4 February 2015
Transcript - #2015012, 2015

Interview on Network Ten’s “The Project”

PRESENTER ONE:

Joe Hockey has been right in the middle of the action today. He joins us now. Hey Joe, you've spoken to Malcolm today?

TREASURER:

Yes, I've just sat in six hours of Cabinet meetings with him and we're all in good spirits.

PRESENTER TWO:

Well, there's phone calls going on everywhere, Joe. Have you got your phone on you? Can you show us your call history? I'm just curious!

TREASURER:

I will tell you what guys, the most eerie feeling in politics is when no one is ringing. So I can tell you it is much better to be going off than it is to be quiet.

PRESENTER THREE:

Now Joe, this is getting serious; come on. As we go to air, we're learning now that Arthur Sinodinos, who is probably among the most respected people in the whole Parliament, let alone your Party, has said that his support for Tony Abbott is now not unconditional. He could sway on this. This is going to happen isn’t it; this is inevitable? At some point there'll be a challenge?

TREASURER:

Can I tell you, there is an unbelievable amount of gossip around this building. Often it is unsourced. I must say, I mean, at various points I’ve felt like I'm a Hollywood reporter reporting on gossip in Canberra. It is just extraordinary.

PRESENTER THREE:

Yeah, except there is no glamour in this case. That's the difference Joe.

TREASURER:

[Inaudible]

PRESENTER THREE:

Is that a flat-out denial that Arthur Sinodinos is wavering?

TREASURER:

The difference between Canberra and Hollywood is there's thankfully, no naughty stuff going on here. And I'd say to you that we've got to focus on getting on with the job and that's what we're doing. I mean, we spent hours today in meetings – the Cabinet – working together, to resolve some of the challenges that Australia faces. I mean, I was in National Security Committee this afternoon and we got a chilling briefing on the execution of the Jordanian pilot by ISIL and what that means for stability in the Middle East. These are the things we are dealing with. The gossip that's going on around us, we can't control, but we've just got to get on with the job of governing.

PRESENTER FOUR:

Joe, you're ten points behind, and if Tony is not the problem, what is the problem?

TREASURER:

We've had to make some really hard decisions and you know, we haven't done that to be popular. I mean, quite obviously. You pay a price when you make difficult decisions. We've got to work harder at taking the Australian people with us. But the benefits do flow through. In the last few days we've seen the Reserve Bank cut interest rates. We've seen the benefits of lower petrol prices flow through to families. Importantly, we've seen the benefit of tax cuts last year without the Carbon Tax, flow through to the economy. You're starting to see real activity and you're seeing job growth running at three times the speed of the last year of Labor. So, we're getting on with it but you know, there is a lot of gossip around the building.

PRESENTER ONE:

So you can guarantee no spill this week, no spill in in the next few days?

TREASURER:

I guarantee that we are focused on what matters to the Australian people. There won't be any spill; there is no candidate. All the potential candidates have said they're not participating in any of this. It is sadly, a legacy of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd years and what's happened over the last few years. Sadly – sadly for Australia, guys, that this is the legacy of the sort of 24-hour news cycle. I mean it is really – we don't want to have six governments in eight years. How does that help Australia?  We want to stabilise things.

PRESENTER FOUR:

No, we agree. So Joe, if there was a candidate, would there be a spill?

TREASURER:

No. It is just ridiculous...

PRESENTER TWO:

I have got an idea Joe. What if – given there is no candidate but clearly there are a lot of people who don't want Tony Abbott in the job, could he maybe run against a sock puppet or something and then that way he would still be Prime Minister but we could pretend he's not and everyone would be happy?

TREASURER:

At this very moment I'm thinking of where I could put a sock. I'm reaching down the camera at you [inaudible].

PRESENTER FOUR:

Well Joe, we put the call out today for our viewers if anyone had any questions for you and we were inundated. A lot of people want to talk to you, Joe. I should start by saying that Sharon on Facebook has said it won't matter what we ask you, you won't give us a straight answer anyway. That's not the case, is it?

TREASURER:

No.

PRESENTER FOUR:

Okay, so let's start with Nathan.

PRESENTER TWO:

Nathan wants to know: is it true that the faceless Liberals are behind the leadership coup that's happening, that no-one in front of the camera is admitting to?

TREASURER:

There are no faceless Liberals. We've all got faces. I am not quite sure what that means – here it is!

PRESENTER FOUR:

Joe, Sticks on Facebook asks – I actually think it is a really good question: why has the RBA cut, under Labor, a bad sign, but under these ‘clowns’ - sorry for the clown reference – it is a positive sign?

TREASURER:

I will tell you why, because as the Reserve Bank identified yesterday, the inflationary pressures in the economy are down. Partly that is the massive cut in petrol prices – about 60 cents over the last few months, per litre. That's taken some of the inflation out of the economy. Also, the Reserve Bank identified that getting rid of the Carbon Tax lowered prices of electricity and gas. That's taken inflation out. Now the Reserve Bank says, ‘look, look at what's happened internationally, and there are headwinds out there, now is the time to lower the cost of money for Australian business, in particular, and also credit cards and home loans. For a lot of your audience, we want to see the banks pass on the cuts in credit cards and not just in home loans as well.

PRESENTER TWO:

Joe, Sue on Facebook says this, I will just read it out, ‘He must think he is above the law. That hole just keeps getting deeper.’

PRESENTER ONE:

What?

PRESENTER TWO:

Sorry, that's about Lance Armstrong [inaudible] Joe. Any views on Lance Armstrong?

TREASURER:

I just want you to know I’m not on any juice. This is the real me.

PRESENTER ONE:

Alright Joe, we'll give Sharon a call after the show and check that she was happy with all those answers. Okay, thank you so much for joining us tonight.

TREASURER:

Thank you.