The Courier-Mail

HOCKEY’S REPUBLIC SURPRISE

- RENEE VIELLARIS

JOE Hockey – who faces a massive economic challenge – will now take on a constituti­onal challenge by campaignin­g for a republic.

The Treasurer’s good mate, Australian Republican Movement chairman Peter FitzSimons revealed yesterday that Mr Hockey would join a new cross- party push for an Australian head of state.

The announceme­nt was met with shock by some within the Abbott Government. Liberal Senator and monarchist Dean Smith urged Mr Hockey to focus on his day job, warning nothing was more important than strengthen­ing the economy.

JOE Hockey has urged Australian­s to be patient on tax reform, saying he wants to explain problems first before revealing solutions.

The Treasurer has been heavily criticised for talking too much about the need for tax reform and not outlining his plans to fix problems.

It comes as his former treasury secretary Martin Parkinson warned that Australia would be “sleepwalki­ng into a real mess” if it did not adopt reforms. He made the comments at a joint News Corp and Fairfax summit on reform in Sydney yesterday.

Earlier, Mr Hockey defended his tactics. “Last Monday, I go out and point out the problem that needs to be addressed and the medium-term threat to the Australian economy,” he said. “Everyone says: ‘Oh, great, that’s the problem, what’s the solution?’ ” he told ABC Radio. “Well, actually you need to explain why you are undertakin­g reform.

“The impatience of a number of commentato­rs … is holding back reform because the starting point has to be, you have to explain the problem, and then explain what the solution is, and then lay down a plan to deliver the outcome.”

Dr Parkinson said economic growth needed to speed up.

“If this is not happening because our population growth is slow, it means willingly accepting the impact of a recession,” he said.

“Unless we actually grab this challenge by the horns and really get concrete about what are the priority issues, we are actually going to find ourselves sleepwalki­ng into a real mess.”

Central Bank Governor Glenn Stevens agreed growth needed to be better.

“Growth rates have mostly started with a ‘two’ for a while now, despite the lowest interest rates in our lifetimes, banks able and willing to lend, and measures of consumer and business confidence generally about average…”

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