Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey really are an embarrassment and if they mean what they say about not contributing to the International Monetary Fund then heaven help us if they are ever in a position to practice what they preach. Today in question time the pair were attacking a proper, responsible government for daring to say Australia would make its share of loans to the IMF that turned out to be necessary for that body to deal with another monetary crisis set off by sovereign debt defaults in Europe. With a complete disregard for the consequences of Australia reneging on its obligations, the xenophobic Abbott and Hockey made it clear that a government of theirs would not be helping to prop up a country like Greece.

Treasurer and acting Prime Minister Wayne Swan made a good fist of pointing out that Australian contributions to the IMF were by way of loans on which we earn interest but that meant nothing to the hopeless Hockey. He was armed with some comments last week by the British Chancellor George Osborne declaring that Britain will not contribute directly to any eurozone bailout or allow the IMF to do the same. That was enough for the shadow Treasurer to advocate Australia taking the same approach.

Interesting, then, that round about the same time as Abbott and Hockey were peddling their nonsense that the

BBC political editor Nick Robinson was reporting that the UK government is prepared to give more money to the International Monetary Fund so that it can help struggling eurozone nations. Such a move, said Robinson, could mean debt-ridden nations like Greece, Italy or Spain are indirectly helped by British taxpayers.

“Chancellor George Osborne has reassured his backbenchers – and won himself favourable headlines in the Eurosceptic press – by declaring that Britain will not contribute directly to any eurozone bailout or allow the IMF to do the same.

“But he is ready to say that the IMF may need more funds to help struggling countries around the globe, which might of course just include a few in the eurozone getting money in effect from the British taxpayer.”

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