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Federal Government

PLACID SHREK TURNS FERAL: Hockey takes stick to entitlements without blessing of Leader or colleagues

Joehockey470John Howard once called him avuncular and many in the party like to call him Shrek.

That’s our Joe Hockey, future Treasurer of Australia’s $1.3 trillion economy.

Joe’s UK speech to Tory grandees has many in the Liberal Party thinking that Shrek has indulged in one bushel of magic swamp mushrooms too much. Perhaps he was given a free sample of Palestinian ganja of the kind they smuggle to buy rocket parts.

Titled, The End of The Age of Entitlement, the speech designed to impress the Institute of Economic Affairs, Margaret Thatcher’s favoured neoclassical liberal think tank. Back home, the title alone has been a horrible own goal. Or belly flop, if you prefer fat jokes.

Liberal insiders are fuming. Hockey has kicked off a debate of cutting entitlements in Australia, when there was no need for such a controversy. It’s not a great look for someone who’s living large on the proceeds of his richer, smarter spouse’s Deutsche Bank income, despite one week ago complaining about the inadequacy of MP’s salaries and can look forward to about $2 million in defined benefit super provided from the taxpayer.

The speech has indeed created waves and not just in the media.

First, VEXNEWS can exclusively reveal that Hockey‘s attack on entitlements was knocked back at the Shadow Cabinet’s Expenditure Review Committee (ERC).

At one ERC meeting, when challenged about which benefits and programmes to prune, Hockey could not nominate any. One senior Liberal said ‘the performance was typical of Joe’s laziness, as no real work had been done. Sure, there are savings to made, but no specifics were ever offered.’

More curious to others with long memories was that Hockey as Minister for Human Services and the Minister for Employment for the Howard Government never took much interest in tackling welfare largesse. Hockey’s record of reform as Human Service Minister, responsible for Centrelink, is pretty barren and as Employment Minister, Hockey handed all employment services responsibilities to his junior minister, the wily Sharman Stone, indicating his general disinterest.

Hockey’s second sin was not consulting Abbott’s office about the speech. It appears the speech has been a self-indulgent unauthorised ideological frolic. Surprise!

Perhaps it’s time to re-consider Joe Hockey’s sense of entitlement in relation to his Shadow Treasury role.

We note Abbott has been forced to dampen down Hockey’s enthusiasm by damning his speech with faint praise. “Joe makes a good point about government living within your means.”

Thirdly, internal party research is currently illustrating that amongst the cohort of voters reliant on income support, the Liberals have caught up with Labor, in a segment the comrades once counted as bedrock of the most solid kind.

That’s how bad it is out there for Labor!

Labor has been seeking ways to reconnect with these regiments of indolent lumpen-prolertarianism. This includes Swan’s class-warfare rhetoric following the leadership battle in March. Intriguingly, there have even been whispers about increasing the dole just to keep faith with ‘the rugged and buggered’.

Hockey has not only provided the Labor a perfect way back into the hearts of hundreds of thousand of ‘susso’ loving battlers, but has also put negative gearing, fuel and childcare rebate and any number of ‘middle class’ welfare outlays in the firing line of future razor-gangs. Even Abbott’s commitment for new entitlement, the National Disability Insurance Scheme and nannies for all, with Rolls-Royce childcare for high-income earners thrown in, could be in doubt.

All this is fertile ground for the kind of scare campaigns that brought Hewson undone in 1993 and Howard in 2007.

Hockey was entitled to point out that developed economies like Australia have a complex system of entitlements and social insurance. By European standards, Australia’s welfare state is relatively restrained. In our region, it is the gold standard of entitlements and responsible for Australia’s relative higher tax rates.

That’s reasonable. Every one wants a sustainable, targeted safety net and lower taxes. Capturing the balance is demanding disciplined work.

Hockey’s rhetoric about ending entitlements was, however, tone-deaf to the Australian electorate. The speech demonstrates Hockey’s overall political judgment. It was neither smart nor measured, let alone authorised – a hand grenade with pin pulled and no quick means of throwing it for the Coalition with fifteen months of electioneering left before what ought to be an inevitable landslide.

It was quite rude too.

The United Kingdom’s welfare state under the aegis of former Tory leader, Iain Duncan Smith, is undergoing a radical metamorphosis from one heavily weighted towards easy entitlements to greater mutual obligations during a low growth economy.

For Hockey to beat his broad chest about ending the welfare state to a governing party actually making the unpopular decisions in difficult circumstances must have been galling to his hosts.

Perhaps it’s time to re-consider Joe Hockey’s sense of entitlement in relation to his Shadow Treasury role.


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  1. I must agrea with Joe on a few of the points he made.There is far to much middle class welfare here in Australia and also in those European Countries that are up to there Eyeballs in hog. When I got married we got bugger all and now there seems to be a race by our free spending most useless members of Australia’s Parliament to hand out the hard earned Money of the Workers faster than they can rip it of the Workers. Even DR No is happy for it

    Posted by Taliban fan | April 20, 2012, 1:15
  2. Being right doesn’t make it the right thing to say. Another stupid move by boof head Joe.

    Long past time he was moved to the backbench and told to shut up or lose preselection.

    That said it would be fantastic if the welfare rorts could be wound back. My sister collects disability pension and the only disability she has is being one of the laziest people you will ever meet. Hearing her talk about “pay day” is a cruel and particularly vicious form of torture.

    Posted by Mick | April 20, 2012, 2:07
  3. Why do I get the feeling that the bloke who framed the baby bonus cheque that his department sent out isn’t being 100% genuine on this? http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/adelaide-now-the-centre-of-a-politicians-heart/story-e6freo8c-1111112730489

    Posted by Anonymous | April 20, 2012, 5:35
  4. Why do I get the feeling that the bloke who framed the baby bonus cheque his department sent out isn’t being 100% genuine on this? http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/adelaide-now-the-centre-of-a-politicians-heart/story-e6freo8c-1111112730489

    Posted by Anon | April 20, 2012, 5:36
  5. ***it’s not a great look for someone who’s living large on the proceeds of his richer, smarter spouse’s Deutsche Bank income***


    Why don’t we smear away
    Why don’t we smear away
    Why don’t we smear away
    Why don’t we smear away
    Into the night

    I know it ain’t right
    Into the night
    I know it ain’t right
    Why don’t we smear away
    I know it ain’t right
    Into the night, babe
    Why don’t we smear away
    Make it tonight

    Posted by Byron in Wahroonga | April 20, 2012, 9:09
  6. The fact that JH has to resort to shouting over the top of his colleagues shows how much the Nationals and Big Government Tories control the Coalition.

    A few days ago, Barnaby was calling for a $10K baby bonus!

    Given the deafening silence from other Coalition MPs, it was interesting to hear MT echo JH’s comments today.

    Funnily enough, AR and JH seem to be in rare agreement about cuts needing to be made.

    Posted by Brian | April 20, 2012, 11:06
  7. Yes Joe said on lateline the Government was taking money from the banks through deficits,this is a liberal party line. As Joe said how dare those poor people in Europe and Aussies take any money for welfare. This welfare is specifically reserved for our starving private bank families!!The Greek people are trying to oblige Joe and his private bank families,by suffering immensley and slowing starving to death! we’re all trying very hard Joe!!

    Posted by Please Give to Starving Joes fund for Banks | April 20, 2012, 11:10
  8. Sure there are big government tories, Brian, but Joe gets an ‘F’ for politics because he has done no homework. Remember this was the guy who did not get the national ID card up and running. He can’t drive policy and he can’t drive its implementation. the analysis is right on

    Posted by wtf? | April 20, 2012, 11:37
  9. @wtf?

    Point taken about JH’s track record with policy.

    But this is what happens when you have a leader who assiduously avoids policy; Others try to fill in the vacuum.

    JH is attempting to fill the vacuum (with hot air, admittedly), by addressing an issue the Coalition have: they complain about Gvt spending on one hand, but then announce Big Government Tory policies on the other.

    What about the politics of that?

    Posted by Brian | April 20, 2012, 13:11
  10. Big Joe is quite right. We have developed a culture of middle class welfare in this country which cannot be sustained. Why should people be subsidised for children to the tune they currently are? Why aren’t we cracking down on the tens of thousands of welfare cheats who also work cash in hand, living better lives than most of us? Crack down on all the frauds and give old age and disibility pensioners a bit more. Good on you Joe for having the guts to tell the truth!

    Posted by What the ? | April 20, 2012, 18:36
  11. Why can’t joe come up some ideas, argue them in public or convince his colleagues? Is it because he is lazy and timid?

    Posted by Indeed | April 20, 2012, 21:50
  12. joe is hardly entitled to hold his seat – he only won it because Ted Mack surprisingly retired – lucky for Joe he was the only person who was stupid enough to want to take on Mack

    Posted by the Insider | April 20, 2012, 23:22
  13. ***Why can’t joe come up some ideas, argue them in public or convince his colleagues? Is it because he is lazy and timid?***

    No. It’s because he’s a good number two – not an innovator, but a hard worker and a good bloke.

    Name one good bloke, in Labor’s gang.

    Posted by Byron in Wahroonga | April 20, 2012, 23:58
  14. ***he only won it because Ted Mack surprisingly retired***

    Cow cakes. Mack and his Citroen were way past their expiration date. He made an utter fool of himself – claiming the Sydney Harbour Tunnel was leaking, whilst on live TV.

    Posted by Byron in Wahroonga | April 21, 2012, 0:00
  15. O no. This ain’t good.

    Posted by Slippery Pete | April 21, 2012, 2:05
  16. If politicians weren’t such hypocrites, we might even believe them.

    The size of government continues to grow because transfer payments are the lifeblood of the vote winning machines put in place by governments.

    Every Opposition promises dutifully to end the waste and cut out welfare rorting (as well as improve access to government information, reduce red tape for small and large business, etc).

    Every government continues to allow the tax office thugs to intimidate small business and honest taxpayers via the extortion rackets of taxation to pay for a bloated bureaucracy that oversees a huge machine of government benefits paid most undeservingly to the largest multinationals down to meagre pittances paid to the most indolent voters.

    Joe Hockey is a leftist warmist trendy and he has shown his relentless continuing leadership ambitions by pretending to be a right wing warrior sceptic conservative.

    Not so long ago he wanted to destroy family trusts, now he just wants to destroy families (except for the rich ones like his).

    I’ll start to believe him when he gives up his undeserved entitlements.

    Sure he may have talked the talk (or read the reading) but he will never walk the walk.

    As I get older, I get more and more intolerant of the triviality that passes for political debate.

    Big picture promises devoid of detail made in Opposition do not make for good government. But that’s all we get because adversely affected interest groups will flood the media with objections whenever you put out a carefully developed policy platform.

    The Coalition is about fifteen to eighteen months away from government if they do not stuff it up. It needs the right team in the key roles to take to the election and into government. I am in no doubt that Joe Hockey should not be Shadow Treasurer and the sooner he is replaced the better. Indeed, even Malcolm Turnbull would be better and that nearly makes me want to puke. With a NSW leader, the obvious choice is a senior Victorian frontbencher and we have many talented hardworking potential candidates.

    Posted by Giuseppe De Simone | April 21, 2012, 7:53
  17. Joe, I don’t necessarily disagree with your views on your namesake.

    However, when compared to lightweight Swan, Hockey is an economic genius. Let’s focus on the woeful Wayne Swan and what a shocking Treasurer he has been. The worst since Jim Cairns.

    Surrender the role of attacking Hockey to leftists such as the ALP.

    Posted by Anonski | April 21, 2012, 11:13
  18. Could all commentators please give me the names and addresses of all lazy sisters on disability pensions, rorters, middle class welfare cheaters, and I will put an immediate stop to these cheaters!!! Thunk Yew! and I absolutely agree with Anonski

    Posted by Commissioner Hank from Centrelink | April 21, 2012, 13:37
  19. Hank yeah you start with that [deleted]

    Posted by anon | April 21, 2012, 14:52
  20. Sorry anon I don’t get involved in little cripple spats!! I’ll leave that to you, you little rose petal!!

    Posted by Commissioner Hank | April 21, 2012, 17:02
  21. Thanks Byron – bite me!

    Posted by the Insider | April 21, 2012, 19:01
  22. No problem. Stand up straight, and drop your dacks. Adrian, pass me your spare set of false teeth, will you?

    Posted by Byron in Wahroonga | April 21, 2012, 20:46
  23. Im gunna sue all you bums

    Posted by Tony | April 21, 2012, 22:43
  24. Its far easier for spineless politicians to attack the less fortunate and more powerless in society – disabled, unemployed, child-rearing, elderly – compared to say massive banking enterprises who sponged off the tax-payer during the GFC and now show contempt for those same tax-payers by raising rates away from the RBA schedule in order to boost profits and bonuses.

    Posted by Froggie | April 22, 2012, 2:10
  25. Good point “”Froggie”” and the spineless politicians are the ones that make the ‘less fortunate and more powerless in society’, less fortunate and more powerless.

    Posted by Grasshopper | April 22, 2012, 14:52