Culture

Joe Hockey’s ‘Double Dipping’ On Expenses Shows How Our Political Class Is Trolling The Public

The Age of Entitlement is alive and well for our politicians.

“The Age of Entitlement is over” declared Joe Hockey in 2012. Fast forward four years and Australia’s former Treasurer and current ambassador to the United States is now earning a combined salary of $450,000 while charging the taxpayer thousands of dollars for babysitting, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

Hockey’s expense statements show that he’s spent $2,500 on babysitting in the first five months of his role and regularly splashes out dinners and events worth hundreds of dollars, charged to the taxpayer.

The latest revelations are just more evidence of the wilful disregard our political class has for the public. Since Hockey’s infamous comments we’ve seen the Coalition government lurch from expenses scandal to expenses scandal. But the biggest rip-off of all is probably the fact that Hockey managed to leverage a couple of years as a middling, befuddled Treasurer into the most important diplomatic position in the country, and an annual income of $350,000 on top of his $90,000 per year political pension.

Here’s a brief summary of Hockey’s career to date:

  • Went to an elite Sydney private school (the same one as Tony Abbott).
  • Went to an exclusive college at the University of Sydney (the same one as Tony Abbott).
  • Played rugby at uni with Tony Abbott.
  • Got elected President of the Student Representative Council (the same one as Tony Abbott).
  • Worked as a lawyer.
  • Became a political staffer.
  • Got elected to parliament and eventually became Treasurer.
  • Appointed by Malcolm Turnbull as ambassador to the United States.

Most of the things on Hockey’s resume involve “being mates with Tony Abbott”. Yet he had the gall to suggest the public had become too reliant on government handouts.

There’s nothing in his career to suggest that he had the skills or experience necessary to serve as Australia’s ambassador to the most powerful country in the world, and our closest ally. While the gig has occasionally gone to retired politicians, Hockey was given the position basically as a consolation prize for being booted out of the Treasury.

Remember the highlight of his term as Treasurer? It was being caught smoking cigars in the lead up to one of the most brutal budgets in recent Australian history.

hockey cigars

But that’s how politics works. Governments look after their mates by appointing them to plum, high-paying gigs to avoid political embarrassment. That same government then accuses working women in Australia of “double dipping” when they utilise paid parental leave schemes for exactly the purpose they were created.

It’s been bad enough watching Hockey gallivant around the US for the past 12 months like he’s on gap year.

But the fact that we’re paying for him to enjoy expensive lunches, dinners, events and picking up the tab for his dry cleaning and baby sitting to boot, all while he earns enormous sums is rubbing salt into the wound.

To be clear,  it’s not just the fact that Hockey is being paid a lot of money to be the ambassador that makes this an issue. And it’s not just the fact that we’re paying the bill for his lunches.  It’s understandable that our overseas diplomatic missions would have entertainment budgets. It’s a combination of factors that makes Hockey’s antics so infuriating.

It’s the fact that his appointment was an example of political mates looking after mates. It’s the fact that his political pension, at $90,000 a year, is nearly twice the median wage in Australia. It’s the fact that we’re paying for his salary, his pension, his lunches, his dry cleaning and his baby sitting, while the government is cracking down on welfare payments and support for new mothers.

There’s a massive disconnect in how our politicians look out for themselves and their peers, and how they treat the public. The recent tax cuts, worth $4 billion over four years, that will only benefit the top the top 20 percent of income earners (including politicians) are another example.

Parliament Just Voted to Cut Taxes For The Wealthiest Australians

Of course Hockey isn’t the only political figure taking taxpayers for a ride. Bronwyn Bishop’s Choppergate scandal was yet more proof of how politicians think we’re all mugs. Our system of monitoring political expenses is so weak, a politician caught charging the taxpayer for flights to his own wedding only repaid the money after a “self-audit”.

Let’s not forget one of the biggest rorts of them all: the rule that allows politicians to buy an investment property in Canberra, charge taxpayers $273 a night for the privilege of staying in it and claim a tax deduction to boot. All this while house prices and rents are skyrocketing and an entire generation of Australians are worried about being locked out of the housing market.

Our politicians currently give themselves more financial support to purchase investment properties than they provide to first home buyers to help break into the market. The entire system is a joke.

Hockey’s role as ambassador, and his lucrative expenses claims,  are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to our political class shovelling our money into their pockets. But it’s a particularly egregious example given the circumstances of his appointment and the fact that he seems to be treating the gig as his own personal Contiki tour.

Watch our politicians defend Hockey’s expenses and argue that they “fit into the rules”. So did Bronwyn Bishop’s helicopter flights. That didn’t make any less appalling. Our current crop of politicians will sit back, say nothing and hope for the storm to blow over. Because they don’t want to kill the goose that lays the golden egg. They’re looking for their own cushy parachute out of parliament.

The fact that they can knowingly endorse this kind of behaviour, and engage in it themselves, while railing against welfare spending and investment in public services is a complete joke. It exposes them for what they are: a class of disconnected elites, trolling us all.

Feature image via Facebook.