Joe Hockey has this morning backed away from his humiliating apology over his comments about the fuel excise impacting the least on the poorest Australians.
After a week of claiming he’d been taken out of context, and then finally last Friday issuing a groveling apology, Hockey this morning decided to chance his arm one last time in an interview with Bay FM in Geelong.
“It’s really important that you don’t allow people to try and misrepresent your values. And that’s what annoyed me most about last week,” a laconic sounding Hockey said.
“I feel responsible for it and I accept that. But I’m absolutely determined to make sure that we have a stronger nation….”
Hockey was then asked by the host if his “words were twisted” in the debate. And – stunningly – Hockey took the bait.
“Look I think anyone who actually looks at what I actually said as opposed to what people were reporting that I said might form that view,” said.
“But any words I use now will be, again, misinterpreted.”
Far be it for that to occur. So here’s a direct, exact, precise transcript of what he originally said: “The change to fuel excise, the people that actually pay the most are higher income people, with an increase in fuel excise and yet, the Labor Party and the Greens are opposing it.
"They say you've got to have wealthier people or middle-income people pay more. Well, change to the fuel excise does exactly that. The poorest people either don't have cars or actually don't drive very far in many cases. But, they are opposing what is meant to be, according to the Treasury, a progressive tax."
Hockey’s answer was in response to a question specifically about people paying their share, and the poor having a greater burden placed on them.
And here’s Hockey’s groveling apology from last Friday: “I’m really, genuinely sorry.”
And here’s his latest remarks one more time, for good luck: “I think anyone who actually looks at what I actually said as opposed to what people were reporting that I said might form that view,” in response to a question about if his words were twisted.
And now here are the facts: poorer people spend a greater proportion of their income on fuel than wealthier people. So they are obviously impacted more by a rise in fuel excise.
And for the record, the fuel excise is considered at best, a proportional tax, but more widely agreed as a regressive tax. It is not, as Hockey claims, a progressive tax.
Hockey had one last thing to say this morning, as he riffed about the poor, endless suffering of a life in politics.
“I am not going to indulge in self-pity, that would be a very conceited thing to do,” Hockey opined, apparently with a straight face.
“I am focused on what needs to be done. The best thing that I can do is, when it comes to the economy, lift the tide so that all boats rise.”
Very conceited, yes. But also quite silly. Because as everyone knows, ‘the poorest people either don't have boats or actually don't sail very far in many cases’.
And yes, that’s a genuine example of twisting Hockey’s words.
Donate To New Matilda
New Matilda is a small, independent media outlet. We survive through reader contributions, and never losing a lawsuit. If you got something from this article, giving something back helps us to continue speaking truth to power. Every little bit counts.