TREASURER Wayne Swan is standing by his attack on the US Tea Party, saying “cranks and crazies” are putting the global economic recovery at risk.
In a speech on Friday, Mr Swan said the Tea Party had taken over the US Republican Party and was preventing Congress resolving its budget problem, the so-called “fiscal cliff”.
Asked after the speech whether his comments were inflammatory in a presidential election year, Mr Swan said it would be “pretty inflammatory” to see a country default.
“That would have very serious implications for the global economy,” he told reporters in Sydney.
“It’s the last thing the global economy needs.”
The treasurer also accused the federal opposition of stooping to Tea Party politics.
“I know there are people who will go out there like (Opposition Leader) Tony Abbott and talk our economy down and behave in a Tea Party fashion.
“The fact is the fundamentals in the Australian economy are strong.”
Mr Swan said the International Monetary Fund had given an upbeat assessment of the Australian economy, while endorsing the government’s aim of returning its budget to surplus and the flexibility of the Reserve Bank to adjust monetary policy.
“Yes, there are challenges in the global outlook,” he said, adding that the cautious consumer was partly the product of events overseas, especially in Europe.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said Mr Swan’s speech was “extraordinary”.
“This is someone who is spending his time criticising others rather than getting on with his job,” he told reporters in Sydney on Friday.
“The treasurer of Australia should be bigger than going around labelling members of the Republican Party of the United States ‘cranks and crazies’.
“They would be quite entitled to retort that the cranks and crazies are the people in charge of economic policy in Australia, giving this great country a completely unnecessary carbon tax and saddling generations of Australians yet unborn with the consequences of a $120 billion black hole of spending that Wayne Swan has promised.”
The Taxi Council of Queensland said it would campaign until the government scrapped the newly imposed cap.
Chief executive Benjamin Wash said disabled passengers needed access to subsidised taxi services to participate in work, study and society generally.
“If this transportation is limited it will remove many of these people from the workforce and dump them into the welfare system,” Mr Wash said.
“It will remove their dignity and means of self-reliance, making the social cost far worse than the current economic cost of continuing the scheme in its current form.” – AAP