Hockey reveals priorities and Howard regret


Joe Hockey - The Opposition's Perspective

Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey has revealed his one regret during the Coalition's time in power was that he "didn't push John Howard harder to go".

Mr Hockey made the admission during questioning as part of the  opposition's perspective at CEDA's recent State of the Nation conference.

Combining a speech, interview and audience Q&A, the session provided conference attendees with a more personal perspective on Mr Hockey along with an overview of priorities for the Liberal Party.

Mr Hockey said if in power priorities for the Liberal Party would be to tighten government spending and return the budget to surplus, and reduce the tax burden on business by repelling the carbon and mining taxes.

In addition he said they would address the excessive regulation that is hindering productivity and competition.

Asked about the first three things the Liberal Party would do if they were elected tomorrow, Mr Hockey said the first would be  to get across the details of the risks in the budget and have an options paper developed on how to minimise those risks.

The second he said would be to make some hard decisions about expenditure cuts, highlighting that the public service in Canberra had increased by 20,000 full time employees since Labor was elected in 2007 and a Liberal Government would aim to cut that through natural attrition by 12,000 over 2 years.

Thirdly he said a priority would be "not to be cautious - to be prepared to take the sort of risks that are so necessary to improve the Australian economy and so far as we can, inoculate us against the challenges ahead".

Mr Hockey said "rather than greasing the economy" Labor was "putting sand in the gears".

In particular, he raised concerns about the current rate of productivity.

"Productivity has not just slowed its rate of growth, it's actually fallen over the three and a half years of this government," he said.

"It's a serious failing because it's only though productivity growth that Australia's long run standard of living can be increased.

"Australians would be getting poorer under this government if it were not for the mining boom which provides the clearest example that Labor is benefitting from good luck rather than good management."

Click here for the full audio.

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