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Opinion

Euromoney finance minister of the year award: Hockey sticks it to Chunt

Joe Hockey, the opposition treasurer in the Canberra parliament

Joe Hockey, like many Australians, didn’t agree with our decision to recognize Wayne Swan’s achievements by giving him Euromoney’s finance minister of the year award. We didn’t expect him to either. He’s the opposition treasurer in the Canberra parliament after all.

But we weren’t really expecting him to make Euromoney and our decision the subject of a debate on the floor of the Australian parliament. Nor did we think that Mr Hockey would make such a complete hash of his attempts to denigrate it.

Swan’s Labor party has a majority of just one seat, and is dependent on the support of three independent MPs. Hockey’s Liberal Party are way ahead in the polls and could assume power in the near future.

Australia’s economic strength is in large part founded on its exporting of natural resources, much of it to developing nations.

He joked about Nigeria, whose finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was the recipient of this award in 2005 and became a managing director of the World Bank, then was reappointed as finance minister earlier this year.

He described our decision to give the award in 2001 to Shaukat Aziz, then finance minister of Pakistan, as "quite an extraordinary one, that one". He was obviously ignorant of Aziz’s economic achievements and later his much-heralded spell as prime minister of Pakistan.

Schoolboy errors, perhaps? But nothing was more childish than quoting the email address of our online publisher, with a broad grin, as ‘chunt@euromoney.com'.

Leader of the House Anthony Albanese chided Hockey, saying he had insulted a number of nations before he "moved on to tell the same sordid year-seven joke about female genitalia that goes on in a boys’ school."

We’d like to ask Mr Hockey if he also disagrees with our decision to give the central bank governor of the year award to Zhou Xiaochuan of China – easily Australia’s biggest trading partner.

But the joke has backfired on Hockey. He’s been exposed as a narrow-minded politician in a country with global reach.

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