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Mr Hockey Knows The Value Of A Good Story – Unfortunately, The Liberals Don’t Have One!

Actually, the title of this piece is unfair. The Liberals not only have a good story, they have oodles of them. And this is what’s making their narrative so confusing.

Back when Labor were in power, the narrative was easy. “We should be in power because we’re awesome, and what this country needs is strong leadership which Labor lacks (but don’t call us sexist because we didn’t say that they weren’t strong because they had a woman in charge – I mean, if Julia can’t stand the heat she should go back to the kitchen!)” But now that they’re in a position where, not only do they have to actually do something, they have to explain those decisions, it’s no longer quite as simple. And, while many of their decisions seem contrary to what they were saying in Opposition, it’s the explanations that are making these decisions look even more ridiculous.

Now I may not agree with a hard-hearted policy of let’s kick the poor, but at least if the narrative stays on the “it’s an emergency” and “we all need to make sacrifices” and “the poor are a mob of lazy leaners who need to get off their fat spotty backsides and inherit more”, then at least I can appreciate that, while the other person and I have a different value system, I can at least understand where they’re coming from. I can appreciate that they have a different moral code, where they support Ayn Rand, (who argued that it was the individual who was important and that all individuals were brilliant, unique people with a right to impose their ideas on society, so long as their ideas agreed with hers.) I, on the other hand, understand the role that luck plays in people’s lives and how I’d have my mortgage paid off were it not for the fact that Red Cadeux ran second in 2012.

While Joe’s comment about a child living till 150 has attracted plenty of ridicule, his basic point was right. If people are living longer, how do we ensure that they have an acceptable lifestyle? However, this now makes the decision to freeze the superannuation guarantee payments at 9..5% seem rather short-sighted. Interestingly, Howard also froze the superannuation payments. (Are we seeing a pattern here?) We don’t want people dependent on the pension, but we also don’t want to do anything to help them be more financially secure.

However, It’s his son’s trip to the doctor that I find most problematic. He seemed to arguing that it was outrageous that he only had to pay $40. And it’s just wrong that someone like him should only have to pay that. So therefore, his logic seemed to run, with a few exceptions for the very poor, we should all have a “price signal” to stop us going to the doctors. Now let’s not bring up the fact that there’s a big difference between “someone like him” and even someone on a decent wage, let alone someone working part-time in a long paid job. The exemptions for the co-payments were pensioners, health care card recepients and children; it didn’t include “Howard’s battlers”. And it certainly didn’t include all those people who were “battling” on $150,000 when Labor wanted to means test the private health insurance rebate.

Now, I tend to think of the Medicare Levy as like insurance. Many of us won’t use up as much as we pay in any given year, but it’s nice to know that if you suddenly need a costly procedure that you don’t need to re-fincance your house, sell a kidney or run for office as a politician in NSW. Using Joe’s logic, and applying it to car insurance, it’s outrageous that someone driving an expensive Lexus should only have to pay the same excess as some driving something cheap like a Nissan, even though they’ve paid more in insurance.

And, of course, Mr Hockey tells us that high income workers work for the first six months to pay their taxes. Apart from the fact that this has been demonstrated as incorrect. (For a start, to be mildly pedantic people earn the first $18,000 tax free, so surely it’d be the last six months, rather than the first!)

So let’s get this straight. High income earners are hard done by because they pay so much tax, but they should then have to fork out more than $40 if their son breaks their arm because they can afford it. And we need to do this, along with such things as forcing our children to pay more for their university degrees, because some lucky bastard will live to be 150!

Like I said, the narrative doesn’t make sense. I’m not sure whether to feel sorry for those poor rich people paying so much tax, or be annoyed because somehow Joe Hockey managed to get by only paying $40 for his kid’s broken arm, when it cost me considerably more than that for a visit to my local doctor (when she doesn’t bulk bill me, because it’s a quick visit to renew my prescription and check my blood pressure – bloody six minute medicine.)

It’s like the way the Liberals argue for lower taxes because money’s better in people’s hands than the government’s, but when Labor gave the $900 stimulus in the middle of the GFC, we were told that this was a total waste of money because people would just waste it on pokies and alcohol. Which, strangely, was a good thing when Labor were proposing the limits on the poker machines. Then, a self-imposed limit was going to wreck the clubs, causing massive unemployment.

Labor’s narrative isn’t perfect either, of course. There are inconsistencies there too. But I’m yet to hear them argue two opposing narratives in the same week such as the rich pay too much in tax and don’t pay enough for government services. And certainly not by the same Treasurer.

Yep, one can certainly understand why Peta Credlin would want to have them all on such a tight rein. The real question is why she lets them out more than once a fortnight!


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  1. kate ahearne

    Thanks for this – well put. Does Joe Hockey have private health cover? Or is he on Medicare?

  2. Rossleigh

    It wasn’t very clear from his little anecdote.
    But then nothing that Joe Hockey has tried to explain lately is very clear.

  3. Rossleigh

    ABC News:

    Mr Hockey said the Government was determined to make Medicare sustainable and said those who could afford to be paying more to see a doctor should do so.

    “Over the New Year’s break my little boy broke his foot,” Mr Hockey said.

    “This is not uncommon for families. He is five years of age.

    “You take him to the hospital, go to see the specialist, get the X-rays, get the cast.

    “The only contribution I made, and I earn a lot of money as Treasurer, was $40 cash to get a waterproof cast. That was it.”

    Mr Hockey said that was “inherently wrong” and that he should be making a contribution.

  4. kate ahearne

    I wonder if one of your readers would be able to tell us what the difference might have been between a Medicare broken foot and a private broken foot?

  5. eli nes

    it only cost him $40 because he upgraded his boy’s cast. It certainly looks like the hapless hockey is open to an increase of the levy because the mega rich don’t pay it????

  6. Terry2

    Joe saw universal healthcare in operation and he doesn’t like what he sees : he wants a co-payment.

    Both Mr Hockey and his wife draw down fairly big salaries – Joe around $400,000 and his wife I understand earns more, so as a couple they are probably pulling in $1 million a year : they would be paying a 2% Medicare Levy on their taxable income so in theory they would already be paying a levy of around $20,000 combined . In addition they would undoubtedly have Private Health insurance which, for a family would probably come in at around $5,000.

    Overall then, Joe and family would be paying $25,000 a year for their health insurance or around $500 a week.

    Joe needs to explain his rationale for a co-payment.

  7. Kaye Lee

    I don’t know if Hockey has private health insurance but it seems we are paying Tony’s medical bills. These were included in his expenses claim for the first 6 moths of 2014


    OS Ministerial – Medical Costs $230.32


    OS Ministerial – Medical Costs $835.15


    OS Ministerial – Medical Costs $394.00

  8. corvus boreus

    I wonder if we pay for Tony to have neuro-toxic botulinum bacteria voluntarily injected into his face.

  9. Kaye Lee

    I dunno but I hope Tony doesn’t go to too many funerals. Weddings and funerals are costing us a fortune.

    South Africa To attend the Nelson Mandela state memorial service. 9 Dec to 11 Dec 13 $55,902.06

  10. FreeThinker

    When you earn, as Abbott does, a paltry $507,000 from the public purse, with a couple more hundred thousand in perks, and your Murdoch and IPA -endorsed social set are neo-liberal buccaneers who think in terms of the millions they can gouge from the Australian tax-payer one way or the other, you begin to understand Abbott’s frame of reference.

    Make no mistake T.A. has over the years, developed into an art form, a very particular finesse at extracting every dollar he can from the Australian taxpayer in the interests of his own comfort and in massaging his own narcissistic persona.

    On the basis of his well-demonstrated record, his ‘privatised mantra’ in assuming the highest office in the land, seems to be :

    ” It is not so much what I can do for the Australian people that matters. it is what the Australian people can do for me and my business friends that really counts. “

  11. Florence nee Fedup

    His yarn seemed to be, he had no choice but to have his son treated under bulkbilling.

    You are wrong. This mob have some great yarns to tell. In fact are doing so each day.

    Trouble is, one has to love fiction, the bizarre, the ridiculous and black comedy to enjoy them. No way are any connected to reality and Australia today.

  12. lawrencewinder

    Oohhh… you’ve been moonlighting, writing “research” for the IPA, haven’t you?
    Or was it for Clarke & Dawe?

  13. Vicki

    Why doesn’t Abbott take out travel insurance when he goes overseas then the Aussie taxpayer wouldn’t have to stump up for his O/S medical costs or am I missing something?

  14. Kaye Lee

    “with a couple more hundred thousand in perks”

    And the rest….

    During that 6 month period, despite paying about $60,000 for Tony and his family to be chauffeured around in comcars, we also paid $6,984.86 for the lease and petrol for his own private car. We pay for his subscription to the Daily Telegraph. Aside from paying for the Lodge, Kirribilli House, and his bunk with the boys at the police academy (oh and the money we wasted getting out of the lease for the other place), Tony charges us $558 every night he stays somewhere in Australia other than Sydney or Canberra (31 nights during that 6 months). His decision to live in Sydney and commute to Canberra is costing us a fortune in flights and comcars.

  15. wmmbb

    The problem for the Government is that they cannot be fully and consistently upfront and honest about their policy intentions because they would not be elected if they were. Wedge tactics may be effective, but they lead to poor policy while creating multiple factions rather than a coalition of interests. Hence a clear narrative is difficult, if not impossible.The problem is compounded in office, which is the long campaign as distinct from the short campaign. Tony Abbott is so aberrant that he must be a symptom of the political system. It is the operation of the supposedly democratic system that should to be the focus of concern.

  16. Zathras

    According to the Parliamentary register Joe is paid via a Family Trust which is a handy way of minimising income tax.

    He also has a $10 million property portfolio and has been shown to charge taxpayers for the personal cost of visiting his Queensland farm.

    I think that classifies him as a bit of a wealthy “leaner” rather than an average “lifter”.

    When it comes to throwing stones, his personal glass house suggests he should choose his targets more carefully.

  17. rossleighbrisbane

    Just in case you read that the radio signals coming from deep space have been translated and that they’re saying that they were searching for another planet with intelligent life but have rejected Earth after hearing that we elected Abbott – it’s not true. I know it’s quite plausible but the truth is that they’d already rejected Earth after George W. was elected President, the Abbott Government is just confirmation!

  18. FreeThinker

    You are right Kaye, I have been too generous to T.A. by far in my underestimation of his capacity to gobble up taxpayer money at a greater rate than his mentor J.H.

    Howard’s daily flights from Kirribilli to Canberra, began slowly re-defining the centre of Australian government as Sydney not Canberra ( the NSW Labor Right faction has no quarrel with this of course in an instance of bi-partisanship) , and Abbott is continuing in this dubious tradition.

    While on the question of flights, let us not overlook Abbott’s pattern of ‘gratuitous flights’ at tax-payer expense , either within Australia, as when he was publicising his book ‘Battlelines’ a few years back, or when he flew from Sydney to Melbourne as Prime Minister to attend Liberal Party meeting last year, under the guise of attending a sporting event.

    Similarly, in his 16 dreadful months as Prime Minister so far, he has undertaken a number of quite unnecessary overseas flights, which are probably for him, a temporary escape from the havoc he is creating in his wake in this country.

  19. corvus boreus

    Kaye Lee,
    Do you know if the public purse pays for any other print media for the PM to peruse, or is Tony merely slugging us for the cost of his addiction to the biased and inaccurate murdoch brand of tabloid misinformation contained in the “telly-crap’, a publication of institutionalised commercial corruption and deception that reinforces his social and scientific misconceptions and political prejudices?

  20. Kaye Mac

    I broke my foot just before Christmas. It was a Sunday so I was taken to the outpatients at local hospital. I had xrays and CT scan and had no charges except the doctor in charge recommended I get the ‘Moon Boot’ instead of a plaster. I could not use foot so needed crutches as well. Had to pay for both although I am a pensioner so all up costs over $70. My question is how did Joe get off so cheaply?? If son was taken to Doctor surely he does not qualify for bulk billing given his parents income. Private health insurance may have paid for Specialists but imagine he should have had to pay for xrays and any scans. When working I know I did not get any of these free. I understand that private health insurance does not cover all these costs. Must have made a dash to hospital with child and learned about the great health system we have for everyone first hand…. Don’t begrudge him that but usually specialists are not in outpatients( and can see no reason for him needing one actually) so think he was telling another one of his porkies..

  21. Phi

    Love your writing Rossleigh – well researched, a wicked wit and an elegant way of sticking the pin right into the puffballs that claim to represent us.

  22. mick

    How much did you pay her to hold up the sign Joe Hockey

  23. Kaye Lee

    Speaking of the sign, I would like to ask that young lady how she feels she will be paying off the national debt. Does she think she will have entitlements cut, does she think her wages will be cut, does she think services will be cut, does she think it will cost more for health and education? Welcome to voting for the Coalition.

  24. eli nes

    terry2 those who get paid through a trust usually pay no income tax therefore no medicare levy?? this puts joe’s bleating lower than the vulture turnbull

  25. Terry2

    eli nes

    As a public servant I do not see how Hockey can direct his salary into a trust …….but I do agree that family trusts have been used as tax minimisation strategies and need to be looked at.

  26. Sir-Murray Robert-Barnard Of-Hawkstone

    Their narrative is clear, less government spending on the people who need it (the higher income earners don’t need newstart etc), make people pay more for health care (higher income earners can afford private cover and the co-payment is a minor irritation to them), make University students pay through the nose (higher income earners will pay up front, so not a problem), reduce payments to seniors and pensioners (higher income earners don’t access these benefits anyway), reduce employer super contributions (higher income earners don’t rely on these anyway)….etc etc. I think their narrative is pretty clear!

  27. Harquebus

    Growth is the mantra of politicians. This is a fatally flawed ideology and that is why their messages are confusing. “Growth is good for everyone” according to Tony Abbott but, it is killing our environment and we can not survive without a healthy environment.

  28. Annie B

    Re : the ‘sign’ at the top or Rossleigh’s article.

    Photoshopped – or fiddled with in Paint Shop Pro. … or some other whiz bang graphics programme.

    the tiny little ‘signature’ on the frame gives that away.

    Sooo easy to do, if one is used to using graphics programmes.

    Wish I could prove it – but can’t as I don’t know how to insert a fiddled image on these pages …… LOL 🙂


    @ Rossleigh … all well said again … the laughs and serious commentary all blended together.

    Always clever and interesting.


  29. Annie B

    @ Kaye Mac ….

    I too am wondering about that alleged $40 payment for Hockeys’ sons foot !! ….. frankly sounds like a whole heap of propaganda opportunism to me.

    A case of ” hey look at me — only had to pay $40 —- so what the hell are YOU all worried about. …. and me on a good salary ‘n all. ”

    Just does NOT ring true.

    Pfft to Hockey. ( but I do hope his sons foot is not too badly damaged ) –

    Also would be a shame if his son has to suffer somehow, because of his own fathers’ incredible ineptitude and opacity.

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