The beauty of holding a party is that you get to decide the theme.
Likewise, by hosting a Group of 20 meeting, Treasurer Joe Hockey has brought his domestic budgetary goals to the international table.
In the first gathering of the G20 under Australia’s 2014 presidency, Hockey made infrastructure and growth a key discussion point for finance ministers and central bankers from the world’s largest and developing economies.
“We will work together now to shift the dial on economic growth,” Hockey said at the conclusion of the meeting.
New Zealand Finance Minster Bill English, an invitee to the talks, believes Hockey did a “great job” chairing the G20 finance minister gathering in Sydney this weekend.
“He’s built a sense of confidence and camaraderie of what is a very broad group of economies with their own internal differences,” Mr English told AAP on Sunday.
Hockey has also tried to make his meetings with the world’s top financial minds relevant to everyday Australians.
Agreements struck at the G20 can impact on currencies, and what happens to the Australian dollar affects everyone, he knows.
Hockey also added a homely touch by inviting two Australian small business owners to meet Janet Yellen, the newly anointed chair of the US Federal Reserve and one of the most powerful woman in the world, who has monetary policy oversight of a $US13 trillion economy.
He wanted to show the G20 is “working for these people”.
Hockey has a big challenge this year in trying to restore order to the federal budget while trying to lift economic growth and help local businesses create jobs.
By investing in new roads, ports and other facilities, Hockey hopes to lift productivity and economic growth in Australia as the mining investment boom fades.
At the very least, raising the issue of infrastructure at the G20 could tempt some foreign investment into Australia.
At the same time, Hockey has got G20 finance ministers talking about growth and thinking about being less reliant on central banks around the world doing the heavy lifting in a crisis.
“Australia has used its presence to shift that focus, which I think is very timely,” English says.
Of course, if the global economy strengthens, Australia as a commodity-bearing economy benefits.
And this is why Hockey probably won’t mind clearing up after his first big global gathering.