Joe Hockey defends 'poor people don't drive far' comments

FEDERAL Treasurer Joe Hockey has brushed aside criticism over comments he made declaring poorer people would not be affected by the fuel tax because they do not own cars or drive very far.

Mr Hockey made the claim during a radio interview in Brisbane this week as part of a national tour to try to gain support for his budget.

He said the budget would hit high-income families, citing hikes to the fuel tax, because the rich drove their cars further.

"Well, change to the fuel excise does exactly that . . . the poorest people either do not have cars or actually do not drive very far in many cases," he said.

LNP Queensland Senator Ian McDonald said today regional Australians had no option but to use their cars claiming they would be the real losers under the proposed fuel tax.

"Whether you are rich or poor you need a vehicle to be able to get from one place to the other," he said.

"You need a car to get to hospital, to get to school, to get to your daily work routine.

"Unfortunately increases in fuel excises will impact more heavily on those who do not have an alternative."

Katter's Australian Party leader Bob Katter echoed Senator McDonald's claims saying the government was totally out of touch with regional Australia.

He said people living in metropolitan areas enjoyed a subsidised public transport system which is not available in non-metropolitan areas.

"There are approximately 2.5 million people in Queensland and 3 million people in New South Wales living outside of the greater metropolitan area," he said.

"Fuel excise will affect every single one of these people."

Mr Hockey took to Sydney airwaves today but did not back down from his previous comments.

"What I was pointing out was that, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the highest income households pay three times the amount of fuel excise than the lowest income households," he said.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten seized on the comments saying the government was out of touch and remarkably arrogant.

"Joe Hockey just does not get how rotten his budget is," he said.

"Are you serious Joe Hockey? Are you really the cigar-chomping, Foghorn Leghorn of Australian politics where you are saying that poor people do not drive cars?"

It has been three months since Mr Hockey delivered his first budget.

Meanwhile, on Twitter the #OtherThingsThatThePoorDontDo hashtag has started trending.


Topics:  cost of living fuel excise ian mcdonald joe hockey petrol poor transportation

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