He embarrassed Hockey over his recent weight loss, due to stomach stapling surgery, and said he hoped the doctors hadn’t taken his spine out during the operation.
There were plenty more sledges of Joe Hockey, who is likely to be Australia’s next Treasurer.
It began happily enough. Jones announced Hockey as ”the next treasurer of Australia”.
Jones did annotate this introduction with “the one left with the mess”, but still, any anointment from Jones is not to be lightly dismissed.
This is the man Hockey once called “the greatest broadcaster of all time”. Furthermore, it was the day after Treasurer Wayne Swan had brought down his sixth budget, and his sixth deficit. Barring an apocalyptic science fiction-esque event that results in a giant lizard demolishing Parliament House in a single swipe of its reptilian tail, it will also be Swan’s final budget.
All Hockey had to do was go on the Alan Jones show, make some noises about government debt and the carbon tax, and bask in Jones’ furious agreement. The interview was bound to be a free kick, right?
Wrong. What followed was extraordinary radio, during which Jones harangued Hockey for subsidising wind and solar power, attacked the entire Medicare system as “unaffordable” and abused the shadow treasurer for not agreeing to his suggestion that Indonesia take Australian cattle in lieu of foreign aid money.
He demanded Hockey answer why we “feed asylum seekers but not farmers and cattle”.
The broadcaster also fired off plenty of unsolicited advice. ”You’ve got to reduce the debt! That’s the point! You have to reduce the debt!” Jones counselled, shrilly.
And later: “Success is about keeping things simple … $190 billion budget accumulated debt. You are going to have to reduce that.”
The interview was extraordinary not because of Jones’ rude bombast, or his insistence that a future Coalition government abandon “this carbon dioxide global warming hoax”, or even the impertinent way he referred to the shadow treasurer’s personal wealth (“He’s a man of means this bloke. He’s a rich treasurer to be.” Hockey laughed nervously.)
It was amazing because of the way Hockey took it. He let Jones chase him around the microphone like a schoolyard bully.
The shadow treasurer remained silent while Jones compared asylum seekers to cows – although in fact it was not a straight comparison, because Jones was contending the nourishment of asylum seekers should actually come second to feeding “our” cattle (always amazing how cows assume Australian nationality whenever people wish to make a political point about them)
Sounds like Alan Jones has lost it.