Wayne Swan and pygmies

Treasurer Wayne Swan is not renown as being a person who is in the least part dramatic. Euromoney magazine on awarding Wayne Swan the title of Finance Minister of the Year described this as, “for his careful stewardship of Australia’s finances and economic performance, both during and since the global financial crisis”. It wouldn’t be too unfair to state that generally, Wayne Swan is seen as rather dull and uninspiring.

As our Treasurer, Swan is somewhat of a mystery. Is he no more that the “careful steward”? Which are the principles that motivate him? These have been little known, however one strong clue comes from Wayne Swan’s recent article in The Monthly magazine. As reported by Tony Eastley and AM:

WAYNE SWAN: Well I wrote the essay because I think the fair go that we all cherish, the fair go that we nurture is at grave risk today because vested interests are on the march. And we’ve seen this just not through our debate on resource taxation. We’ve seen it through carbon pricing and we’ve seen it through the debate about plain packaging of tobacco.

And I’m raising the point, and I hope we do have a very significant national conversation about this, is that we can’t afford to let the vested interests in our society prevent more Australians from sharing in the tremendous opportunities of the Asian century, not just a fortunate few.

On the distortion of public policy by vested interests, specifically Gina Rinehart, Clive Palmer and Twiggy Forrest:

WAYNE SWAN: Well I think we are hearing from a few who have enormous resources and that seeps right through the media. We’ve seen some people in the media skiting about their power in the media, their capacity to deploy shock jocks and so on against government policy.

The above immediately came under attack from the Opposition with Christopher Pyne drawing once again on the accusation originally aimed at Mark Latham: the politics of envy. “Labor always falls back on class warfare and the politics of envy when they have nothing left in the cupboard to talk about of any substance.”

Quite ironically, Pyne added: “It’s about opportunity, in ensuring that Australia remains a country of the fair go.”

Tony Abbott wasn’t far behind with labelling Swan as a “wealth waster”, and stating that Swan’s comments were “half-baked, neo-socialism”.

Whence the “fair go” when vested interests control that which ordinary Australians are permitted to know; when these vested interests are able to distort and manipulate The News. Is this the fair go which Christopher Pyne insists all Australians are entitled to?

Tony Abbott and Christopher Pyne both having set the scene, Twiggy Forrest and Clive Palmer were quick to rush in, of course with obligatory sympathetic stories emanating from the media.

From James Madden in The Australian : “WAYNE Swan will escalate his aggressive personal attack on Australia’s richest individuals in a speech to the National Press Club in Canberra today”. (my bold)

And from the Sydney Morning Herald: “Mining barons Clive Palmer and Andrew Forrest have taken on the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, the first labelling him an “intellectual pygmy” who does not understand economics and the second launching a national advertising campaign against him.”

Which goes to prove exactly Swan’s point about undue influence. Which other Australians have the money and the media clout to almost instantaneously be able to launch a national advertising campaign against Australia’s Treasurer?


“Twiggy Forrest’s legal team has begun its appeal of a Federal Court ruling that the Fortescue Metals chairman and his iron ore company misled financial markets eight years ago”.


“The Fortescue advertisement concedes the nine-year-old company has yet to pay company tax but says it will pay more than $1 billion in taxes, royalties and other charges this year”.