It’s the kind of good news that Treasurer Joe Hockey would prefer to keep quiet: the Reserve Bank is heading for a profit this year of $6 billion or more. But don’t let anyone know, just in case people remember the circumstances in which Hockey gave an $8.8 billion handout last October.
Back then Hockey, in his first overseas trip as Treasurer, was sufficiently frightened by his exposure to the bigwigs of finance at the International Monetary Fund meeting in Washington that he decided the Reserve Bank needed a boost to its reserve fund, even though the central bank had not directly asked for it. Hockey’s tone back then was near-hysterical. The Australian Financial Review breathlessly reported: “Mr Hockey, who returned from Washington last week vowing to load up ‘both barrels’, said the Reserve Bank cash grant was needed because ‘we need all the ammunition in the guns for what’s before us’.” Hockey predicted another major clash between the Republicans and United States President Barack Obama early in the new year. “I don’t see a way forward out of that,” he said.