Beware the Billionaires
Wayne Swan delivered an address at the National Press Club today outlining the dangers of what he describes as the “Americanization of the Right” in Australia. His comments refer specifically to the actions of the Billionaires Club in Australia who have become noticeably more vocal in their criticisms of the Government in the past two years.
The few billionaires that call Australia home have traditionally endorsed the party that suits them at the time. However, the actions of Clive Palmer, Gina Rhinehart and Andrew Forrest last year are unlike anything Australia has ever seen. The magnates took the the streets with megaphones on the pack of utes trying to convince those working in the mines that the heyday will be over with the new mining tax. Not long after this well funded campaign, Kevin Rudd was rolled as Prime Minister and Julia Gillard took his place. The Billionares, it seemed, were happy with that outcome.
Now, 18 months out from an election, Wayne Swan has fired the first shot at the Billionaires. He criticized their growing power in the media and singled out Gina Rhinehart as someone who is using her wealth to buy influence in our media. Gina Rhinehart owns enough of Channel Ten and Fairfax Holdings to instill a degree of fear in most of the editors there but we are yet to see if she intends to use that power.
Someone who has long controlled the media in this country is Rupert Murdoch, and he is probably the only billionaire in Australia who has not tried to sue someone for telling tales out of school. As a media baron, he is afforded a certain privacy that his media holdings only extend to a select group of friends to the Billionaire tycoon.
Wayne Swan is clearly beginning his election campaign by declaring war on the billionaires but the political wisdom of this move appears flawed. It is almost certain that the mining magnates will endorse Tony Abbott in the 2013 election, but it is in their best interest to stay as quiet as they can so as not to draw attention to the fact that they are so ridiculously rich that everything they say should be taken with a grain of salt.
Still, in such a financially uncertain time it is the stable wealth base of the mining sector that will be best place to finance the political campaigns of 2013. The trick is to have the support of the Billionaires without been seen to endorse their ridiculous wealth; a skill Tony Abbott seems to have down packed.