TOUCHING THE LEVERS OF INTRIGUE
Joseph Hokeidunian was an Catholic Armenian trader and landowner based in Syria. In 1914 the Catholic Church asked Joseph to spy on the Muslims in the Ottoman Empire. He moved to Jerusalem and took a job with the British government. In 1917 he helped oversee the reconstruction of Beersheba after it was taken from the Turks after the charge of the Australian Light Horse Brigade. He married a Palestinian woman but left Jerusalem before his son, Richard, was born in 1927 and just a single, old photograph remains of Joseph Hokeidunian. (On a personal note, One of my Great Uncles, Col. Tom Todd led the the 10th Lt Horse in the Western Desert in WW1, took part in the Battle of Beersheba and commanded the charge into Jerusalem on Allenby’s orders. Joseph probably repaired some if the damage caused by Col Tom.)
Richard Hokeidunian, born in Bethlehem and educated in the Old City of Jerusalem spent his first years in a (possibly Catholic) orphanage. Like his father, Richard served the British in Palestine. Fudging his age, he enlisted in the army at 16, and was a warrant officer working in intelligence by 18. Intelligence gathering appears to be an innate if understandable trait in a family of successful traders. Richard dropped the ‘donian’ part of his name when he migrated to Australia, arriving in Darwin at the age of 21 in 1948 to get away from turmoil in the Middle East.It is interesting to compare the “Escapes from Turmoil” by the parents of both our Prime Minister and our Treasurer.
NOTE:- I have been told by one who has searched that there is no shipping record of Richard Hokeidunian, a British soldier, arriving in Australia. I have been unable to find a record of his marriage in the online NSW BDM records. Any hard evidence of either event would be appreciated.
Richard, began the family deli in Bondi then moved it to Chatswood. It was here that he married Beverley Little. Beverley, born in Chatswood on Sydney’s North Shore, was working as a fashion model for Pix magazine when she met Richard. “She was told by her mother not to speak to the wog in the corner store and she ended up marrying him,” says Hockey, laughing. Bev bequeathed (Joe) Hockey his steel. “She’s the rock of the family: solid, determined, focused. She always gets in my ear and tells me to move on from hurt and disaster and not be dissuaded from my goals.“
Hockey arrived on August 2, 1965, seven years after his sister Juanita, (b 1958). He also has two older brothers, Colin, (b 1953), and Michael, (b1951).
Richard Hockey later switched from the deli business to real estate.
Early on he was a Labor Party foot-soldier. Richard’s new wife hailed from a family dominated by a very strong, single-parent matriarch. Joe’s great-grandmother was one of the largest landowners in North Sydney, and traded shares into her eighties. They were centre-right stalwarts.
There is a bit of a discrepancy in position of the rich matriarch in the family tree. She was either his Great Grandmother or Grandmother. Samatha Maiden reported, in the Telegraph, “Hockey likes to brag his grandmother was something of a 1920s share-trading shark who was so sharp that family folklore suggests her bank sent out messengers to her house every two weeks to pick up her dividend cheques for deposit.” The dating suggests she was two generations removed.
It was the financial hardships of the 1970s that united the Hockey household behind the Liberal Party. The credit crunch in 1974 brought Richard’s prosperous property business to its knees, and he blamed Gough Whitlam for the economic environment.
Joseph Benedict Hockey was born August 2, 1965 in North Sydney, Sydney. While John Winston Howard shares a middle name with the Butcher of Gallipoli, Joe shares names with Australia’s great Labor leader, Joseph Benedict “Ben” Chifley. Brought up in an ALP household, the Whitlam years saw a change in the family fortunes. By the age of ten he was earning his keep sweeping the shopfront stairs of the suddenly struggling family real estate business while his (unlicensed) brothers drove customers to visit sites.
1970’s & 80’s
Student Joe Hockey addresses the media in 1987, protesting against a new uni fee.
The family quickly developed an anti-Labor attitude and with their earned and inherited wealth, Hockey attended St Aloysius’ College, Milson’s Point and the University of Sydney, residing at St John’s College. While at university he was President of the University of Sydney Students’ Representative Council, and assisted in inviting Pope John Paul II to visit the University of Sydney during the 1986 Australian papal visit.
His University years held moments of legend. He smoked marijuana and turned up drunk to his first lecture. There is a story that he won the University Council election by placing free kegs of beer next to the ballot boxes outside the Residential Colleges. University friends include Football Federation Australia’s David Gallop and indigenous leader Noel Pearson.
WORKING FOR A LIVING
Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws, Hockey worked as a banking and finance lawyer at the century-old law firm, Corrs, Chambers, Westgarth.where he worked on the privatisations of the State Bank of NSW and the Government Insurance Office. With Greg Medcraft he also worked on the securitisation of David Jones Credit Card business. Those of us who looked at the root causes of the GFC in 2008, securitisation was one and Joe Hockey was an early facilitator.
As with so many politicians today, Joe has no experience with what most of us call “The Real World”. His adult working life was the view from a Lawyer’s office.
Late in the 1980’s he stuck a toe into the political world as the Director of Policy to Nick Greiner, Premier of New South Wales.
After Greiner resigned in 1992 due to corruption allegations, Hockey became an advisor to John Fahey, the next NSW Premier.
MARRIAGE IN 1994
Wikipedia records that, in 1994, Hockey married Melissa Babbage, an investment banker, later head of foreign exchange and global finance at Deutsche Bank. The couple has had three children and they live in Hunters Hill, New South Wales.
ELECTION IN 1996
Hockey was elected to the Australian Parliament as the Member for North Sydney in 1996. His electorate includes the North Shore where he was born. He has never really moved from his birthplace.
Glenda Korporaal reported in the Australian that; “Hockey’s business connections include John O’Neill (a former chief of the State Bank of NSW and the Australian Rugby Union and now chairman of casino company Echo Entertainment), ASIC chief Greg Medcraft, former ABC chairman Maurice Newman, investment banker Ken Allen, former NSW premier Nick Greiner and Sydney Olympics bid leader Rod McGeoch.”
Hockey was made Minister for Financial Services and Regulation by John Howard in 1998.
HOUSE PURCHASE, 1997
Samantha Maiden reported in The Sunday Telegraph August 17, 2014; JOE Hockey has defended his practice of claiming a $270-a-night taxpayer-funded travelling allowance to stay in a Canberra house majority-owned by his wife on the grounds that it is an entirely legitimate practice embraced by scores of Labor MPs.The Treasurer has legitimately claimed $108,000 in travel allowance for 368 nights over the past four years including many nights for parliamentary sitting weeks where he has stayed at the Canberra house.
A group of Liberal MPs including Mr Cameron, Bob Baldwin and Defence Minister Brendan Nelson then moved and paid rent to stay at the property. Dr Nelson famously lived in the shed after his marriage broke up in return for paying half rent. Now employed by the Australian War Memorial Dr Nelson sometimes still stays at the property.
Worth an estimated $1.5 million according to local real estate agents the Hockey clan picked up the property for a song, purchasing it for just $320,000 in 1997. Mr Hockey was listed on sales documents as owning 5 per cent, his wife Melissa Babbage 61 per cent and his father Richard Hockey 34 per cent.
THE MINISTER RISING
The “Noughties” saw Joe progress through the ministerial ranks in the Howard Government.
He filled the role of Minister for Small Business and Tourism from 2001 to 2004. With the return of the Howard Government in 2004, Hockey was appointed Minister for Human Services and was elevated to the Cabinet in January 2007, when appointed Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations where he had responsibility for creating and pushing Work Choices through the Parliament.
His political decisions have been a little confusing. As a Catholic, Hockey has voted for the RU 487. abortion pill (“I believe in a woman’s right to choose,”) and against euthanasia. He is pro-choice on abortion and while he doesn’t support gay marriage has no problem with gay relationships.
STRANGE FRIENDSHIP 2002
Hockey’s most famous friendship is also his most unlikely. Seven’s Sunrise spawned a five-year ratings juggernaut from 2002 t0 2007,and helped make Hockey a star and Kevin Rudd prime minister. It began with two backbenchers trading jokes, karaoke duets and friendly fire and became must-see viewing. For the more cynical it may seem the only thing the friends had in common was each was married to a wealthy wife.
When Hockey and Rudd walked together along the Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea in April 2006, both men’s mettle shone. Hockey kept a photo of baby Xavier in a pouch under his hat and wept when he met a “fuzzy wuzzy angel” who had suffered with the diggers, while Rudd read his Bible on the outward-bound flight. At the spot where digger Stan Bisset cradled his dying brother, Butch, during the Battle of Isurava, Hockey broke into Danny Boy, the brothers’ favourite song, and Rudd joined him in chorus.
Hockey even saved Rudd’s life on that trip. “We’d stopped by a fast-flowing stream and Kevin was 20 metres upriver when he stumbled,” remembers David Koch. “Joe and I saw him go down, unable to get to his feet. Quick as a flash, Joe thrust his hand out and saved him.” Back home, Brendan Nelson says it “raised a few eyebrows on our side”.
BEFORE THE GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISIS 2007
Sunrise host David Koch still remembers the day Joe Hockey rang to tell him his investment banker wife Melissa Babbage was selling “everything we own”. It was a year before the global financial crisis hit and the stock market was riding high. “Joe rang, and he said: ‘Melissa, she is selling everything’,” recalls Koch. “He said: ‘I’ve convinced her to keep the house, but she reckons we’re heading for the biggest global economic event since the Great Depression’.” She was right. Koch, who wrote a column based on the tip that he was rubbished for at the time, describes Babbage as “an absolute guru”. “She saw it coming,” Joe Hockey tells Agenda. “It’s true.” So when the finance expert wants wise counsel he sometimes rings Australia’s alternative treasurer just to check: “What does Melissa reckon?” Babbage, a 47-year-old self-made millionaire, is known for leaving lesser mortals terrified in her wake.
KNOCKED OUT BY ABBOTT – TWICE! 2009
JOE Hockey still regales colleagues with stories about the day Tony Abbott knocked him out cold with one punch.Australia’s alternative treasurer was left with two black eyes. The big man of Liberal politics later blamed a “personality clash” for the fabled rugby punch-up. It was the late 1980s and Hockey was at boiling point about not getting picked for Abbott’s team. Abbott was nearly 10 years older and the coach of the Sydney University 2nd XV. Hockey was playing in third grade and regularly getting picked to play first grade. But Abbott wouldn’t give him a berth. So when Hockey saw the opportunity, he went straight for Abbott’s kidneys.
Journalist and author Peter Fitzsimons saw the clash and says it was “a blistering array of upper cuts, hay-makers and wild swings”. But Hockey only remembers one punch. Abbott knocked Hockey out. The pair can laugh about it now. But Hockey admits he didn’t like the way Abbott ran the team. By his own admission, he was also abrasive. Didn’t like his selections. Didn’t mind telling him so.
On the 1st of December, 2009, the dose was repeated. Going into a meeting to elect a new leader for the Liberal Party, Joe Hockey was the favourite. His old rugby coach had a thing or two to say about that and delivered another knock-out blow.
After a 49-minute meeting, Liberal parliamentarians voted in Tony Abbott as the new leader by one vote. Mr Abbott beat Malcolm Turnbull by 42 votes to 41 after Joe Hockey had been defeated in the first round. In the first round Mr Abbott polled 35 votes, Mr Turnbull 26 votes and Mr Hockey 23 votes.
The leadership dispute was about climate Change and the Rudd-proposed ETS. Glenn Milne wrote in the Australian the day before that election. “Hockey also called Greiner to tap into what he calls “the corporate memory of the party”. Greiner’s political memory is acute and his advice to Hockey was blunt: “No. Joe. No,” was how he put it.
Greiner’s point to Hockey was that if he becomes leader now on ETS terms dictated by the climate sceptics in the party he can never be his own man, his own leader.
“For Joe to take the job now based on what he’s said before would amount to standing for a lie,” says Greiner. “That is, he’d be standing for the reverse of what his previous view has been, in favour of an ETS. It wouldn’t be his leadership it would be someone else’s. “They (the right-wing sceptics) want two bob each way. They want to impose their view then have someone electorally saleable and moderate like Joe sell it.“
In July 2009 he took a trek up Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania to raise money for a children’s charity, the Humpty Dumpty Foundation. That meant daily walks and definitely no beer.
SPEECH IN APRIL 2010
Mr Hockey warned in his speech to the Eidos Institute in Brisbane that the accumulation of debt by government as a result of its fiscal stimulus would crowd out and weaken private sector activity. Interest rates would be pushed up because of the extra competition on the capital markets. “It’s why I have been so resolute in my opposition to the reckless accumulation of debt by government,” he said. “That debt is placing pressure interest rates domestically and internationally, making it more difficult for enterprise.
This speech (the full report should be read) reveals some of the sloppiness in Joe’s thinking which led to the “Sloppy Joe” nickname. His comments about the effect of Government intervention on interest rates were totally incorrect interest, both locally and globally, were at historic lows and have continued at that level.
STOMACH STAPLING 2012
While Hockey worked hard at keeping fit, playing football every week alongside Wallaby coach Robbie Deans he also loved pizza and beer. He was teased for his size. His was apparently inspired to lose weight after his daughter asked him whether he would be alive to see her wedding. A stomach-reduction operation helped him shed 20 kilograms.
A fan of Seinfeld, Delta Goodrem and AC/DC and loves sailing and scuba diving he was nicknamed Sloppy Joe, for his lack of attention to detail.
In an interview around that time he self described himself as a God-botherer at war with his Catholicism (“I pop into church irregularly and say G’day to God”).
THE END OF THE AGE OF ENTITLEMENT Apr 2012
Hockey went to London to address the Institute of Economic Affairs. In an important, international speech he announced a major shift in the thinking of the Australian Liberal Party.
OVER MY DEAD BODY Jun 2012
A bill to allow offshore processing of asylum seekers passed the Lower House after some six hours of passionate and emotional debate. The ABC reported, “An emotional Joe Hockey told Parliament of his father’s journey to Australia as a refugee in 1948. The shadow treasurer said he could not accept the Government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Malaysia without proper human rights protections. “I will never ever support a people swap where you can send a 13-year-old child unaccompanied to a country without supervision,” he said. “Never. It’ll be over my dead body.”
APPOINTMENT AS TREASURER Sept, 2013
Following the September 2013 election Hockey, as expected, was appointed Treasurer by new Prime Minister tony abbott.
What is concerning about this appointment is that, as the Saturday Paper reported, “Babbage is perceived to be an increasingly major influence on Hockey since her retirement from Deutsche Bank, along with Grant Lovett, Hockey’s current chief of staff, who is a former finance executive with UBS. With his spouse, his chief of staff and his department all singing the same tune – without a countervailing, grounded source of real-world political advice in his office – it is little wonder that Hockey makes clunky policy moves that rebound in the electorate.“
All his advice is economic, none is political, none is about humanity.
HIS FIRST BUDGET May, 2014
His first budget revealed all the ugliness and brutality of economic commonsense with none of the electoral sensitivity we expect from our political leaders. Yet we were told “Treasurer Joe Hockey caught dancing to Best Day of My Life before delivering Federal Budget“
The Sydney Morning Herald summed the budget up with the headline “Federal Budget 2014: Joe Hockey hurts his way into history” At the end of that article is a summary of the pain. Here is a little of it.
HEALTH $7 co-payment for visits to the GP and some screening services; pharmaceutical prices increased.
PENSIONS Pension age lifted to 70 by 2035, pensions – aged and disability support – to be indexed to inflation, rather than wages, from September 2017.
UNEMPLOYED ”Earn or learn” policy: unemployed younger than 30 years old will need to wait six months before receiving allowances.
FUEL EXCISE AND POOR PEOPLE Aug 2014
There was also a change to fuel excise. In August, Hockey explained that, The people who actually pay the most with an increase in fuel excise are higher income people, and yet the Labor Party and the Greens are opposing it. “They say you’ve got to have wealthier people or middle-income people pay more. Well, the change to the fuel excise does exactly that. The poorest people either don’t have cars or actually don’t drive very far in many cases.
Following the “Poor People Don’t Drive” furore, he did an interview on BAY FM (I think a Geelong radio station)
In a report on that chat, Hockey had one last thing to say this morning, as he riffed about the poor, endless suffering of a life in politics. “I am not going to indulge in self-pity, that would be a very conceited thing to do,” Hockey opined, apparently with a straight face. “I am focused on what needs to be done. The best thing that I can do is, when it comes to the economy, lift the tide so that all boats rise.” Very conceited, yes. But also quite silly. Because as everyone knows, ‘the poorest people either don’t have boats or actually don’t sail very far in many cases’.
And yes, that’s a genuine example of twisting Hockey’s words.
SUMMARY AND ANALYSIS
The most successful traders are imbued with deep humility because they cannot afford to be wrong for long. They are notoriously scornful of economists’ zealotry. Hockey comes from a trading background and his DNA is rooted in possibly the most successful trading society in the Western Hemisphere. Yet we have seen an affable man willing to climb Mt Kilimanjaro for charity, support women’s right to choose and dance in a pink tutu, change into a Treasurer who seems to care only for the bottom financial line and not at all for his customers, the people of Australia.
How many 13 year old refugee children have been sent overseas since his change of attitude?
I am left wondering if that personality change has come because of a deliberate effort due to a need to “Out-abbott” his Party Leader at the next challenge. Or if it is due to the continual very dry background economic influence of his wife and his Department.
Or is it a combination of the two?
Whichever it is, it would seem that, like Malcolm Turnbull, Joe Hockey is yet another good man set on a path of self-destruction by tony abbott. The damage being done to his reputation will lead to him losing the Treasurership and any chance of leading his party.
[Additions will be made as discovered]
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