How Long can Hockey Survive? - The AIM Network
For someone whose popularity was the envy of
everyone in the new Coalition government earlier this year, Joe Hockey
must be wondering what the hell happened. His pre-budget popularity
among all voters was 21 points on the positive side (51% for and 30%
against). Then came his first and possibly last budget. That budget is
best described as a fart bomb, the aroma of which just won’t go away.
From that point on Joe has suffered from a lingering case of
foot-in-mouth disease. Some of his revealing comments following on from
his earlier, ‘end of the age of entitlement’ rant, and his dancing to the ‘best day of my life’ music, on budget night, include ‘old people don’t drive cars,’ and just the other day a mind boggling, ‘we will find any way we can to take money out of universities,’ as said to Phil Coorey at the Australian Financial Review.
So, it’s pretty clear his star has hit a brick wall not just with the
electorate generally, but with LNP voters as well. The odd thing is
that Joe himself is genuinely surprised at how badly his budget has been
received. So one has to ask, did he not think that being unfair to the
disadvantaged would rebound on him? What was he thinking? Were the
unpopular budget measures his idea, or was he encouraged to go down that
path by others? Was he set up?
thing is for sure. The Treasurer owns the budget no matter who else
contributed and Joe will own this one for years to come just like John
Howard owned the 1982 budget that preceded Malcolm Fraser’s defeat in
1983. The full impact of Joe Hockey’s budget is yet to be realised
because the economy is in much better shape than it was in 1982. That’s
the good news.
The government, however, campaigned furiously on fixing the ‘debt and
deficit disaster’ and that is the bad news. They did so not realising
the nature of the problem which was, and is, falling revenues and
excessive tax expenditures. They still don’t seem to realise it, or do
they? They still want to curb spending but in fact are doing the
opposite. Debt is steadily increasing. Perhaps that is why Tony Abbott
wants a more mature discussion about the GST. They know they have to
find some new money from somewhere.
Sooner or later the numbers will show them up as utter failures. They
have already left it too late. And someone will have to accept
responsibility for it. It almost feels like poetic justice that while
Peter Costello benefitted hugely from a barrel load of money coming in
from China and making him look so good, Joe Hockey’s barrel has shrunk
to a tea pot and he is looking so bad.
When the money flows the music plays. When it stops the music fades.
Costello was never put to the test. Hockey is being tested severely
right now and is not looking good at all. The analogy being, that when
things are good the music is playing. When things go pear-shaped, the
music begins to fade.
If the budget is ever to return to surplus, revenues must rise. That
is fundamental. The only way that can happen, short of a revival in
China, is to raise taxes and cut tax expenditures; the exact opposite of
Abbott’s mantra about lower taxes. They won’t do it. What a delicious
opportunity for Labor to exploit. If Bill Shorten and Chris Bowen can
climb out of their lethargic slumber and show the Coalition up for the
failures they are, Abbott will have to respond.
likely response is to blame the Treasurer. That’s the way of politics.
How long has he got left? Probably one more budget and if it does
include tax increases of some description, Joe is screwed. If it
doesn’t, by 2016 the Coalition’s economic credentials will be screwed
and they will have to go.
The Coalition could have avoided all this last year by campaigning on
Labor’s leadership failures and little else, but they had to engage in
chest beating about the economy, pointing to their so called success
while Costello was Treasurer. They chose to highlight, what seemed to be
Labor’s economic failures. In reality, they shot themselves in the
They didn’t hear the music fading. In 12 to 18 months’ time the music will stop.