He was noticeable by his absence.
Treasurer Joe Hockey has been talking about the Abbott government’s childcare reform and family package being a key part of his second budget for weeks, but when it came to announcing the detail on Sunday afternoon he was nowhere to be seen.
That was left to Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Social Services Minister Scott Morrison.
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But the Treasurer has brushed off criticism about him being a “phantom Treasurer”, saying the budget is his and the government’s property.
He denies he is being overshadowed by Mr Morrison, seen as a future treasurer and even prime minister by many.
“There are people on the sidelines who like to heckle when someone is kicking for goal to try and distract the kicker, but this kicker is going to put it through the posts,” Mr Hockey told the Nine Network earlier on Sunday.
Mr Abbott said his Treasurer brought the budget together.
“I know he’ll do it in a really fine way on Tuesday night,” the Prime Minister told reporters in Sydney.
Cabinet Minister Barnaby Joyce also defended the Treasurer, saying he’s been out of the spotlight because he’s hard at work.
“I don’t want him cartwheeling around in front of the media, I want him behind his desk,” Mr Joyce told Network Ten.
Even former Liberal Treasurer Peter Costello, a critic of the government’s handling of last year’s budget, believes the coalition has learnt to engage with crossbench senators, giving it more of a chance of getting legislation through parliament.
“I think the sales job in the lead-up to this year’s budget has been much more professional and much better organised,” Mr Costello told Network Ten.
But Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen said the government has been in “extraordinary retreat” and clearly losing confidence in the Treasurer.
He said the first budget smashed confidence, making the transition from the mining boom harder, quelling investment and seeing unemployment rise.
“Is it any wonder they’ve lost confidence in him and we see the government’s key economic spokesman as another minister?” he told ABC television.
But Mr Hockey compared the tough decisions that needed to be taken by the Abbott government to what British Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne went through, before their shock election victory last week.
“The electorate realised that at the end of the day that good policy needs to be implemented and they recognise that it is hard,” he said.