20 January 2015
Transcript - #2015002, 2015

Interview on Network Ten’s “The Project”

PRESENTER:

We are with Treasurer Joe Hockey. We’ve missed you - you are looking a million dollars after a break - why so long between visits to The Project?

TREASURER:

I have been a little busy doing a few things for the country, but I want to see more of you this year. I am certainly looking forward to coming into the studio.

PRESENTER:

Well, Joe, you may have gone too soon because I am here to ask the tough questions – this is the issue on everybody’s lips - do you know where Julie Bishop’s earring is?

TREASURER:

I think I am busted because I sold it to help pay down the deficit. If I could get the other one I would get some more money – that would be okay – apparently people like a pair.

PRESENTER:

Joe, we have got us talking about the GP Co-Payment. I have prepared a bit of a graph. It started at $7, then it went down to $5, then up to $20. Now $7 was pretty unpopular, let us call it ‘Justin Bieber’. $5 was starting to grow on people, kind of like Taylor Swift. But $20, that is getting into Bill Cosby territory – very unpopular. Now whose idea was the $20 fee? 

TREASURER:

We are living longer, and we want to make sure Medicare is sustainable. We think it is important for people to have a price signal for people that can pay. Anyone on a middle to high income should be making a contribution to their health. I mean you guys earn a lot of money, I earn a lot of money.

PRESENTER:

But whose ideas was it? 

TREASURER:

It was a collective decision, because we want to make this sustainable. We have got to have price signals for health care.

PRESENTER:

Joe, I have to ask, is a way of selling this to get somebody to relate to, that some stage in the future we might live to 150 – which is hard to fathom. Is that the best way to sell it?

TREASURER:

It is not about selling it. It is about explaining why we need to have change. As I said yesterday, my five year old broke his foot over the Christmas break, but the only contribution I made was $40 for a weatherproof cast. I should contribute more, I earn more money. If you earn a bit more, then you should.

PRESENTER:

Shouldn’t that support a means test for this system?

TREASURER:

That is effectively what we are talking about – anyone with a healthcare card doesn’t have to pay any co-payment, children, when they visit the doctor, do not have to pay any co-payment, but for everyone else who has the capacity to pay, should make a contribution when they go and visit the doctor.

PRESENTER:

But someone on $150,000 is still paying the same as someone on $49,000, that is not fair, is it?

TREASURER:

Yes, but it is a bit impractical to ask a doctor ask their patients how much they earn before they charge them.

PRESENTER:

Couldn’t we have a system where Medicare could do that, and you could have a card which indicates that?

TREASURER:

That is an interesting proposition; the only thing is you would be carrying something that indicates how much you earn around in your wallet. There are not many things that indicate that in your wallet.

PRESENTER:

As long as it doesn’t involve any more PIN numbers Joe – if we’re living to 150, I don’t need any more PIN numbers.

TREASURER:

I’m with you. I hate the PIN numbers, to get into my office I have a PIN, the computers, it drives me nuts.

PRESENTER:

Joe, we have done an artist’s impression of what you might look like at 150 years old, I think you have aged well.

TREASURER:

I think I will be embalmed at 150 rather than… you know I am pretty good looking guy there at 150, and obviously quite mobile.

PRESENTER:

You will have released your fourth or fifth book by then as well.

TREASURER:

No, no more books for a while, no more books.

PRESENTER:

Joe there has been reported leaks that you and the Prime Minister have been fighting about this issue, true?

TREASURER:

No.

PRESENTER:

Why are we getting the leaks then?

TREASURER:

Well, I don’t know, but we don’t fight.

PRESENTER:

So he didn’t make a Captain’s call on this and override you?

TREASURER:

No. It was a unanimous decision. These things are unanimous decisions. I know things that we have been saying and doing have been unpopular and we don’t like doing these things but someone has got to do it if we are to make sure our quality of life is sustainable and that is what we are focused on.

PRESENTER:

So can I have a Treasurer’s guarantee Joe, that we are not going to have any more U-turns?

TREASURER:

Well, no. I can’t get into that sort of commentary about U-turns or turn left or turn right.

PRESENTER:

So no U-turns, what’s your attitude towards back-flips Joe?

TREASURER:

I am not in the Olympics and I am not a gymnast, quite obviously.

PRESENTER:

Well, Joe Hockey, you said it earlier, you promised you would come back to the Project more often this year – can we hold you to it?

TREASURER:

Yes, yes, I will deliver.

PRESENTER:

And before you get your robot legs ok?

TREASURER:

Well it looks more like a cappuccino machine than Joe Hockey at 150. I would love to live to 150, I will still be around on the Project in 101 years’ time.

PRESENTER:

We hope so, Joe Hockey thanks for your time.

TREASURER:

Thanks Guys.