Treasurer lashes out at 'poison' of tycoons
"For every Andrew Forrest who wails about high company taxes and then admits to not paying any, there are hundreds of Australian business people who held on to their employees and working with the government during the GFC" ... Treasurer Wayne Swan. Photo: Andrew Meares
Australia's economic success is at risk from a tiny minority of wealthy business people who are using their money and influence to ''poison'' the political and economic debate with arguments that benefit their self-interest but hurt the community, the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, has said.
In an essay for The Monthly magazine likely to stir controversy, Mr Swan names business people Gina Rinehart, Andrew Forrest and Clive Palmer as examples of the self-interested ''0.1 per cent'' against whom he rails.
''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,'' he writes.
Mr Swan said 99 per cent of business people wanted what was best for the country but a small minority used their ''considerable wealth to oppose good public policy and economic reforms designed to benefit the majority''.
''For every Andrew Forrest who wails about high company taxes and then admits to not paying any, there are a hundred Australian business people who held on to their employees and worked with government … during the GFC,'' he says.
Mr Swan, who plans to elaborate on his argument in a National Press Club address next week, says the effects of the vested interests had been seen ''most obviously in the ferocious and highly misleading campaigns waged in recent years against resource taxation reforms and the pricing of carbon pollution''.
He says the campaigns mean politicians have a choice ''between exploiting divisions by promoting fear and appealing to the sense of fairness and decency that is the foundation of our middle class society, between standing up for workers and kneeling down at the feet of the Gina Rineharts and the Clive Palmers''.
And he says Mrs Rinehart's purchase of a 12.6 per cent per cent shareholding in Fairfax Media is ''the latest example'' of the trend he describes.
He writes that her share purchase was ''reportedly … an attempt to wield greater influence on public opinion and further her commercial interests'' and quotes the media proprietor John Singleton from an article in the Herald in which he said he and Mrs Rinehart had been able to ''overtly and covertly attack governments'' by employing journalists who agreed with their thinking.
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