Australia's Treasurer Wayne Swan on Friday singled out three billionaire mining magnates in an unusual and high-profile attack on "vested interests".
In an opinion piece for The Monthly magazine, Swan argued that a minority of Australia's wealthiest were using their power and money to "poison" good public policy and economic reforms designed to benefit the majority.
Politicians, he said, had a choice "between standing up for workers and kneeling down at the feet of the Gina Rineharts and the Clive Palmers".
Rinehart is the richest woman in the Asia-Pacific with a fortune estimated at $18 billion built on her iron ore projects while Palmer's wealth comes primarily from coal.
Last month Rinehart increased her stake in press group Fairfax to 12.8 percent, while Palmer has also said he would consider a Fairfax investment amid fears they are attempting to expand their influence.
Swan also took aim at Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest, executive chairman of Fortescue Metals and one of the country's richest men.
"A handful of vested interests that have pocketed a disproportionate share of the nation’s economic success now feel they have a right to shape Australia’s future to satisfy their own self-interest," he said.
"This poison has infected our politics and is seeping into our economy. Though these vested interests have not yet prevailed, every day their demands get louder."
The Monthly is one of Australia's most highbrow publications.
Swan highlighted the "ferocious and highly misleading" campaigns waged against the Labor government's mining tax and carbon pricing plans.
Australia's controversial tax on the country's mining boom is due to start on July 1 with the proceeds put towards funding infrastructure, pensions and tax cuts for small businesses.
The government originally wanted a 40 percent tax on all extraordinary profits generated by resources firms as Australia enjoys unprecedented demand for its vast mineral deposits.
But that was scrapped in favour of a 30 percent tax only on iron ore and coal super-profits after a furious and intense campaign from the powerful and wealthy mining industry.
The tax on pollution also met fierce resistance. The scheme will levy a price of Aus$23 ($24.85) per tonne on carbon pollution before moving to an emissions trading scheme in 2015.
"I fear Australia’s extraordinary success has never been in more jeopardy than right now," Swan said.
"We must fight a pitched battle against the influence of vested interests that seek to shape public policy to their own excessive benefit and at the expense of our middle-class society."