

Clearly the political case for not extraditing Assange to the US is strong. It is an argument about a free press and the role the media do and should play in revealing the truth about our governments.  It is instructive to see the mainstream left in Australia, the Labor Party, unite with the mainstream right, the Liberals and Nationals, and refuse to really help Assange in his fight against being extradited to the US.

The Labor Opposition (up to its eyeballs in the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq) has supported the Liberal Prime Minister and his wishy-washy comment that Assange is receiving ‘standard consular assistance’ from the Australian government. This is code for ‘the Australian government is doing nothing to upset the US and will sell Assange to Trump for a good relationship with the chief imperialist power.

It is also instructive to see the radical left and progressive left outlets side with Assange. And what is wrong with that? you ask. Sweden is my answer.  Two women allege Assange committed sexual offences against them.

The Swedish authorities wanted to extradite Assange to Sweden for questioning. It was this action that saw Assange flee to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and claim asylum, a claim that was granted.

Assange claims the Swedish complaints were a ruse to get him to Sweden and then to extradite him to the US. Various internationally well-known left-wing figures agree. There is however no evidence that these complaints stem from anything other than two women wanting justice.

If there is any lesson for the left to learn from the MeToo movement it must be to believe the women making the allegations of assault, domestic violence, sexual assault, rape or whatever they happen to be.  For too long patriarchal capitalist society, and with it, sections of the left, have not done this, or have not been prepared to do it.

I sent an article to two left-wing progressive independent media about the attempt to extradite Assange to the US and the rape accusations against him.  I made the ‘chewing gum and walking at the same time’ observation that we should support sending Assange to Sweden to answer the rape accusations, not the US.

Both groups rejected my article, with very similar reasoning. They said they were running a pro-Assange line and could not publish something that contradicted their general editorial position. This is a problem of Murdochian proportions.

Other publications on the left ran stories that either did not mention the alleged sexual crimes, or downplayed them. The left is still full of those who do not believe women.

Not believing women is one of the consequences of the oppression of women in capitalist society. Their labour is worth less; their word is worth less. If the Assange case is any guide, many left wing publications and organisations appear just as infected with sexism as the rest of society.

As UK Labour’s shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott said in a letter to colleagues, ‘rape is a heinous crime in which far too few perpetrators face any consequence, and far too many survivors are denied the justice they deserve.‘ She called for Assange to be sent to Sweden over the rape allegations if the case were reopened and Swedish authorities wanted him in their country to answer those accusations.

I agree with Diane Abbott. The misogynist, sexist and patriarchal left has been ambiguous about male sexual abuse for too long.  Assange is the obvious example.  

If requested, extradite Assange to Sweden to face investigations into sexual assault claims. Do not send him to the US.  See, we can chew gum and walk.

John Passant is a poet, an adjunct member of the School of Law and Justice at Southern Cross University, co- editor of the Journal of Australian Taxation, and a member of the Canberra Press Gallery.  He publishes at En Passant with John Passant.


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