After earlier ducking the question, Tony Abbott now says he stands by his Treasurer

Treasurer Joe Hockey and PM Tony Abbott. Photo: Getty Images

During Question Time, Opposition leader Bill Shorten asked Tony Abbott whether he’ll abandon any budget measures, “or is he just planning to abandon his Treasurer as he did at the press conference today?”

The PM responded by saying, “I stand by my Treasurer and I stand by my team.”

Earlier today, Tony Abbott failed to answer in the positive when asked point-blank if he still had confidence in his Treasurer, Joe Hockey.

After surviving a vote to spill the party leadership this morning, the Prime Minister took questions from the media before Question Time.

One reporter asked:

“Do you retain [confidence] in your senior Ministers including the Treasurer, Joe Hockey?”

Here’s what Abbott said:

“The point I make is that this has been a very chastening experience. It’s not often that something like this happens 16 or 17 months into the life of a Government. But we have had some headwinds, as they say. I’m not complaining, because we take the world as it is, not as we would wish it to be, but the Senate obviously has been difficult. The attitude of the Opposition has been obstructionist to say the least. Obviously there was a difficult, difficult result in Queensland and who wouldn’t be nervous after watching the result in Queensland. So all of us are determined to lift our game and the fundamental point I make is that the solution to all of these things is good Government, and good Government starts today.”

Hockey’s performance has been under increasing scrutiny amid the debate over the government’s direction under Abbott and its failure to take control of the economic debate.

The government’s inability to get its budget measures through the Senate, combined with the impact on confidence among voters from the budget’s plans for spending cutbacks, are widely seen to have created some drag on the economy by holding back spending.

News Corp reported on Sunday that one option for the PM to quell the backbench revolt against his leadership and see off a potential challenge from Malcolm Turnbull was to appoint Turnbull treasurer. Turnbull would be prepared to serve as treasurer in order to end the leadership speculation, the report said.