The former Treasurer, Wayne Swan, has attacked the Abbott government, accusing it of excessive partisanship and vindictiveness, and of being a government intent on attacking key institutions and undermining important conventions of government.
Swan’s attack came in a speech to the Chifley Ideas Circle, in Melbourne.
Swan attacked the partisanship of the Abbott government. He claimed this began on election night last year when Tony Abbott gloated about the ALP’s primary vote. Swan said he thought: “If he can shrink to this occasion, he can shrink to anything.”
The sacking of the Treasury Secretary, Martin Parkinson, was part of a process of undermining the independence of the Public Service, Swan said. He said the attacks on public servants had “a clear political purpose” to threaten current and future public servants. It was part of an assertion by conservatives of their “right to be the permanent government of Australia”.
Swan said the attacks on the ABC were designed to soften it up for budget cuts and to “repay News Limited for their absurdly lavish assistance” over the past three years.
He said the Abbott government was overturning conventions of government by inquiring into the previous government’s activities and accessing Cabinet records once kept secret, whereas the Labor government had not inquired into the Howard government’s actions over the Iraq war.
Swan said the government’s broken promises and vindictiveness against anyone associated with the labour movement were part of a process of delegitimising progressive policies and discrediting “institutions that deliver power to weaker and more vulnerable sections of society”.
The former Treasurer defended the Labor government’s Budgets. He said there was no spending problem but a problem with revenue downgrades. He described the government as “fiscal vandals”, whereas “we were Keynesians on the way down and remained Keynesians when growth returned”.
Swan accused the Prime Minister of “junior common room political fantasies” and said the government was intent on a “radical right wing manifesto” that is “the very essence of the survival of the fittest mentality identified by Thomas Piketty in his recent book”.
Swan is the member for Lilley in Queensland. He was first elected in 1993, defeated in 1996 and re-elected again in 1998. He served as Treasurer in the first Rudd government and was Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer in the Gillard government. He resigned from the ministry when Rudd was returned to the ALP leadership last June.
- Listen to Swan’s speech (35m)
- Listen to Swan respond to questions (14m)
- Watch the entire event (52m)
Official transcript of Wayne Swan’s speech to the Chifley Ideas Circle.
THE SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST MENTALITY OF THE ABBOTT GOVERNMENT: SHIFTING THE BALANCE FROM WORKING PEOPLE TO VESTED INTERESTS
Thanks Michael [Cooney] for that introduction.
It’s great to be here tonight to help launch the Melbourne Chifley Ideas Circle.
In a world of neo-conservative idea machines, there’s no doubt the Chifley Research Centre is a beacon of social-democratic economic sanity. [Read more...]