3 February 2015
Transcript - #2015005, 2015

Interview with Karl Stefanovic, Today Show

KARL STEFANOVIC:

We are joined by Treasurer, Joe Hockey. Joe, good morning to you.

TREASURER:

Morning Karl and happy New Year.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

How has your week been?

TREASURER:

Terrific, terrific. Look, Karl we…

KARL STEFANOVIC:

So [inaudible] start to it.

TREASURER:

Can we skip all the commentary and just go straight to the substance?

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Alright, let’s go straight to it. Tony - has Tony done the job yesterday or has he just bought himself time?

TREASURER:

No, Karl. Look, all of that is for the commentators and gee there's a lot of them. So, what we want to focus on is what Tony actually said yesterday. The Prime Minister outlined an agenda for the year that focuses on families, addressing the challenges of childcare. Importantly, for a number of people that watch your show, we are concerned about unlawful foreign investment in residential real estate and that's an issue that we are addressing and also we are very focused on dealing with the preachers of hate in our community – the supporters of the Islamic rebels in the Middle East.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

All right. I understand that you want to get things back on track but with a 20 per cent approval rating and your own Party leaking like a sieve, we do need to handle a couple of these things if you don't mind? Will he make the next election?

TREASURER:

Of course. And why? Because we are focused on jobs and families. We are focused on small business. We are focused on lowering the cost of living for everyday Australians. And our policy is without dispute. I mean, our policy framework that looks at lowering household costs is without dispute Karl and that’s what matters.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

So your Party will not replace Tony Abbott before the next election?

TREASURER:

I think it is more likely the Labor Party will replace Bill Shorten.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

I'm not so certain about that. Have you in the past few days...

TREASURER:

Well Karl, you're the commentator. Look, I am, as Treasurer, responsible for dealing with the challenges people face in their everyday lives. I want to see jobs, I want to see lower cost of living and people have hope for the future. That is what we are focused on.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Have you, in the past few days, had conversations with Malcolm Turnbull or Julie Bishop about his leadership future?

TREASURER:

No.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Have you spoken to them about leading the Party?

TREASURER:

No.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Have you spoken to your colleagues about a change of leadership in any way, shape or form?

TREASURER:

No. Look Karl, we are not getting into this. You see, you are trying. I gave a New Year's Eve commitment to myself that I wouldn't engage in commentary on gossip. I'm sort of - you are tempting me to break that New Year’s resolution.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Well, I tell you why we do need to handle it – because your own party members are talking about it. It is not just people in the media who are gossiping about it. It is fact from your own Party. For example, in the Financial Review this morning, they write, ‘a handful of MPs contacted the Australian Financial Review; still believe Mr Abbott’s tenure to be terminal. Others were inclined to give him more time to try and recover’. He has blown up the bridges. It is hard to know, but he is in a precarious position, summarised one MP. What do you do if the public wants him to go? What do you do if the public wants him to go?

TREASURER:

Well, I say to you and I say to others in the Party, focus on the jobs of everyday Australians rather than your own. That is what matters.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Okay, one more thing. Sky News and Kieran Gilbert have revealed this morning that Tony Abbott asked Julie Bishop to promise not to challenge at their meeting on Sunday but she refused. Any comment on that?

TREASURER:

Unsourced gossip. Let's deal with the issues that matter to Australians like their jobs, their household bills. Let's see what we can do to make Australia more prosperous Karl. I mean seriously, I know it is of great interest to the media to spend time speculating about leadership. You know, if there were to be a change of leadership it would mean six Prime Ministers in eight years. Really? I mean, come on. Australia needs to focus on doing what is right for Australians and that is creating jobs, getting back on track, giving incentives for small business to get on with the job of making business and employing more people.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Maybe you need to be telling your own Party that because they are the ones that are leaking.

TREASURER:

Well, I think I just did.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Have you picked up the phone and told them that?

TREASURER:

I want everyone to focus on the jobs of everyday Australians Karl.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Okay.

TREASURER:

Really. I mean, this is just gossip. And you know, what matters is what we do for other people not what we do for ourselves.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Okay, let's move on. When did you find out the PPL was going to be shelved?

TREASURER:

We have been talking about it for a while...

KARL STEFANOVIC:

When did you find out definitively though?

TREASURER:

I've been talking to the Prime Minister about it for a while. You know, we believe in paid parental leave, there is no argument about it. I think most Australians do, because when a mum has to give up work to have a baby, the bills still keep coming in…

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Did you find out yesterday?

TREASURER:

…So, we want it. No.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

The day before?

TREASURER:

…and I will tell you why, Karl. No. Karl. I will tell you why we believe in it. It is because we want more women in Australia having the opportunity to go into work. If we increase the number of women that work in Australia to the level of Canada, we will increase the size of our economy by $25 billion a year. Now, we are focused on childcare and that is our priority. And why is childcare our priority? Because people are doing the juggling act. Karl, yesterday I dropped, you know, my youngest child at school for his first day and I spoke to the mums and they said, ‘give us flexible childcare’, because we want to get on with work and we want to be able to build our own little businesses. Now, that’s a good story.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Did you cry?

TREASURER:

Oh, a little bit.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

That's why I like you Joe Hockey. Here's the problem though, here's the problem: you supported your Prime Minister and you supported the policy through thick and thin. You told this network last August and many other media outlets – and this is the quote, ‘there's a fair bit of misinformation around at the moment, starting with the PPL, we’re not dumping the PPL’. Then it gets dumped anyway. It makes you look bad.

TREASURER:

Well Karl, circumstances change and obviously we are listening to colleagues, we are listening to the community. We are, Karl, spending over $100 million a day more than we are earning as a government. Now, each day we spend $40 million on interest on the debt. So, think about it…

KARL STEFANOVIC:

I know, I know. I realise all of that…

TREASURER:

Sooner or later we are going, well it’s very...

KARL STEFANOVIC:

But the problem here is that the difference between your mission, which is to write the books – which does need to be done, [inaudible] are accepting of that mission, they are at complete logger heads. The public aren't still buying what you are putting out there.

TREASURER:

It's a tough call. We have got to work harder at communicating that message. And despite earning $100 million less each day than we spend, we still have to get on with the job of running the economy. Last year, nearly 600 jobs were created every day in Australia – three times the speed of the previous year under Labor. So, I'm focused on jobs, I'm focused on growth, reducing our bills, increasing our income, and at the same time, giving Australians greater confidence about the future.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

All the while, you are still a family man and you dropped your little one off to school yesterday, and it is worth remembering from time to time. Thanks Joe, always good to see you.

TREASURER:

Good to see you, Karl. You are looking good.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

I had work done.

TREASURER:

Not me, this is original.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Maybe you need some. Thanks Joe, see you buddy.