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Mining magnates, mining companies, and the Federal Opposition have joined an extraordinary war of words against Treasurer Wayne Swan after he accused miners of poising the political debate.
Writing in The Monthly magazine, Swan lashed out at Clive Palmer, Gina Rinehart, and Andrew Forrest as leading "ferocious and highly misleading" campaigns against the Government.
"I fear Australia’s extraordinary success has never been in more jeopardy than right now because of the rising power of vested interests," Swan wrote.
"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."
Swan labeled mining interests the "0.1 per cent" and said most other companies had worked with the Government on its policies.
"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 said.
Fortescue Metals Group came quickly to Forrest’s defence following the attack, with FMG deputy chair Herb Elliot telling PerthNow Swan’s criticism was "irrational".
“At Fortescue, we stand proudly with Andrew Forrest and his record of achievement in business and his commitment to lift those most in need,” he said.
Elliot said Forrest had started from nothing to build an important mining company.
"Andrew epitomizes the spirit of what an Australian can do if given a ‘fair go’," he said.
But Swan said a "handful of vested interests" had become too powerful from Australia’s economic success and were using their power to "satisfy their own self-interest".
"The infamous billionaires’ protest against the mining tax would have been laughed out of town in the Australia I grew up in, and yet it received a wide and favourable reception two years ago," he wrote.
Queensland magnate Clive Palmer, who has recently been named a National Living Treasure, also took a public swipe at Swan.
According to the ABC Palmer blamed Labor for attempting to destroy the economy and the wealth of everyday Australians.
"When I started in business I used to sleep on the floor and take people’s charity when I worked for the Salvation Army, I know what it’s like to be on the other side and I’ve got sympathy for those people and I will never desert them," he said.
Palmer said Swan had to rely on the "faceless men in the ALP" but Australia would soon elect a treasurer "who knows how to run the economy".
He also labeled Swan an "intellectual pygmy" in an opinion piece on the National Times this morning.
A spokesperson for Swan said people should remember Palmer was a big supporter of the Liberal Party and judge his comments accordingly.
According to the Courier Mail Opposition front bencher Christopher Pyne said Swan’s comments were another example of ALP "class warfare and the politics of envy".
He said Australia was "very much" the same country it had always been.
Swan is expected to continue his public and very personal attack on miners in an address to the National Press Club in Canberra today.
Image: The ABC