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Friends and family: Joe Hockey poses with his wife Melissa Babbage (left), Peter FitzSimons, Lisa Wilkinson (right) and writer Madonna King. Photo: James Alcock/Getty Images Sign of approval: Joe Hockey and writer Madonna King autograph the tome. Photo: James Alcock/Getty Images
Colleagues rue ‘unhelpful’ content of Hockey’s book
Free of Clive Palmer’s grasp, Prime Minister Tony Abbott turned in a brilliant performance as a world statesman only to have his Treasurer rain on his parade.
A book about the life and times of Joe Hockey has Peta Credlin, Mr Abbott’s chief-of-staff, speaking far above her station in life and anointing Mr Hockey as the leading leadership contender.
Then there is Mr Hockey’s wife Melissa Babbage revealing her husband could not trust another Liberal leadership hopeful, Malcolm Turnbull.
Mr Hockey is even quoted uttering the death of a salesman-like opinion that his budget is much softer than he would have liked.
The authorised biography, Hockey: Not Your Average Joe, by Fairfax Media columnist Madonna King – a former News Limited journalist and ABC broadcaster – has rudely shattered Canberra’s mid-winter calm.
The nation’s capital habitually goes into hibernation, with MPs in their electorates or heading overseas to the warmth of the northern hemisphere on parliamentary fact-finding missions.
Now Coalition colleagues are muttering about Mr Hockey’s sense of self-importance and timing.
Mr Hockey told friends who gathered at the North Sydney Oval book launch on Thursday that the release date was not of his choosing. He said he had agreed to take part more than a year ago, when in Opposition.
‘‘I took advice from Tony Abbott and a number of other people and decided to co-operate,’’ he said.
As to his wife’s opinion on Mr Turnbull’s trustworthiness?
‘‘They were her words and they were uttered a while back. I work closely with Malcolm … I speak to him regularly … I trust Malcolm Turnbull, yes.’’
And that business about the budget being softer than he would have liked?
‘‘My job is to prosecute the case. Commentators want to have it both ways; on the one hand they said ‘Joe didn’t have the ticker to do what needs to be done’ and when Joe is part of a team that lays down what needs to be done, they say otherwise,” Mr Hockey said.
Mr Hockey thought the book’s critics were disappointed by its revelation that he and Mr Abbott were very close, a ‘‘welcome change in a relationship between a treasurer and a prime minister’’.
But as to Hockey, PM? ‘‘We’ll leave that to destiny.’’
None of Mr Hockey’s federal colleagues attended the book launch.
A cabinet meeting in Canberra and a remembrance service took precedence. He said some were overseas.
However, the Hockey club at North Sydney included Nick and Kathryn Greiner, John Fahey, Peter Collins, Bruce Baird, Don Harwin, Gladys Berejiklian, George Souris, Peter Coleman, Andrew Denton and Jennifer Byrne.
Another Fairfax columnist, Peter FitzSimons, who is a close friend of Mr Hockey, launched the book.
Their families often dine together on Sunday nights. FitzSimons’ wife, the Nine Network Today program co-host Lisa Wilkinson, acted as compere.
King received the biggest laugh when noting that her book recorded Mr Hockey’s desire to enter hospital for stomach surgery under the pseudonym Dirk Diggler (the name of Mark Wahlberg’s porn star character in the 1997 film Boogie Nights).
The doctors knew best, and he was admitted as Joe Little.
‘‘And that’s unlikely to help negotiations with Jacqui Lambie,’’ Ms King said.
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