Laurie Oakes continues to be one of the better connected journos inside the Canberra bubble, and this piece is obviously a straight stenography job from Joe Hockey's mouth to your ears, probably dictated in between puffs at cigars with Mathias Cormann.
Looking his mate in the eye, the Treasurer said: "There is no way on God's earth I am going to ask pensioners to have a lesser increase in their pension while I'm giving your business $600,000 per employee. Forget it. It's over."Mm hmm, as if anyone else could tell that mayo-lathered story to Laurie than the Treasurer himself. Later in the article, the obvious Hockey line is that the leak of the deficit levy was not done by those who thought up the policy as it came "before the ground had been properly prepared". The prosaic conclusion has to be that it was leaked by those in Cabinet wanting the electorate to fight back against it. Who are these people, what faction do they belong to, and who are they backing to replace the current leadership team? No bubble-embedded journo seems to know, or want to find out. This gambit by the shadowy anti-Hockey forces seems to have backfired in any case, since the latest ReachTel poll shows slugging the rich is strongly popular (53:32).
Then he walked out of the room.
While the bubbling of the #leadershit pot is a bit of fun, the more weighty revelation in that piece is how strong Hockey is aiming to go with Keynesian stimulus spending, in the form of roadbuilding. Macroeconomists may say any stimulus is good stimulus at the lofty heights from which they see things, but one wonders about the usefulness of this form of stimulus compared to, say, actually building a third Sydney airport, or investing in public transport, or concentrating on saving lives by eliminating level crossings, or just throwing money from helicopters in the general direction of suburbia like Rudd did. Will these roads be to the benefit mostly of mining trucks driven for billionaires who are supposed to escape Labor's carbon and resource taxes?
When a rightwing leader starts talking about wanting to be known for transport infrastructure, my first thought is always about which rentseekers he is seeking to give a free ride on public money.