Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey speaking at the National Press Club in Canberra, Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013. Mr Hockey spoke on the Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook. (AAP Image/Alan Porritt) NO ARCHIVING
Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey speaking at the National Press Club in Canberra, Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013. Mr Hockey spoke on the Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook. (AAP Image/Alan Porritt) NO ARCHIVING ALAN PORRITT

Hockey pushing for urgency in asset sell-offs

TREASURER Joe Hockey has told business and political leaders in New South Wales to "move quickly" on plans to sell off assets and re-invest in new infrastructure.

Mr Hockey, who this week faced internal criticism for the unsuccessful budget sell and co-operating with the author of a new book about him, spoke to an investment forum on Friday.

But the government's plans to pour $5 billion into new infrastructure are in limbo after the Senate rejected bills to create the asset recycling program.

Senators from various parties had opposed some key parts of the bill, including taking $3.5 billion from the government's education investment fund for the initiative, after the government refused senate changes in the House.

But Mr Hockey has continued to push the program to investors since the parliament rose.

On Friday, he told NSW Treasurer Mike Baird and business leaders in the most populous state that the Abbott government was "prepared to be as ambitious as is necessary" to get it running.

The initiative would see state governments sell off energy networks and ports, among other assets, with the Commonwealth to provide grants worth 15% of the value to re-invest in new projects.

It has been welcomed by leaders in both NSW and Queensland, but the Senate blockage has slowed the government's progress.


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