Joe Hockey’s claim that “Poor people don’t have cars, don’t drive far.” seriously failed the ABC Factcheck test. But what he said was an exercise in stupidity that went far beyond getting some facts wrong. It reinforced the perception that Joe is a man on a class war against what he sees as the unentitled poor. Worse still, it showed a man that was so busy trying to hide what the fuel tax hike will cost that he failed to realise that actually telling people what it would cost would have taken the sting out of the attacks. Firstly, the fact check: The fact check is a mine of useful information that goes well beyond the fuel tax issue that is well worth reading. However, I will lead you to wade through fact check apart a few key points:
- Something like 90% of poor households owned at least one car.
- In terms of how far people travel by car in Melbourne ” Professor Currie says his research in 2008 found the average travel distances for people who live on the urban fringe of Melbourne was 16.4 kilometres each trip. For inner area residents, which are typically higher income, it was 6.4 kilometres per trip. “The implication is that they have higher costs for travel and longer travel times,” he said in an article published in August.” This is a common problem in large cities where the poor often live in fringe areas with poor public transport. Even if there is public transport, for places like Brisbane it costs a lot more to use public transport instead of driving an already owned car.
On a per capita basis, average spending on petrol in 2009-10 was $15.84 a week in a high-income household and $10.91 in a low-income one. This equates to the high-income households spending 1.45 times the low-income ones, again much lower than Mr Hockey’s 3.3 times.
- In terms of percent of household spending “These figures imply that petrol ate up 4.5 per cent of the incomes of low-income households, but only 1.4 per cent of the incomes of high-income households.”
What was really dumb? If I was going to defend a tax increase it would seem smart to at least know how big the change would be before deciding the defence strategy. The increase in fuel tax will come from the decision to end Howard’s unsustainable fuel tax cuts and return to indexation. The Australian said that ” Fuel excise is currently 38.1c a litre but will rise in line with inflation twice a year. If we assume that inflation will run at 3% a year this means that the price of fuel will rise by 1.14 cents per litre. The average car travels about 15,000 km per year. What this means is that the fuel bill for a 10 litre/100 km gas guzzler will go up by a truly massive 33 cents per week. Err: “We are arguing about what?? Even dumber, the Hockey defence came in the form of yet another sneer at the poor. This on top of his smartarse reply when asked what he would do if he were unemployed: “I would get a job.” No sign of understanding that there is actually a work shortage and not everyone has Joe’s education and other advantages. Then there are all the class warfare attacks on the unentitled poor in Joe’s seriously unfair budget.
One wonders how much longer Hockey and his budget can last?