Former treasurer Joe Hockey has admitted he had to get out of politics after 20 years because if he’d stayed, his focus would have been on “getting even” with the people who brought about his political demise.
Hockey, who this morning was appointed Australia’s ambassador to the US, was talking to entrepreneur and Celebrity Apprentice star Mark Bouris on The Mark Bouris Show, saying that he still wanted to contribute to public life, but “the politics at the end of the day beat me”.
In a telling insight for the MP once dubbed “genial Joe”, especially in the context of former PM Tony Abbott’s pledge that there would be “no wrecking, no undermining, no sniping”, Hockey tells Bouris over coffee in a Sydney cafe that you need to keep looking to the next challenge to stop you focussing on the past.
“If you look forward, you’re not reflecting too much on what happened,” he said.
Hockey stepped down in October, with his successor in the seat of North Sydney, Trent Zimmerman, elected for the Liberal Party on the weekend.
Former prime minister Tony Abbott has previously outlined that he’d look at making a decision on his future around Christmas.
Talking to Bouris, the former treasurer confesses that staying in politics would have seen him out for revenge on enemies in the Liberal Party that brought him down.
“If I was going to stay it’d be have to be, it’d be overwhelmingly about getting even with people that brought me down,” Hockey says.
Subsequent reports about the end of the Abbott government repeatedly point Coalition MPs telling Abbott to get rid of Hockey as treasurer – something the former PM allegedly sought to do in the dying hours of his leadership by offering the role to Scott Morrison.
But Hockey says his priorities prevented him from staying on in Parliament.
“I love my country and my family more than I hate my enemies,” he tells Bouris, adding that “if it’s all about you, you’re in the business for the wrong reasons”.
Bouris recounts how former Channel 9 CEO David Gyngell, also the father of young children at 50, recently stepped down to spend time with his family.
Hockey, who has three young children under 10 with his wife, investment banker Melissa Babbage, confesses that the kids “drive you mad”.
“You sort of miss the intellectual stimulation,” he says.
He takes up the US ambassador posting in early 2016.
You can watch Hockey’s chat with Mark Bouris here: