The Case For Change: Joe Hockey’s Pre-Budget Speech To The Spectator Australia

The Treasurer, Joe Hockey, says the government will release the Commission of Audit report on May 1, in advance of the May 13 Budget which he says will begin a repair job on the nation’s finances.

Hockey made the announcement during a speech at an event organised by The Spectator Australia. He also spoke with the British journalist and chairman of Spectator Magazines, Andrew Neil.

Hockey-Neil

Hockey said all Australians had to contribute to the “heavy lifting” needed to get the Budget “back on track”. He said the fiscal consolidation programme to be announced in the Budget “will establish a clear path back to a surplus of 1 per cent of GDP by 2024″.

The Treasurer released a table of the largest government programmes and their associated costs. He said the Age Pension already takes up 10% of all Commonwealth spending, with aged care now the 8th largest category. With concessional recipients responsible for 80% of spending on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, Hockey seemed to be hinting at changes in this area in the Budget.

He said Australia had a “serious spending problem” and that “our biggest costs are also our fastest growing”.

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  • Listen to Andrew Neil interview Hockey (37m)

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Text of Treasurer Joe Hockey’s Address to a function organised by The Spectator Australia.

The Case For Change

Hockey

Introduction

I am delighted to be here today as a guest of the Spectator Magazine.

As many of you would know, the Spectator Magazine in the UK has a long and distinguished record of commenting on politics and current affairs.

The magazine was first published way back in the nineteenth century, in 1828. I am told the 186-year history makes it the oldest English language magazine in the world. [Read more...]


Government Refuses Debt Guarantee For Qantas But Will Repeal Foreign Ownership Restrictions

The federal government has refused to provide a debt guarantee or a line of credit for Qantas but says it will relax ownership restrictions by repealing Part 3 of the Qantas Sale Act.

Abbott

Amongst other provisions, Part 3 restricts foreign ownership of the airline to 49%. It restricts foreign airlines from owning more than 35% of Qantas. It stipulates that maintenance jobs are based in Australia. The full text of Part 3 is available here in a popup window.

The decision was announced by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss and Treasurer Joe Hockey at a press conference in Canberra tonight. Abbott said there was a two hour discussion of Qantas at today’s Cabinet meeting.

The Prime Minister said repeal of Section 3 did not mean Qantas would become foreign owned because it would still be subject to the 49% limit imposed by the Air Navigation Act. He said the existing Qantas Sale Act 1992 places restrictions on Qantas that advantage its competitors.

Abbott said it was time Qantas was freed from the shackles of the Sale Act so that it can compete internationally. He said the government would not play favourites and that the decision was about “giving everyone a fair go”. He said Virgin was an Australian company because it employed Australians.

Treasurer Joe Hockey said repeal of the Sale Act would provide a “level playing field”. Abbott said he had “faith” in Qantas. “If Australians are allowed to have a go there is nothing we can’t do,” he said.

Legislation to repeal Part 3 may be introduced this week.

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Joint press release from Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss and Treasurer Joe Hockey.

LEVELLING THE AVIATION PLAYING FIELD

The Government will move to a single regulatory framework for all Australian international airlines.

As soon as possible, legislation will be introduced to remove the foreign ownership restrictions and conditions that apply to Qantas’ business operations contained in Part 3 of the Qantas Sale Act 1992.

Removing these conditions is the best way to ensure Qantas can secure Australian jobs now and into the future.

Australians want a strong and competitive Qantas. The existing Qantas Sale Act 1992 places restrictions on Qantas that advantage its competitors.

Like all other Australian international airlines, Qantas will continue to be subject to the Air Navigation Act 1920 (ANA). The ANA applies to both Virgin Australia and Jetstar.

The ANA effectively limits total foreign ownership of Australian international airlines to 49 per cent, but does not impose the additional restrictions on business operations that apply to Qantas under the Qantas Sale Act 1992.

These changes will provide business flexibility for Qantas consistent with other airlines based in Australia.

Foreign investment will continue to be subject to consideration and approval by the Foreign Investment Review Board.

This is the best policy response to the difficulties currently being faced by Qantas.

Legislation will be finalised and introduced as soon as practicable. Any changes to Qantas’ operations as a result of these changes are a matter for the Qantas board and management.


G20 Finance Ministers Commit To 2% GDP Growth Target

The G20 Finance Ministers have committed to a collective growth rate of 2% above the current trajectory over the next five years.

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Speaking after the meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in Sydney, Treasurer Joe Hockey said: “Realistically, these policies could mean an extra US$2 trillion in global economic activity and tens of millions of additional jobs.”

Each country in the group has agreed to deliver a comprehensive growth strategy as part of the Brisbane Leaders Summit in November.

  • Listen to Joe Hockey’s press conference (24m)

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Media release from the Treasurer, Joe Hockey.

CONCLUSION OF G20 FINANCE MINISTERS AND CENTRAL BANK GOVERNORS MEETING IN SYDNEY

Today marks the conclusion of the first G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting in Sydney, which is the first on Australia’s soil as part of our host year.

In an unprecedented statement, the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors committed to implement policies to grow our collective GDP by more than 2 per cent above the current trajectory over the next five years. [Read more...]


Joe Hockey Speech To Lowy Institute: “The Age Of Personal And Corporate Responsibility Has Begun”

Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey has delivered a speech in which he says the age of personal and corporate responsibility has begun.

Hockey

Addressing the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Hockey said: “Individuals must do more for themselves, they must become more self-reliant. And the business sector must shoulder more of the burden. It must restore corporate accountability, and rely less on government assistance. It must stand on its own feet, and it must pay its fair share of tax.”

Hockey spoke at length of Australia’s role this year as president of the G20. He said: “The G20 is definitely the right body to take the wheel… Because G20 members account for 85 per cent of the world economy, 80 per cent of trade and about two thirds of foreign direct investment.”

Hockey said Australia “must play to its strengths”. He said Australia would work to promote stronger economic growth and better employment outcomes, and help to make the global economy more resilient and able to deal with future shocks. [Read more...]


Inflation Up Slightly; Hockey Blames Carbon Tax

Inflation edged up slightly in the December quarter and Treasurer Joe Hockey says it’s the fault of the carbon tax.

HockeyThe December quarter rise in the Consumer Price Index was 0.8%. Headline inflation was 2.7% through the year, up from 2.2% in the September quarter.

Treasurer Joe Hockey said: “The inflation rate continues to be impacted by Labor’s Carbon Tax.” He said electricity prices have increased by 22.5% since the introduction of the tax in July 2012. He called on Labor senators to pass the carbon tax repeal legislation when Parliament meets again in February.

Hockey also commented on new figures from the International Monetary Fund which project that global economic growth will increase from 3% in 2013 to 3.7% in 2014. He said: “The IMF underscores the importance of managing vulnerabilities, notwithstanding the expected strengthening in global economic activity.”

Media release from Treasurer Joe Hockey.

Consumer Price Index – December Quarter 2013

Today’s release of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the December Quarter shows that inflation is slightly above the middle of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s target band. [Read more...]


Hockey Gives Audit Commission Extra Fortnight For First Report

The Federal Treasurer, Joe Hockey, has extended the Commission of Audit’s first reporting date by two weeks.

The Commission requested an extension of its January 31 deadline.

Text of media release from Treasurer Joe Hockey.

Commission of Audit’s phase one reporting date

The Federal Government has granted a request from the Commission of Audit to extend its reporting date for the phase one report by up to two weeks. [Read more...]


Hockey Appoints Dumped Liberal MP To Foreign Investment Review Board

In a late Friday, pre-Christmas, announcement, Treasurer Joe Hockey has appointed a deselected Liberal MP, Patrick Secker, to the Foreign Investment Review Board.

SeckerThe appointment is part-time for five years.

In his announcement, Hockey said: “Mr Secker has extensive experience in agriculture and agribusiness over a number of decades. His appointment to the Foreign Investment Review Board fulfils a commitment by the Government to expand this area of the Board’s expertise.”

Secker was the Liberal member for Barker in South Australia for 15 years from 1998. He left the Parliament at this year’s election, having lost preselection to Mount Gambier lawyer Tony Pasin in March 2012. In a plebiscite of 282 party members, Secker won just 78 votes to Pasin’s 164, with a third candidate polling 40 votes. [Read more...]