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My 45 minutes as economic advisor to the Treasurer – James Cryer.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014
By James Cryer

Industry seer and gadfly, James Cryer, took up an invitation to meet Treasurer Joe Hockey to talk over some points in a ‘Budget Review’ at his North Sydney office. Here is how it happened and, for those with a taste for it, the original communication between the two.

Democracy is, no doubt, a flawed notion. We whinge about it, but like the weather, nobody does anything about it. And worse than that, we don’t bother to assert our rights as citizens, maybe with good cause, as we’ve been battered and bruised for so long by politicians who are indifferent, incompetent or just inappropriate!

It was into this murky world that I ventured some months ago, when, as an ordinary citizen (is there any other kind?) I was so put out by Joe Hockey’s recent budget that I fired off a salvo telling him exactly what I thought of his budget. While that gave me a warm inner glow, one doesn’t usually expect a response from our political servants, much less when you’ve told them what a lousy job they’re doing!

So imagine my surprise when I got a call from his office saying that the Federal Treasurer wished to see me. This could only mean one of two things, either I was going to be met by men with machine-guns or he was going to appoint me his next economic advisor.

Luckily for me and the country neither option eventuated. Instead, he gave me a decent chunk of his time and a fair hearing.

I must say, Joe and I agreed to disagree on a few things  and no, he didn’t agree that everyone in the printing industry should get a generous tax break. One thing I must say to his credit is that he agreed to meet me and allowed me to put my case.

Most pollies when confronted by a 1,100-words attack on their brand new baby (in this case his first budget) would have taken the easy option; ignore it and it’ll go away!

So now, not only do I have a warm inner glow but I can tell my grandkids that, for a few fleeting moments the country was being run by some nonentity from the printing industry!

Democracy doesn’t get any better than this.

James Cryer

JDA Print Recruitment


'I am what you may regard as a rusted-on Liberal.' James Cryer with Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey.

The 2014 Federal Budget Review – and a Few Constructive Suggestions

Greetings Joe – we’ve not met but as a Castlecrag resident I’m in your catchment area, so I hope you’ll do me the courtesy of a well thought out reply to the various points I raise. None of these points are particularly original – they’re simply a reflection of the general clamour arising in protest at your first budget. It’s not enough for you to say, I’m right – and everyone else is wrong! It seems undeniable there does seem to be a serious groundswell of opinion, that you’ve missed the boat in terms of achieving what you lead us to believe you were seeking to do – ie, to bring the axe down evenly upon ALL sectors.

I am what you may regard as a rusted-on Liberal. For my sins I was once president of the Lindfield party (mid-1980’s) and you may have even met my father (Wal Cryer) when he was president of the Chamber of Manufacturers (as it was then, at the time of the bicentenary celebrations, in1988).

So it takes a fair bit to get me agitated, as I am fairly forgiving of the sins on our side”of politics. I have never written to a federal Treasurer before, so you can make of that what you will.

But you have managed to do the impossible with this budget – proclaim to do one thing and in effect achieve the exact opposite.

I listened patiently to the audio of your talk to the Sydney Institute last week, where your theme was attempting to hose down accusations that your budget was unfair. You even had a shot at Ross Gittins, which was probably unwise as he has a loyal following on BOTH sides of politics. I know he’s also labelled your budget as scoring badly in term of equity – but why should you go on the attack? He may have a point.

Your speech was liberally sprinkled with the suggestion you or “someone” had to take the lead in arresting the over-spending of the other mob. Fair enough – nobody has a problem with that.

But in going on that morale crusade you built up everyone’s expectations, that finally, the heavy-hand of tax reform would fall equally across all sectors of society.

But it hasn’t and you know how I know? You’re getting inundated with middle class punters telling you they would have been quite happy to pay something but you completely missed them in your so-called desire to share the burden! You failed to adopt one of taxation’s oldest rules: levy the burden according to the capacity to pay.

You’ve committed the crime of omission, by not doing something you should have, i.e. not taxing a large chunk of people who would have willingly coughed up! How silly is that?

The full unexpurgated text of James Cryer’s letter to the Treasurer is here.

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