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(generated from captions) the coming elections, he could

be the next to go. Despite the economy recording positive

growth this week, the Coalition

says the good news is down to

export earnings rather than

consumer spending but the

national accounts haven't been

to only point of contention in

parliament this week. The

Opposition looks likely to

continue its attack on Defence

Minister Joel Fitzgibbon today

after calling for his dismissal

earlier this week. For more,

Joe Hockey joins us from

Canberra. Good morning. Good morning. These figures yesterday totally undermine

your whole attack over the past

couple of months, don't they?

No. No, of course not. Nice try

but no. The fact of the matter

is the numbers are going to

bounce around thrrkz no doubt

about that. All the numbers are

bouncing around - unemployment,

to some degree the national

accounts and a whole lot of

data out there. There is one

consistent piece of

information, that is that Kevin

Rudd has $315 billion debt and

someone is going to have to pay

that and ultimately it is the

taxpayers so the numbers will

bounce around, there's no doubt

about that. The headline number

was good yesterday, it was

great, and can that's exactly

what I think we should all be

welcoming but having said that,

let's look into the data and

any serious analysis will

illustrate that there was a

2.2% contribution to the

quarterly GDP, the largest on

record, from the fall in

imports and the rise in exports

so- That was a major factor.

Let's look at another factor. Treasury estimates the economy

would have contracted by

0.2%head had it not been for

the cash handouts. Access

Economics is supporting that

view as well. Surely you have

to concede the stimulus

payments have worked? Well, when you spend that much money

it is going to have an impact.

You see, yesterday's debate,

Joe- But that does undermine

what you have been saying for

the last couple of months.

There's this cash splash angle

you've been taking with it.

It's been wrong, hasn't it?

No, because we've always talked

about money being wasted. If

the money bought Kevin Rudd a

positive figure this month, the

question is was it money well

spent? Yesterday's argument,

even today's, is all about the

depth of the hole. The fact is

the hole exists and at the

bottom of the hole is the

taxpayer and how does the

taxpayer get out of that hole?

Well, it's going to be a damn sight harder with a whole lot

of bricks of debt in the

backpack. The hole would be

the same size if you guys were

in charge. Well, I mean, this

is the challenge. It is about

making decisions that give us

the springboard to get out of

this. One of the things that we

cannot neglect in all of this

debate is that Australia's

economic destiny is more

closely linked with Asia than

it is with Europe and the

United States, that's what

yesterday proved I think in

many ways. Now what we do know

is that when Asia comes out of

this troubled time, it will

come out faster and more

aggressively than many other

places and they will compete

with us on taxation, they will

be our clients for minerals but

compete with us on taxation and

service delivery and a range of

other things. If we have no

petrol in the tank to be

competitive, if we are

increasing taxes and increasing

interest rates when in

Singapore or Hong Kong or other

parts of Asia they are cutting

taxes or keeping their taxes

low, then we are going to face

a very difficult recovery. So

as you say, these numbers keep

bouncing around. You're still

expecting there will be two

quarters of negative growth.

How soon will that happen?

Look, Joe, you're putting words

into my mouth. I don't know

what the figures are going to

be. No-one does. Quite frankly,

we hope that we don't have two

quarters of negative growth but having said that, there have

been periods in the past when

you've had a negative quarter

and then a positive quarter and

numerous negative quarters,

alternatively there have been

many times in Australia's

modern history where we've had

one negative quarter and

continued to grow so they truly

bounce around. We don't know

where the numbers are going to

go. What we do know is that

unemployment is going to go up

and people are going to lose

their jobs and if you look at

Ross Gittins this morning, he

said that, look, unemployment

going up means we are in

recession, so we can argue the

technicalities but ultimately

the bottom line is people will

be losing their jobs. Joel

Fitzgibbon is back on the front

pages this morning. What are

your specific problems with

what seems to have happened in

this instance? I think there

has been a pattern of behaviour

from the Defence Minister that

is alarming. This is the man

that is responsible for

protecting our nation.

Ultimately he is in charge of

the nation's defences. If there

is any hint of a security risk,

if there is any hint of

sloppiness, if there is any

hint of inappropriate behaviour

then the Prime Minister should

take the right decision. But

Lindsay Tanner's been on the

show this morning and he says

he's met with the same man

several times because he holds

a prominent position in the

hasn't had any problems with insurance industry and he

the meetings he's had with him.

Do you see any specific

problems with this incident

that has arisen? Well, Ritz an

obvious fit for the Finance

Minister to meet with the head

of NIB, it's an obvious fit for

the Health Minister, it's an

obvious fit for Joel Fitzgibbon

to meet with his brother, the

question is whether Joel

Fitzgibbon facilitated, by

using his office, facilitated

opportunities for his brother

that others might not have got

and, look, these are issues

that need to be explored. OK,

Joe Hockey in Canberra, thanks

very much for talking to us