11 September 2015
Transcript - #2015199, 2015

Interview with Ray Hadley, 2GB

RAY HADLEY:

The Treasurer Joe Hockey is keen to talk about a good piece of economic news. He’s in the studio. Would you have still come in had the news been bad?

TREASURER:

Yes, I would. I would Ray, absolutely. Well you know I’m responsible whether it’s good or bad but I think it is a sign that our plan is working, our economic plan is working. There will be month-to-month volatility. You look out the window Ray; there are as of this morning 75 registered operating cranes in the Sydney CBD. There’s about 50 operating tall cranes in Western Sydney and you compare it with some other parts of the country where the partnership with the state governments isn’t as good as it could be because the state governments would rather be at war with us. I know you broadcast into Queensland…

RAY HADLEY:

Let’s stop there. We go into 4BC, the capital, Brisbane. We go into many other centres across Queensland. The Courier Mail, as I read it every morning, is conducting a campaign at the moment…

TREASURER:

It’s a very good paper…

RAY HADLEY:

Yes…

TREASURER:

It is a very good paper.

RAY HADLEY:

[Laughter] I would agree [inaudible] litigious problems with them either. I can’t say the same about Fairfax who apparently are our partners these days…

TREASURER:

Oh, you know what, they own you!

RAY HADLEY:

No they don’t, they don’t own me.

TREASURER:

Oh no, no, no, they don’t own you.

RAY HADLEY:

Let me assure you no one owns me…

TREASURER:

I know that, but sorry, they own you collectively – 2GB and…

RAY HADLEY:

They have a tick over 50 per cent but that won’t make a difference to what I say…

TREASURER:

Good.

RAY HADLEY:

They’ve been running a campaign through Christopher Dore, their editor up there, about the fact that they’re stagnant. Businesses are really concerned that Annastacia Palaszczuk is really big on talk but very small on action. So let’s cut to the chase and let’s deal with that. You’ve got all these cranes all over Western Sydney. I go to Western Sydney every day of my life, I see the building, I see the units going up, I see the houses, I see the roads being put in, I see the infrastructure going up for the new North West Rail Link – I see all of that. They say in Brisbane they’re not seeing that under the Labor Government. Does that concern you?

TREASURER:

Yes, of course. I have had numerous discussions with the state treasurer and I even went to his office on a number of occasions to talk to him about it. We keep asking for the developed projects that are going to create the jobs. And he has written to me with a suggestion of some projects, but they’re still very undeveloped. We are absolutely committed to the Toowoomba Range Crossing; we’re absolutely committed and implementing significant increases in funding for the Bruce Highway. There are other projects that I am looking at in Northern Queensland under our Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility which I announced in the Budget, a $5 billion facility. But ultimately, you’ve got to have a state government that wants to get on with the job. And you know, I ring up Mike Baird, he rings me all the time. We say what can we do on this project, what can we do on that project. The federal government will be as flexible and accommodative as possible to create the jobs. And you can see the contrast Ray, you can see the contrast between the around 123,000 jobs created in New South Wales since we were elected, and the 30,000 jobs in Queensland. Now having said that, to be fair, Queensland has suffered because of the fall in coal prices. Central Queensland as you know has seen a lot of jobs go. That’s one of the reasons why we really want the Adani mine to happen and we’re prepared to do everything we can to get some of the green groups out of the way.

RAY HADLEY:

And those wide mouthed frogs that are stopping things in that part of the world. That’s the conundrum you have in that the Palaszczuk Government was opposed to everything that Campbell Newman stood for. And obviously he was consigned to the waste paper basket of political history. But there’s surely among all the things that he was proposing to do, there must be some good things there. So philosophically, the Labor Government can’t simply say no, it was Newman’s idea that was a bad idea. And now they’re starting to find in government it’s a bit different. All of a sudden after opposing a whole range of things they’re saying this Adani mine’s not a bad idea. This is something we need to support and make sure it happens.

TREASURER:

But then the Labor Party is voting against our proposal to help to facilitate the Adani mine in the Federal Parliament.

RAY HADLEY:

Even though the Queensland state government is supportive of it now…

TREASURER:

Yep, yeah, that’s right.

RAY HADLEY:

Okay let’s extend it a bit further, away from directly your portfolio - the free trade agreement with China. Now there were headlines everywhere today that it could be at risk. Sky News is reporting that unless we say yes, the Chinese might just say chewy on your boot, we’re not going to go with you. I mean, when will Bill Shorten actually stop being beholden to the CFMEU and stand up for Australia?

TREASURER:

He’ll always be the beholden to the CFMEU. Bill Shorten is a union leader I don’t even think - he’s not a working man, he’s a union leader man, he’s all about protecting his union leader mates. Now, I met with Lou Jiwei the Finance Minister of China last weekend in Turkey. I met with Chairman Xu the Head of the National Development Committee of China three weeks ago. Let me be very clear. China will walk away from any free trade negotiations should Mr Shorten succeed.

RAY HADLEY:

So they’ve indicated to you at the highest level that if there’s any change to what they’ve proposed and what you’ve accepted as a government, if there are any changes, it’s ta ta time?

TREASURER:

It’s taken ten years to negotiate this.

RAY HADLEY:

Right.

TREASURER:

They’ve got massive other priorities; I mean we see it every day in the news. You look at the Chinese stock market, the change in their economy. They’ve got other priorities. They have given Australia a leg up that they’ve given no one else of our scale or size. Let me be really clear. Our two way trade with China is $150 billion a year. Of that $150 billion a year, we get two dollars and they get one. So, we get two dollars because they buy $100 billion of our products and services. We only buy $50 billion of theirs.

RAY HADLEY:

So it’s all our way basically.

TREASURER:

All our way, every dollar, every dollar of increased trade with China works to our advantage and makes us richer and gives us more and better paying jobs.

RAY HADLEY:

But in the world scheme of things, are we a bit like a pimple on a pumpkin or even on an elephant, in comparison to other nations trading with China? At the end of the day they say look, we’re trying to do these jerks down there a favour and they’re jerking us about so bugger them.

TREASURER:

Well, this is it. They can get iron ore from Brazil. They can get coal from Indonesia and a range of other places. They can get lots of different things from lots of other countries. Many countries have China as their number one trading partner, not just Australia. This is to our great advantage Ray, I can’t emphasise that enough. These are the jobs that our kids are going to have. These are the jobs. Not serving Chinese investors or Chinese owners, but actually selling to them, making profits and making us richer and more prosperous as a nation.

RAY HADLEY:

Now the report on page three of The Daily Telegraph, it’s published in the Courier Mail as well, Abbott planning purge of Cabinet. There’s people in danger, you’re not one of them according to the story, you’re unlikely to be among them. But in the strange scenario where your most loyal supporter, the Prime Minister - and he has softened, he has said it’s my expectation that you’ll continue as Treasurer. Would you take one for the team if he taps you on the shoulder? If he says, look, Joe we’re moving into election cycle, it’s next year and you’re one of my best mates, you’re a great bloke, I think you’re a great Treasurer, but we just might have to move things. We might have to put you somewhere else. Would you take one for the team without bluing or screaming?

TREASURER:

Ray, let me tell you. The only jobs that I’m focused on are the jobs of everyday Australians. 60,000 jobs have being created since I delivered the last Budget. In the same period in the last Labor Budget, 500 jobs. 60,000 jobs. You know what I care about, the guy I see outside who says, I’ve just got a job. They’re the people I care about. I mean, we can speculate every day, I mean Ray, you’ve seen speculation about all this sort of stuff…

RAY HADLEY:

Oh yeah, I know that…

TREASURER:

Even about your job. I remember people go through it all the time…

RAY HADLEY:

In 1988 I was going to be sacked as the rugby league caller and in 2015 I’m still here. I understand that. I’m governed by ratings and to a certain extent so are you. Different types of ratings…

TREASURER:

60,000 jobs since the last Budget is what I consider my ratings…

RAY HADLEY:

Let me say to you this. You know I like you as a person, I genuinely like you. I’ve known you for a long time. I warm to you…

TREASURER:

Oh no, here comes the killer blow [laughter]…

RAY HADLEY:

However, for some particular reason since you’ve come to government, I’m talking about you individually as opposed to the collective group of people that you share government with; the gloss has gone off you. I don’t know why. I don’t think you’ve done anything different in government than you did in opposition. It’s about perception I think…

TREASURER:

Ray, I’ve had my head down working at the job. It’s not an accident that you have this last month 17,000 new jobs created compared to under Labor 2,000 jobs a month. The last 12 months they were in government it was 2,000 jobs a month. We’re averaging at least four times to five times that. Now that’s because we have the asset recycling program and you can see the cranes outside, that has contributed to that. $2 billion I’ve put into New South Wales in that regard. Offered the same to Queensland and they’ve knocked it back. You know everything from Western Sydney Airport, right through to roads projects right across the nation, massive increase in Roads to Recovery for councils. But that’s just the infrastructure $50 billion. On taxation reform, you know, I know how much you care about the cabbies…

RAY HADLEY:

I do…

TREASURER:

We’re applying the GST to Uber taxis…

RAY HADLEY:

Good, can you get rid of them?

TREASURER:

It starts on the first of August. That starts on the first of August. We’ve moved on that. Multinationals paying their fair share of tax; I’ve introduced legislation that is leading the world. GST on online products which competes against many of your advertisers and others, we’ve introduced leading legislation in that regard. Cracking down on foreign investment…

RAY HADLEY:

You don’t need to convince me. I’ll say this to you. One of the things I note with Treasurers in my experience, both federal and state; it’s happened say with Michael Costa and other people in New South Wales. Whereas you can have conversations with them and I appreciate the fact that you and I have conversations publically about what you’re doing…

TREASURER:

Happy to have them privately too…

RAY HADLEY:

Well exactly. But you know, Treasurers sort of seem to be a separate breed of politician. What I’m saying is you’re so consumed by your job, that affable Joe has disappeared and really serious Joe’s there. Now not with me but it appears with some of your colleagues inside government. And I make that observation from outside looking in, I have no idea about what happens in Canberra. But it appears to me that you might be a bit off with a few of them. Maybe that’s because you’ve been so studious. You’re like the bloke getting ready for the HSC and you’ve been so studious that you forget all other aspects of your life.

TREASURER:

Well, Ray, I’ve cut a few of their budgets. I’ve cut a few of their budgets. Some of them aren’t very happy…

RAY HADLEY:

How much did you cut off the Foreign Minister’s budget?

TREASURER:

Quite a few billion in foreign aid…

RAY HADLEY:

So you can understand why Julie Bishop wouldn’t be happy with you…

TREASURER:

We had to cut funding for the ABC…

RAY HADLEY:

Not enough…

TREASURER:

We had to make…

RAY HADLEY:

Not enough - Q&A’s still on…

TREASURER:

Ray, we couldn’t write out a cheque for car manufacturers when the money was going straight to Seattle. We didn’t write out a cheque to Qantas, thank God we didn’t. Qantas has tripled in value and done all the things it needed to do, and SPC Ardmona, these are hard decisions. These are hard decisions. We’ve had to make very difficult decisions in relation to welfare as well. And of course, they’re not popular, but they’re the right thing to do for the nation…

RAY HADLEY:

Have you said to Julie Bishop it’s not personal Julie? The billion dollars that I’ve taken off you it’s not because I don’t like you, I think you’re a charming woman and a very capable minister but it’s not personal. Because it seems to me that the relationship between you and the foreign minister is not what it should be.

TREASURER:

Well, we get on well. We were having a good chat actually the other day about a few things…

RAY HADLEY:

Yeah, I bet I know what the chat was about. I bet she’s [inaudible] about something…

TREASURER:

Ray I mean, just like the accountant sometimes has to say look there’s no money. Or the chief financial officer here at Fairfax media…

RAY HADLEY:

Stop, stop. Macquarie Radio Media, nothing to do with Fairfax...

TREASURER:

Macquarie Radio, I’m with you. So you know I’ve had to make those sort of decisions. And that’s not something people in Australia in government have been familiar with previously. I mean, under the Howard-Costello Government after some early difficult decisions, there was ever increasing revenue coming in. And of course we know the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd Government put everything on the credit card, so they just kept spending and spending and spending. Well someone had to say the buck stops here, we can’t just keep writing out cheques. Now the industry portfolio for example, I’ve had to make significant cuts. We halved it. We had to reduce the public service in Canberra by 14,000...

RAY HADLEY:

No wonder fewer people like you Joe, all you’ve done is slash.

TREASURER:

No, no, but that’s not right. You make the cuts to build, and that’s how you get your 60,000 jobs, that’s how you get your $50 billion on infrastructure.

RAY HADLEY:

Very quickly, 12,000 refugees being brought in….

TREASURER:

That’s how you get your 12,000 refugees, Ray. We can afford it. We’re going to have to find the money for it…

RAY HADLEY:

$700 million which will blow to one billion...

TREASURER:

No, no, no. It is about six to seven hundred million depending on the speed in which they come in. You know, when you have money in the bank you’ve got choices. If you’ve got money in the bank it gives you the capacity to be more compassionate. That’s what I’ve continually said. We’re still running a deficit, it’s still too large, the debt is still too high, but, it’s a hell of a lot better than it would have been and it’s giving us the capacity to help.

RAY HADLEY:

Thanks for coming in today.

TREASURER:

Thanks for having me Ray.