The first sign the wheels were in motion came today real early.
Liberal frontbencher Joe Hockey, who must have spent a good part of his weekend laboriously writing, published an op-ed at the SMH titled "Politics of Division will Kill Ambition". Notice the cleverly crafted "politics of division", avoiding the charge that he is using the "politics of envy" American Tea Party cliché. (See here)
By about 10:00 am (local time) Fairfax Media SMH Online was abuzz with comments to Peter Martin's and Julie Robotham's "Mining Magnates Hit Back at Swan" (229 comments by 12:08 pm).
Martin and Robotham:
"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." (Emphasis added. See here)Readers will recognize the devilish subtlety in this approach. I mean, replying to Swan's accusations ("The combination of [mining] industry deep pockets, conservative political support, biased editorial policy and shock-jock ranting has been mobilised in an attempt to protect vested interest") by launching a national media campaign… It takes sheer genius.
Clive Palmer did not lag far behind. Earlier in the morning, Palmer (who coincidentally was awarded the title of National Living Treasure (!) last weekend) in declarations to ABC, slammed Swan as an "incompetent" who does not know how the economy works:
" 'Really he knows that, if the public doesn't know it, he knows he doesn't know how it works,' he said." (See here)But coincidences were far from over. As Hockey, Palmer also decided to publish a piece at the SMH Online. In that piece, a clearly hurt Palmer claims Swan doesn't know him. The piece was published with the title "Wayne Swan Knows Nothing about Me, or our Democracy". (See here)
For some strange reason, I was reminded of the popular Kelly Clarkson song:
From Hockey's piece:
"Australia runs as a meritocracy. We earn rewards based on merit and effort".
I don't know the readers, but I suspect subtlety, intelligence or plain common sense are not among the merits of our elite. And I have difficulty visualising the kind of effort worth the billions these people own.
Perhaps I am biased, but to me, it sounds like a complex mix of arrogance, greed and folly.
And yet, we let these people own the country, run Parliament and decide for us. Who's really at fault here?