Joe Hockey has a Good Job, and it's Paying for His Investment Property
Poor Joe Hockey. It seems no matter where he turns, his big-lovable-bear shtick gets him into plenty of trouble. This week’s gaffe on ‘getting a good job’ only compounded his cigar-chomping persona that thought that ‘poor people didn’t own cars or drive very far to work’.
As has been well discussed, in isolation these aren’t great crimes, but in combination they continue the perception of unfairness within the government’s economic strategy. While the Treasurer’s solo appearance on Q&A was notable for a snap decision to narrow the revenue base by removing the GST on sanitary items, there was one line of inquiry from audience member Mark Travers that largely escaped further attention.
“As Treasurer, do you believe that politicians receiving an away-from-home allowance of $270 per night to stay in a house owned by their spouse is double-dipping?”
This question was asked knowingly. Hockey uses his travel allowance when in Canberra to rent a room in a house that is owned by his wife. At a time when women were being accused of double-dipping on maternity leave, this was a jarring question.
It’s not a great look. Using taxpayers money to fund your own mortgage fails to pass the sniff test for most punters, and it’s this point that has raised its head as broader debate continue around housing affordability and the ongoing costs of negative gearing.
Regardless, property investors look safe for the meantime. Clearly in election mode and shy of going anywhere close to looking like raising taxes, the Government is emphatic it won’t even consider negative gearing in the upcoming Tax White Paper. While hesitant to admit it, housing affordability is an increasingly important issue for the broader public, and the fact his own family’s mortgage is being propped up by public funds is not helping to demonstrate his empathy for the issue.
It’s poor politics from the Treasurer, who has failed to recognise that entitlements are rights that come with responsibilities. As he man who holds the nation’s purse strings and has to steer the ship through difficult economic times via nuanced discussions, claiming $240 per night in Canberra may come at another large political cost.