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Transcript of doorstop: Sydney: 5 November 2012



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TRANSCRIPT

THE HON JOE HOCKEY MP

SHADOW TREASURER

DOORSTOP SYDNEY 5 NOVEMBER 2012

E&OE…………………………………………………………………………………

JOE HOCKEY:

There have been a number of data series out today including the ANZ Job Ad Index that continue to show a pretty disappointing picture of the Australian economy. The ANZ Job Ads data series indicates that the number of jobs out there is 15% less than the same time last year.

Clearly there is a lack of confidence in the Australian economy. There is a lack of confidence in the business community. It should be no surprise given that the carbon tax is now in place, the mining tax is confusing people and the general inability of the Government to tell the truth about the economy and tell the truth about its own Budget management, is undermining consumer and business confidence.

The most disappointing aspect of the last few days is the fact that the Government is continuing to crab walk away from its promise of a Budget surplus. Of course commentators are now revealing the truth about the Budget because Wayne Swan won’t. The Government cannot keep a promise. It has no economic strategy. It has no fiscal strategy and it has no taxation strategy. Recent talk about the GST being broadened or increased is futile given that the Government has no tax agenda. It simply resorts to taxes to try and plug a hole to try and steel up a fake surplus.

You can’t run tax policy that way. You can’t have ad-hoc responses outside of an overall framework on taxation policy. They had a framework that costs millions of dollars involving Dr Ken Henry. They even had a framework of sorts out of a Business Tax Summit. They had a framework out of the Business Tax Working Group but nothing has come out of all of that other than ad-hoc processes that indicate the Government is making it up as it goes along.

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Don’t be surprised if there isn’t a surplus. It is not in the Labor Party’s DNA to deliver a surplus. It is not in the Labor party’s DNA to tell the truth about the state of the Budget or be honest about the real state of the economy.

JOURNALIST:

Getting back to that idea of the GST - broadening or raising it. Do you think it makes sense economically if not politically?

JOE HOCKEY:

You can’t run taxation policy by making it up as you go along. That has been the hallmark of Labor in Government - be it a flood levy, alcopops taxes, changes to fringe benefits treatments of cars and so on. The bottom line is when it comes to Labor they make it up as they go along. They are all politics, they are no policy - they’ve got no strategy.

JOURNALIST:

If it was part of a strategy though, do you think it would make sense?

JOE HOCKEY:

The Australian people need to be carried along. You need to have all the State Treasurers supporting a broadening or an extension of the GST - that is Liberal and Labor. They need to unanimously support it and then they need to carry the Australian people before there would be any contemplation in Canberra and even then, any extension of broadening of the GST, you have got to show Australians how they would be better off. Quite frankly, after the experiences of the last few years where the Labor Party has made up tax policies as it goes along - to have five iterations of a mining tax that hardly raises any money - frankly, it just illustrates this is not the way to run taxation policy and having a futile debate about the GST is going to take us nowhere.

JOURNALIST:

Mike Baird - he’s a Coalition member - he seems to be pushing for at least introducing it with online purchases?

JOE HOCKEY:

Again, they are interesting proposals but various proposals about broadening or extending the GST are going nowhere whilst you have a Government that makes up policy as it goes along. Remember it pledged not to have a carbon tax, then it introduced one. Whenever Labor rules out anything on the GST or rules out anything on tax increases you have got to be highly sceptical.

JOURNALIST:

What do think of the Treasury costings of your policies?

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JOE HOCKEY:

Can I say this? I am alarmed that, yet again, a Treasury analysis of Coalition policy has been released to the media. It is extraordinary. When it comes to Green’s policies the Commonwealth Government does everything it can to stop any public release of the costings of Green’s policies. Currently there is an internal review in the Treasury appealing a decision of the Treasury not to release Green’s policy costings. The bottom line here is this - I am writing to Dr Martin Parkinson, the Secretary of the Treasury, expressing my alarm that the Treasury analysis of our so called policies seems to have made it into the public domain but Green’s policies have not. That is despite repeated FOI requests.

I would say this is a concerning treatment of the Treasury by the Government - we expect some answers. We expect some answers on how the Treasury has time to do costings of our policies but the Treasury doesn’t seem to be able to get the numbers right on $120 billion of promises by the Government. There are lots of questions to be answered here. We will raise these concerns in a letter to the Secretary of the Treasury. I think there is a great deal of hypocrisy on the Government’s part in relation to this. You know what? It just undermines public confidence in the Treasury when the Government treats the Treasury as a political tool. It is disappointing from a public policy perspective.

JOURNALIST:

But do you dispute the figures?

JOE HOCKEY:

Yes. Absolutely. They are fundamentally flawed on a number of basis, including the fact that some of the assumptions are wrong, fundamentally wrong. Treasury never rang us about it and certainly the journalist, Peter Martin, never rang us about it. You would think it was 101 in journalism that when you are making allegations about someone or something that someone has done that you give them a courtesy phone call. Quite frankly, it is becoming a bit tiresome when these sorts of documents are published by newspapers or others as if they are fact when in fact when they are not - they are factually incorrectly, they are grossly inaccurate and the journo never bothered giving us a phone call.

JOURNALIST:

What assumptions are wrong?

JOE HOCKEY:

A range of assumptions. You will see why they are so wrong when you look at our policies before the next election.

JOURNALIST:

Can you tell us specifically where it is wrong? You said a range of errors.

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JOE HOCKEY:

There are a range of errors. You will see. They could have rung us and asked us.

JOURNALIST:

But you can’t tell us which areas?

JOE HOCKEY:

No. I am not going to waste people’s time. For a start, some of the policy assumptions; that we are not going to pass on the benefits of abolition of the carbon and mining tax, weren’t included in the numbers. Of course that is a benefit to business! We have said repeatedly, the carbon tax and the mining tax are going to go. Now the mining tax is hardly raising a dollar but we have also said there are a number of spending initiatives associated with those packages that are going as well. So that wasn’t taken into account. It goes on and on and on. Pretty typical really.

JOURNALIST:

On another matter Joe. As a former ‘Johnsman’ have you been surprised by reports of dangerous practices and hazing rituals coming out of the college?

JOE HOCKEY:

Yes. It is unacceptable behaviour. These things need to be properly investigated and I understand they are being properly investigated. If there is any behaviour that is worthy of police investigation it should be properly investigated.

JOURNALIST:

Did anything like that happen when you were there?

JOE HOCKEY:

It was some years ago.

JOURNALIST:

What can be done to stem the culture there?

JOE HOCKEY:

I think there is an element of public scrutiny. I think it is in the interests of anyone who goes to University College to make sure this sort of reported behaviour doesn’t occur. But also it seems to be quite an internal brawl at the college at the moment. I haven’t got any involvement with it, nor has Tony Abbott.

JOURNALIST:

Are you still in the mentor program there?

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JOE HOCKEY:

No. I just noticed that. I notice the website is reporting that I was Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations. I haven’t been that for six years. Perhaps if I had had the opportunity to mentor some of the students there wouldn’t be that sort of behaviour, but I can’t recall ever being asked to mentor any of the students.

JOURNALIST:

Were there hazing (initiation) rituals and initiations when you were there?

JOE HOCKEY:

Yeah, all that sort of stuff, yeah.

JOURNALIST:

It’s been long standing?

JOE HOCKEY:

There has been a range of different behaviours at colleges across campuses, right across the world. Let’s not gild the lily on this sort of stuff. If there is inappropriate treatment of any person then it deserves proper investigation and, where appropriate, deserves to be properly punished. I think if you opened the lid on colleges and campuses and frat houses and sorority houses right around the world, by the general standard of behaviour, it would be deemed to be pretty lewd and inappropriate.

[ENDS]