Prime Minister Tony Abbott has personally reassured Joe Hockey he will remain as Treasurer until the election, regardless of how his second budget is received by the community.
Mr Abbott expressed his support for Mr Hockey on Melbourne radio this morning following reports he would dump him from the position if next week’s budget went down badly.
The Prime Minister dismissed as a “complete invention” a column by The Australian newspaper’s Niki Savva that Government Whip Scott Buchholz was compelled to deliver a message to Mr Abbott on behalf of backbenchers that the Treasurer would have to go if the budget tanked.
“He didn’t say it to me, I didn’t say anything to him,” Mr Abbott told 3AW.
Mr Buchholz refused to comment on his private discussions to the columnist but is quoted in the article saying: “I think Joe’s done a good job in difficult circumstances, and I think he is well aware of the importance of this budget landing well.”
Mr Abbott spoke to Mr Hockey this morning to assure him the report was wrong and he stressed on radio the Government’s senior economic team took “collective responsibility” for the budget.
“It is a team effort. In the end it’s the Government’s budget and if the budget doesn’t go well obviously the Government will suffer but I am confident that this is the right budget for these times,” Mr Abbott said.
“It particularly belongs to all members of the expenditure review committee.”
The Prime Minister went on to list who they are, including Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, Social Services Minister Scott Morrison, Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss.
Mr Morrison deflected questions about the newspaper report as “scuttlebutt and nonsense” while speaking to ABC’s AM presenter Michael Brissenden.
“I’ll let others focus on scuttlebutt and gossip but I’m sure on the sort of premium current affairs radio program such as yours, Michael, you wouldn’t indulge in that sort of stuff,” Mr Morrison said.
“Every single budget is important.”
When the Prime Minister was asked if Mr Hockey would remain as Treasurer until the next election, he said “yes he will” and the government is doing a “good job”.