Hockey hails community

THE country’s media descended on an Australia–Israel Chamber of Commerce function last week to hear  treasurer Joe Hockey (pictured) deliver his final address on the state of the country’s purse before the budget is handed down on Tuesday.

Hockey fronted the 600-strong gathering last Friday to sell the government’s economic plan at a luncheon at the Grand Hyatt, where he made major announcements, including raising the pension age to 70 by 2035, as part of the Coalition’s drive to get Australia back in the black.

He also said the government was considering recommendations from the Commission of Audit including the introduction of fees for GP visits, large cuts to the public service and the reining in of MP entitlements.

There were tributes for his hosts too, with Hockey expressing his deep admiration for the Australian Jewish community.

“I wanted to be here today because I want to express my immense admiration for the Jewish community in Australia,” Hockey said.

“In general terms I can think of no other single community that has a greater love and affection for its children and no other community that has a greater devotion to its future, no matter how great the sacrifices of the past.”

Hockey said family values were at the core of the Australian Jewish experience, something he aimed to emulate.

“Your love and protection of family and your focus on legacy and prosperity, are what I strive for daily with my own family and they are firmly among the principles that brought me into public life. So I really wanted to properly, for the first time, at a public forum like this, acknowledge and thank you for your leadership in the community.”

Following the pre-budget address, Hockey took questions from the gallery, including some that pertained to Israel. One audience member quizzed Hockey on what support Australia would offer Israel at the United Nations on issues such as Iran.

“Australia’s support for Israel has been very strong,” Hockey began.

“You might have noticed there has been a strengthening of support for Israel since the change of government. There is nothing that will diminish that, nothing at all that will diminish that.

“So, unless you see something I don’t, we will continue to provide support for Israel, [at] the UN and in other places, in other jurisdictions.”