Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan said resource tycoons including Gina Rinehart, Clive Palmer andAndrew Forrest are threatening the nation’s democratic process by using their wealth to shape policy to their interests.
In an article in The Monthly magazine, Swan said the billionaires are undermining the Australian notion of a “fair go” -- where everyone has an opportunity to prosper. He cited a mining companies’ campaign against the resource profit tax in 2010 that contributed to the ouster of former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
The article is a signal of stepped up efforts by Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s administration to build public support for taxes on mining profits and carbon emissions due to take effect on July 1. Her government trails the opposition Liberal-National coalition by 10 percentage points, a margin that if replicated at the election due in the second half of next year would represent a landslide defeat.
“This government, if anything, has been too circumspect in criticizing vested interests,” said Paul Strangio, a senior lecturer on Australian politics at Melbourne’s Monash University, who primarily researches the Labor party.
“These very wealthy people -- some have described them as oligarchs -- are throwing their weight around in public policy and if they do enter the public arena, and try to impose their influence over public policy, it’s within the government’s ambit to answer that,” Strangio said.
Continue Reading: Mining Tycoons Palmer, Rinehart Threaten Australia’s Democracy