Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan stood firm on his earlier pronouncement that 'cranks and crazies' within the U.S. Republican Party would likely threaten the global economy.
In a speech in Sydney on Friday, Mr Swan lamented that the U.S. economy's fragile recovery is being plagued by budget issues and fiscal cliff, no thanks to "the cranks and crazies that have taken over a part of the Republican Party."
His declaration immediately set off a fireball of criticisms from key Coalition figures, with Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop labelling Mr Swan's words as 'calculated insult' to the American conservative party that is fighting on November 2012 to regain control of the White House.
What was said, Ms Bishop said, is an embarrassment for Australia considering that the United States is a major partner.
"He is showing reckless disregard for the debt burden the US faces . . . it was a calculated insult to the elected representatives of our key ally," Ms Bishop told The Australian on Friday.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott told reporters in Sydney that the Treasurer seemed distracted on what he should be doing.
"The treasurer of Australia should be bigger than going around labelling members of the Republican Party of the United States cranks and crazies," Mr Abbott was reported by the Australian Associated Press (AAP) as saying on Friday.
In essence, Mr Swan opted to pick a fight that would leave him exposed to equal share of criticisms due to Labor's mismanagement of the Australian economy, the Liberal leader said.
His shadow treasurer, Joe Hockey, has accused his counterpart of "peddling hatred."
"They hate people that make money, they constantly attack individuals who are successful and employ other Australians . . . I'd like to hear Wayne Swan say something positive about someone, somewhere," Fairfax reported Mr Hockey as saying today in reacting to the Treasurer's speech.
But Mr Swan was unfazed by the ripple he has created, insisting that what he did was call attention on the manner that Republicans, specifically members of the U.S. Congress, have been stifling growth initiatives by U.S. President Barack Obama, a Democrat and a traditional ally of the ALP.
What he outlined were fair warnings that a U.S defaulting on its debt would have serious repercussions on the global economy since it is the biggest at the moment, Mr Swan said.
"That would have very serious implications for the global economy . . . and it's the last thing the global economy needs," Mr Swan told News Ltd.
Also, he dismissed the Coalition outrage as its obvious adherence to the radical policies espoused by Tea Party groups, which are composed of ultra-conservative wing of the Republican Party.
"I know there are people who will go out there like Tony Abbott and talk our economy down and behave in a Tea Party fashion," Mr Swan stressed.
"The fact is, the fundamentals in the Australian economy are strong," he added.
To contact the editor, e-mail: