No room for complacency on reform: Hockey

It was reminiscent of former treasurer Peter Costello’s call for couples to have a third child for the good of the country.


In this case Joe Hockey has repeated his call for shoppers to spend big over Christmas.

“Not just for Santa Claus but for Australia,” the current treasurer told reporters in Canberra.

Mr Hockey was responding to the latest national accounts that showed economic growth grew by just 0.3 per cent in the September quarter, less than half that expected by economists.

It was the slowest quarter of growth since March 2013 and meant annual growth slipped to 2.7 per cent from 3.1 per cent as of March.

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen says Mr Hockey should stop lecturing people on how to spend their money this Christmas.

“It might help if he stopped taking $6000 off them as he’s trying to do through his budget,” Mr Bowen said.

He said the treasurer should release his mid-year budget review as a matter of urgency and use it as an opportunity to admit his errors and start again.

Mr Hockey was adamant that parts of the economy weren’t in recession, answering to the question with a firm: “No.”

He also declined to speculate whether the Reserve Bank should consider lowering interest rates, only saying the central bank has a range of things to consider.

But Mr Hockey said the report shows there is no room for complacency.

“Complacency is our enemy. Doing nothing on economic reform is not an option for our country,” he said.

Australian Industry Group chief Innes Willox said the data suggested the economy was considerably weaker than many commentators and policy-makers have been willing to acknowledge.

“It will be no surprise to many Australian businesses operating in the real world,” he said in a statement.

He says the implications for the budget are serious and expects some dire downward revisions to the government revenue expectations.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann concedes it will require some juggling of spending to fund the additional costs of tighter national security.

But he reaffirmed the government wouldn’t be trying to make up the loss of revenue from falling iron ore prices with savage cuts.

It has also meant a change of rhetoric, when the budget was supposed to be close to balance in 2017/18.

“We will be working to achieve a balanced budget as soon as possible,” Senator Cormann said.