I like to think I’m a fair-minded person, socially and politically, that I at least try and show the respect that the offices of our elected leaders deserve if I can’t the people filling them. Everyone has an opinion and our society works best when we allow everyone to argue why there’s is best. Then Joe Hockey opens his mouth and I think “Fuck it. Whose idea was this anyway?”
Case in point, the Australian Treasurer reckons poor people don’t own cars, or if they do they don’t drive them much. So they shouldn’t care about his proposed increase to the fuel excise, right? Right? Cause they don’t need to buy as much fuel…
He’s been called callous and disconnected, coming off like he’s telling the peasants to be grateful they’re so poor since they won’t have to pay as much tax as their betters. Then this morning Joe didn’t make life much easier for himself when he apologised for the outrage rather than the statement, saying he simply gave the facts. Problem with that is it’s not the facts that are at issue here, it’s their insulting delivery that ignores thousands of Australians (particularly in rural locations) who already see a higher proportion (key word there) of their incomes spent on petrol and transportation than higher earners. The fact that he can’t see that is just salt in the wound.
Let me put it this way. If a bank put up the interest rates on its loans would it say “it’s cool though, because poor people have smaller loans so they won’t be paying as much extra interest as rich people”? Of course they bloody wouldn’t. That would be stupid. They’d be talking about the higher costs of borrowing because of market conditions, how they’ve tried to keep things as equitable and painless as possible (since they want people to be able to continue paying off their loans), and pointing out how the rates of their savings accounts have gone up as well. You give people plausible reasons and treat everyone like they matter, or at the very least don’t dismiss them and their concerns.
Funny thing is I’ve heard some good arguments in favour of the plans for the fuel excise (not enough to completely convince me, but good nonetheless), but not from the Treasurer or any of his colleagues. But this is just another in a long list of examples of Joe Hockey and the Coalition government failing to sell their budget, either to the Australian people or to the crossbenchers needed to vote it through the Senate. Maybe it’s time the government let someone else have a crack at it.