Abbott: Hockey to be treasurer forever

From one struggling pollie to another:

TONY Abbott has voiced “absolute” confidence in his embattled Treasurer and Defence Minister, as Joe Hockey conceded his cabinet colleagues don’t like being told to “live within their means”.

Amid rising speculation about the performance of some ministers, Mr Abbott last night admitted he would reshuffle his front bench “at some stage between now and the next election, quite probably”.

However Mr Abbott this morning urged voters to focus on “the policy, not the personality” and not confuse “the occasional misspeak with failure to deliver”.

Mr Abbott, when asked if Mr Hockey had his support to remain “indefinitely” as Treasurer, this morning said: “Of course.”

Not much else he could say, really. They both look increasingly doomed, though. The real power of the Liberal Party, the Murdoch press, does not back losers and the warning is now clear, from The Australian editorial today:

…when Coalition MPs gathered to hear from Tony Abbott on Tuesday. The Prime Minister’s message was that the year had been “rich in performance” and full of achievement. Nobody spoke to break the spell.

“Nobody wants to say what they’re thinking,” says one MP. “Everybody just had to sit there and clap.” The government’s achievements are real but its failures loom so large they overshadow all else. Abbott’s great political successes, like the repeal of the carbon tax, seem long ago.

The fumbling of major policies recently has been astonishing for a government that had such control earlier this year. The change has dismayed Coalition MPs, who have the hard task of explaining away their leaders’ clumsiness.

Abbott and his ministers are slow to confront the challenge they face. The Prime Minister talks of “achievement” at every opportunity even though it has become the trigger word for Labor MPs to respond with canned laughter.

Not just the Labor Party.

Houses and Holes
Latest posts by Houses and Holes (see all)


  1. Most things in life involve the imagination. Consumers buy all kinds of things in the pursuit of fantasy. They spend their votes in the same way. Why should politics be different? In this case, the caste now holding power are acting out a story of their own crafting. Sooner or later, this show will end. This time there will be no standing ovations, no bouquets, neither tears nor laughter. There will simply be relief.

    • So tears of relief after such a tumultuous and thoroughly ignominious journey, which will end with wealth destruction far greater than 87 ever saw, along which self deception, political mendacity and schizophrenic economic forecasts were the order of the day?

      • A new team to lead a revitalised Government. A team prepared to push a reform agenda; one capable of articulating the merit of such. One that is free of Budget contamination and pre election ‘promises’.

        Has to be done soon. Christmas present to the nation.

      • Each would make fine Prime Ministers; Turnbull would be a superb Treasurer. And we’re going to need the best we can get.

        Perhaps after a Term or two Jules will retire to the Cherry Farm (or Ambassador to nation of choice) and Malcolm can then assume the role for which he was born.

      • …then, having saved the nation, and following the successful Republic campaign, PM Turnbull transforms into President Turnbull. We confer President for Life status – democracy by this stage having lost its shine. At last free from the nuisance parties (Greens PUP Labor) Australia will flourish.

      • “the role for which he was born”

        That had me snickering with laughter because he did a crap job the first time he was in “the role for which he born”

      • “That had me snickering with laughter because he did a crap job the first time he was in “the role for which he born””

        Clearly that’s because he was only opposition leader and not Dear Supreme Leader of Us All.

        Guaranteed it’s not going to happen but what a Christmas present for the nation it would be if Abbot and/or Hockey were thrown out in the next three weeks.

        Thankfully Abbott has promised to take an extended summer holiday so we won’t see him much for a while.

      • 3d,

        You do surprise me again. You appear to have softened on MT.

        Honestly – think this is a bit of a harbinger – because I think when push comes to shove – the sensible rump of the Libs – will also soften in their views …

      • Bugger,

        I was wrong there – unfortunately I checked facts after engaging keyboard….always a mistake.

        eg …

        “When Turnbull came out fighting in Parliament this week, the Opposition Front Bench recoiled in fear and awe.”

        “and I do quite like MT”..

        So I would not be dismissing MT’s chances as so many do …

    • Perhaps but the ideologues in the Libs will find it hard to agree; and Joe looks like he can hate for a long time, as well as Rudd did, from any position he is shunted into.

    • Nah. The real problem is the LNP have no relevant economic policies. On everything from climate change to tax shelters to science and technology, consumer markets, banking and finance, housing supply, energy policy, water resources and education….they are a policy vacuum.

      They are completely archaic.

      • There isn’t a policy vacuum. Especially from Joe. You just don’t know what they are.

        What the government lacks is a narrative and Tony Abbott as leader isn’t up to creating or communicating one.

      • Their narrative is clear enough.

        Markets will decide what kind of country we become. Incentives to capital and the richest will be protected, labour can compete just that bit harder. Sort your own s**t out, government isn’t here to help you.

        It’s the wrong narrative. Voters will rightly repudiate it at the next election.

      • The LNP have only one policy tool – more free market fundamentalism, less government and embrace their religion to offset ones sorrows.

    • both have drunk from the poison chalice of this Government, sorry they are rotten as the others.

      • Mark HeydonMEMBER

        @ spleenblat
        “Markets will decide what kind of country we become. ”
        You almost have this right but it should be:

        “[big] businesses will decide what kind of country we become”

        The so-called free market party can’t be having with markets.

      • I like Morrison. But he needs time in a new Portfolio to avoid ‘hate’ from the SHY fraternity (shared by a section of the media) – still seems saving a life doesn’t outweigh a transition period in detention.

      • You might like Morrison – but I think you will find, that for the most part – those outside the echo chamber – ie those who votes you need – that might or might not vote for your team;

        – Actually think Morrison is an arrogant – rhymes with punt.

        The popularity polls reflect this, BTW.

    • Coal and SugarMEMBER

      Agree but how does it get done without being another Rudd knife in the back scenario.

      Abbot would have to do what’s best for the party and be selfless and step aside to retain some dignity and is that really going to happen.

    • Brilliant
      Two old people with nothing new to add. May as well suggest Ruddock.

      Clive was right when he said pollies ought to get in, add value, fresh ideas, make things better, then fuckoffski now.

      Instead, we get:
      Which ends up with
      Australia in a biggerditch, whattabitch, GOAL. Australia in deep shit now.

      (Sorry, too much 12th man.)

      What value is Bishop adding to australia.


    • Turnbull wad actually tried before as leader with not a lot of success. Abbott came in and damn near stole the election. I suspect we’ll get another year of necessary but unpopular policy followed by appeasement to the ungrateful masses. For my part I think they are doing a fantastic job.

  2. All of these calls for ministerial resignations are a bit rich.

    Joe has failed to sell the politically un-popular elements of the budget, but that doesn’t make his a bad treasurer. A hysteria has been whipped up over a handful of politically un-popular measures. There are a range of other policy initiatives underway in addition to the budget which are overwhelmingly positive, the Murray review being among them.

    This last budget was HALF as hard as the budget in 1996 but everyone went batshit about it. What was the difference? In 1996 Australia had just come out of a major recession and there was widespread community acceptance that major change was needed.

    The Australian Community hasn’t experienced a recession in 25 years and considers tax cuts and more spending every year to be the norm. It will take a re-alignment of expectations for another hard budget to be accepted by the community. Therefore it is not surprising that he has failed to ‘sell’ aspects of the budget.

    We have a big problem in this country with the budget. It is an un-sustainable mess and Joe is trying to do something about it. He should be thanked. What we need is everyone to recognize that major change is required which will involve substantial cuts to spending and potentially increases in taxation. There is no other way. It would be helpful if Labor and the Greens would engage productively rather than just play short term politics.

    The real issue here is that the government fundamentally has a communication problem. It is letting its political opponents frame the debate in the media. I think they need to wake up to the fact that the media has changed since 2007 and update their communication strategy accordingly.

    • Joe has failed to sell the politically un-popular elements of the budget, but that doesn’t make his a bad treasurer.

      Actually, it DOES make him a bad (in the sense of ineffective) politician, and before anything else, that’s what a government treasurer is.

      Selling the unpopular is THE key job requirement. Everything else is moot without that one.

    • “…Australia had just come out of a major recession and there was widespread community acceptance that major change was needed.”
      And you aren’t going to get one without the other….

    • Gramus essentially I agree.

      The Budget had a couple of silly ideas, easily rectified. The hysteria confected by the Left and much of the media cast the pall of ‘unfairness’ over the Budget. The meme took hold. Add to that the lunatics running the asylum in the Senate and Labor blocking for blocking’s sake, still unprepared to enact any policy on the basis of national interest .

      Abbott and Hockey will be unable to reframe the debate – they are forever tarnished – partly culpable for failing to establish a narrative and explain to the electorate the need to commence Budget reform.

      A new team is required. Now.

      • Fair call but they lost the narrative when they held firm to Priests in schools ($250m) and PPL. With these policies locked in the claim they are repairing the budget is overshadowed by a feeling of “us against them”. Remove these policies and they can can claim back the narrative – agree it probably needs a new team though.

      • Well at least you’ve capitulated, no apologies for all those “take your meds” remarks naturally…

      • A new team is required. Now.

        Wow. Its all over then.

        Are these new instructions coming direct from Rupert and Gina?

      • “A new team is required. Now.” – 3d1k

        Would that be corporatist lite or the full retard, oops sorry that’s what we have now….

        Skippy… decades of poor risk management which was obfuscated, in so many ways, whilst the looting went on, is not going to go away with some new TEAM advertising campaign.

      • rob barrattMEMBER

        A new team IS required. The worst case scenario is the Aus Union Corporation’s political arm getting back in. I think the failure of Toyota’s workers to be allowed to negotiate with their own company to save their jobs is the landmark by which the Rudd Gillard years should be judged, What will we revert to? Spend now, pay later, all played to the backdrop of new White Elephant class submarines coming off the production lines, no doubt straight into dry dock…

      • Oh, boo hoo. I can’t believe the Coalition, the masters of whipping up hysteria and whining about class warfare, never had a plan to counter the same attack directed at them. I don’t know where Labor and Liberals are getting their political advice from, but maybe they should check out some preschools for some fresh talent.

    • Hockey has been a disaster as Treasurer.
      1. the budget does nothing to address the budget problems. It simply shifts expenditure burdens from the commonwealth to the states (eg. GP co payment and cutting Aged Care funding)

      2. In terms of macro management it is the stupidest budget I have ever seen. He has targeted those with the highest propensity to consume and has deliberately let those with the lowest propensity to consume off scot free. If we really did have a debt disaster and lost access to bond markets, and the IMF had to oversee official financing, the package Hockey came out with is the exact reverse of what they would recommend. It hurts growth and does almost nothing to reduce the deficit. Cleaning up super would raise a heap of revenue and barely affect growth at all. It is the obvious fix.

      3. He has talked down the economy consistently hurting consumer and business confidence and has dramatically overplayed the short term threat of budget problems. Why would a Treasurer whose job it is to manage the countries finances do this. Just stupid, really stupid. btw this is totally different to Keatings banana republic comments – back then the economy was not constrained by demand (it was constrained on the supply side – totally different). Today managing confidence means managing the economy.

      4. He has cheered on the housing bubble . Has promoted the shortage myth (which is one of the essential props for investor “confidence”) and has done nothing to rein in the frenzy either by cracking down on SMSF’s, rolling back NG or CGT discounts or by promoting macroprudential.

    • There is conflict between what the LNP say they mean to do – reduce the deficit – and what they actually can do.

      The fiscal situation is not driven by outlays, much as they would like us to believe it is. For the last few years, the weakness in the bottom line has been driven by weak revenue, a consequence of two factors: the effect on collections of tax shelters and the persistent weakness in nominal growth.

      The deficit is actually helping to support growth. If the government had really tried to shrink the deficit, the economy would now be entering a serious recession. The fact that we are still growing at all actually reflects the continuity of fiscal policy from Gillard/Swan to Abbott/Hockey. Imagine that. The policies of the previous Labor Government have helped to keep us out of recession. Very good.

      This is the underlying truth. But Abbott and Hockey cannot fess up about this. They have been singing the “debt and deficit disaster” duet for a long time and they have no new tunes to work with.

      Despite this, the fact that the fiscal position is failing is something they cannot hide from. They should embrace it, of course. It’s a good thing. But so far they have been unable to swallow this. Consequently they have made themselves part of the problem. If they do not change the storyline and their policies, they will get thrown out. No great loss.

      • So you don’t think there is a problem? You don’t think that more tax/less spending is required and that things can continue the way they are indefinitely?

        MYEFO is going to show what $60/tonne iron ore actually means for the budget and that is going to shock a lot of people. All we can hope is that it wakes some up (such as yourself) into realizing that change is needed and that we as a country are living beyond what our productivity will pay for.

        Joe is trying to address the problem. You can argue the priorities but he is having a go and should be recognized for that. Joe is the only one having a go too. There is absolutely no credible engagement or proposals being put forward by either Labor or the Greens.

      • Gramus: I believe there is a problem, and tackling tax expenditures is the obvious way to deal with the problem.

        However the economy is now deteriorating so rapidly that tightening fiscal policy would not only be impossible, it would also be inappropriate at this point in the cycle.

        The tightening should have happened in the last term of the Howard government, and during the middle of the Rudd-Gillard years.

      • Gramus….of course there is a problem. The problem is the LNP have no relevant economic policies. They have banged on for years about a “debt and deficit disaster”, but they cannot fix this – at least they cannot fix it without addressing tax and growth. They have no tax policies. They have no growth policies. They have nostalgia and little else.

      • Garmus….no one is doubting the need for change. Ignoring the big elephant in the room and not addressing it because of vested interests is both stupid and signifies a lack of understanding of the threat to the Australian economy and its medium to long term stability.

    • Everyone agrees that something needs to be done to address the budget deficit, but its what Hockey chose to do that’s killing him. Its not a “communication problem” its a policy problem.

      The obvious way to address the budget deficit is to attack the outrageous tax expenditures — super, CGT, FBT, NG, fuel excise rebates for miners — there’s a huge amount of fat here that could have the budget back in good shape within five years.

      And its not like Hockey doesn’t know about this stuff, Treasury would have been screaming at him from day 1 to get stuck into the tax expenditures.

      • They were all soooo smug on budget night – screaming “We have arrived” to the world, chugging cigars.

        This was only ever going one way but down

      • rob barrattMEMBER

        You’re right Lorax. However, you’re only stating half the problem. The other lot studiously avoided NG etc when they had the chance to address it. Ken Henry was explicitly warned off saying anything contentious that might inflame the hoards of “investors” piling money they didn’t have into the Great White Property Hope.

        The malaise is so deeply embedded and the parliament is so hung (not to mention the Lambie factor) I can’t see anyone being able to fix it in the current situation. I suppose Turnbull and Bishop are the logical choice for the ongoing term. I don’t see the Spend Now, Pay Later Party having anything constructive to say…

      • +1 Rob

        Lambie. Twenty two thousand votes, and she’s acting like she got twenty two million. For HER Tasmanians , HER defence personnel, HER indigenous. HERSELF more like it.

        Holding the elected by a landslide government to ransom. And getting away with it. No media scrutiny nor criticism.

        A narcissistic powermonger with a nasty turn.

      • Rob, I’m not saying the other mob were much better but they did at least tackle the FBT rort and they were starting on the super rort by taxing incomes over $100K. Granted these were small steps in the right direction but Abbott & Hockey immediately rolled them back.

        3d, cut the crap on the “elected by landslide” nonsense. There was never any love for Abbott in the electorate and the LNP would be obliterated if an election were held today.

    • “He should be thanked.”

      Don’t you worry about that, I thank Joe and Tony every day. As do the Labor party and the 55% TTP who want to throw them out at the next election.

    • Adam says — “Seeing this, I’m not convinced that we can trust the ABS. As I discussed following the horrific errors made in the labour force survey, the ABS is going to want to fly under the radar for a while. This makes them more amenable in producing statistics that simply reflect the current consensus (of weakness). In my view, this is exactly what the latest GDP figures represent. There is little chance the economy was actually as weak as reported in that quarter”

      Hopefully the chief statistician will pillory this idiot.

      • Remember that the ABS seasonally adjusts the data to strip out what it thinks are seasonal patterns.The problem of course, is that this procedure is highly subjective and can be heavily influenced by institutional bias.

        Yes – the second sentence, apart from six out of the last seven words is simply incorrect, in the context of a statistical data-driven approach. Possibly this could be correct in the context of a model driven approach, but this doesn’t really describe the ABS’s methodology.

        If only George Box had lived an extra couple of years to rebut this nonsense.

      • @StatSailor on seasonal adjustment

        Oh mad Adam…

        If he’d done some basic research (like typing ‘abs seasonal adjustment method’ into google and clicking on the first link), he’d know that ABS seasonal adjustment is automated by software that applies X11 adjustments; the same technique used by the US National Bureau of Economic Research.


  3. General Disarray

    Joe’s arrogance is going to sink him. Explaining away LNP concerns as being because he has told his colleagues to live with their means is an insult that won’t be forgotten.

    They’re unhappy with Joe because he has completely fumbled the sale of the budget at every opportunity.

    Joe is completely incompetent.

  4. This is the quality of this government.

    “Taxpayers would subsidise the training of priests and other religious workers at private colleges for the first time under the Abbott government’s proposed higher education reforms.

    As well as deregulating university fees and cutting university funding by 20 per cent, the government’s proposed higher education package extends federal funding to students at private universities, TAFES and associate degree programs.

    Religious teaching, training and vocational institutes would be eligible for a share of $820 million in new Commonwealth funding over three years.”

    Cut access to higher science learning and replace it with mysticism and voodoo.

    I think there might be a tv show in that.
    The Chaplin squad !!!
    They roam the mean streets at night to fight the good fight and save the souls of the unwashed masses from eternal damnation.

  5. Just how does the govt. justify giving tax payers money to wealthy religious organisations that contribute nothing to the tax receipts while making Uni degrees unaffordable for most citizens? We will end up with a plague of priests in our schools, no child will be safe.

    They still don’t get the unfairness thing.Bloody Wankers

    • Good point. We should tax the lot of them in line with other business operations.

      I really dislike the notion of religious nuts in schools when we should have trained welfare workers that are secular. I would rather we spend the money on science.

      • migtronixMEMBER

        I would rather we spend the money on crack than religious nut-jobs, but science works too…

    • I don’t necessarily agree that kids will be particularly unsafe, but I don’t understand why schools can’t choose other trained and qualified professionals to offer support to students. The government’s policy seems to be more about social engineering and perpetuating certain values than providing services and promoting choice and competition.

    • They just don’t get it. What world are they living in? Sure Hockey made a number of stupid gaffes, but the problem wasn’t in the budget sell, or the personality, it was the fucking policy!

      Their budget was a total dog. Everyone could see it. Cut funding to universities while splashing cash at priests. Cut unemployment benefits while introducing the world’s most generous parental leave scheme. And the list goes on.

  6. Joe ‘Bungle’ Hockey forever…I hope not as I don’t think there would be enough crayons and colouring books.

    Bungle was a character in a UK children’s show called Rainbow. Bungle was a crap coloured bear that was always wrong.

  7. Lay off Tony and Joe.
    The country needs them …..

    ….. to lead the LNP into oblivion for a generation.

  8. Where can I get odds on a Double Diss election in 2015?

    Scenario goes like this:

    a) In January we see a leadership spill.
    b) Bishop and Turnbull take over
    c) Blanket Murdoch propaganda, “new direction”, “iron lady in charge” blah, blah, blah
    d) They eject most of the toxic budget baggage
    e) Turnbull concocts a more palatable version of the budget in May.
    f) Appeals to the “public good”, “health of the nation ” blah, blah
    h) Polls improve marginally
    i) They go to a DD election in mid-late 2015 using whatever legislation is still stuck in the senate (Uni fees?) as a trigger.

    Worst case scenario they leave Labor a poisoned chalice with a probable nasty recession brewing down.

    Best case they get a clean slate to work with.

    • “Best case they get a clean slate to work with.”

      Worst case (assuming they actually win) is that the smaller quotas lead to an even more frustrating Senate.

      • “Worst case (assuming they actually win) is that the smaller quotas lead to an even more frustrating Senate.”

        Not necessarily.
        The current Senate is frustrating for the Govt to deal with only because the Govt is arrogant, treats the cross-benchers like dills and couldn’t negotiate a root in a brothel with a fist full of fifties.

        I think any government with a modicum of nouse and persuasive skill would see a diverse cross bench as an opportunity to find willing allies on a bill by bill basis.

        David Leyonhjelm said that this government is like a teenage son or daughter. It only calls him when it needs money or the car.
        From what I’ve seen of Bob Day on Sky he seems equally unimpressed.
        Those 2 characters want to shrink government so small that it can drown in a bathtub so getting them on side should be a piece of cake. Yet somehow Eric Abetz and co have pissed them off.

  9. Would ditching PPL help Tony Abbott to regain the support of the Fairfax press (a.k.a. Rupert Murdoch). I guess Rupert Murdoch doesn’t have children in that age bracket, right ?