Friday 2 March 2012

Vested Interests vs Class Warfare

Entry ticket for movie theatre in Berchtesgaden [A]
Politics in Australia is great fun, full of ironies, and way cheaper than a movie ticket.

Don't believe me? Let me give you a sample:

The week started with Kevin Rudd's failed bid to dethrone fellow Labor PM Julia Gillard, who back in 2010 dethroned him. At the time, big miners in Oz were on the warpath, due to the new Rudd mining rent tax. Gillard dethroned Rudd to appease said miners. I've recently reminded readers of this.

Rudd went to the backbench exile and, lo and behold, Federal Treasurer, Wayne Swan (Labor) two days ago (March, 1) published an essay in high-brow publication The Monthly: "The 0.01 Per Cent: The Rising Influence of Vested Interests in Australia".

Readers are encouraged to read the essay, but the title sums it up reasonably well.

In any case, it states many things obvious to those following local developments. So obvious, in fact, that even your humble correspondent has already mentioned many of them!

After illustrating with the US example how a minority hijacked and thwarted an otherwise reasonable capitalism (!?) into serving their own interests, Swan warns that:
"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. It's reflected in how the Coalition under Tony Abbott has recently radicalised itself into an Australian version of the Tea Party (...)
"What characterises the vested interests that I'm concerned about is how they misrepresent their self-interest as the national interest. There has been a perceptible shift in this country in recent years, and it is sadly very much in the American direction of stronger and stronger influence being wielded by a smaller and smaller minority of vested interests."
Can't say I disagree. Of course, you don't expect Swan to acknowledge the ministry he's a part of exemplifies the inordinate level of influence those vested interests exert, do you?

But that's not the end of the irony! Not by a long shot.

After clarifying that "it was not for him to defend some of the richest people in the country", opposition leader Tony Abbott, self-proclaimed champion of Aussie battlers, jumped to the defense of some of the richest people in the country:
" 'But they [big miners Gina Rinehart, Clive Palmer and Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest] are wealth creators. Wayne Swan is a wealth waster,' Mr Abbott told reporters in Sydney.
" 'They create jobs, they create investment, they create prosperity for the families of Australia'."
(Emphasis added. See here)
Liberal frontbencher Christopher Pyne:

" '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,' he told ABC Radio today.
"Mr Pyne rejected suggestions Australia was a less fair nation than it was 20-30 years ago, and that the gap between rich and poor is widening.
" 'I think Australia is very much the country it has always been,' he said."
(Emphasis added. See here)
Overseas readers, particularly American readers, would immediately recognize such conservative clichés like "job-creators", "politics of envy" and "class warfare", used shamelessly by Aussie politicians.

Undoubtedly local "right-of-centre" fans, never guilty of the sin of being perceptive, will not sense the irony here. So, it falls upon yours truly to spell it out: Pyne and Abbott are conceding Swan's point: "the Coalition under Tony Abbott has recently radicalised itself into an Australian version of the Tea Party", to the point of using the same clichés.

For once summarizing things accurately (maybe because the text was included unedited from its originator, AAP), News Ltd publications Sun Herald and The Australian described the situation like this: "The opposition has dismissed Treasurer Wayne Swan's attack on vested interests as a form of class warfare". (See here and here)

Yes, indeed, it's class warfare when one neoliberal Labor politician denounces rich people's vested interests.

It ain't no class warfare when two neoliberal Coalition politicians support rich people's vested interests. Let alone when "the vested interests that I'm concerned about (...) misrepresent their self-interest as the national interest". Imagine you called that "politics of greed"!

Now you see why Aussie politics is great fun.

But I'll be fair: that's your chance to do something well, Swan. We all know what they say: talk is cheap. Back your fighting words with combative deeds.

I'll leave Pyne's spectacularly wrongheaded remark on unchanging inequality in Oz for another day. I've gotta find another job, as I lost one of my 2 part-times, thank you very much.

Looking at things on the bright side, I've got more time to expose bullshit and somehow I feel remarkably motivated to give back some of the shit I am taking.

Image Credits:
[A] Eintrittskarte, Berchtesgadener Kurkino. Wikipedia.

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