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Attention Joe Hockey! You need to read this

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By Peter Switzer

The Coalition haters are after a scalp and if they can't get Tony Abbott right now, then they’re gunning, or more correctly cutting, for Joe Hockey.

Sure he hasn’t had a great time since the Budget “after being the best on field before it”. Ex-Coalition leader, Dr. John Hewson said these words on my TV show and John doesn’t give plaudits to his ex-colleagues unless they deserve it.

The Budget clearly was framed ignoring the nincompoops in the Senate, which has been a big failing of the Abbott Government. Hubris and/or naive risk management have left the Budget strategy in tatters.

In the business world, if a company fails to execute, the CEO and his CFO often lose their heads.

On top of the Government's failure to deal with the oddball senators, they’ve kept driving home this debt doomsday story, which has fallen on the deaf ears of Labor, the Greens and the PUPs. But business and consumers have heard it and, combined with the Budget impasse and some disappointing news from places like China and Europe over 2014, has KO’d business and consumer confidence.

And that's the job of a Treasurer to grow and nurture confidence. In fact, Ian Narev, boss of CommBank actually said the same yesterday, when interviewed after his company’s good profit result. He sees confidence (and he implied Canberra) as an economic threat, if this important ingredient of economic growth isn’t helped along by a country’s leadership and Parliament.

Yesterday, consumer confidence spiked 8% to pre-Budget levels. I reckon business confidence will follow next month and you can thank the rate cut, lower petrol prices, and the surging stock market. No one is thanking Canberra for this good news.

Glenn Stevens has done his bit with the rate cut. Now it's your turn, Joe. Stop harping about our debt problems. Get the economy growing. Once confidence is up, then gradually fix up the debt problem, 75% of which was caused by the former Labor government.
75%? How do I know that? Is it a biased, anti-Labor calculation? Well, it came from the ABC's fact checker. I don't think these guys would be anti-Labor.

Joe, you have a second chance but it will last about six months - so don’t blow it, mate.

The founder of EO — the Entrepreneurs’ Organization — Verne Harnish says bringing up kids is simple. You need a handful of rules and repeat them often. The same works in politics. Remember: “Stop the boats, etc?”

Joe you need to:

• Accentuate the positives in our economy.
• Create initiatives to inspire business, consumers, investors and aspirational Australians.
• Keep telling us we’ll beat our debt challenges and if the Senate stops us one way, you’ll find another.

When John Howard ended his gig as PM, the net government debt was zero but gross debt was about 5% of GDP. When Keating ended in 1996 and Howard took over, it was 21% of GDP. But as this chart shows, it has been worse and we recovered!


The gross debt to GDP is now close to 30% and can’t be ignored.

However, getting GDP to grow helps this number start falling.

Go for it Joe. Remember: the definition of madness is to keep doing the same things expecting a different result!

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Published: Thursday, February 12, 2015

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