Treasurer Joe Hockey gives farewell speech in Parliament
FORMER Treasurer Joe Hockey has said he always chose to do "what was right, rather than what was popular" through his almost two decades in federal parliament.
Mr Hockey gave his valedictory speech in parliament on Wednesday, leaving a vacancy in the House to be filled with a by-election expected in his seat, North Sydney, before years' end.
After being removed from the second highest job in Australian politics just weeks ago, Mr Hockey said he and former Prime Minister Tony Abbott tried to achieve a lot "in a short period of time".
But he said while they were dealing with "significant changes' across many areas, they had underestimated the "massive time requirements" of wide-ranging national security reforms and running the G20.
Mr Hockey said that "the revolving door in Australian politics must be jammed shut".
"If we don't show enough respect for each other, then how can we expect the Australian public to respect us?" he asked.
"We cannot make it normal to have four prime ministers and four treasurers in just four years."
Mr Hockey said while in parliament, he had missed all of his six-year-old son Iggy's birthdays, but "I will not miss another one".
SELECTED EXCERPTS FROM MR HOCKEY'S SPEECH:
There are plenty of Australians who are critical of the politicians that they've never met. Our jobs have become much more challenging over the years with the advent of a need-it-now culture.
That's been backed by the unending and often unreasonable demands of social media.
A 24-hour news cycle has changed politics forever but I'm not sure the system has kept pace with that change. It is now far more difficult to examine and debate policy issues in a measured and consider way.
Ladies and gentlemen, if everyday Australians are to be their best then we, as community leaders, must be even better. That's why the revolving door in Australian politics must be jammed shut.
If we don't show enough respect to each other then how can we hope that the electorate will respect us?
The stability of the Howard Government has been replaced with rapid and unpredictable changes of Government on both sides. That turnover has dramatically weakened the policy hand of whoever occupies the Government benches in this chamber.
Most public servants are very good but some, confused by the inconsistency of policy and the rapid change in the number of Ministers, they will simply wait out a Minister or a Government when they are asked to implement very difficult decisions.
In this parliament, the Senate has the capacity to turn every policy proposal into a bit of a mess, thus undermining public confidence in the process of Government. Ultimately, this chamber can end up being responsible for its own undoing. We cannot make it normal to have four Prime Ministers and four Treasurers in just four years.
Leadership instability and Ministerial turnover is the enemy of good public policy. It was a great honour to serve as a Minister in a number of Howard Government ministries. It was an even greater honour to serve as Treasurer in the Abbott Government.
Tony Abbott, who sadly is overseas today, is one of the most selfless, hard-working and honourable people I have ever met.
Yes, at times we have clashed, I confess, for more than 30 years we've argued our differences on everything from the Republic to Budget savings but I say directly to the Australian people that the real Tony Abbott is more of a good and decent man than you may know.
Mr Speaker, the Abbott Government was good at policy but struggled with politics. When faced with a choice, I would always prefer to do what was right than what was popular.
On the economy and job creation, national security, border protection, taxation, climate change, Immigration and Federal-State relations y believe we got the policies right, however, I admit that we could have done more to win over third-party endorsements and to win over the Senate.
And we could have done more to win over the Australian people.
We tried to achieve a lot in a short period of time and whilst we were dealing with significant domestic policy challenges in Health, Welfare and Education, we underestimated the massive time requirements associated with national security and chairing the G20.
Nothing illustrated this better than the 2014 Budget where the Government had more courage than the parliament.
As my good mate, the outstanding Minister for finance, Senator Matias Cormann, will tell you, it is easier to spend money than to save money. Unfortunately, in modern politics it's far easier to demolish good policy proposals than to build and implement them.
I was taught by the Jesuits that it's better to serve than be served, to be a man for others and it would have been impossible for me to serve in this place without the support of my wife, Melissa, and our children.
You know, last Monday was Iggy's sixth birthday and I've missed every single one of his birthdays. I won't miss another one.
On the day I got married I officially joined the men that bat above their weight club and I was heavier then!
For more than 20 years Melissa has earned the majority of the income, paid the bills, paid the mortgage, given birth to our children and raised the family. I suppose she's probably asking why did I bother ?
She ran a global business and suffered my long absences from home. My wife, like all of your wives, husbands, partners, well, my wife was a conscript to politics, I was the volunteer, yet her counsel has been wise and her loyalty has been fierce. She shares my value and well exceeds my capacities and I'm so pleased for our children, Xavier, Adelaide and Iggy, that their mother's DNA has been dominant over mine.
It's been the greatest advantage for them in life to have a mother that is simply the most impressive person I centre ever met.
Of course, the greatest achievement of a parent is to leave the next generation better off.
The best measurement of political success is to look around you and see that you have made a positive difference, if you are looking for a monument look around you. I have always subscribed to the view that no matter what, I want my successors to succeed. I want them to be better than me. I want the Turnbull Government to succeed.
I genuinely want you, Malcolm, and all of my colleagues to be very successful, to be the best Government Australia has ever had because I owe that to my community and I owe that to my children.