You do not raise the prospects of a ‘class war’ by talking about inequality. You raise the prospects of class war by not talking about inequality.

The Treasurer gets funky to some Springsteen beats. Pic: AP

Nations that dare to examine their flaws and blunt the sharp edges of extreme power and wealth are more stable than those that do not.

So it is with this in mind that I congratulate Treasurer Wayne Swan for actually discussing the problem of growing inequality and identifying the abuse of wealth and the power it brings.

Whether it is mining billionaires campaigning against reasonable taxes and calling for cheap temporary migrant labour, or CEOs pocketing obscene multimillion dollar deals while campaigning for workplace “flexibility”, there can be no doubt that some very rich people are trying to use their power to get richer at our expense.

We know that business does not have to be like this. CFMEU members work in the private sector; in mining, construction and manufacturing. We understand that in order to maintain good wages and conditions, companies need to be profitable and productive. They need to grow and they need to make money. That way they - and their workers - can pay the taxes to provide infrastructure and services for the country.

Make the pie bigger so everyone can have a bigger slice - it’s a sound principle and one we have no beef with. But not everyone is playing that way at the moment.

There are those in the business elite who are pushing a deregulatory, low-tax agenda that would be more at home at US Tea Party meeting than the mainstream Australian agenda. Just about every day you can read of their calls to curtail ‘union power’, to reduce taxation, to demolish the Fair Work Act, to increase management prerogative or to raise the number of temporary foreign workers being brought in.

After reading these apocryphal warnings, you can usually flip over to the business pages and read about their record profits. That’s when you’re not reading about shareholder anger at their remuneration packages, record pay deals, share options or golden handshakes.

Double standards you might ask? But you see these people are powerful. They are rich. And they do, indeed, want more.

It really is just like the Springsteen line about that Wayne Swan quoted: “Poor man want to be rich / rich man want to be king / and a king ain’t satisfied till he rules everything.”

Of course, this is nothing new. What is new, at least in this country, is the shrill cheer squad in the financial press and their sensitivity against anyone who puts forward a fairer alternate view about how the cake should be divvied up.

This situation is a great shame. Because if we talk about it, it is possible to do something reasonable about it. We can have debates in the media and in parliaments. We can propose mechanisms to ensure at least some base level of equity. We can ensure that taxpayers, consumers, workers and shareholders don’t get ripped off by greed.

The only way we risk a “class war” is by not talking about it. It is when the rich and powerful are allowed to continually consolidate and grow their wealth at the expense of the broader society that people start to look beyond civilised public discourse for solutions.

Historical examples abound. The French, American and Russian revolutions - more recently the Arab Spring.

This is not to suggest that Australia is at risk of civil unrest. It is merely to point out the ridiculousness of having a go at the Treasurer for speaking up on the issue.

Our great Australian institutions - Parliament, our tax system, our legal system, our migration and trade laws, our industrial relations system and our trade union movement - all serve to moderate the greed of those who would abuse their wealth and power. We need to talk about how to help them do their job.

It is great to see a Labor Treasurer stand up and fight against inequality and in so doing help reduce the risk of any real class war in the future.

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90 comments

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    • pa_kelvin says:

      12:10pm | 03/08/12

      Thanks Swannie….......For nothing.

    • Tom says:

      01:27pm | 03/08/12

      Funny that Michael O’Connor does not mention Swannie opting not to talk about Michael Williamson’s opulent lifestyle at the expense of low paid health workers.

      For that matter, where is Michael O’Connor’s treatise on Craig Thomson screwing the little people?

      Funny that Swannie does not want to do anything about these disgusting people in the Labor ranks. Doesn’t suit Swannie’s divisive agenda, does it? ICH: I call hypocrite.

    • Bill the pieman says:

      04:33pm | 03/08/12

      the fact that this man and his union are still members of the ALP speaks volumes - thousands of his members have lost their jobs in the timber industry because of the ALP/Greens alliance.

    • Bill the pieman says:

      04:34pm | 03/08/12

      the fact that this man and his union are still members of the ALP speaks volumes - thousands of his members have lost their jobs in the timber industry because of the ALP/Greens alliance.

    • dovif says:

      04:53pm | 03/08/12

      A quick check of Michael would review he is a union head, of which Williamson (I will pay all of my member’s money into my related company’s account) was at one stage ALP party president

      Obviously Williamson was the most successful union bass, which Michael want to aspire to become.

      What does the unions do anyway? apart from using member’s money on prostitutes, or lining their own pocket, and choosing who is ALP leader (union withdrawing funding, if Rudd is leading the ALP) that should scare them into keeping Julia?

      Unions are nothing more then thugs, who operate at worse ethics then big businesses. And while Big Business creates job for Australiams, Unions not only do not create jobs, they distroys jobs.

      If not for the mutual protection the ALP and Unions afford each other. I wonder how many union leader would be jailed by now. Note how long it took “fair work” Australia to investigate union thug Thompson and union thug Williamson

      If they were an employer and not a union leader, they would be in jail for what they did

      What we know is that the morally bankrupt ALP would do nothing, which will always be the case

    • The Galah from Hervey Bay says:

      06:19pm | 03/08/12

      pa_kelvin….nothing indeed !  Swan is morphing into some kind of cross between a Labor hack on coke and a Green on mushrooms .
      We don’t have to bow to mining magnates but we do depend on their invested dollar for thousands of Australian jobs.
      Maybe the Labor Cabinet heavies could muzzle this twit before he drives more investment dollars overseas.

    • AdamC says:

      12:17pm | 03/08/12

      “Nations that dare to examine their flaws and blunt the sharp edges of extreme power and wealth are more stable than those that do not.”

      Does that include the power of the author’s own union? In Victoria, the CFMEU’s dominance of the construction sector has made building costs unsustainable, robbing us of investment and affordable infrastructure. What about the need for Victorian businesses to be profitable and productive, Michael?

      I will take this articke seriously when its writer does something about his own union’s pernicious influence in my home state.

      Of course, I am not holding my breath.

      Also, I am yet to understand what Swansong’s mining magnate bogeymen are doing that is so bad. They are no less entitled than other people, including Mr O’Connor here, to have an opinion on the future of this country. Not to mention, the interests of miners are generally more congruent wth those of the nation than those of the CFMEU and Labor’s other union paymasters.

    • M says:

      12:55pm | 03/08/12

      There’s word about that our wages and safety standards (really, some of them are to the point of increduality) are making future gas projects less competitive with those going ahead in america.

      Mr O’Conner, whilst I am a supporter of the right to a fair wage and a fair living, I find it hard to take you seriously when part of the award for men working on my site is a $20 a day allowance for walking across 6 feet of sand when they disembark the barge in the morning and get back on in the afternoon. Surely the unions must realise that at some point they are taking the piss and actually doing their members more harm than good when you factor in global economics and projects.

    • Babylon in Canberra says:

      02:26pm | 03/08/12

      As Julia Gillard reminded us she signs over the resources and she signs off the Project Plan….. So watch out mining magnates Julia calls the shots.

      Within the Project Plan is a Resource Schedule that allocates the number of overseas 457 Visa workers.

      These visas are allocated by the Government not Clive Palmer. The Gillard Government had no problem signing these Projects off in the past. But that was before the leak and public outrage.

      I have never heard the Gillard Government distance itself from the hiring of overseas workers until this article.

      On the contrary, the Governments PR machine has defended the use of overseas Labor taking new Australian jobs…. We’re skill less, we won’t travel etc.

      The Gillard Government has done nothing for the lower classes. The carbon pricing has either taken their jobs or made them benefit dependent.

      Trying to split Australia with a class war just to generate votes is below the belt. Australia is a class less society and there is opportunity here to make money and move yourself forward.

      Without the Mining Industry the Australian economy under Swan Would be decidedly ordinary, with some areas even depressed. Manufacturing showed a -0.8 growth. So the idea of Swan attacking the hand that feeds us is propostrous. Love them or hate them these mining magnates are what’s between us and the devil. I mean do you know how much this Governments borrowed.

      Swan MRRT is a loan, he himself admitted that the contributing mines in the scheme won’t be up and running till 3 to 4 years hence.

      Conclusion: It’s the usual cock and bull from Labor.

    • AdamC says:

      04:23pm | 03/08/12

      M, there is no doubt the CFMEU is pricing itself out of the market. If Ted Bailleu had half a ticker - and some leverage over Caberra - he would arrange for foreign labour to work on Victorian building sites.

      Babylon in Canberra, I agree that this class warfare schtick is an attempt to distract people from Labor’s stuff ups and deceptions. The problem is, it only plays with the rusted-ons anyway.

    • GigaStar says:

      12:18pm | 03/08/12

      **Yawn**

      This is all just a PR exercise by Swan. Yes the miners are making alot of money - but under the framework set by the government. If Swan doesn’t like what’s happening then why didn’t he bring in a proper mining tax when he had the chance (the biggest miners won’t pay tax under the current structure so now it will actually cost the tax payer).

      Swan is only trying to make himself look human and more acceptable to the voters by picking a fight. He’s just making a speech and invoking a millionaire US singer - he’s not doing anything real, nothing authentic - he’s just creating a buzz. The plebs will hear his Swansong and be fooled.

      Invoking the Tea Party, The Arab Spring and workers’ revolutions in the article all add to the hyperbole.

    • Chris L says:

      12:18pm | 03/08/12

      Looking forward to reading the comments on this one. I was worried today wouldn’t be an entertaining one on The Punch.

    • Mouse says:

      03:44pm | 03/08/12

      Come on ChrisL, you can do better than that.  Providing of course that you are the true ChrisL!!  lol :o)

    • Chris L says:

      04:03pm | 03/08/12

      I’m being lazy Mouse. Besides, while I tend to side more with the left than the right it doesn’t mean I’m willing to offer Michael any backup here. You have to admit though, this is just the kind of article to get the froth flowing grin

      (furry)

    • bbilly says:

      12:22pm | 03/08/12

      About standing up for the little guy, Wayne has not gone to war with the HSU and that important vote of Thomson, you know he could really make a difference there!!!  I don’t think Clive has stole anything and the banter about pay and conditions is the democratic way of sorting out the middle ground. Swan needs to get his own house in order rather than a diversion tactic like the class war.

    • C says:

      12:24pm | 03/08/12

      This sort of “them and us” ranting should be consigned to the ninth circle of hell. It does nothing to help and everything to hinder development.
      Both the writer and Swan need to look at what “the rich” actually do for the country,  These are the people who work 80+ hour weeks and risk everything. They take on enormous responsibilities so that other people can have employment, superannuation, annual leave, sick pay etc etc. 
      No, I am not super rich, rich or anything but plain poor - my income is below $20,000 a year but I can appreciate what “the rich” are actually doing for the country - and they have damn well earned the right to try and influence some of the most reprehensible government policies on all sides because they are helping to pay for the results.

    • ProfoundBS says:

      01:04pm | 03/08/12

      Oh bless the rich and their altruistic ways, for their sole reason for getting out of bed in the morning is to put bread on our poor little tables and a roof over our heads.
      But I keep asking myself, if “the rich” are doing it all for queen and country, why are they keeping all their profits - profits, that is, not revenue - in off shore accounts to avoid tax? Do they think we, the little ones, are already receiving enough of their hard-earned largesse?

    • GigaStar says:

      01:30pm | 03/08/12

      Profound BS - where do you think jobs come from? C never said it was their sole purpose but without them the majority of people would be unemployed.

      As for the rest of your post you sound like one of those “entitled” people that are “owed” everything

    • Tom says:

      01:31pm | 03/08/12

      ProfoundBS, and bless our pea-brained envy. Get a job in mining, buy some mining shares. But most of all, stop your conceited “loser talk”.

    • ProfoundBS says:

      02:26pm | 03/08/12

      Gigastar & Tom: When I said “I keep asking myself” it was kind of tongue in cheek, Ok? You obviously think that anyone who opposes your view isn’t capable of that type of irony. Or is it just that both of you yourselves are incapable of detecting irony, therefore betraying your own mental shortcomings? I guess this would explain in the first place why you have the views you already have.
      Now, if you’ll catch up with me - I hope I haven’t lost you again - what I really should have said was why the hell do these particular people who are obscenely rich feel ENTITLED to dodge paying tax - their share - which is measured out by the LAW and always has been? Why do they just want MORE and MORE and MORE money? Why do other rich people like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and even our own Dick Smith see inequality and acknowledge it and want to actually do something about it, as opposed to wanting to just keep lining their own pockets having the attitude that everyone else “should just stop being such bludgers”???

    • Tom says:

      03:00pm | 03/08/12

      OK, ProfoundBS, tell me how many fat gutted, blue singleted wharfies actually give a rolling donut about their fellow countrymen? How many are ultruistic? Not one is my guess. They gouge whatever they can.

      How many “whatever it takes” union leaders give a stuff about their own constituencies let alone the good of fellow Australians?

      Are you altruistic? Do you give anything or do you whine for a living?

      “Why do other rich people like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and even our own Dick Smith see inequality and acknowledge it and want to actually do something about it, ...”

      How do you know whether or not they give money? We know Bill Gates gives plenty because he states it publicly. Well, God bless the rich. But Gates also opened up an industry that has employed millions of people.  Well, God bless the rich.

      Shall we keep on going with your misplaced sense of entitlement or do you want to backflip to your comfortable, “I was just having a little piece of irony” excuse?

      Swannie relies on feeble minded envy such as yours. Give you a little hint, divisiveness suits his political agenda. He is not doing it for you.

    • GigaStar says:

      03:12pm | 03/08/12

      “You obviously think that anyone who opposes your view isn’t capable of that type of irony. Or is it just that both of you yourselves are incapable of detecting irony”

      Oh dear ProfoundBS is having a hissy fit because someone disagrees with him. This is an opinion site, BS, so if you don’t like people’s freewheeling speech at the expense of your sensitive ego then you know what you can do.

      The use of “tongue in cheek” statements is not irony. Both are a form of sarcasm but are not the same. An example of irony would be “I think you know what you’re talking about” or “gee, I think you’re really smart”. Maybe you need to brush up on your writing skills or better yet just buy a dictionary.

      Just because you’re not hearing about the rich being altruistic doesn’t mean that its not happening - some just aren’t media hoares like Dick Smith. Do you have any evidence of the amounts of money being funnelled overseas by the rich? While you’re at it how much money do tradies skim off the top, or cafe-owners? How much money have unions embezzlemented of their hard-working members?

      Hope you have a nice day! (yes that was another use of irony)

    • ProfoundBS says:

      04:03pm | 03/08/12

      Gigastar you are right and you are wrong. Right because it wasn’t really irony - that’s why i first said “type” of irony - it was probably more sarcasm. Wrong because the examples you gave were all sarcasm, which tells me you don’t know what irony is. Tom, I agree some extreme unionists are definately out for all they can get. I won’t be backflipping on anything anytime soon amigo. You and gigastar still haven’t accurately nailed me yet, although I’m sure you both think you have. You haven’t asked me any hardhitting questions. I mean “are you altruistic or do you whine for a living?” and “How do you know they funnell their money OS?” and “How do you know whether they give money?” Seriously, is that all you’ve got? Real intellectual stuff that. But lets just stick to the orginal question: Why do Gates, Buffett, Smith etc (there are plenty of others too) see inequality and give over and above what they pay in tax, while Rinehart, Palmer etc (there are plent of others there as well) do everything in their power to avoid paying any tax at all? Don’t accuse me of whining, just answer the question

    • GigaStar says:

      04:04pm | 03/08/12

      “Swannie relies on feeble minded envy such as yours. Give you a little hint, divisiveness suits his political agenda. He is not doing it for you.”

      Exactly Tom - if he did care Swan would clamp down on the overseas tax havens that ProfoundBS is complaining about (really if ProfoundBS wants to complain about something he should be complaining about government inaction). As I said above Swan’s just creating a PR buzz and the followers follow.

    • ProfoundBS says:

      05:10pm | 03/08/12

      As it turns out Gig and Tom, divisivenes does suits Swan’s agenda. But you cannot know that it is his primary motivation. That sort of stuff - diviseness - is more like Abbott’s gig. You see, Swanny also happens to have a point - about inequality. Now, maybe I’m envious, maybe I’m not.  Maybe I’m a sucker. But what if Swanny is actually trying to address the issue of equality. And let’s face it, if it wasn’t an issue, why would the names I mentioned before - Gates etc - think it was?
      My original question STILL remains.

    • Tom says:

      08:44pm | 03/08/12

      ProfoundBS, I disagree. You have been nailed pretty well. You a disgruntled hater with a propensity to target those who have worked harder than yourself. In short, you are a loser.

      But Swannie luvs you and needs you, fella so who cares what the rest of us think.

    • jaki says:

      12:32pm | 03/08/12

      His multi-millionaire idol must be so proud that he’s sticking it to the multi-millionaires !

    • dweezy2176 says:

      12:34pm | 03/08/12

      Did I miss somethink ... is this article criicism or praise of whatever it is all about, moe fool me for reading it#
      Excuse me, whilst I have a Seniors’ moment

    • DocBud says:

      12:39pm | 03/08/12

      The great institutions of the legal system and the trade union movement haven’t done a great job of curbing the greed of the likes of Bruce Wilson, Michael Williamson and Craig Thomson along with those who aided and abetted them.

      When the rich get richer by legal means, the economy grows and all benefit. When union leaders steal from their members, the working people suffer.

    • M says:

      12:56pm | 03/08/12

      The CFMEU is not the same as the HSU mate.

    • Kurisu Sonsaku says:

      01:10pm | 03/08/12

      “The CFMEU is not the same as the HSU mate.”

      True - the CFMEU has more crims, thugs & shonks.

    • MattyC says:

      01:23pm | 03/08/12

      The rich get richer by legal means….... Whilst I agree with the rest of your sentiment this needs some revision.

    • DocBud says:

      01:46pm | 03/08/12

      “The CFMEU is not the same as the HSU mate.”

      Only in that the letters are different. All Australian unions are the same in picking the pockets of the members to provide large salaries and perks to the union leaders and in providing unequivocal support to their Labor masters irrespective of the impact on their members’ interests, e.g. CFMEU support for carbon dioxide tax.

      It was Mr O’Connor who claimed that the union movement, not just the CFMEU, was one of “Our great Australian institutions”.

    • NigelC says:

      01:53pm | 03/08/12

      You’re right M. Tjhe CFMEU is not the same as the HSU. It is however the same as the BLF. Remember them. Norm Gallagher that Communist Party organiser who fronted the most militant bunch of thugs in Australia’s industrial relations history.  In some ways I wish they were like the HSU, at least we know where the bodies are,..

    • NigelC says:

      01:53pm | 03/08/12

      You’re right M. Tjhe CFMEU is not the same as the HSU. It is however the same as the BLF. Remember them. Norm Gallagher that Communist Party organiser who fronted the most militant bunch of thugs in Australia’s industrial relations history.  In some ways I wish they were like the HSU, at least we know where the bodies are,..

    • Scott Cole says:

      02:50pm | 03/08/12

      Way,way way back in 1986, my wife and I went to Barry Humpries Show at the Capital Theatre in Sydney where Humphries did the usual characters such as Dame Edna and Sir Les Patterson. But he also did a character sitting on a beach lounge being served drinks by a bikini clad young lady, a character whose name I cannot remember, but who he described as the “head of Australia’s main trade union body, the A.C.U.N.T.” I always wondered whom he was satirising? Bob Hawke had been PM for 3 years, Bill Kelty was ACTU secretary, 25 years later, it could have been a Mr Thompson. Same ideals.

    • nihonin says:

      12:42pm | 03/08/12

      I’m sure an article by the National Secretary of the CFMEU Forestry and Furnishing Products Division will be an unbiased read.  I’ve already thrown salt on the monitor to make sure.

    • Cobbler says:

      12:57pm | 03/08/12

      I couldn’t help but laugh when BHP announced it was delaying $20B worth of investment for a couple of years.

      I wonder what’s happening then?  Ah, the Mad Monk will most likely be and the senate will probably be less hostile.  There’s an odd co-incidence….............

    • dovif says:

      05:06pm | 03/08/12

      Yeah it would mean Australians will have jobs, unlike under the current government

    • Al says:

      01:02pm | 03/08/12

      “Of course, this is nothing new. What is new, at least in this country, is the shrill cheer squad in the financial press and their sensitivity against anyone who puts forward a fairer alternate view about how the cake should be divvied up.”

      No the shrill call comes out not when there is ‘a fairer alternate view ’ but when there is an alternate view that includes:
      - Wealth redistribution not to the most needy but to those who are middle class.
      - Increased costs for no benefit (Carbon tax/trading)
      - Complex legislation that can’t be interpreted by those trained to do so (Fair Work Act and Transitional Arrangements).

      No issues with taxpayer money going to the actual needy.
      However I also support a tax free threshold and then 1 tax rate % that applies to everyone (no matter how much they earn, whether they are an employer, employee etc).

    • JT says:

      01:11pm | 03/08/12

      No railing against the thiefs at the HSU? Perhaps the union movement can get its house in order (I’m sure its just not an isolated case) and accept the same level of scutiny that companies do for a start.

    • nihonin says:

      01:19pm | 03/08/12

      You mean make the unions accountable…..........my god JT are you crazy, that could mean possibly investigating the party the unions fund as well.

    • Poor litle rich guy says:

      01:23pm | 03/08/12

      I’m always amazed at the legion of wanna-bees ready to rush to the defence of the rich and powerful. Kissing their arses won’t make you one of them, and unless you happen to be one of them then it’s you that’s getting screwed in the end.

      So far most of the responses to this artcile are just proving the point about the shrill cheer squad.

    • M says:

      07:06pm | 03/08/12

      In the case of future gas and mining projects not going ahead because of exorbitant wage and regulatory cost involved in initial investment and the nature of the fluctuating prices for these resources, I’d say its more the simple matter of having a job rather than anyone getting rich.

    • Bitten says:

      01:24pm | 03/08/12

      You and your snout-in-trough union mates are all for the little guy and only want to fight against economic inequality?

      Sounds great Michael, like you guys are the guardians of us all. And yet…what is Australia’s Gini coefficient at the moment?

    • Reality check says:

      02:20pm | 03/08/12

      8 hour day, occupational health and safety, 4 weeks annual leave, campaigning for and establishing many of Australias first public hospitals and libraries, long service leave, superannuation for non-executive workers, campaigns against day -hire and piece rates in favour of permanent employment and dignity, sick leave, formal and recognised training and qualifications, PMs like Curtain, Chifley and Hawke…what a terrible reccord the union movement has! Wake up Bitten.

    • Reality check says:

      02:21pm | 03/08/12

      8 hour day, occupational health and safety, 4 weeks annual leave, campaigning for and establishing many of Australias first public hospitals and libraries, long service leave, superannuation for non-executive workers, campaigns against day -hire and piece rates in favour of permanent employment and dignity, sick leave, formal and recognised training and qualifications, PMs like Curtain, Chifley and Hawke…what a terrible reccord the union movement has! Wake up Bitten.

    • Shane says:

      02:40pm | 03/08/12

      Strikes to exclude chinese shearers, restrictions on shearing comb size to put a cap on productivity, trading off support for the new ALP to formalise racial restrictions (which we now call the White Australia policy), outrage over imported asian workers for mining, violence against chinese to the point where Queensland was on the brink of civil war and thousands of soldiers were needed to protect immigrants, the BLF, the Painters and Dockers, organised crime, violence, sabotage, preventing troops from getting much needed supplies during wars, theft from union members, ridiculous demands that make new projects in mining not worth pursuing, and the list goes on.

      Yes I agree with you Reality Check, Australia’s history has a lot to thank the union movement for.

    • Rusty says:

      01:24pm | 03/08/12

      ” It is when the rich and powerful are allowed to continually consolidate and grow their wealth at the expense of the broader society that people start to look beyond civilised public discourse for solutions.

      try swapping the words “rich and powerful” for “corrupt Union officials” and “broader society” for “Union members”  and you might have the truth!

    • Borderer says:

      01:25pm | 03/08/12

      Had dealings with this joker, thank god I wasn’t drinking coffee when I read it or else the monitor may have needed a clean.

      Whether it is mining billionaires campaigning against reasonable taxes and calling for cheap temporary migrant labour,
      A tax that takes revenue away from states and migrant labour approved by his government.

      CFMEU members work in the private sector; in mining, construction and manufacturing. We understand that in order to maintain good wages and conditions, companies need to be profitable and productive. They need to grow and they need to make money. That way they - and their workers - can pay the taxes to provide infrastructure and services for the country.
      Wow, must remember this next time we are negotiating…. this is the exact opposite to how they operate.

      There are those in the business elite who are pushing a deregulatory, low-tax agenda that would be more at home at US Tea Party meeting than the mainstream Australian agenda. Just about every day you can read of their calls to curtail ‘union power’, to reduce taxation, to demolish the Fair Work Act, to increase management prerogative or to raise the number of temporary foreign workers being brought in.
      His knowledge of maco-economics makes a loud thud as it dropped dead.

      The only way we risk a “class war” is by not talking about it. It is when the rich and powerful are allowed to continually consolidate and grow their wealth at the expense of the broader society that people start to look beyond civilised public discourse for solutions.
      The CFMEU’s m/o for years, threats and intimidation.

      Sorry but your lot are gone, I even saw two of your boys dining on steak at a top Brisbane restaurant the other day, they were wearing their CFMEU Union Official shirts while tucking into a $100 lunch, who paid for that I wonder?

    • M says:

      02:42pm | 03/08/12

      “Wow, must remember this next time we are negotiating…. this is the exact opposite to how they operate.”

      I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, unionism will destroy the jobs they claim to stand for.

    • Kris says:

      01:31pm | 03/08/12

      You raise the prospects of a class war by creating this divide and then positioning yourself as the solution. This column, much like Mr Swan’s comments, is an absolute farce.

    • I hate pies says:

      01:33pm | 03/08/12

      Ha ha - this bloke’s from the CFMEU; they invented the class war, against the evil “bosses”. His only interest is power and getting money his members don’t deserve.

    • AJ in Perth says:

      01:38pm | 03/08/12

      My problem with this is that according to Swan and the current government, extremely wealthy/rich could range anything from $60k - $millions per year ...

    • mikem says:

      01:38pm | 03/08/12

      The Liberals constant negativity and Labor government bashing is all about keeping the focus on Labor and off themselves so their hard right wing agenda doesn’t get scrutinised.  The shame is that the media are allowing them to get away with this tactic.  Instead of focussing on the real issue of what a Liberal government will mean for Australia they report LNP political opinions, rumours and salacious gossip as if they are news when they are not.  We deserve better from our media and its journalists.

    • Shane From Melbourne says:

      01:51pm | 03/08/12

      ICB on this article. If Swan really wanted to declare war on the rich he would tax trusts and make illegal financial transactions to recognized off shore tax havens…...

    • mikem says:

      02:53pm | 03/08/12

      Negative gearing needs to be added to that list as well Shane.

    • Borderer says:

      02:58pm | 03/08/12

      Instead he taxes minerals, you know the property of the states….

    • Eveything but You says:

      02:58pm | 03/08/12

      ICB too he should target single, childless people who do nothing but suck up the efforts of others in old age.

    • Shane From Melbourne says:

      05:43pm | 03/08/12

      Hi Eveything but You (sic). Nice to have a fan, but we really know that it is single childless people whose taxes are paying for your snot nosed brats and that Middle Class family welfare is really just a form of wealth transfer aka socialism. Have a nice day.

    • Jase says:

      01:11am | 04/08/12

      If this day was to come Shane, you would see the vast majority of capital pulled from the Australian economy over night.  Within that 24 hours 50% of the population would be unemployed..

      People take measures to reduce tax because they feel like they a getting ripped off by the government. There is a correlation between tax avoidance and the rates people are taxed.

    • Shane From Melbourne says:

      09:19am | 04/08/12

      Taxation is the lifeblood of the state. Anybody who engages in tax avoidance is a traitor and should be shot out of hand. Even if they are overseas…..

    • jase says:

      01:48pm | 04/08/12

      ^ That is laughable!

      If people are resorting to high risk tax avoidance measures, that tells you a lot about their feelings towards towards the government and country in general.

      All a class war will result in, is more people willing to burn the money than hand it over as tax.

    • BruceS says:

      01:52pm | 03/08/12

      Thank you sir for a classic example of the completely disingenuous/mendacious socialist comment.

    • cynic says:

      01:59pm | 03/08/12

      Of course the cfmeu is fair and all about the working class. I recall a former cfmeu secretary having 2 new range rovers paid for by the union members, who would not know just how generous they were.  Great example that, even showed support for local manufacturing. Ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!

      Before criticising the miners remember, they employ thousands of cfmeu members nationally and many more aussies and did much to help this country through the GFC. Talk about biting the hand that feeds????

    • thatmosis says:

      02:20pm | 03/08/12

      CFMEU, says it all in a couple of letters doesn’t it. I wonder what his remuneration is compared to those he is supposed to represent and if he has a Union credit card, vehicle paid for by the Union, meals at unionists expense and he rails against those who make the jobs and the money. If the Unions got their own house in order and actually worked for Australia instead of their own greed then maybe we would take heed of what these clowns were saying.

    • Naseeb says:

      02:39pm | 03/08/12

      I like the way you described the topic with such quality. This is something I have been considering for years and you really taken the substance of the topic.
      Matchmaking services

    • andye says:

      03:02pm | 03/08/12

      If all the rich people in the world were dropped on an island with all their wealth, who is rich amongst them then? Who is going to get the food and clean the toilets? Nobody gets rich by themselves. Every rich person is only rich because of the existence of everyone less wealthy than them. A million dollars is pretty worthless on billionaire island.

      What nobody notices in this whole shebang is that if any of you really cared about employing people and so on you would be campaigning for a cut in the company tax rate. After all it is generally companies and not rich dudes that directly employ people. The millionaires have successfully planted this whole “trickle down” theory that still pervades conservative economic thought in various guises and it is all based on bull****. High earner personal tax cuts do not lead to meaningful increases in employment or more opportunities for all the guys underneath.

      Anyway, Libs will give tax cuts to the wealthy end. Labor will give tax cuts to the poor end. Cows will moo, dogs will bark and cats will meow. Both sides of the divide have been playing the same game for generations and now we are pointing at each other crying “class war”? Cry me a river, you twits.

    • Babylon in Canberra says:

      03:35pm | 03/08/12

      The poorer end of Australian society needs benefits to make ends meet, whether they have a job or not.

      With the way the carbon tax model works, if you’ve got the money, carry on with you’re lifestyle. However, if your in the lower bracket .....

      The working classes have seen their union fees pillaged with no punishment, only procrastinating and words of support for the leaders that run the labor union organisations.

    • andye says:

      07:58pm | 03/08/12

      @babylon - If you want to say cleaning up the unions is a good idea I am right behind you. If you want to use it as another wedge to attack a whole side of politics you lost me.

      “With the way the carbon tax model works, if you’ve got the money, carry on with you’re lifestyle. However, if your in the lower bracket .....”

      So you are a socialist? In our society you are allowed to waste whatever the hell you want as along as you can afford it. That is Freedom with a capital F!

      Studies show that the poor are harder hit by a carbon tax. The tax cuts skew poor and is a reflection of this. Any carbon tax can be revenue neutral. that is - the collected amount can all be given out as tax cuts. It is a market mechanism and isn’t about collecting money. It is about making carbon expensive.

      You are right in that electricity is quite inelastic. So there you suddenly have the problem of funding these companies to try to help them switch. We also have administration costs. So the whole revenue neutral thing isn’t so realistic.

      I think the market solution is the best general solution, but we need to look at special cases like power infrastructure and possibly also consider things like regulating in a way to encourage competition. There needs to be innovative solutions to our problems because, while small, we are the worst example per capita for output.

      If part of that is, say, trying to measure the carbon sink of our geographic area compared to population and attempting to get this recognised as part of any international trading schemes I would be happy to support the research.

      So many ideas and all you guys ever want to do with them is use them to say NO.

    • Robert S McCormick says:

      03:17pm | 03/08/12

      Other than the Union Bosses who pay themselves, their wives, husbands, sons, daughters the sort of salaries (Who’s wife was it who got a job as a mere clerk & got a salary of almost $350,000 - 10 bloody time the going rate for such lowly employees - ? A UNION BOSS’ Wife that’s who and he was supposed to be representing amongst the lowest paid of all workers.
      What about your Politicians, Michael?
      Your very own leader, one Julia Gillard, through the Politician-Owned Remuneration Tribunal, conveniently arranged for herself to have her already very handsome pay increased so that this Worst Prime Minister of Little Australia, with it’s 21.6 million people, it’s basic irrelevance to the rest of the world, managed to get herself a Basic Pay Rate which is higher than that of the President of the USA. A country with almost 300 million people & whomsoever is President is still regarded as “The Most Powerful Person in the World”
      Whilst your Julia Gillard, Michael, was making herself extremely wealthy with this pay-grab she also arranged for all the other MPs & Senators to also become extremely wealthy. They all fly around the world at our expense. They all fly around Australia at our expense. Our politicians are, without exception, the biggest parasites of all. They do nothing. They acheive nothing. They have no interest in Australia whatsoever. Their sole interest is themselves. They create no real jobs. They are totally unproductive.
      The Union bosses have become just like them. They take money from their Members & without permission they donate huge amounts of that money to just One Political Party: The ALP. This despite the fact that, going by voting trends at actual Federal, State & Territory Elections the vast majority of the public - which includes all Union Members - do Not Support the ALP.
      By what possible legal right do the Unions have to literally Steal Money from their Members & give it to the ALP or any political party without the Member’s Written Permission? There are no such rights.
      Yes, there are a few very wealthy people in the world of Private Enterprise but, unlike the Union Bosses & Politicians, they actually create jobs. All the Union Bosses & Politicians do is line their own pockets by paying themselves the sort of salaries the vast majority can only dream about.
      We hear a lot about how great the Productivity Commission is maybe it should take a good long hard look at the Unions &, in particular, the salaries’n'perks the bosses of those Unions have put in place for themselves, their husbands, wives, brothers, sisters etc.
      The goings on at the Health Services Union - East have been revealed in all their shameful, corrupt details. That corruption & criminality will have been common knowledge throughout the upper reaches of every Union in Australia.
      HSU-E got away with it for years until a nasty little spat & someone who wasn’t in on the scam revealed that Union Credit card or cards got use to purchase the services of hookers & other expensive arrangements.
      Get out amongst the real people, Michael, there will be very, very few who do not believe that every single Union in this country is up to it’s ears in the dishonest use of Union Member’s money, just as HSU-E was/is
      We will vote for whichever Political party promises to ban Unions giving money to political parties without the written permission of every single Union Member. We will also vote for the Party which promises to ensure that Union bosses & politicians are required to go through exactly the same proceedures as their Members are when they want a pay rise. Given that there are always “Flow-ON” provisions for politicians & probably also for Union bosses & their pals those running the Unions, just like all the politicians, will readily agree to any demand for increases in Pay’n'Perks.

    • Reality check says:

      03:44pm | 03/08/12

      And will you vote for the party that ensures business people, lobyists and vested interests cannot donate money without the written permission of every shareholder and consumer who funds their political largess to the Liberal Party? Or is it just Labor funds you want to cut?

      Will you require CEOs, executrives and board members to also go through the same processes to get a pay rise as their workers, or do you think they are all acting above board?

      Yes the HSU was bodgy, but so were Lehman Bros, HSBC and the builder of the Arrarat Prison - does that make every banker and builder corrupt, or is it just trade unionists you tar with the same brush? Corruption and theft are reprehensible where ever they occur. The fact one union is under investigation hardly precludes unionists making comment. You need to clam down Robert.

    • Against the Man says:

      03:24pm | 03/08/12

      Swan is a walking, talking idiot. He betrayed his mate Rudd. He is part of what is wrong with Labor.

    • GB says:

      03:56pm | 03/08/12

      I seriously thought this article was a piss take until I read the author’s Bio.

    • Jac says:

      04:07pm | 03/08/12

      For the life of me, why would a sane person let Waynie anywhere near a bookkeeper, let alone he should pretend to be one.

    • Jac says:

      04:17pm | 03/08/12

      I`ve got a request:
      Can somebody write me an email and name one person in the Government that is half decent.
      I`m not asking much.
      I know there is not a decent one amongst them, but half decent?
      Come on, surely there must be one half decent?
      If you can`t think of one i urge you not to make one up, as i see right through that sort of thing nowadays.

    • Muggles says:

      04:27pm | 03/08/12

      I don’t mind a bit of Springsteen myself.

      However, the Boss has a lot in common with Labor leaders: he’s doing pretty well financially. (Millionaire socialists are so hawt right now.)

      For a party that prides itself on looking out for the battlers, and for looking on the socialites with “jaundiced” eyes, Labor somehow, magically, manages to transform its power brokers and leaders alike in to multi-millionaires.

      Which, when you consider that their only real jobs are as “public servants”, takes some doing.

      Bob Hawke and his BFF Paul Keating both live in mansions.  (One has French Empire Clocks, one does not.)

      (Gotta say: it was inspired of the public service to come up with a Superannuation system that was funded by the employer. When your employer will never, ever go out of business, and will even help contribute, you’re on a good wicket.)

      And Julia is on $440K a year + approximately 4 billion entitlements of one sort or another.  Clearly, she is in tune with the battlers of our nation.

      And then there’s all the Labor and union heavyweights doing their bit to keep the economy going through the Multiplier Effect.  Hardworking types like Della Bosca and Eddie Obeid.

      Or Sharan Burrow, whose fight for the Common Man has taken her around the world (in business class, thanks), currently leaving her, I believe, to the hardships of living in Brussels as the head honcho of a Common Man Collective.

      Bruce Springsteen was probably right:  “rich man wanting to be king” indeed.

    • MH says:

      04:52pm | 03/08/12

      “Whether it is mining billionaires campaigning against reasonable taxes ...”

      Let me just stop you right there Chaiman Mike.  Miners aren’t campaigning against reasonable taxes.  Miners already pay reasonable taxes.  They pay corporate tax like everyone else, and they pay additional royalties that no one else pays for the right to extract minerals.  What they are against - and what any right-minded person with the tiniest skerrick of a brain should be against - is the imposition of an additional arbitrary super-profits tax just because the government of the day needs some extra cash and right now the resource industry is the easiest target for them. 

      Swannie is not standing up for anything.  He’s picking a faux fight with a fat cartoonish villain in a vain attempt to distract from the shipwreck that is his government.

    • andye says:

      08:18pm | 03/08/12

      who owns the resources? it isnt the mining companies. they lease the rights. in the case of a huge boom like this, the owners of those resources are no longer getting a fair price compared to the market.

      the real fundamental question here is whether the nation can basically perform a forced “renegotiation” against the mining companies like that.

    • MH says:

      03:02am | 04/08/12

      Good question Andye, and one in respect of which you clearly have no idea. The resources belong to the crown in right of the states. Hence the states charge royalties to the mining companies. Which the mining companies pay. It’s really very simple but apparently beyond you.

      And in answer to your question, no, the ‘nation’ cannot force a renegotiation. That would be national appropriation. Legitimate in the eyes of Hugo Chavez perhaps but here in Australia we have a little thing called rule of law.

    • MH says:

      03:08am | 04/08/12

      *expropriation, not appropriation. Clearly shouldn’t post after 3 bottles.

    • Stephen says:

      08:13pm | 03/08/12

      Work hard, work smart, plan, educate yourself, start a business, hire people, create real jobs, risk your house, if you finally do become successful after giving up many years of your life working at your business 80 hours a day.  Swan will come take as much as he can so he can give it to ovepaid union government workers or their cronies union reps.  All hail the socialist state.  Lucky we have a mining boom cause we’d be screwed with out it.

    • Muggles says:

      08:16pm | 03/08/12

      “Michael O’Connor has been National Secretary of the CFMEU Forestry and Furnishing Products Division since 2005, and has worked for the union for over twenty five years”

      A question for you Michael, as the National Secretary for Forestry:  when were you last employed as an actual, on-site Forestry worker?  Which year was it?

      And while you’re at it, and while you’re banging on about class warfare:  what is your remuneration package as National Secretary of the Forestry division? How does your total package compare to the median remuneration of CFMEU Forestry workers?

      (After all, we don’t want different classes of workers, do we?  i.e. Those who do the hard work out in the field for the average wage, and those who sit in comfortable offices, securing for themselves comfortable salaries and conditions. That way leads to class warfare…)

    • ex labor voter says:

      10:22pm | 03/08/12

      You don’t think that o’connor, as GIllard’s one time boyfriend, is still gunning for her? does anyone remember his pathetic “I love Julia” promotion on Australian Story a couple of years ago - just prior to her knifing of Kevin? One would be forgiven for not realizing he is actually married…to someone else! And yet, he still feels the need to keep campaigning on her behalf! Could it be because he has a non-performing brother as a federal minister?

    • Will NOt vote Labor till Gillard is gone says:

      10:30pm | 03/08/12

      The shrill call is better than the Dull monotone of
      GIllard’s anthem of pure personal ambition with No prevailing underlying principle, other than personal ambition- her life’s devotion.

    • Normal Person 909 says:

      01:42am | 04/08/12

      Unfortunately, it is not just the rich and powerful who are the targets of Labor’s money-grabbing. I, for one, am not rich and powerful and yet have been on the receiving end of about ten Labor Party law changes in the past two years that have made my life financially harder. I believe that the Labor Party in Australia waste money and then erect this illusion of widespread “rich people” to justify their grabbing of money off the middle class (to try to balance their budgets). It is like a householder, who has gotten himself into debt through foolish spending, marching next door and robbing his neighbour because his neighbour still has money and so must be a “rich person”.

    • Sally says:

      12:24pm | 04/08/12

      Speaking from here in the States, i can only say that Australia is looking very good for the average person, and a bit of gratitude to the labor party is well and truly in order. Dump them at your peril.

    • Alan says:

      03:05pm | 04/08/12

      I’ve no problem with Swan slagging off mining entrepreneurs so long as he hands out the same treatment to union bosses and his mates like KRudd and family who’ve made a fortune rorting thegovernment.

    • D says:

      10:39pm | 04/08/12

      Four sentences in I stopped and thought that I had heard this rhetoric before. Perhaps not so amusingly, you are indeed affiliated with a union. What is more depressing, the fact that your union affiliation was that clear? Or the fact that it took so many sentences for me to consciously pick up on it?

 

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