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It just was not Joe’s day

06/10/2010

Joe Hockey is a good man. He has a young family, he strives to do his best. He one day can be considered Prime Ministerial material (actually what is the cost of that per meter). But yesterday was not Joe’s day. In fact, he hasn’t been having a good day for a while now.

He thought it was a lay down Misere.  To be truthful, we all did. By all accounts, the RBA yesterday should have raised the interest rates by 25 basis points (I had to look it up one day so I am not trying to be smart.  Apparently in the financial world they equate 100% into 1000 basis points so that works out to 0.25% increase).

Joe had started the campaign day early, because in opposition, every day is a campaign day. He tweeted the following at 7.25am yesterday.

From @JoeHockey: Tsy and Dept. of Fin.Red Books,IMF,RBA all with same message-Best way to reduce upward pressure on interest rates is to cut Govt. spending.

The intent being as far as my little brain could work it out, that he was readying to sell this message as soon as the RBA made his day and raised the interest rates. He could then get screen time on TV and talk about cutting government spending and the Red Books.

The other reason he needed to do this was to take the heat off his boss. Tony Abbott had had a little jet-lag fatigue moment. Yesterday it was revealed that the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, had invited Mr Abbott to visit Afghanistan with her. The trip would have saved the tax payer a little bit not to mention minimise the time the soldiers there have to waste time talking to VIPs and spend more time doing the job we have burdened them with.

Lets face it, this is not a low risk task and any visits from VIP entail a dose of risk to them as the some soldiers are pulled in to do the photo ops, extra troops pulled in to secure areas, and that means front line troops can be dangerously put at risk.

Tony Abbott it seemed denied the offer and yesterday he claimed it was so he could be fully alert while in the UK. This was clearly false. Lets face it, if there was a photo-op to be had, he did not want to be second fiddle. What would that look like in the papers? Overnight, Mr Abbott has come out and tried to alleviate the concern saying:

TONY ABBOTT: Look, it was a very poor choice of words on my part and I apologise if I’ve created the wrong impression and I apologise if I’ve given offence, because the last thing I would want to do is give offence to the families of our troops.

Yes I am sure you meant no offence Mr Abbott. That is why you are going to put them at risk in about a weeks time so YOU can get a photo-op too.

Of course, this would have never been an issue if the RBA had raised those rates! See then Joe would have been able to capture the camera and demand a cut to government spending. My money was he was going to use the word reckless at least once! But it never happened. Joe instead had to issue this from his homepage.

RATES RELIEF WELCOME BUT RESERVE BANK WARNS OF FUTURE PAIN

5TH OCTOBER 2010

The Coalition welcomes the decision by the Reserve Bank today to leave the cash rate unchanged.  This will deliver some much-needed relief for Australian home buyers and small business who are already struggling with cost-of-living pressures.

We would urge the banks to follow step with the RBA and not increase the rates on their loans.

Even without a rise today, the effective interest rates charged on mortgages, credit cards and small business loans have already been higher on average under this Labor government than under the previous Coalition government:

Standard variable home loan

(% p.a.)

Small business residential-secured overdraft

(% p.a.)

Standard credit card rate

(% p.a.)

Coalition

(April 96-Nov 07)

7.24 8.16 16.27
Labor

(Dec 07 – Oct 10)

7.41 9.27 18.89

Source:  Reserve Bank Bulletin, Statistical Table F5

However, relief for borrowers may be short-lived.  In its statement, the Reserve Bank warns that:

“If economic conditions evolve as the Board currently expects, it is likely that higher interest rates will be required, at some point…”

The Gillard government would do well to heed this warning.  It could take some of the upward pressure off interest rates by pulling back on its reckless and wasteful spending.

This has been confirmed by numerous sources including the IMF, the Reserve Bank, a range of market economists and even the government’s own Treasury (see attachment).

Treasurer Swan’s refusal to heed these warnings means Australians can rightly blame the Gillard government for any future rate rise pain.

-ends-

You see, Joe was really hoping to stick in the boot: any politician would have, so don’t blame Joe here! It’s just he has not been having a good run at this Treasurer job of late. If the rates had gone up, then Tony Abbott’s call and Julia Gillard’s 8 hour sleep dig would not have had that much coverage. But the rates held, and if you read Joe’s statement, he concedes they had not, but warns they may any day now.

So what do you do if you portfolio takes a hit? Chuck in a furphy! I was much amused by this in The Australian this morning:

Business must lead on industrial relations: Joe Hockey

JOE Hockey has declared industrial relations reform alive under the Coalition and has challenged business leaders to push for change.

The opposition’s Treasury spokesman yesterday urged business to find its voice and engage in debate about industrial relations and business reform.

“I think it’s hugely important that members of the business community engage more directly in the policy debates that will shape Australia’s economic future,” he said.

“The squeaky voice will get the oil in this parliament and we need advocates for mainstream change to balance against sectoral interests.”

I’ve become a good reader of between the lines. That’s right Joe! Business must lead because we need them to cause trouble so you guys can step into government!

Of course by then Mr Abbott will not only have made better choice in his words, he will declare them dead, buried cremated, and he will sign a contract with the Australian people in some kind of pledge from which he will squirm out of said contract sighting it constitutionally unsound.

But even the problems for Joe just kept coming.

An article from the Courier Mail seems to indicate that the economy is booming. It also seems to argue that the only current problem in industrial relations is business has been not doing their part. I assume relations here indicates a two-way process. It seems many jobs are not full-time, wages are constrained, and costs are eating up a bigger share of income.

But wait. What was that in The Australian then? The even got this guy who manages a big business to support Joe! Again from The Australian:

Mr Hockey’s remarks drew a quick response from business leaders, who said IR reform was necessary to increase productivity. National Australia Bank and Woodside Petroleum chairman Michael Chaney said Labor industrial relations laws would hurt the economy.

“I believe the industrial relations changes that were made represent a real threat to productivity,” Mr Chaney told The Australian last night. “I don’t believe that’s yet been seen because there’s still a lot of people on individual contracts. As those contracts expire in coming years, I think you will see productivity falling as a result of the provisions in this legislation.

“I think they should amend the legislation so that highly paid workers could have individual contracts, so that the lower paid were still able to be represented by unions. For the much more highly paid, it’s inappropriate.”

Beautiful! Exactly the kind of spin that the Coalition needed. Especially that bit where he talks about the other party.

The Courier Mail article though tends to indicate that people with obscenely large salaries and bonuses should really stop hoarding the money.

The report claimed that full-time workers were now often required to work longer working weeks with more than a third of the workforce now labouring beyond 45 hours a week, compared with 22 per cent in 1990.

Governments had also handed over a greater proportion of costs and risks through privatisation of roads, education, child care, health and retirement, while job security had evaporated.

Wait a second. One side says the business should squeeze hard and the other says it should give workers better conditions. But both do not try to hide the fact that productivity is pretty damn good at the moment, thank you very much. One is a business orientated angle and the other is a trade union oriented angle.  One is inclined to put a smile to the owners of businesses and the other to put a frown on the face of workers. I assume the What About Me song works both ways here.

So again I have wandered off the path somewhere between the start of this post and the end. Or have I? I know what you maybe thinking. I know I am. Here is a sample of my thinking. Pretty isn’t it?

Hmm so the opposition do not have a minister in charge of industrial relations? – me

Well actually they do. Eric Abetz. So why was it not him that made this announcement instead of Joe? I wonder why Mr Abetz was unavailable? From the ABC website:

Abetz leaves citizenship row to High Court

Oh yeah! That little chestnut. Link below to catch up on that one.

So lets see.

  • A 7-11billion dollar black hole. Or as Andrew Robb likes to call it, a difference of opinion.
  • Last week Joe questioned the Govt in parliament basically demanding they abide by the IMF report only to discover that his boss, Tony had tried this angle on the radio that morning and when questioned about his own party’s policies and what the IMF had said, he retorted “We are not going to be dictated to by the IMF!”
  • The rates did not rise
  • His boss gets jet-lag and then doesn’t
  • An industrial relations report seems to indicate that Business should do its bit as the workers were doing theirs.

The IMF debate or what I label as ‘Tony Abbott choosing his words carefully”. From the ABC  AM program:

TONY ABBOTT: Well I think the interesting thing about the mining tax is that if it doesn’t raise the revenue that the Government thinks it will raise, there’s an enormous black hole in the Government’s budget and the whole return to surplus strategy is fatally undermined.

Now I think that the best way to get back to surplus is through expenditure restraint, not through great big new taxes to which this Government is addicted. But as I said, I don’t like the mining tax, I think it’s a bad tax and we wouldn’t go down this path at all.

LYNDAL CURTIS: The IMF also says there should be a move more to consumption-based taxes and to get rid of some of the inefficient state taxes. You’ve also said that you’ll have a look at the Henry Review – will you have a look at those things?

TONY ABBOTT: No, what we think is that the IMF is right to say that the Government should reduce its expenditure. The Government should work harder and more quickly to try to get us back into surplus. That’s what we think the IMF is right in recommending.

Now as the Henry-

LYNDAL CURTIS: But you’re happy to cherry pick bits of the IMF where the IMF agrees with you but not where it doesn’t in the case of the mining tax.

TONY ABBOTT: Well in the end, we’re not going to be dictated to by the IMF, we’re not going to be dictated to by Ken Henry either, but where think these recommendations make sense, well obviously we’ll go forward with them.

Hmm like I said Joe had a bad day. But why is this day taking a whole year?

A. Ghebranious   2010         All Rights Reserved.

SOURCES:

http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2010/s3030400.htm

http://www.joehockey.com/mediaHub/mprDetail.aspx?prID=1066

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/cba-reserves-right-to-go-it-alone/story-e6frg6n6-1225934579884

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/business-must-lead-on-industrial-relations-joe-hockey/story-fn59niix-1225934603807

http://www.couriermail.com.au/money/money-matters/australias-economic-growth-comes-at-expense-of-workers-wages-and-conditions-report/story-fn3hskur-1225934588700

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/09/16/3013196.htm

http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2010/s3025631.htm

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One Comment
  1. i can has cheeseburger?

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