Socking it to the billionaires

Wayne Swan is socking it to the billionaires in Australia. 

The Treasurer has learnt how to pick a popular battle, but it’s not his job to commentate on the political dogfight.

‘To be honest, I’ve never paid much attention to you in the past, although I think you’ve proven to be a very good Treasurer,” begins one of the hundreds of letters and emails that Wayne Swan received over the past week. But “to have the guts to stand up to the mining magnates and the obscenely wealthy individuals who are trying to undermine our democracy deserves the highest praise.”

Another said: “For ages I have despaired at the arrogance of the mining entrepreneurs and now you have spelt it out.”

And a third: “Wayne, if you keep on going like this we may have to join the Labor Party! Good luck! Thanks for keeping your eye on the ball!”

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Swan’s essay in The Monthly, titled “The 0.01 per cent: The Rising Influence of Vested Interests in Australia,” followed up by his speech to the National Press Club on similar lines, won him greater public acclaim than he’s experienced. People cross the street to shake his hand. For a day, it was the most discussed topic on Twitter.

The thrust of his argument is that rising inequality is a threat to democracy; that it’s the job of government to manage inequality; and that aggressive “vested interests” threaten to overwhelm the public interest:

“I fear Australia’s extraordinary success has never been in more jeopardy than right now because of the rising power of vested interests. This poison has infected our politics and is seeping into our economy. Though these vested interests have not yet prevailed, every day their demands get louder.”

At least Australia’s billionaires are prepared to have an opinion, ours seem to not want to say anything and are largely disengaged from politics.


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  • Cobolt

    You say, Whale, That at least the Aussie billionaires get involved in politics as though it is almost a duty to do so. I would suggest “our” billionaires are playing the smarter game, keeping a low profile unless showing to be giving back, I.e Glenn and the sports investments in hockey and league and Watson in league as well.
    If they even so much as shake John Banks’ hand Labour and their ilk would start a campaign to discredit, crying unfair and taxing them further.
    NZ has a history of taking the “Tall Poppy Syndrome” to the extreme. I think the local billionaires have done very well to avoid the most of it.
    It kind of puts Owen Glenn’s donations to the Labour and NZ First parties into context, he more or less bought their complacency. (Don’t tell him I said that though eh.)

  • Chiefsfan73

    Swan is a muppet.  Typical of the left to think they know what is best.  They need to protect us from the evil rich and their evil world domination thoughts.  If only I could think for myself, maybe they’d be out of a job.

    Idiots.  Bob Browns stacked media enquiry is a greater threat to free speech than Reinhardt et al will ever be.