Mining giants in Swan's sights

Treasurer Wayne Swan
Treasurer Wayne Swan

IT WAS only last week that Wayne Swan ended his war of words against ex-Prime Minister and ex-Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd: now he's begun another battle - against a gang of mining billionaires.

The treasurer waged war against Clive Palmer, Gina Rinehart and Andrew Forrest in a Monthly magazine article on Friday, saying vested interests had been obvious in their "ferocious and highly misleading" campaigns against the mining tax and carbon pricing plans.

Mr Palmer returned fire after being named one of Australia's National Living Treasures on Sunday, accusing Mr Swan of not understanding the economy.

Meanwhile, Mr Forrest's Fortescue Metals Group rejected the criticism in full-page newspaper ads, claiming it would pay $1 billion in taxes and royalties this year and twice that next year.

Mr Swan went on the attack again while addressing the National Press Club in Canberra yesterday, saying it was more difficult now than 25 years ago to achieve major policy reform because a small group of people with vested interests wielded enormous wealth and power.

Member for Dawson George Christensen said Mr Swan should "stop pretending to be some sort of comic book hero and start running the economy".

"It's not the nation's billionaires that are introducing a mining tax and also a carbon tax," Mr Christensen said.

"It's not the nation's billionaires that are scrapping the private health rebate.

"It's Julia Gillard, Wayne Swan and their government.

"I think people want Wayne Swan to focus on his job and the government to focus on its job assisting the economy rather than this carry on."

Opposition treasury spokesman Joe Hockey accused Mr Swan of declaring war on people who were ambitious.

"I really resent the way the treasurer engages in this sort of envy in the class war because it diminishes us as a country when we have senior political figures playing these sort of games," he said.

"He says that when it comes to climbing the ladder of opportunity, Australia is at the top and yet he declares war on the people who help to create opportunities.

"You don't grow the pie by shooting the chef."

Topics:  andrew forrest clive palmer gina rinehart mining wayne swan

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