Born to run for office, but is Swan dancing in the dark?
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”.
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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