Joe Hockey Was Utterly Destroyed On Last Night’s #QandA

He did not have very much fun at all.

When Joe Hockey stepped into Penrith Panthers last night, he probably wasn’t expecting the level of thorough obliteration he was about to endure. The foot of the mountain has long been the heartland of ‘Howard’s Battlers’, and would have once been a gimme for the government Joe Hockey serves.

But last week’s budget has angered Penrith, and they let Hockey know about it. What followed was the most precise and completely overwhelming destruction of an opponent that Panthers has seen since Craig Gower and Ryan Girdler took the field back in ‘03.



By the second question of the night you could tell this wasn’t going to be a typical Q and A. The questioner immediately reminded Hockey that the average personal income of everyone else in the crowd was only 10% of his own.

“I’m really curious,” she began, “how it is you manage to stay in touch with what the reality of everyday life is like for the ordinary Australians to whom Tony refers?”

Joe Hockey seemed thrilled.


Subsequently, Hockey was asked if it was necessary to lie to get elected (or, presumably, just something he did for fun). In response, Hockey unleashed a funny little phrase that I personally hadn’t heard before but had something to do with Stopping The Boats — to which the Panthers crowd enthusiastically responded. After all, it was this community just months before that had voted in a candidate who claims asylum seekers are responsible for traffic jams, as if boats had been washing up on the M4.

Next cab off the rank was a young man who would not look out of place in the Home and Away surf shop. He handily listed off just about every broken promise contained within Hockey’s budget.

“Also, why does Summer Bay get so many natural disasters? Is it climate change?”

“Also, why does Summer Bay get so many natural disasters? Is it climate change?”

Mr. Hockey took a little bit of time to explain why each of those broken promises weren’t actually broken promises and were actually something else instead. And on we went.

When the next questioner asked why Hockey hadn’t cut even more out of the budget, she received the kind of smattering of applause you hear when someone makes a shitty golf shot but hey, they still hit the ball so that’s probably worth something.

Our next questioner opened with a phrase that will put ice in the veins of any Treasurer: “I’ve done some maths.”

“Maybe you should also run some numbers or something if you want to be Treasurer.”

“Maybe you should also run some numbers or something if you want to be Treasurer.”

She proceeded to outline a scenario in which a friend’s three young children become ill. Putting together the cost of the childrens’ doctor visits and medication it becomes somewhat untenable for those on lower incomes.

In response Hockey noted that it’s rare that all three children would get sick at once. This elicited a laugh from a crowd, albeit a tired laugh from a crowd up all night dealing with three sick children.

Tony and Joe then went toe-to-toe over the definition of the word tax.

Tony won.

“Yeah but.. I don’t like that word. So let’s use a different word, please.”

“Yeah but.. I don’t like that word. So let’s use a different word, please.”

It wasn’t getting any easier. Staying on the co-payment, the next questioner mentioned a pensioner saying she’d just have to “stay home and die” since she couldn’t afford the increase in cost of doctor visits. This left Hockey in the enviable position of having to come out and say he doesn’t support old ladies dying.

Next up, an elderly questioner pulling Joe Hockey up on his comparison of the $7 co-payment to beer and cigarettes — because, you know, as someone surviving on a pension he can’t really afford beer and cigarettes.

The real tragedy here was that his question really would’ve been improved if he’d taken a long drag afterwards.

Our new major argument for raising the pension should be that this man deserves a beer.

Our new major argument for raising the pension should be that this man deserves a beer.

This gave Tony Jones the opportunity to unleash perhaps the line of the night. Hockey noted that 80% of elderly Australians are on the pension, to which Jones replied “is that the number of people you’ve scared with this budget?”

“Let’s see how funny you are without any funding, asshole.”

“Let’s see how funny you are without any funding, asshole.”

Then came perhaps the bravest question Q and A has seen. A man suffering a series of chronic illnesses, including an anxiety disorder that would make speaking to a national audience pretty terrifying.

“How do you expect me to live on a disability support pension and treat my conditions when I cannot find suitable work with your proposed heartless Medicare payments and other increased cost of living measures?” he asked.


Hockey bravely disagreed with the premise of the question, and then waved around his cuts to the carbon tax again.

The hits kept coming.

Enter registered nurse Kerry Rogers. If you are sick in the Nepean area you’re going to want to hope your nurse is Kerry Rogers. If she is one iota as good at healing as she is at delivering smackdown after smackdown, you will be back on your feet in seconds (although you may have had all your hypocrisies exposed.)

She opened by praising Mr. Hockey on his ability to do the impossible: galvanise every sector of the medical industry against him.

“The burn ward is right this way, sir.”

“The burns ward is right this way, sir.”

The attack on Medicare was madness, she said, which would be ultimately more costly for the taxpayer; it was an ideologically-based charge on an already underfunded industry.

Hockey was in full “sick of this shit” mode, but it wasn’t helping. The tide had long since turned.

Questions that followed included whether or not Hockey excluded certain figures from the budget that would demonstrate just exactly how thoroughly the Government was planning to fuck the poor; how medical research will be utilised if people can’t attend university; and how a public servant, likely to be among the 16,000 fired, will live without qualifying for the Newstart allowance for six months.

Hockey was on the ropes, desperately trying to remember if anything in the budget directly attacked the rope industry.

Next up, a young Tasmanian spoke about the insufficient number of jobs in Hobart, against the numbers of people unemployed. He asked how cutting their benefits would help them get the jobs that aren’t there.

"Yes. We’re now importing people to attack you." -- Penrith

“Yes. We’re now importing people to attack you.” — Penrith

Hockey’s response was reduced his by-now favourite phrase: “I don’t accept that.” Because if you don’t like the way something is phrased you can say you don’t accept it, and then it won’t happen. This should apply to the budget, too.

As a Penrith boy at heart, last night’s Q and A was truly uplifting. It’s something we don’t see enough: Western Sydney given its chance, standing up and fighting for what is right for them and their families. This episode had the kind of passion, verve and power that is rarely seen on television. I’d argue, in fact, it had the kind of passion, verve and power that hasn’t been seen in Penrith since 2003, when Ryan Girdler and Craig Gower lead the mighty Panthers to the only victory that compares.


It might be worth firing up iView for this one.

Watch last night’s Q and A on iView here. The Twitter feed cut out halfway through. Added bonus.

James Colley is a writer/comedian from Western Sydney. He tweets at @JamColley.



  1. Matt Akersten says:

    Awesome recap! It was a great show to watch. I wish Abbott would face the public like this, no chance of that happening though!

  2. J-Lo christo says:

    I am and always will be a Labor Supporter….they have always cared for the middle class. Funny how Penriff demographic went Liberal – “do the crime, do the time” people. Should of stuck with the party that really cared about your welfare! Idiots!

  3. msbloom says:

    Worse, Hockey lied to that brave man with disabilities and chronic illnesses. He will indeed be paying co-payments. See Lenore Taylor’s article at the Guardian:

  4. Bern says:

    That was just brilliant. All of it. More please.

  5. Trent Hudson says:

    Tony has thrown Joe to the sharks.

  6. Haarp Media says:

    If Abbott had his way, all the sharks would be dead, right?

  7. Nick says:

    This line:

    “In response Hockey noted that it’s rare that all three children would get sick at once. This elicited a laugh from a crowd, albeit a tired laugh from a crowd up all night dealing with three sick children.”

    Does Hockey have children? Does he understand how airborne viruses work? Is he saying he has NEVER been in a situation where everyone in a sick except inevitably one parent whose job it is to look after everyone, until the equally inevitable point at which everyone recovers except for that one person who gets hit with the heaviest dose of the flu out of any of them?

    Could it be he’s even more out of touch than we thought?

  8. kellie says:

    He has 3 children, and obvious had little to do with them growing up. I work at a paediatric emergency centre and can attest to the fact the entire families tend to get sick at the same time!

    Hockey’s rebuffs to so many of the questions were hopeless. Agree completely, he was ‘thrown to the sharks’ when it should have been Tone.

  9. Josh says:

    I’m going to start by pointing out that I dislike Abbott and was originally very against Hockey’s budget. I read this and then watched the episode of Q and A because I couldn’t wait to see Hockey get utterly destroyed. But after watching it I have realised that most of the arguments against him on this page are unsubstantiated and are full of the kind of bias that makes me hate the news and the majority of journalists.

    I normally don’t like politicians because they don’t listen to people and just want to get their point out. Yes, at times Hockey did this, but for most of the questions he did a very good job at addressing the questions and sticking to (or relatively close to) the topic of the question. The people asking questions, on the other hand, were acting like politicians normally do. How many times did Hockey answer a question only to have a similar question asked back to him? People just asked questions and then didn’t listen to the answer. He also tried to do the right thing and give a full answer to each part of the question but Tony cut him off because of time restraints which then made him look like he was dodging the question when he was actually trying to answer it but was hindered by Tony who is more concerned about the ratings and the money his show makes than letting Joe adequately answer the questions of the Australian people.

    People need to realise that there are a lot of lies, misconceptions and rumours about the budget. It was quite rightly pointed out that the argument that ‘people wont be able to afford to go to university’ is not valid because people don’t pay upfront for university anyway, they go onto a HECS scheme where the money they earn in the job they get after uni pays back the uni fees and much more. With regard to the introduction of interest, it was stated by Hockey that this will be at the 10 years treasury bond rate. This rate is usually very similar to the inflation rate which means the real rate of interest on the university debts is very close to 0. When you add the fact that university graduates on average earn a million more dollars in their life than non-university graduates then it is still a pretty fair and affordable deal.

    While we are on the topic of HECS, that is the solution to the co-payment, it should be billed to the government who pays it all and then it should come out of peoples tax returns. They way they can say that low income earners won’t have to pay it while is will come out of everyone else’s tax return.

    The problem we have is that people expect the government to do everything for them yet give nothing in return. We want free education, free Medicare yet we want lower taxes. Where does the money come from to pay for this system? You can’t have it both ways. If the Australian people want the government to provide better services then the Australian people have to pay for it. So we need to stop asking for cheaper services yet lower taxes taxes, but instead ask for more tax brackets in the high income range and more heavy taxation of those who can afford it.

    The highest tax bracket is 45c per dollar for an annual income over $180,000. But some people earn a lot more than this. We should make more tax brackets, say 55c/$ for income over $250,000, then 65c/$ for income over $350,000 and 75c/$ for over $500,000. The government would then have more money to spend and this new tax scheme would only affect those who have far more than they need. Which is the top of the corporate ladder, the actors and sports personalities and everyone else in the 1%.

    We wont get solutions by just pointing out to the government that there is a problem with their budget, because they think its right. If we want to make a difference we need to suggest a solution to the government. Rather than say ‘how do you expect us to pay the co-payment?’ we need to say ‘Why don’t you make a co-payment scheme similar to HECS and then take the money form everyone’s tax returns except low income earners and people with chronic illnesses (and other’s who can’t afford it)?’ If you pose the question as a potential solution, they are much more likely to listen. Rather than say ‘you are punishing the most vulnerable while helping the rich’ say, ‘we should have more tax brackets for those with obscene incomes?’ That is something that he can’t argue with, he will have to listen. But if you tell him you don’t like what he is doing and offer no solution, he is just going to say, ‘I know its hard but its for the best.’