Aug 15, 2014

Woe is Joe: or, how the budget narrative was lost

Joe Hockey's woes this week reflect how the government's budget narrative barely survived budget night.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

Let’s go back to a happier time for Joe Hockey, to just before the May budget, when he was explaining the government’s proposal for a return to fuel excise indexation.

In a article and another one by Laurie Oakes, the excise decision — which the government knew it would cop plenty of stick for — was explained in terms of the need to get a vast infrastructure program rolling; a program that would be, Oakes said, the “cornerstone of the budget”. Hockey and Co even harboured hopes — about which Oakes was rather sceptical — that the indexation would prove popular with voters. Hockey, pictured with sleeves rolled up, all busyness and bustle, declared that getting infrastructure investment moving would create “tens of thousands of new jobs, but most importantly it is going to address the significant drop-off in investment in construction in Australia, associated with mining investment coming off.”

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59 thoughts on “Woe is Joe: or, how the budget narrative was lost

  1. leon knight

    Abbott brilliant in opposition? Don’t think so Bernard…ruthless, numbingly repetitive, and effective amidst the Labor turmoil, yes. But a long way short of brilliant, and his current posturing on the “murderous hordes”, and stupid attacks on Putin, are equally cynical and deserve little credit.

  2. AJH


    “ruthless, numbingly repetitive, and effective amidst the Labor turmoil”

    You’ve just described the attributes needed for a capable opposition leader.

    Brilliant opposition leaders are like attack dogs… and Abbott was extremely capable in that regard.

  3. David Hand

    I don’t understand how Hockey could walk into such a gaff. After all, the underlying debate has been going on for years. Direct progressive taxes disproportionately target high income earners. Indirect regressive taxes affect low income earners proportionately more.

    If Joe can’t work out how to answer a fairly standard question of your pin-up poor person being penalised by fuel excise, you’ve got to wonder if he can do the job. I reckon Wayne Swan would have answered it better.

    There is a strong case for a mixed taxation process of both direct and indirect taxes. The Treasurer should be able to explain it.

  4. Scott

    What about the 12.5% increase in tobacco excise in 2013 proposed by the Labor government? Also, not “fair”?

    Lower income people pay a greater percentage of their income on grog and smokes than the wealthy, so increasing it is also descriminative against those people.

    But I guess it’s only “unfair” when the Liberals propose something.

  5. Alan

    @leon knight, my thoughts exactly. Lurching around the world, the only people listening to him is his adoring press troupe.

  6. Flickknifetipsy

    Scott – nobody has to smoke!!

  7. MJPC

    @ Alan, Leon Knight, agree wholeheartedly. What has Abbott achieved overseas? Went to London to have a phone call with the British PM on holiday.
    Pontificated about supporting Iraq (but not sending in the troops), made threats against Russia which will never happen: All smoke and mirrors. Meanwhile back on the Home Front Uncle Joe is floundering about (ably assisted by C Pyne and the other idiots). And we pay these imposters through our taxes?

  8. Jimmy

    Scott – The hieks in “sin taxes” are designed to stop people from smoking and help them pay for the medical expenses they will incur from a result of that choice – the same cna’t be said for the fuel levy, nice try in shifting the focus though.

    Has there been a week since this govt came to office that there hasn’t bee a massive self inflicted wound, from Pyne having to be slapped down by Abbott on Gonski to now it has been constant balls ups from minister after minister – thanks god the adults are in charge.

  9. Gerryod

    Abbott’s strength is international affairs – really? The how come he hasn’t heard of Climate Change and what the rest of the world is doing about it? Hmmm, I think its a case of him being less incompetent at international affairs maybe that is giving him a break.

    As for Uncle Joe, he is just following the Libs mantra:

    F the poor
    F the unemployed
    F the sick
    F the pensioners
    F the disabled
    F the environment

    Screw the unions
    Screw the workers
    Screw Medicare

    Then smoke a good Havana!

    That’ll do it!

  10. Scott

    Don’t we also want to reduce pollution? Seems to me like an increase in the fuel excise might get a few cars off the road, ease congestion and improve the air quality.

    Guess not!

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