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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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

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