Joe Hockey’s day just got a lot worse.

After a difficult 24 hours in which he attacked Gordon Brown, Barack Obama and the G20 and declared he wanted to cut Government spending by more than 3% of GDP, or over $40b, Hockey this afternoon declared himself in favour of low interest rates over employment.

Reacting to today’s unemployment figures, Hockey claimed vindication for the Coalition’s argument that the stimulus should be withdrawn, despite the loss of more than 30,000 full-time jobs, and blamed the Government for putting upward pressure on interest rates.

“So you’re saying,” one journalist asked, “it is more important to keep interest rates low than to spend money to keep people in work?”

“Yes, yes,” Hockey replied.

Hockey declined to specify how he would curb Government spending to below 24% of GDP, a level he said yesterday should be the “emergency or maximum” level.  Peter Costello managed to reduce spending below 24% once as Treasurer, although it was 24% in the final year of the Howard Government.

The Government found itself with an embarrassment of riches for Question Time material today, all of it provided by Hockey’s indiscipline and inability to find the same careful phrasing for the Coalition’s economic arguments as his leader Malcolm Turnbull manages.  There are questions being asked about Hockey’s capacity for the difficult shadow Treasury portfolio, but the Coalition has a broader problem that economic data appears to stubbornly be falling the Government’s way at every stage of the economic debate.