Joe fails to read the play | Editorial

Joe Hockey
Joe Hockey

THE Treasurer, Joe Hockey, continues to find it tough going as he tries to convince Senate crossbenchers to agree to many aspects the government’s much-maligned budget.

It’s not surprising there was new criticism yesterday of Mr Hockey being out of touch and failing to understand the impact of his budget on lower income earners after his observation that the “poorest people either don’t have cars or actually don’t drive very far in many cases”.

If his comment was designed to help Mr Hockey sell a plan to use fuel excise to help cut the deficit because it would be a bigger impost on higher income-earners, he was woefully mistaken.

Mr Hockey should be aware welfare groups, Labor and a motoring group’s submission to a Senate inquiry have pointed out poorer people use the same amount of fuel as those on higher incomes. And they often use their cars more often because they live in outer suburbs or rural and regional areas acc-ess to public transport is problematic.

Convincing Australians that increasing the fuel excise is fair is a task Mr Hockey may find beyond him.

That would leave him invoking the big stick of “emergency” austerity measures he has threatened.