Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan revved up his criticisms of mining magnates, claiming that the likes of Andrew Forrest, Gina Rinehart and Clive Palmer represent 'unashamed self-interest' and run in counter with 'egalitarian patriotism'.
In an interview with Fairfax Radio on Wednesday, the acting prime minister conceded that investments from the billionaires delivered prosperity and generated employment in Australia, as claimed by Mr Palmer, but they were asking for too much in return.
"They are opposing public policy that spreads the benefit of the mining boom, building up people's superannuation, all of those sorts of things, investment in infrastructure," Mr Swan said.
The Treasurer also clarified that his position against the policies being peddled by these mining bosses, among the richest and most influential in Australia, were not meant to foment class conflicts but to promote social equality.
His method, Mr Swan said, should be helpful in ensuring that the public will continue to appreciate wealth build-up within the 'fair-go mentality.
Mr Swan told ABC Radio today that he consistently highlights the policies espoused by the resource giants as represented by Mr Forrest, Ms Rinehart and Mr Palmer "because the policies they're putting forward are now ones which are being adopted by (Opposition Leader) Tony Abbott."
"Their behaviour, I believe, needs to be taken into account by Australians when they assess public policy," the Treasurer pointed out.
But Mr Abbott rejected insinuations that he has gladly taken the cudgels for a few of Australian elites as he admonished Mr Swan to simply concentrate on governing the country in the absence of his boss, Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
"I think this is a treasurer who should be governing the country, not getting out there attacking people," the Liberal leader was reported by the Australian Associated Press (AAP) as saying in Melbourne on Wednesday.
"Wayne Swan talks about dividing up the cake. The problem is this government had devoured the cake," Mr Abbott said.
For his part, Mr Palmer said that he viewed the treasure's tirade as more of a personal attack, contrary to Mr Swan's claims that he was focused on criticising inimical to Australian interest.
"The treasurer doesn't attack what I say. He attacks me personally. He doesn't play the ball, he plays the man," the Queensland miner told ABC Radio today.
At the same time, Mr Palmer insisted that regardless if he was right or wrong, he has every right to express his belief and take on any issues.
"I maybe am wrong more than I am right, but at least that's a right all Australians have," Mr Palmer stressed.
He also dismissed suggestions by Mr Swan that his wealth is being employed to influence national policies or politicians, asserting "I don't use any resources to express my point of view."
Mr Palmer could only hope that the federal government acknowledges the vital role of people like him plays in Australia, which he claimed may not enjoy the same amount of prosperity it relishes without the contribution of mining bosses.
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