As former treasurer Joe Hockey said goodbye to his 20-year parliamentary career, he also threw in a few ‘head scratchers’ for his party to ponder.
During his valedictory speech delivered in parliament yesterday, Mr Hockey was met with praise, good will and applause from MPs on all sides.
The parting speech, which took on the form of a self submitted report card, included not only a list of measures he helped to implement, but also the potential benefits of changes to negative gearing, the introduction of means testing private health insurance, the rollback of super tax concessions, and the restructuring of the GST – all policies he vigorously opposed during his time as treasurer.
“Tax concessions on superannuation should be carefully pared back,” he said, and negative gearing “should be skewed towards new housing”.
He also admitted that the Abbott Government was “good at policy but struggled with politics”, and added, “The real Tony Abbott is more of a decent man than you may know.”
The former treasurer used his final opportunity to speak in front of parliament as a call to end the revolving door and unpredictable changes of government that have led to a weakening of public policy.
“We cannot make it normal to have four prime ministers and four treasurers in just four years,” he said.
He finished his speech, saying: “It is far better to dream mighty things, to seek glorious triumphs even though chequered by failure, than to be amongst those poor souls who neither suffer much, nor enjoy much because they live in the great twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”
Sage advice or a final disclaimer?
After the speech, the applause, and love, was flowing from all sides, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull – the man who could be called responsible for Mr Hockey’s job loss – pronouncing his party’s respect for the optimistic former treasurer.
“You’ve executed every office you’ve had … with great passion, with imagination,” he said. “You’ve done Australia proud.”
Even Opposition Leader Bill Shorten had good words to say about Mr Hockey.
“This is no ordinary day. You are no ordinary Joe,” he said.
It is widely believed that Mr Hockey will soon be appointed to a diplomatic post in the United States.
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How do you feel Joe Hockey performed as treasurer? If you heard Joe’s farewell speech, what was your reaction? What do you think of his potential appointment as Australia’s ambassador to the USA?