Wayne Swan says Australia’s “fair go” attitude is under threat
Treasurer Wayne Swan has lashed out at the rising power of vested interests in Australia, warning that they are a threat to Australia’s ethos of a “fair go”.
TREASURER WAYNE SWAN has lashed out at the rising power of vested interests in Australia, warning that they are a threat to Australia’s ethos of a “fair go”.
In an article in the Monthly magazine published on Friday, Mr Swan took aim at Australian mining magnates Gina Rinehart, Clive Palmer and Andrew Forrest, as well as radio shock-jocks and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.
He said the presence of “vested interests” had been most obvious in “ferocious and highly misleading” campaigns waged against the federal Labor government’s mining tax and pricing carbon plans.
“The infamous billionaires protest against the mining tax would have been laughed out of town in the Australia I grew up in, and yet it received a wide and favourable reception two years ago,” Mr Swan wrote.
“A handful of vested interests that have pocketed a disproportionate share of the nation’s economic success now feel they have a right to shape Australia’s future to satisfy their own self-interest.”
He says as US President Barack Obama has pointed out, well-funded lobby groups give an “an outsized voice to the few”.
The treasurer says in the last couple of years, Australia has seen the emergence of its own distributional coalitions willing to use their considerable wealth to oppose good public policy and economic reforms designed to benefit the majority.
“The combination of industry deep pockets, conservative political support, biased editorial policy and shock-jock ranting has been mobilised in an attempt to protect vested interest,” he says.
“It’s reflected in how the coalition under Tony Abbott has recently radicalised itself into an Australian version of the (US) Tea Party (movement), more than willing to kneecap Australia’s three-decade reform project for cheap political points.”
He fears Australia’s extraordinary success has never been in more jeopardy because of the rising power of vested interests, a poison that has infected politics and which is seeping into the economy.
“Politicians have a choice .. between standing up for workers and kneeling down at the feet of the Gina Rineharts and the Clive Palmers,” he says.
He also attacks Ms Rinehart – Australia’s richest person – for her foray into Fairfax Media, reportedly in attempt to wield greater influence on public opinion and further her commercial interests at a time when it is critical to spread the benefits of the resources boom to the entire economy.
“We must fight a pitched battle against the influence of vested interests that seek to shape public policy to their own excessive benefit and at the expense of our middle-class society.” - AAP