Mr Swan was quoted in media reports this morning describing the influence of Australia’s richest business people as a “poison” that had “infected” Australian politics and the economy.
The Treasurer said the rising power of vested interests displayed by Mr Forrest, Hancock Prospecting’s Gina Rinehart and mining magnate Clive Palmer, among others, were “undermining our equality and threatening our democracy”.
FMG fired back today, describing Mr Rudd’s claims as an irrational outburst.
“At Fortescue, we stand proudly with Andrew Forrest and his record of achievement in business and his commitment to lift those most in need, Fortescue chairman Herb Elliott said.
“Even though over 97 per cent of his wealth is still tied up in his investment in FMG, Andrew has contributed and has publically committed to contribute hundreds of millions to charitable causes.”
Mr Elliott said FMG would pay more than $1 billion in taxes, royalties and other government assessments this year, and was projected to pay more than $2 billion next year.
“From FMG's founding in 2003 until just last year, we invested billions in wages, equipment, infrastructure and government assessments prior to making any taxable income,” Mr Elliott said.
“To do so requires leaders, investors, executives and co-workers to take real risk - risk that deserves acknowledgement rather than attack.
“One of the more extreme claims in Mr Swan's article is that Andrew Forrest's disagreement with tax increases makes him a threat to democracy.
“How he arrives at this conclusion is beyond a reasonable person's consideration.”