Skip navigation

Tag Archives: Joe Hockey

June 6, 2012 – 5:28PM


Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey says the Coalition will hold Labor to its promises.Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey says the Coalition will hold Labor to its promises. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

POOR old Joe.

Forced to flick the default personality switch from ”generally avuncular” to ”prophet of doom”, Hockey flailed at a loss, sinking deeper the more he spun in his own rhetorical quicksand.

Good economic news was just that. Good.

Joe Hockey says Wayne Swan (pictured) is the  'scariest thing in Australia.Joe Hockey says Wayne Swan (pictured) is the ‘scariest thing in Australia. Photo: Andrew Meares

However the Coalition narrative demanded it be spun into something less good. Something bloody awful.

Well, we were good, us plucky Aussies, spending and saving and growing, resilient and all — don’t get me wrong.

It was just The Government that was Bad. A shambles actually. And our success proved it — Australia could be, or perhaps it was already, paradise lost, or in danger of being lost, or … something.

Good economic data evidenced, somehow, the deficiency and incompetence of the Gillard Government. ”Imagine how well our country could do if we had a good government,” Mr Hockey blustered, truly heroic in his quest for badness and sadness.

And as for that Treasurer Wayne Swan, (who, given Australia’s 4 per cent annual growth rate, had earlier called for a moratorium on doom-saying about the economy?)

Mr Swan was the ”scariest thing in Australia”.

Adrian Dodd, on Twitter, pretended to agree with Mr Hockey’s analysis. ”I loved him in Wolf Creek.” Blogger Possum Comitatus did not pretend to agree. He demurred. ”There’s scarier things in my fridge than Wayne Swan.”

(This observation seemed, on balance, true enough — of my neglected fridge at least, given our buttoned down Treasurer bristles periodically, and broils, and sometimes permits himself to emit a squawk of pure, unvarnished irritation — but rarely bites.)

The heroic Hockey epic badness analysis continued.

This was not the time to price carbon (when Australia’s rate of economic growth was among the strongest in the developed world).

This was not the time to tax the mining industry (when the red-dust-on-the-shoes set doing so well they are expanding and investing and drilling and generally prospering to such a degree that one journalist today pointed out Western Australia was actually growing faster than China.)

It was a simple case of black being white. If you say it often enough.

Mr Hockey’s little ironic smile that flashed as he departed the podium seemed to telegraph more than words could that it would have been better left unsaid.

Katharine Murphy is The Age’s national affairs correspondent, and writes The Pulse blog for The National Times.

Read more:

May 18, 2012 – 4:40PM

The exchange between Penny Wong and Joe Hockey on Q&A this week about gay parents is only about two and half minutes long. 

Prompted by an audience question about why the shadow treasurer thinks he and his wife make better parents than the Finance Minister and her female partner, the segment ends with Wong quietly but firmly declaring: “I know what my family is worth”.

It may only be brief but activists are calling the exchange a ”watershed moment” in their campaign for same-sex marriage – both allowing people to understand the debate at a personal level and demonstrating its status as a mainstream political issue.

On Tuesday, Wong’s response trended on Twitter and the clip has had more than 71,000 views on YouTube (up from 53,000 this time yesterday). A company has even started selling “I know what my family is worth” t-shirts and stickers.

The National Times understands that Wong and her office were overwhelmed by calls and messages of support immediately after her Q&A appearance and that the messages continued into the week – a rare occurrence as the Finance Minister does not seek to campaign publicly on the gay marriage issue.

But Wong was not expecting such a personal question on Monday night – as is clear from her look of surprise and intake of breath when the question was asked. And then from her off-the-cuff response to Hockey’s answer.

The shadow treasurer certainly squirmed under the spotlight of live national TV.

“I must confess my views have changed since I’ve had children”, he said. “I think in this life we’ve got to aspire to give our children what I believe is the very best circumstances, and that’s to have a mother and a father.”

In response, Wong began with: ”Well, there’s almost nothing I can say.”

”When you say those things, Joe, what you’re saying to not just me but people like me is that the most important thing in our lives, which is the people we love, is somehow less good, less valued,” she said.

Wong went on to acknowledge that comments like Hockey’s were hurtful, but concluded by saying: ”I know what my family is worth.”

Australian Marriage Equality campaign co-ordinator Rodney Croome has been a gay rights activist for more than 20 years and sees Wong’s appearance as a “watershed moment” that will change hearts and minds.

This week, he says that AME have seen their web traffic double with people either getting in touch to offer messages of support or contact an MP via their website.

Croome says that even though Wong’s appearance came off the back of US President Barack Obama’s support for gay marriage last week, more people have been citing Wong as their reason for their messages.

“It was only a very short exchange, but I feel that it will have a tremendous impact,” Croome says, noting that those contacting AME tend to be both older and straight. “It really struck a chord”.

Croome says Wong’s ”gentle, quiet, self-confidence” also illustrates the importance of personal stories for making a difference in the same-sex marriage debate.

“People saw beyond the politics to how it actually affects people,” he said.

Equal Love convenor Ali Hogg – who organised a rally of 4000 people for same-sex marriage in Melbourne last weekend – said that it was rare to hear a politician speak from the heart.

“When someone says something so offensive in front of her [Wong’s] face, it’s a bit hard for her to just pull out the party line,” Hogg says.

GetUp! national director Simon Sheikh says that he has also noticed an increase in people getting in touch and engaging in social media over the past week, which he thinks is due to a combination of Obama and Wong’s statements.

Sheikh was not expecting the same-sex marriage campaign to rev up until next month, with the expected release of a Senate committee report. But he says that Wong and Obama have fired up the campaign and showed that it is a mainstream issue.

“This has provided fantastic momentum,” he says.

“I think we’re finally reaching the moment in the public debate where it looks like the Emperor’s got no clothes.”

He says people can expect more high-profile Australians, like comedian Magda Szubanski, to ”come out” in coming months, in support of the campaign.

But Sheikh is realistic about the chances of same-sex marriage legislation – due in the parliament at the end of the year – passing the House of Representatives this time around.

He sees the campaign as a “multi-year” one, and says that GetUp! is aiming to get a majority of Labor MPs voting in favour of same-sex marriage.

Even though Prime Minister Julia Gillard does not support same-sex marriage, Labor MPs will get a conscience vote. But with Opposition Leader Tony Abbott both opposed to gay marriage and a conscience vote, it is highly unlikely the bill will succeed.

But with recent polls putting support for gay marriage legislation at more than 60 per cent, this may be one example where the Parliament lags behind the voters.

Read more:

May 14, 2012Opinion

PALMER AFR PHOTOGRAPH BY GLENN HUNT 30042012.NEWS- Clive Palmer announcing at a press conference in Brisbane that he will be building Titanic II.Nervous … perks mining magnates like Clive Palmer have enjoyed for too long have now come under threat. Photo: Glenn Hunt

In the days leading up to last week’s budget, the minerals giants grew nervous. Already cranky at having to pay the carbon tax and the mining tax from July 1, they were uneasy at speculation that certain tax perks they enjoyed were in the frame, as the government strived for savings to achieve its promised surplus.

Reports suggested such breaks as the $2 billion diesel excise rebate, exploration deductions and accelerated depreciation were under consideration by the razor gang. So, they ran full-page newspaper ads essentially warning the government to back off.

Under their parent lobby group, the Minerals Council of Australia, the companies, primarily BHP Billiton, Xstrata, and Rio Tinto, argued they were not prepared to pay even more tax. The ads carried the line ”keep mining strong”, the same line that underpinned the $22 million blitz in 2010, which shredded the Rudd government and the original incarnation of the mining tax, the resources super profits tax.

The government’s response to these new ads was deafening silence. Even though, at the time, the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, was in full flight against powerful vested interests flexing their financial muscle to shape public policy to suit their own interest rather than that of the nation.

The focus of Swan’s ire was the mining bazillionaires Gina Rinehart, Clive Palmer and Andrew Forrest. When Swan began his crusade, starting with an essay in The Monthly, the most obvious example of a vested interest shaping government policy had been the mining tax campaign.

It proved so effective that it became the template for other campaigns, such as that by the gambling lobby which put so much pressure on targeted MPs that it weakened the prime minister’s leadership, defeated the proposed reforms and collapsed the deal Andrew Wilkie had with the government.

Yet Rinehart, Palmer and Forrest were at most bit players in the war against the original mining tax.

They do not even belong to the Minerals Council, which waged the campaign. When Swan was asked at the National Press Club on March 5 whether he was going after the wrong people, he explained that after initial resistance the minerals giants sat down, negotiated a compromised tax and have accepted it, whereas the others keep griping.

”We resolved this issue of a resource rent tax in the national interest, sitting across the table with responsible mining companies, who eventually came to the party and worked our way through the issues. It wasn’t possible for some months for that to happen, but it did happen,” he said.

”But what we’ve seen, not just during that debate and even prior to the resolution of the issue, was the vested interests that I have talked about here today who have continued a really strong, vitriolic, well funded [campaign], backed by enormous corporate manoeuvring from a group of people to try and sink this tax.”

When the budget came out, the miners won. There had been serious consideration of going after their tax perks but there was nothing in the budget. As one minister said during deliberations, ”Do we really want to pick another fight with them?”

The budget forecast the mining tax to make $13.4 billion over four years, about $900 million less than forecasts last year. This reflects volatility in commodity prices and the dollar. Forrest maintains the revenue forecasts are fanciful because, he said, neither his company, Fortescue Metals Group, nor any of the big three were going to pay any mining tax for several years because they hoodwinked the government during negotiations and can deduct the market value of their operations from their mining tax liability.

The big three are slated to pay 80 per cent of the mining tax so, if they do not stump up, there will be an almighty hole in the budget, especially as the revenue has already been allocated to various measures, including two extra cash handouts worth a combined $2.9 billion which replaced the promised company tax cut.

The Opposition claims on one hand that the mining tax will kill the industry but, on the other, agrees with Forrest that it is not going to make any money.

Tony Abbott, Joe Hockey and Ian Macfarlane have all said the miners have told them they will be paying no mining tax for several years.

It is understood Hockey got a clip around the ears from BHP for being too candid about what he had been told, including that a company had ”given me data”. The other version, coming from the minerals industry, is that Hockey did not accurately reflect what BHP told him and that the company does expect to pay the tax.

Either way, we will have a first indication in October when the first instalment must be paid. If the money is there, Forrest and the Opposition will look stupid. If it is not, we’ll see how brave the government really is.

Read more:

Peter Martin
May 14, 2012

"His choice will always be to look after his vested interests" ... Treasurer Wayne Swan said, of Tony Abbott. 

“His choice will always be to look after his vested interests” … Treasurer Wayne Swan said, of Tony Abbott. Photo: Penny Bradfield

THE Treasurer, Wayne Swan, will embrace the rhetoric of class warfare today as he defends his budget, accusing its opponents of wanting to keep Australia’s wealth in the hands of a fortunate few.

”We simply cannot claim to be a prosperous nation until all Australians can access the opportunities ahead of us – that’s what this budget was really about,” he will tell the Australian Council of Social Service in Melbourne.

”Of course, the usual suspects will call this class warfare … That’s fine, I am delighted we are having this debate. It is a debate about what kind of country we want to be – a country that capitulates to the demands of the vested interests and allows benefits to amass disproportionately to very few, or a country where we stand up for the fair go.”

Praising the council as an ”important counterweight to powerful vested interests”, he will say his fifth budget delivers on the values for which he has fought throughout his working life.

”A strong economy and disciplined fiscal policy is vital if you are going to build a fair community and support the most vulnerable. But without social mobility, you don’t allow people to achieve their potential. You sell the economy short.

”When Tony Abbott accuses us of class warfare for providing people with an opportunity to participate in the boom and for helping our most vulnerable, he is really saying that his only vision for growth is increased inequality.

”His choice will always be to look after his vested interests by making people frightened of change, and to equate the status quo with economic responsibility. In contrast, our choice will always be to tackle the big social and economic reforms that will build a better future for all Australians.”

Last week Mr Abbott attacked the budget’s schoolchildren bonus, saying people would ”blow it on the pokies”.

Yesterday the shadow treasurer, Joe Hockey, backed him up.

”What he said was, if you are handing out taxpayers’ money, there needs to be accountability,” Mr Hockey said. ”He is absolutely right, accountability is essential.

”The government imposed a $1.8 billion flood levy at the beginning of the year, saying they didn’t have enough money to pay for the Queensland floods. Towards the end of the same year they are handing out cash to people, no strings attached. It’s not good public policy and we will not support bad policy.”

In its final year in government, the Coalition delivered bonuses to pensioners, self-funded retirees, veterans and people with disabilities.

Mr Swan will say today his ”Spreading the Benefits of the Boom” package will benefit more than 1 million families. By delivering the schoolchildren’s bonus automatically, rather than upon the presentation of receipts, the budget will make sure nobody misses out.

Mr Swan will be tackled at the lunch about his decision to pay a Newstart bonus of just $4 a week rather than the increase of $50 a week demanded by a broad range of business and welfare organisations.

He will describe the measure as “providing a little more for our most needy”.

Read more:

What a great achievement, if it could be done.  But will the Government rush into disaster by pushing an already over-stretched public service to rollout a huge, complex scheme in record time? Will it be a repeat of the roof-insulation and school capital works program fiascos?


Thousands to benefit as $8bn National Disability Insurance Scheme rolled out

  • by: By Malcolm Farr, National Political Editor
  • From:
  • April 30, 2012 5:08PM


  • National Disability Insurance Scheme rolled out early
  • More than 10,000 people set to benefit from mid-2013
  • People with permanent disability will receive lifetime care


Related Coverage

THE National Disability Insurance Scheme will start a year ahead of schedule with 10,000 people set to benefit from mid-2013, it was revealed today.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced the early start to be followed by a further 10,000 to be covered in 2014.

“The timeframe announced today means the first stage of an NDIS will be delivered a full year ahead of the timetable set out by the Productivity Commission,” the Prime Minister said.

“For the first time in Australia’s history people with significant and permanent disability will receive lifetime care and support, regardless of how they acquired their disability.”

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has previously backed the scheme and today supported progress on its introduction while repeating an offer of Opposition help in its implementation.

However, shadow treasurer Joe Hockey questioned the financing of the insurance policy, weakening the bipartisan sentiment of his leader.

“Look, the NDIS is a very worthy scheme but it sounds to me like the dying days of a government when they make big heroic announcements about massive programs and they won’t tell you how they’re going to pay for it,” Mr Hockey said.

“This is the problem, this is the legacy of Gough Whitlam, it looks like it’s going to be a legacy of Julia Gillard.

“Australians have to pay for it. It’s the fundamental point and I expect if the Government is going to claim that it is proceeding with the National Disability Insurance Scheme it will tell Australians how it’s going to pay for it.”

The scheme will cost some $8 billion a year to fully implement, with a payment of $67,000 a year for an individual.

Mr Hockey said that amounted to an extra $1000 a year in tax for taxpayers.

The Prime Minister added the scheme would be put together with the help of the states but wouldn’t further elaborate on funding.

“Well, you’ll see the provision we’re making for the launch sites in the Budget next week,” Ms Gillard told reporters.

“On working with the states and territories, at the last Council of Australian Governments meeting we actually took some positive steps on working together.

Read more:

 Michelle Grattan

April 20, 2012

 THE government has seized on shadow treasurer Joe Hockey’s provocative attack on ”entitlements” to claim a Coalition government would make widespread cutbacks that would hit families.

In a major speech in London, Mr Hockey condemned systems of ”universal entitlement” in Western democracies, contrasting this with the concept of ”filial piety” thriving across Asia, where people get what they work for and families look after their own. Although Mr Hockey was more qualified about the Australian situation, when pressed later about whether the Coalition would look at the whole range of entitlements, he said: ”Yes.”

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Australian families should be deeply concerned about Mr Hockey’s remarks.

She said he was talking about cuts ”to things like family payments to help people with the costs of raising the kids, things like pensions that older Australians rely on, all of the benefits and services that help families along, like relief on childcare fees, let alone of course the great benefits of things like Medicare and free public hospitals”.

The message of Mr Hockey and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott to families was ”you’re in for cutbacks and if you can’t cope, well, just try fending for yourself and if you can’t fend for yourself well, unfortunately that’s too bad”, she said.

But Mr Abbott said Mr Hockey was making the obvious point that governments had to live within their means. Australia’s situation had not got to the level of some other countries but ”there is a danger that we ourselves could ultimately go down an unsustainable path … it’s the job of the Coalition to ensure that we never do”. Greens leader Christine Milne said the logical conclusion of what Mr Hockey was saying ”is no universal healthcare, no universal access to public education”.

Ann Nevile of the Crawford school of public policy at the Australian National University said it was unlikely that the policies of Asian countries could be successfully transplanted to Australia because those countries’ social conditions were different to Australia’s.

 Read more: