Forget Kevin Rudd’s high-brow inspiration, the courageous if obscure German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and don’t even mention Paul Keating’s beloved Austrian romantic composer Gustav Mahler. Treasurer Wayne Swan’s ideas and values come from straight from “The Boss”.

Wayne Swan's practice session for tonight's speech had caucus and himself in raptures. Pic: AP

And while he might be the nation’s top economic official, it ain’t the beat of Wall Street he’s tuned in to, but the driving rhythms and power-chords of E Street.

Whether he likes it or not, Springsteen will tonight be outed as Swan’s muse - the driving force behind Australian Labor’s core economic policies from union-friendly IR laws and increased pension and family payments, to public slanging matches with billionaire mining magnates.

In a speech to be delivered tonight in Melbourne, the acting Prime Minister will lay his working class credentials on the line shamelessly deploying The Boss’s identification with the great American working class as he re-opens his recent attacks on billionaires Clive Palmer, Andrew “Twiggy’’ Forrest, and Gina Rinehart.

“We are in many ways the Springsteen generation - and if our generation has an anthem it is “Born to Run”, the 58 year-old will say in his John Button lecture.

“The Boss was and remains my musical hero, and not just mine, he’s the favourite musician of the Prime Minister and many others in the Government.”

But Swan is eager to have us understand, it is Springsteen rather than America he is celebrating, noting that much of The Boss’s anger comes from the disenfranchisement of working people as the middle-class shrinks and the gap between rich and poor widens.

Springsteen, of course, is known for his association with the work-a-day interests of ordinary urban folk, and for his connection to the Democratic party - particularly former presidential hopeful John Kerry and more recently, Barack Obama.

Tonight’s speech comes just months after Mr Swan’s incendiary essay in The Monthly magazine which attracted such criticism for appearing to attack success and wealth creation in Australia. Swan was accused of waging class war for nakedly political gain.

But in a speech liberally referencing Springsteen, an unrepentant Mr Swan will declare the real class war is being waged by the super rich who in the case of the aforementioned, have merely vindicated his attacks with their actions since.

“One tycoon (Palmer) is using his money to challenge the principle of fair taxation through electioneering,” he will say.

“A second (Forrest) is using his money to challenge it through the courts. And a third is using her money to challenge it by undermining independent journalism.

“Parliament, the Constitution, independent journalism: All three are fundamental pillars of our democracy, being used as their playthings, supported every step of the way by the Leader of the Opposition.”

Indeed, Swan says his only regret as Treasurer is that he didn’t go far enough when he attacked them for abusing their wealth to distort the public debate and further their own interests.

Unsurprisingly, he reserves his harshest words for the one closest to him, the heavy Queensland LNP donor Clive Palmer who had declared a plan to personally unseat the Treasurer in his electorate of Lilley at the next election.

“It was a naked threat to use his massive wealth to overturn the Government’s tax policies,” Mr Swan will say.

While Palmer has since decided to seek LNP endorsement elsewhere, Mr Swan will brand that as skulking away from a fight “in an epic display of political cowardice”.

Springsteen’s message over thirty five years, Mr Swan says, “is that to build a better society, we have to ensure the fruits of economic growth reach everyone”.

Of course Wayne Swan is not the first politician to seek the referred prestige of star-power and for many, this latest attempt will ring hollow, but few will doubt his genuine passion for the New Jersey rocker.

The question is, has The Boss really been the power behind the government?

On this, there is at least some circumstantial evidence for the existence of what we might call THE BOSS MANIFESTO. Consider the following possibilities:

“Cause we made a promise we swore we’d always remember, no retreat, baby, no surrender. - NO SURRENDER
Carbon pricing, NBN.

“Poor man wanna be rich, Rich man wanna be king, And a king ain’t satisfied,‘Til he rules everything. - BADLANDS
Minerals Resource Rent Tax; redistributive compensation for the carbon price.

“Now I’ve been looking for a job, but it’s hard to find, Down here it’s just winners and losers and don’t get caught on the wrong side of that line ... - ATLANTIC CITY
Assistance for the automotive industry.

“I guess it’s two years gone by now, We just sit around talking about the old times, she says when she feels like crying, she starts laughing thinking about glory days. - GLORY DAYS
Life for Labor before the carbon price backflip.

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    • Funcut says:

      01:32pm | 01/08/12

      Whatever the merits of Swan as a treasurer/politician/treasure/music critic, his analysis of the work of Bruce is top notch if a little simple.

      Let’s hope that one outcome of all the derision he’ll get (which is just part of the game for people in his position) is that people will actually explore the work of The Boss and will find out how truly amazing, talented and passionate Springsteen is.

      More amusing Labor/Springsteen references to come.

    • acotrel says:

      07:52am | 02/08/12

      Australian politics are dominated by vested interests while the individual lacks empowerment because of the monopoly on policy of big parties, some of which don’t even allow a conscience vote for their members on important issues.  It comes down to an effective dictatorship by large corporations, and means a loss of our Australian value of things other than money.

    • watty says:

      08:50am | 02/08/12

      “that people will actually explore the work of The Boss and will find out how truly amazing, talented and passionate Springsteen is.”

      AND how truly amazingly wealthy and political Swan’s hero is?

    • Gregg says:

      09:14am | 02/08/12

      If you really want to believe in effective dictatorship organisations, maybe you’ll also want to buy shares in Faceless Men.
      I’ll let you find the lyrics, maybe Our Beds are Burning for helpers.

    • acotrel says:

      09:41am | 02/08/12

      Is this what you mean ? :

      I think you should read Greg Barnes’s ‘What’s wrong with the Liberal Party’. There is nothing traitorous about it, but it gives unusal insight as to what lies behind the facade.  The same stuff exists in every large political party.  I believe a lot of pollies start off with good intentions, then the party ideology and controls ruin them.

    • Bho Ghan-Pryde says:

      02:15pm | 02/08/12

      How sad is Swan? A 1970s student union ALP political chip on the shoulder attitude derived from 1970s music. The world has moved on by old Wayne is still back in his glory days. No wonder the ALP is slumping by every measure - it is living in the past fighting phantoms while the electorate has moved on.

    • Emmy says:

      01:32pm | 01/08/12

      My god it is not just Swan running the economy by using the fictional words of a song but he has now brought Gillard and his whole Govt into it as well. No wonder these fools are delusional, they follow the musings of a rocker to run Australia. Not only that, the Trade Minister tries to emulate the rocker.

    • Jack says:

      02:18pm | 01/08/12

      Don’t forget Albanese The American President

    • Against the Man says:

      02:43pm | 01/08/12

      .....the fun is only just starting smile

    • eRon says:

      04:05pm | 01/08/12

      Becaws Laybah serports the yarts!!!
      (apologies, Sir Les)

    • acotrel says:

      08:10am | 02/08/12

      I would have thought that people who were obsessed with Hayek and the great big new religion of globalism and the free market were more delusional.  - Those people who use ‘The Constitution Of Liberty’ as their bible, and were too blind to see that the consequences would be the Global Financial Crisis, because they were totally money motivated !

    • Funcut says:

      01:35pm | 01/08/12

      “And Circus Boy dances like a monkey on barbed wire
      And the barker romances with a junkie, she’s got a flat tire
      And now the elephants dance real funky and the band plays like a jungle fire
      Circus town’s on the live wire”
      Parliamentary Question Time

    • Funcut says:

      01:38pm | 01/08/12

      “And somebody said, “Hey man, did you see that? His body hit the street with such a beautiful thud”
      I wonder what the dude was sayin’, or was he just lost in the flood?”

      Rudd in the Gillard takeover

    • luke says:

      01:41pm | 01/08/12

      I thought this Federal Government was inspired by the song… Three Blind Mice… considering we have Labor, The Greens and the Independents running our Country.

    • George says:

      02:20pm | 01/08/12

      How about London Bridge is Falling Down?

    • Pudel says:

      03:14pm | 01/08/12

      “She goes Down”  is my theme song for the Gillard government.  Just for the song, not the lyrics.

    • nihonin says:

      03:49pm | 01/08/12

      Twinkle twinkle little star….......

    • Mahhra says:

      01:45pm | 01/08/12

      Yeah, that’s mostly rubbish right there.  I agree that the use of personal fortune to influence policy to your own ends is wrong, but Swan is doing the same thing, just with the public’s fortune.

    • JT says:

      06:49pm | 01/08/12

      The Boss puts on an amazing concert and has some great music but he is your typical rich latte sipping leftie.

      On a different note, how the hell he does what he does in concert for 3 1/2 hours at his age is amazing. I got tired just watching.

    • NigelC says:

      01:58pm | 01/08/12

      Bruce Springsteen must be the inspiration behind the ALP policy to destroy the timber industry ...
      I had a job, I had a girl
      I had something going mister in this world
      I got laid off down at the lumber yard
      Our love went bad, times got hard
      (Downbound Train)

    • mark n says:

      01:07pm | 02/08/12

      Need some explaining there NigelC, the thing that is killing the timber industry is the dumping of imported timber into Australia at up to 40% under the cost of production and it is the exact same tacticts that was used to kill the Pulp & Paper industry .

    • Max Redlands says:

      01:58pm | 01/08/12

      The Springsteen song title that comes to mind when I think of the present ALP government (and the ALP generally) is “Wreck on the Highway”

      Bit rich that Swannie complains Palmer et al use their wealth and notoriety to influence the public debate when Bruce does exactly the same thing.That reminds me of another title “Two Faces”

    • acotrel says:

      08:04am | 02/08/12

      But surely it is a matter of the hypocrisy which comes with the degree of the crime ? We live in a democracy - One person, one vote !

    • AdamC says:

      02:00pm | 01/08/12

      I skimmed over Swansong’s piece in the Fairfax rags this morning. It was pretty good. I think the old-guard Laborites, along with the far left more generally, will lap it up. He basically takes disliking people because they are rich and sucessful and makes it sound like a noble calling!

      To be fair, one thing this government has been quite effective at is slagging off its critics. Swan is at least doing that in a personal and, at least seemingy, sincere manner now. I do not think it will do much for Labor’s standing with moderate voters, though. As I have said before, Aussies are less cursed with upward envy than many other peoples (even other English-speaking peoples) and many of us also see the downside of excessive taxation.

      Still, it was better than Swan’s last catty whinge session about Clive Palmer.  You gotta focus on the positives.

    • AFR says:

      02:16pm | 01/08/12

      But lately there ain’t been much work, on account of the economy - The River

    • Jack says:

      02:19pm | 01/08/12

      SIlly Wayne. Everyone knows that Jungleland is ten times better than Born to Run.

    • Joan says:

      02:27pm | 01/08/12

      Swan Worrying about how the rich spend their own money?  How about Swan worry about how Thomson spent HSU funds,  how about he worry about how Unions waste members funds on Labor election and ads, while sinking Australia`s productivity to second lowest of 51 , how about the way Howes helped Gillard knife Rudd June 2010. How about the way Swan trashed ex PM Rudd reputation, and the way he spent $20billion surplus plus give Australia massive debt in record time with nothing worthwhile to show.  How about the Gillard muzzle on freedon of press/speech?
      Springstein would cringe to think that he was some sort of inspiration for a bunch pathetics such as Swan. Born to Run soiled forever with Swan connection. Yuk

    • jo says:

      08:52am | 02/08/12

      JOAN,  He sure does not seem to be much bothered, about how thompson spent HSU funds, and how Howes helped Gillard knife Rudd, He is much more bothered with blaming and putting down people that are rich, in order to make himself look good, he hasn’t fooled me.
      And I agree that Springstein would cringe to think he is some sort of inspiration for a self interested Pollie,  that supported his mate Rudd, but when the challenge to replace his mate Rudd for Gillard, was on, he choose to poison his friendship with Rudd, in order for his own promotion.  I can overlook the fact Swan is dull, and really not an outstanding Pollie… but Pollies that backstab their mates, is something I can’t and won’t overlook.

    • mikespol says:

      02:37pm | 01/08/12

      Surely we Punchers can think of other musical insprations for our public figures. My three efforts:

      Joel Fitzgibbon - Monty Python (for I like Chinese)
      Craig Emerson - Skyhooks (self evident)
      Tony Abbott - The Church

      But the real question is, who can come up with the best one for Clive Palmer. My guess is acotrel.

    • mikespol says:

      03:22pm | 01/08/12

      Mental as anything was my idea

    • acotrel says:

      08:01am | 02/08/12

      A few weeks ago when somebody asked what you could spend a ll that money on, I answered ‘food’ and Joan took me to task over it.  We are not supposed to notice these people look like Sumo wrestlers.

    • acotrel says:

      09:31am | 02/08/12

      Actually, I don’t mind Clive Palmer.  I think he’s an honest sort of rich idiot.  He doesn’t pretend to be what he is not.  I really believe he would make a better PM than Abbott, - the result would be the same but at least it wouldn’t be hiding behind a facade, and based on devious spin.
      If corporations are to run Australia, we should probably have the real deal ?

    • Knemon says:

      02:48pm | 01/08/12

      What a pity Wayne Swan doesn’t admire the Sex Pistols.

    • St. Michael says:

      03:49pm | 01/08/12

      That’s Craig Thomson’s chief inspiration.

    • The Galah from Hervey Bay says:

      07:59pm | 01/08/12

      St. Michael…urrrkkkkk !  damn !..... i had a mouth full of coffee when i read that. !
      Good one !!

    • P. Walker says:

      12:18pm | 02/08/12

      Me really thinks he sings Chrissy Amphlet’s song “I touch myself”.  He always has that guilty look on his face with his head jerking left, right, back again repeatedly as if he’s just let one go.  An goose if ever there was.

    • cynic says:

      03:07pm | 01/08/12

      Oh gawd, we go from silly, to stupid and now embarrasing. Will some in labor please tell nitwit to put a sock in it. These silly silly remarks only make labor look sooo much worse. Is swan on clive’s payroll? Actions like these only say so.

    • Borderer says:

      03:20pm | 01/08/12

      Yeah, what were his real world work experiences again????
      Shoulder to shoulder with the working man… pfffttt.
      He will be irrelevant post election and he will have done it to himself.

    • sunny says:

      03:21pm | 01/08/12

      Don’t worry, darlin’
      No baby, don’t you fret
      We’re livin’ in the future
      And none of this has happened yet
      Don’t worry, darlin’
      No baby, don’t you fret
      We’re livin’ in the future
      And none of this has happened yet

      ..Na na na na, na na na na-na
      Na na na na, na na na na-na..

      Subject: the Opposition’s predictions of economic doom because of the carbon tax haven’t and won’t come true, and they should get with the times and not be afraid of change

      ... this would be a good B side for No Whyalla Wipeout - I’m sure The Boss would be happy to play second fiddle to a musical talent like Craig Emerson.

    • Chris L says:

      05:06pm | 01/08/12

      I clearly see your parents didn’t get you the help you needed. Poor parenting for shame indeed dear sunny.

    • Chris L says:

      05:42pm | 01/08/12

      I thought it was amusing Sunny. Even if my split personality didn’t.

    • sunny says:

      09:33pm | 01/08/12

      @Chris L - yeah I knew it wasn’t the real you cheers.

      “for shame indeed dear sunny” sounds like it was lifted out of a Charles Dickens novel. I’ll ‘av ya know we’s ‘ard workin’ Labor votas we are, guv!

      The Punch IT dudes ..and dudettes should create an option for user accounts - i.e. login is optional to post but if you create an account you can reserve a screen name that no-one else can use. Just an idea.

    • Brimstone says:

      03:25pm | 01/08/12

      “Surely we Punchers can think of other musical insprations for our public figures. “

      Serious question: did The Boss ever meet Peter Garret? Seems like they would have been great buds.

    • Robert Smissen of country SA says:

      08:45pm | 01/08/12

      Why? one was a successful muso & one was a total door handle

    • eRon says:

      03:58pm | 01/08/12

      Lame Wayne strikes again. What a fruitcake we’ve got for the worlds greatest treasurer.
      Now all them things that seemed so important
      Well mister they vanished right into the air
      Now I just act like I don’t remember
      Mary (Juliar) acts like she don’t care
      Straight from the Boss’, The River to you Swanny.
      He saw you coming years ago.

    • dovif says:

      04:02pm | 01/08/12

      Talk about a glass jaw

      Swannie thinks that all miners are foreigner and therefore we should get a “fair share” for Australians, and when some of those miners replies to him, to tell him that they are Australians. Swannie then tell them, they should not reply to him

      It is just the ALP living in their fairy world

    • Against the Man says:

      04:17pm | 01/08/12

      Wonder what Abbott is going to do after he bombs out at the 2013 election. Has he any skills at all?

    • Billy B says:

      04:31pm | 01/08/12

      Against the Man - I know one thing dillywonger, you’ll get a job as a comedian you’re so funny.

    • acotrel says:

      08:20am | 02/08/12

      He could replace Ronald Mc Donald and become the new front man for the Golden Arches restaurant.  He is the guy who designs the food they sell !

    • MH says:

      04:27pm | 01/08/12

      Seriously Wayne?  A few minutes in the hotseat while Julia is in hiding and this is what you come up with?  For depth of thinking it’s right up there with your beach holiday thought bubble that became the RSPT. 

      Then we have the shameless cheerleading from Phil Coorey in the SMH:  “Swan’s invocation of the Boss in tonight’s John Button lecture is certainly a clever way of drawing attention to his speech but the speech does have a serious edge.” 

      The cleverness bar really is set low at Fairfax these days.

    • Palzy says:

      05:23pm | 01/08/12

      ‘The cleverness bar really is set low at Fairfax these days’.....

      Almost as low as the Fairfax share price.  LOL

    • eRon says:

      09:56pm | 01/08/12

      Cheerleading ‘til the bitter end, the Fairfax press is in similar death-spiral denial to Laybah. More poetry in that than one of Brucey’s blue-collar jingles.

    • Marrickvillain says:

      05:02pm | 01/08/12

      Commodity prices are falling. So it won’t be long before some of the colossal investments miners have planned for Australia are shelved.
      At that point, watch the Libs argue that the MRRT and carbon tax scared them off.
      It will be a lie, but it will work, and we’ll never have a chance to get a decent return on minerals again. That will mean we miss out on a chance to do something like Norway, where the sovereign wealth fund derived from petroleum resources now has assets of over $US600 million.
      And we can’t even get a few billion a year once the miners spend $30 mil on ads.
      We’ll thank the miners and Tony Abbott for that when, exactly?

    • BobC says:

      05:53pm | 01/08/12

      @ Marrickvillian - “A chance to do something like Norway, where the sovereign wealth fund… has assets of over $US600 million”. Ha - with this Government’s track record such a figure would be siphoned off into general revenue to pay their bills and buy votes quick smart!!

    • BobC says:

      05:53pm | 01/08/12

      @ Marrickvillian - “A chance to do something like Norway, where the sovereign wealth fund… has assets of over $US600 million”. Ha - with this Government’s track record such a figure would be siphoned off into general revenue to pay their bills and buy votes quick smart!!

    • MH says:

      05:58pm | 01/08/12

      Ease down there Marrickvillain.  Firstly, we already get a decent return on minerals.  They’re called royalties and they’re paid to the states that own the minerals.  Secondly, our miners pay corporate tax like everyone else. In fact more than most given the basket case state of the majority of our non-resource sector industries.  Instead of slugging them for more Wayne should be thanking the miners for providing just the slightest possible hope of achieving his wafer-thin surplus.  Thirdly, once the Libs are in with a massive majority and control of both houses they can ditch the ill-conceived carbon tax and even more ill-conceived MRRT in favour of a sensible and properly thought through sovereign wealth fund, the proceeds of which will not be available for frivolous spending and cash handouts by the government of the day.  In short, something that looks as little like the RSPT / MRRT as possible. 

      You are partly right about one thing though - the MRRT and carbon tax are not entirely responsible for scaring off investment.  The Fair Work Act and the unions deserve at least some of the blame.

    • I hate pies says:

      06:09pm | 01/08/12

      Fourthly, those royalties are based on a % of revenue that increases as prices increase, so as prices skyrocketed, so did royalties. Don’t listen to all you hear Marrickavalian, most of its lies designed to sucker suckers like you in.

    • Jason says:

      05:48pm | 01/08/12

      I think this is more accurate for the ALP really…

      Sometimes it’s easy to forget where you’re goin’
      Sometimes it’s harder to leave
      And everytime you think you know just what you’re doin’
      That’s when your troubles exceed

      - Guns and Roses _Out Ta Get Me_

    • OMG & LOL says:

      07:24pm | 01/08/12

      If you cast your minds back a little bit some Sussex St failed experiment told all the MP’s that the social media, facebook, twitter, you tube was the way of the future to reach the Mummy’s etc.
      A lot of them were amazed.

      It’s just some people shouldn’t.

    • Geronimo says:

      07:30pm | 01/08/12

      Dunno much about the Fluffy Duckie’s Springsteen Collection but The Abbott’s use of Elmo’s Song to hail in The Brethren sure strikes a Chord.

    • LJ Dots says:

      08:14pm | 01/08/12

      Bruce Springsteen is worth what, something around $200 million. Now, compared to other performers, like the talented busker down the road collecting coins at the local mall, Bruce is raking it in with super profit levels.

      Wayne, please do the right thing and release the hounds to stop this inequality, greed and exploitation.

    • stephen says:

      09:26pm | 01/08/12

      Don’t like Paul Keating much : he wrote pop tunes and molded them together in a bogus structure with lots of very loud and very soft notes.

      Bob Hawke was better : he had ideas which were important.
      He didn’t patronize his audience with fluff, and he did not care, really, whether or not he was popular.
      I prefer to listen to him.

    • Tony says:

      09:48pm | 01/08/12

      “Ru-uh-uh-un, Mm-mm-mm-mm, Uh-uh-uh-oh-oh-oh-oh,
      Ru-uh-uh-uh-un, Mm-mm-mm-mm, Whoa-oh-oh-oh
      Whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh, Ru-uh-uh-un”.......... The reality is that the Australian Labor Party cannot manage money and now Springsteen is a Smokescreen for Wayne Swan robbing any Australian who has more than two bob.

    • JT says:

      09:56pm | 01/08/12

      Q Millionaire grandstanding trying to influence public opinion
      A Bruce Springsteen

    • eRon says:

      10:44pm | 01/08/12

      oh, FFS!!! The dipstick has even published his own video.
      Is this Swanny’s big pitch for the hearts and minds of the Ostrayan people?
      Also, what politics in this country has devolved to? Wayne Fontaine’s rockin’ home videos of his banal interpretations of US folk rock schlock, with added instructions on how (metaphorically) to insert one’s head into one’s own anus.

    • Marilyn says:

      05:12am | 02/08/12

      Oh my god the conservatives are snarks.

      Better to channel the Boss than Gordon Gecko types.

    • Kerr Avon says:

      08:25am | 02/08/12

      “Allentown ” by Billy Joel sums up the economy under labor. Especially the line where “the union people crawled away” - straight into safe labor seats

    • mick says:

      08:53am | 02/08/12

      Bassey’s “I who have nothing” more appropriate for the Goose?

    • Gregg says:

      09:27am | 02/08/12

      It does seem to be the Labor way to drum up hatred for those who have wealth or any that have alternative views and Wayne Swann seems to be the annointed cheerleader for the moment.
      He could be passable in a skirt and then Julia is still getting a fitting I imagine.
      Certainly both will not get past auditions for Australias Got Talent.

      What a standard of leadership and example of behaviour in general they set for younger Australians.

    • VJR says:

      03:51pm | 02/08/12

      Gregg you hit the nail right on the head.

    • VJR says:

      03:51pm | 02/08/12

      Gregg you hit the nail right on the head.

    • P. Walker says:

      12:10pm | 02/08/12

      I just finished burning my few albums of Springsteen ...Swan made me throw up.

    • Kerr Avon says:

      02:40pm | 02/08/12

      “Now main streets whitewashed windows and vacant stores
      Seems like there aint nobody wants to come down here no more
      They’re closing down the textile mill across the railroad tracks
      Foreman says these jobs are going boys and they aint coming back to
      Your hometown”
      My Hometown - under Labor

    • Magoozilla says:

      05:13pm | 02/08/12

      When the Coalition wins the election the Australian Public will channeling Alice Cooper’s Welcome to My Nightmare as the Abbott government, bereft of ideas or policies, will confront the challenges of governing in a post GFC world. Rhetoric without responsibility does not cut in the interconnected economic models we have in the 21st century.


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