Shorten hits out at 'arrogant, cigar-chomping' treasurer

Treasurer Joe Hockey. Picture: PETER RAE

Treasurer Joe Hockey. Picture: PETER RAE

On the attack: Bill Shorten. Picture: ALEX ELLINGHAUSEN

On the attack: Bill Shorten. Picture: ALEX ELLINGHAUSEN

The Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, has lashed Joe Hockey as an “arrogant, cigar-chomping” Treasurer in a fiery speech to about 1000 Labor true believers at the Sydney Town Hall.

And he has vowed Labor will offer “no retreat, no surrender” in its fight to preserve universal health care, arguing that up to $50 billion in cuts to hospitals over the next decade will be “federation changing”.

Speaking at the NSW Labor party conference,  a fiery Mr Shorten launched a blistering attack on Mr Hockey after returning to Australia from a week in the United States.

And the Opposition Leader urged the NSW ALP to “rebuild as a party of members, not factions" as he called for the ALP to push towards a goal of 100,000 members.

An authorised biography of Mr Hockey released last week revealed the Treasurer thought his budget, which delivered swingeing cuts to health, education and pensions, was too soft but that the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, intervened to stop the budget going even further.

Both the content of the book and its timing has created considerable disquiet in Coalition ranks, with many Liberal MPs unhappy with the Treasurer.

“If this is what an authorised biography reveals imagine what the unauthorised biography would reveal,'' he said.

''This arrogant, cigar-chomping Treasurer, his hopeless story reveals it took Tony Abbott to block him from deeper harder cuts. Seriously, if it's up to Tony Abbott to tell you you've gone too far, you've well and truly gone too far.”

The Treasurer's charmed life, Mr Shorten said, has ‘‘robbed him of charity’’.

The Commission of Audit was a road map, Mr Shorten said, that showed what other cuts the government wanted to make.

“A family which lives on $80,000 per year will be $4000 worse off, and worse off every year. And a family on $65,000 will be over $6000 worse off.

''In Tony Abbott’s Australia, the less you earn – the more you pay,’’ he said.

“Here is the destination the conservative side of politics has set for itself - completely abolishing Family Tax Benefit part B, a $15 GP tax, a hospital tax, a lower state based minimum wage, delaying the National Disability Insurance Scheme.”

A spokeswoman for Mr Hockey said: ''The Treasurer had 'more important things to do than respond to a cheap personal attack from Bill Shorten.''