Three months after handing down his first budget, Joe Hockey is criss-crossing the country trying to drum up support for its contentious policies.
In good news for retailers, consumers are growing more confident.
But that’s only because many believe Joe Hockey’s unpopular budget measures will be watered down eventually or abandoned all together.
Three months on from handing down his first budget, the treasurer is getting suggestions from all quarters on how to improve his contentious proposals.
But one thing is for sure, he isn’t about to take this advice from Labor: admit you botched it and go back to the drawing board.
“The budget is not about being likeable … we have a steely determination to do what is right for Australia,” Mr Hockey said.
He flew to Perth on Wednesday for talks with Palmer United Party senator Zhenya Wang as part of a cross-country bid to win Senate crossbench support to address the budget deficit and debt.
On Tuesday night over dinner in Brisbane he attempted to woo PUP leader MP Clive Palmer.
“I liked the dessert – it was the best part,” the billionaire MP, who controls three upper house votes, said of their discussions.
Mr Hockey refused to reveal what the pair discussed, saying it was “hugely important” the details remain in a room while they continued an ongoing dialogue.
However, the government was prepared to discuss exempting pensioners and other vulnerable patients from its planned GP co-payment as proposed by the Australian Medical Association.
Education Minister Christopher Pyne described as “productive and constructive” his Wednesday lunch date with Mr Palmer to discuss higher education changes.
But Family First senator Bob Day warned the government won’t get his support unless it allows under 30s to opt out of the minimum wage system, a move he believes will reduce unemployment.
A government spokeswoman dismissed reports changes are being considered to the paid parental leave scheme with some of its $9.6 billion cost being diverted towards a broader childcare policy.
Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen accused the government of having “thought bubbles” and making policy on the run.
But Mr Hockey said he always expected the budget to be a hard sell, despite last week complaining he had become the most hated man in the country.
“I think there is a lot of overstated commentary on the budget – people are missing some self-deprecating humour along the way.”