Joe Hockey’s awkward mistake

Written By komlim puldel on Selasa, 10 Februari 2015 | 20.01

With Tony Abbott feeling the pressure to step aside from the top job, does Joe Hockey feel the same way. Courtesy: 7:30 Report

Joe Hockey isn't going anywhere yet. Source: News Corp Australia

JOE Hockey is determined to keep his job as Treasurer. He made that pretty clear tonight.

"I'm not a quitter. I'm not a quitter. I have never been a quitter. And I'm not going to quit when it comes to the best interests of the nation," Mr Hockey told Leigh Sales on 7.30, a day after Prime Minister Tony Abbott was interviewed on the program.

MORE: The question Tony just couldn't answer

"I am the best person to do the job. And I'm calling it as I see it. There is no easy solution, there is no silver bullet, there is no easy path. Either we reduce our spending in order to live within our means, or we have to increase taxes, which at the end of the day, costs people their jobs.

"We are endeavouring to encourage the Labor Party and the Labor-controlled Senate to come to the table to negotiate."

That last statement has led to a steady stream of criticism on social media, from people who reckon Labor actually doesn't control the Senate.

So, did our Treasurer bungle the maths?

There are 76 senators, which means the government needs 39 votes to pass legislation through the upper house. The Coalition has 33 senators, followed by Labor with 25, the Greens with 10, the Palmer United Party with two and other minor parties with three. There are also three Independents.

Obviously, the Coalition has more votes than Labor, so Mr Hockey isn't being entirely honest when he says the Senate is "Labor-controlled".

That doesn't mean the government's task is easy though. Together, Labor and the Greens command 35 votes which will, more often than not, attempt to block legislation. The Coalition is left to negotiate with such reasonable personalities as David Leyonhjelm and Jacqui Lambie.

Joe Hockey. He's not for turning. Source: ABC

Mr Hockey has copped a large share of the blame for the government's poor performance in the polls, with commentators and colleagues suggesting last year's Budget was sold — and perhaps even designed — badly.

In the lead-up to Monday's Liberal spill motion, which was defeated by 61 votes to 39, it was widely assumed Mr Hockey would lose his job if Mr Abbott lost his. There were also rumours that Mr Abbott could install Malcolm Turnbull as Treasurer to appease the malcontents in his party room.

None of that happened, so Mr Hockey will get to deliver his second Budget in May. The Treasurer's interview tonight gave us a glimpse of what that Budget will entail.

Leigh Sales was armed with more tough questions. Source: ABC

For a start, Mr Hockey echoed his Prime Minister's recent emphasis on child care as a core issue for the government.

"It is hugely important that we get child care right," he said, insisting that a boost in child care spending would not run contrary to his focus on fiscal discipline.

"We're spending a lot of money on it," he said. "We have no choice, because if we do not get more people into work and give them flexible and affordable child care, you're going to see more and more women drop out of the workforce.

"There's things that we have to spend the money on. I think Australians understand that, where we have no choice and it actually strengthens our nation.

"Government is not inert. You do get these challenges that come along, you have to find the money to pay for them. Whenever we have new spending, we have to find savings to pay for it."

So, we can expect child care to be a prominent theme in the Budget.

Joe Hockey in Parliament, surrounded by people who definitely don't want him to be kicked out of his job. Source: Getty Images

Beyond that, Mr Hockey indicated the controversial GP co-payment will not be scrapped.

"I think it's actually fair that we all make a contribution, as high income people, to our own health care," he said.

"Anyone who is a pensioner, anyone with a Health Care Card, children, they do not pay a dollar."

The Treasurer also stuck to his previous rhetoric regarding debt and deficits, suggesting that whatever the government does, it will continue to cut spending.

"We are at a tipping point for the nation, Leigh. We cannot continue to go on borrowing $100m a day as a government just to pay our daily bills," Mr Hockey said.

"I'm not going to pass the buck to future generations to pay for my quality of life today.

"This is a tipping point for Australia. If we think we're just going to get economic growth and everything will be as it was in the early part of this century, it's not.

"We are doing what is hard, not popular at times, but we are doing what is right as well."

Warren Truss isn't asleep. No. Never. Just resting his eyes. Source: Getty Images


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