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Swan to remind all who's the boss


Chris Johnson

Treasurer Wayne Swan draws inspiration from his personal rock idol Bruce Springsteen

Treasurer Wayne Swan draws inspiration from his personal rock idol Bruce Springsteen

Treasurer Wayne Swan has searched deep within himself to draw inspiration from his personal rock idol Bruce Springsteen as he ramps up his criticism of Australia’s richest and most outspoken mining magnates.

When Mr Swan talks about The Boss he isn’t referring to Prime Minister Julia Gillard but rather the American rocker who the Treasurer sees as some kind of prophetic soothsayer who had long predicted the decline of the American economy.

Delivering the John Button Lecture in Melbourne tonight Mr Swan, who is currently Acting Prime Minister, will reveal his inner cool to expound on the wisdom of Springsteen and urge Australia to heed the warnings of The Boss’s music.

‘‘If I could distil the relevance of Bruce Springsteen’s music to Australia it would be this: don’t let what has happened to the American economy happen here,’’ he will say.

‘‘Don’t let Australia become a down-under version of New Jersey, where the people and the communities whose skills are no longer in demand get thrown on the scrap heap of life.’’

Mr Swan will reveal to his audience just how much he knows about Springsteen by quoting from lyrics and dropping album titles into his speech.

He says Springsteen observed the ‘‘big changes going on in the American working class’’ and used his songs to champion the causes of ordinary people.

‘‘You can hear Springsteen singing about the shifting foundations of the US economy, which the economists took much longer to detect, and which of course everyone is talking about now,’’ Mr Swan says.

The Treasurer says nothing has fuelled his public life more than pursuing a fair go for working Australians – and he says it is the same for Ms Gillard, who also lists Springsteen as her favourite.

Mr Swan uses not only Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie and Australia’s own Cold Chisel and Midnight Oil as examples of musicians standing up for the working class.

Which, he says, is exactly what he has been doing by criticising the actions and motives of Australian mining billionaires Clive Palmer, Andrew Forrest and Gina Rinehart.

In March, the Treasurer wrote a controversial essay for iThe Monthly magazine warning against the vested interests of the rich, singling out the three mining tycoons.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott accused Mr Swan of trying to start a class war. But to tonight, the Treasurer will say he does not regret a word of what he wrote and said.

‘‘Not for a second,’’ he says. ‘‘In fact, my only regret is not going in hard enough, because every criticism I made has been played out almost to the letter on our national stage.’’

Mr Swan says Mr Palmer’s political campaign against him personally, Mr Forrest’s legal campaign against the new mining tax, and Ms Rinehart’s campaign to buy Fairfax Media while also refusing to sign its charter of editorial independence, all prove his case.

‘‘Parliament, the Constitution, independent journalism – all three are fundamental pillars of our democracy, being used as their playthings, supported every step of the way by the Leader of the Opposition,’’ he says.

Mr Swan will tell his audience that while some people with vested interests believe they should be immune from criticism and be feared by everyone else, he does not.

‘‘In the face of all this we have to stand up and be heard, because when the massively wealthy buy the loudest megaphones, the voices of the people are drowned out,’’ he says.

But he insists he has never disparaged individual achievement or billionaires, adding that most Australian entrepreneurs are to be ‘‘absolutely commended’’ for the risks they take and the wealth they create for the country.

But Mr Swan said his argument is only that economic opportunities should be created for everyone.

 ‘‘We can’t just quietly accept a situation where a handful of people can stymie economic reform which aims to spread opportunities to others,’’ he says.


9 comments so far

  • Mr Abbott "gospel truth" who needs truth or policies, (costed, detailed or otherwise) when you have News Ltd and the mining barons

    over saigon,on fire,both engins gone
    Date and time
    August 01, 2012, 10:08AM
    • Make the most of your last 12 months in politics Wayne, too little too late. Notice he says nothing about the unions and their actions to gain wage and conditions, or about the 457 visa, or not training people for the skills shortage he promised back when he and Rudd were trying to win government. But you did get your massive pay rises and and an extra $5500 a year while those earning over $80,000 didn't get any compensation for the carbon tax Gillard promised she would never bring in while she was prime minister.

      Tony of Brisbane
      Date and time
      August 01, 2012, 10:34AM
      • YES, but what he really forgot conveniently to mention is that the UNIONS are the boss of Australia.

        Date and time
        August 01, 2012, 10:54AM
        • I agree with Tony of Brisban, nobody thinks about the poor pensioners who paid tax all theire working lives

          Date and time
          August 01, 2012, 11:16AM
          • Im Living in the seventees, so now defending the poor workers, can you remind me again how many lost their jobs so far, how many to blame on the Rich, and how many to blame on Government under the table deals???

            Date and time
            August 01, 2012, 10:38PM
        • Dear Wayne any resemblance between you and a boss is purely accidental and you have no credibility as a treasurer or as a leader. The labor party is specifically designed to punish people who have money in order to give it to the people who do nothing to get it. The labor party continuously re distributes wealth under the guise of social justice. Can't wait till you and all your union lefty mates are run out of town.

          Andy In Oz
          Date and time
          August 01, 2012, 11:49AM
          • I believe he is totally justified in criticizing our billionaires particulalrly the mining ones. i mean what makes them so special that entitles them to 100-1000 times the wage ordinary Australians earn??? Answer: they were lucky or born into the right families. It is a disgrace that they are earn majority of the profits by digging up resources that are entitled to all Australians. Once the mines are empty does anyone actually believe they're gonna stick around and help out Australia??
            The super wealthy will be the downfall of the middle class and the up and coming liberal government will only further their goals of excessive wealth accumulation... labor is far from perfect but at least they try to make life better for ALL Australians. Its time to wake up Australia and realize that our current form of capitalism is heavily skewed towards the rich and powerful...

            Date and time
            August 01, 2012, 11:51AM
            • PATHETIC

              Date and time
              August 01, 2012, 6:14PM
              • First the real Julia,now the real Wayne we just want a real election now.

                Date and time
                August 01, 2012, 10:05PM

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