Mr and Mrs Hockey take their entitlement

ScreenHunter_3857 Aug. 20 13.01

By Leith van Onselen

It seems Treasurer Joe Hockey’s war on entitlements doesn’t extend to his own family, with the Daily Telegraph uncovering that taxpayers are footing the bill on his family’s $1.5 million home in Canberra:

JOE Hockey has defended his practice of claiming a $270-a-night taxpayer-funded travelling allowance to stay in a Canberra house majority-owned by his wife…

The Treasurer has legitimately claimed $108,000 in travel allowance for 368 nights over the past four years including many nights for parliamentary sitting weeks where he has stayed at the Canberra house…

The double dipping of MPs who claim travel allowance to stay in properties owned by themselves or their wives and in some cases reduce their tax by negatively gearing property is well-known in Canberra.

…many MPs purchase property in Canberra to provide a base during parliamentary sittings and use their travel allowance to pay off their mortgage.

To be fair to Hockey, the article does also note that many other MPs employ similar tactics, including Labor’s Anthony Albanese, Warren Snowden, Tanya Plibersek, Joel Fitzgibbon, Jim Chalmers, Mark Butler, Tony Burke and Doug Cameron.

Nevertheless, Joe Hockey’s claim that “everyone has to live within their means, whether it’s a company, whether it’s a family, whether it’s an individual, whether it’s a government” would hold more weight if politicians also agreed to take a haircut, rather than expecting the working-class and disadvantaged to bear the burden of Budget cuts.

When combined with the yearly round-the-world first class airfare for themselves and their spouse, allowances to buy any books and publications they want, as well as generous airfares and travel allowances with a very broad definition of the “work” they need to be doing to qualify, it does highlight that there is one rule for our politicians and another for the rest of us.

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Unconventional Economist
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  1. More media bias against Joe!

    Hockey has by deed and word managed to get himself demoted in a cabinet reshuffle.

    He can’t advocate policy and he’s ignorant of the power of perception in the electorate.

    • On the plus side I’m not just attributing this to entitlement joe, it’s clear the whole lot of the party patsies are hypocritical vermin.

    • Hockey’s run for PM over before it’s begun. Such a shame to lose a wonderful statesman to foot-in-mouth disease.

      • We’re luck to have people like Joe and, from another sphere of life, James Hird, to remind us ordinary folk – in spectacular fashion – what happens when you over-reach your own limitations.

        They both should have paid more attention to the BBC Shakespeare Macbeth or Julius Caesar productions they were no doubt subjected to in high school.

        None of Joe’s travails of the last four months would have happened if Joe was a tenth the politician he is in his own mind.

      • I may (it’s unlikely) have had some sympathy for Hockey and friends if Labor hadn’t just written “how to stuff up policy for dummies”. How they didn’t leant from Labor’s mistakes blows my mind. Maybe they should have spent less time laughing at Labor and more time figuring out how to sell their regressive agenda!

  2. Clearly, ending the age of entitlement only applies to the least well off in Australian society.

    • @ statsailor “paid more attention to the BBC Shakespeare Macbeth or Julius Caesar productions they were no doubt subjected to in high school.’

      The closest Shakespeare play to Hockey et al in the Libs is “Coriolanus”, a general who is elected consul reluctantly but he has nothing but contempt for the people and his arrogance destroys him. An excellent play on power. There is a very good film version from 2011 with Ralph Fiennes in the lead role, though the text is cut to make it more of a movie.

      • A general who is elected consul reluctantly…

        Admittedly I don’t know Coriolanus, and I should track down the version you recommend.

        Having said that my kneejerk response is that Hockey is far from reluctant. The plot doesn’t match, but I think he is alike the character Macbeth in terms of over-estimation of his own abilities – and he is even now seeing Burnham Wood come to Dunsinane and sparring with various MacDuffs.

        Everything about him reeks of someone who thinks they ‘bear a charmed life’.

      • migtronixMEMBER

        I think Hockey is a mercurial character so maybe a bit part in Romeo and Juliet?

        @Stat I think you’ll find Joe in the witches cauldron.

        Housing bubble,
        Toilet Trouble,
        FIRE burn
        And Canberra rentals

  3. As discussed earlier today, the system of elective government adversely selects megalomaniacal (and possibly psychopathic) political agents.

    There can be no improvement until that fundamentally corrupt system is reformed.

    • migtronixMEMBER

      I’ve long been of opinion, and have practiced the tactic, that the day 20% of the population donkey votes and posts proof on Twitter they did, is the day an election has to be declared null and void.

      And the very next day the parties will change their tune. As I say I’ve been practicing this for about 20, every where! Well I think I voted for a couple of the first EMP elections. Actually I stood for one in 04.

      How naive am I being Stephen?

      • reusachtigeMEMBER

        Sadly it’s actually illegal to promote incorrect voting. Dudes have gone to jail for it in the past. There was a bit of a movement in the 70s and they locked those folk up. It’s called “freedom”. Last thing they want is for people to diss the electoral system, it’s what binds us to them!

    • @statsailor

      “Having said that my kneejerk response” Fair enough – he has the delusions of Macbeth at the end though he believes he is anointed by the weird sisters. In Coriolanus’s case he always knew he was above the people, the reluctance to accept office comes from having to deal with the ghastly mob, not in any sense that he lacks self-assurance. It is that failing in his character, conceit and arrogance, that kills him in the end.

  4. We need these outrageous rorts to ensure that we end up with high caliber individuals elected to Parliament.

    Wait a minute…

  5. sydboy007MEMBER

    Her here.

    Only thing is I think the first class round the world trip is once every 3 years rather than yearly??

  6. Politicians have bipartisan agreement on the legitimacy of these allowances.

    ‘Federal politicians can rack up relatively large bills in going about their day-to-day duties. In the last six months of 2012, Julia Gillard had allowances totalling A$647,000 – that’s nearly three times her annual salary. Tony Abbott recorded $530,000, Wayne Swan cost $545,000 and Julie Bishop a cool $390,000.’

  7. News Corp just adding some finishing touches to the set ahead of Hockey’s demise in the final act.

    • Suspect that’s right – if ‘Brendan Nelson famously stayed in the shed’, then every political journo who’s ever set foot in Canberra has long been aware of the house’s existence and ownership and could have brought it up at any time or chosen to stay silent.

      News Corp’s timing has a purpose.

  8. migtronixMEMBER

    Paging Bullion Baron. We need a defence of the individuals and attack of the policy cover line stat!

    Personally I’m smithy on this – parenthetically, I know I know – it’s the “this is why we can’t have nice things” syndrome.

    • Haha ran out of time this afternoon.

      Useless spending time writing against the consensus here usually. On some issues it’s like a group think, one lone voice not going to win over others.

      I don’t see an issue with the fixed accommodation payment.

      • I don’t see an issue with the fixed accommodation payment.

        This is the same misdirection you used last time.

        It’s the unethical usage of the “fixed accommodation payment” that’s primarily bothering people, not it’s existence. Ie: using it as a salary supplement by paying off a mortgage with it.

        Though even with that said, given the special case of Canberra, I’d argue that there should be publicly owned accommodation provided for politicians to live in while they are sitting, and no away-from-home payment claimable in the ACT.

      • It wasn’t misdirection, it was a comment written with about 20 seconds I had spare.

        To clarify…

        I don’t see an issue with Hockey’s use of the fixed accommodation payment.

      • BB,

        I do, if I over night and get my own digs with family/friends or whatever my employer will pay me a grand total of $80, regardless of what the hotel costs which can up to $350 pn and not very often less than 200-250.

        It’s a rort plain and simple, just like their overseas junkets. Then they whinge about their entitlements.

  9. Its only an entitlement when its something poor people get. When its rich people its a legitimate cost.

    Seriously is there no shame or embarrassment any ware in our political ranks that the very people who make the most of the available rorts are the people who legislate the very rorts they use.
    How in any way is this acceptable.
    How can these people even face the media without a scintilla of embarrassment.

    Its disgusting and explains why no government will ever remove NG.

    • I think that’s why the house is technically majority owned by his wife. Its not “his” house apparently.

      Just another loophole to drive a truck through.

      Though if he got divorced im sure he would be saying its owned by both of them and he wants his share.

      Of course if things changed then they would just have the house owned by a trust or some other financial entity to continue the rort

    • Flicking through the Herald Sun here in Melbourne and even the Australian there seems to have been a real attitude change sometime earlier this year – maybe soon after the budget?

      Or maybe after failure to overturn 18C to prove loyalty to Bolt?

      • More likely the acceleration in circulation decline following the previous election.

        While Murdoch doesn’t give a toss about the money loss, at some point, mainstream commentators are going to realise that a paper that circulates to 1% of the country is irrelevant.

        At the moment, even blogs like this quote the Oz. But at some further reduction in percent of population reached, even media insiders will start to think it irrelevant.

        It is that irrelevance that Murdoch is fighting, and he is trying a new tactic of balanced reporting to try to arrest the slump in circulation. Probably too late.

  10. The problem here isn’t what Joe gets in toto, but how he has to get it. That he is dependent upon supporting the very system that is destroying the national economic fabric is the problem. Give the man $2,000,000 a year if necessary – flat. Make it tax free if that’s not enough if you wish. But get rid of the need for him to use back-door mechanisms to claim his full whack, thereby stymieing his capacity to make the very reform necessary to push Australia forward. Remove all add-ons and allowances, and let the remuneration be enough to compensate them all for wherever they do. “But then they’ll keep the whole lot and not spend anything on their electorates!” etc. Maybe. But which is worse? And let’s see who does what with their pay as each election comes about. After all, isn’t the No 1 goal of any politician to get (re)elected!?

    • migtronixMEMBER

      Ummm no let’s not do that, fatty can go power a wind farm if he wants pocket money…

      • At heart, I guess I’m very much a universal flat tax/no allowances sort of person! Tax everyone, individual and company alike, say, 20% of income; no allowances or deductions, and let every entity decide how to use that income. Want to advertise? Go for it. But there’s no offset against income. Want to rent your own home? Sure! But there’s not expenses offset. Want to employ workers. Fine. But there’s no offset of costs against income. Want to transfer price your income overseas? Sorry, but that’s not how we do things here. Where’s your sales records. It’s clean and unavoidable. Make business and personal lives economically black and white…..

      • At heart, I guess I’m very much a universal flat tax/no allowances sort of person! Tax everyone, individual and company alike, say, 20% of income; no allowances or deductions, and let every entity decide how to use that income.

        How about we have a flat tax on assets instead ?

      • If paying politicians $2m or $5m will keep them honest its a price so small our economy won’t even notice. And if it means they no longer have the massive conflict of interest over fixing things like the property bubble it will pay for itself many many times over.
        Not sure it would work but yeah, doesn’t matter if they deserve it if it worked, WE deserve better results.

    • Build two blocks of flats – one for LNP, one for Labour, and a few units for cross benches, let any sitting member stay in them whenever they need to, and remove all financial entitlements.

      • Nah – make them share-house in multi-bedroom apartments, turn it into a reality tv show, and use the revenue to pay down the deficit 😛

      • It is absurd that, when we know most politicians will not live permanently in Canberra but must still be there overnight frequently and regularly, there is not publicly owned accommodation for them to live in while sitting.

        I wouldn’t even have a problem with it being relatively upmarket housing.

        When the land should essentially be available at zero cost, building a block of 1-, 2- and 3- bedroom apartments for MPs to stay in while in Canberra should be a no-brainer.

        (Politicians having to actually be in Canberra to “sit”, in this day and age, is a whole different absurdity. Talk about an ideal work-from-home job.)

      • migtronixMEMBER

        Talk about an ideal work-from-home job

        I don’t think you understand how politics works smithy, I mean, for crying out loud they could represent their constituents if they tried that. Then where would we be?

      • What if the land was vested in a trust owned by the taxpayer with interest on the value or rent paid by us, blah blah so the pollies claim nothing, but get the accom, or stay in their own homes and claim nothing either.

    • Uranium GeoMEMBER

      @ Stat I’m sure a few atco dongas will do the job. Doesn’t have to be anything flash, after all the age of entitlement IS over (apparently).

  11. I’m glad this story got a run at MB.

    I have to say, I’m very, very disappointed in Albanese, Plibersek and Burke. The rest I knew about or expected.

    Honestly, how are we supposed to respect these people when they do stuff like this? Its only a small amount of money, but politicians are well paid, they enjoy very generous super schemes and pensions. They really don’t need to worry about money, but then they pull stunts like this!

  12. “Caving in to pressure, Bill English has paid back $32,000 and vowed to stop claiming a housing allowance. The New Zealand deputy prime minister (and treasurer) admitted yesterday that the row over his housing allowance had taken his attention away from running the economy” (2009). Same thing, same problem, different place

    • migtronixMEMBER

      But much better response J! Cripes I don’t look to Truss to give jacksh#t back. How many properties does he own/claim again?

      • Not noble at all. His party were taking serious fire over the whole mess, especially as his was just the worst example.
        He took one for the team.

  13. What should happen is that they all get a generous salary (say $200K for a backbencher) and no allowances of any kind. If they then incur work-related expenses out of their own pocket they can claim them as a tax deduction.

  14. rather than expecting the working-class and disadvantaged to bear the burden of Budget cuts.

    Fair go. It’s the middle and upper class who have to forgo stuff too.

    How many ng’ers want free GPs for their kids? Or get money for family tax benefits? Or bought their house 10-15 years ago for half or less today’s price in real terms? Then arrogantly demand “high” earners pay for the tax money spent propping up it’s price?

    The political discourse is such a progaganda fest wankathon.

    I’ve used the word wank twice today.

    Wank wank wank wank wank.

    Aw diddums he smoked a cigar after the budget, cigars must cost ten dollars!

    • migtronixMEMBER

      progaganda fest wankathon

      I’ll donate a Hunchie ($100) if Phony goes head to head with Keiren Perkins!

      • He doesn’t look that big, maybe 5’10, about 70-80kg, you could smash him!

        Sometimes I’m glad we pretty much have a right winged dictatorship.

      • he doesn’t look that big, maybe 5’10, about 70-80kg,

        Would have thought the important statistic was wrist speed.

      • migtronixMEMBER

        I meant swimming dude, and were you saying Kieren Perkins is about 5’10 160 pounds?? I don’t think so…

      • migtronixMEMBER

        I thought the important statistic as wrist speed

        Hey Bluey should we tell Stat to watch Episode 8 of Silicon Valley?? 😀

      • Uranium GeoMEMBER

        Perkins is a banker now, he will probably be next to phones when they’re awarded knighthoods.

        I did meet Perkins once he seemed nice enough.

      • Mig,

        I was thinking of an event that I was informed ran at the Laird Hotel in Abbotsford in times past.

        Your reference to the Hunchie lead me to believe you’d heard about it too.

      • @Mig no I meant you could smash Tones.

        Perkins is massive. 6′ 4. I doubt you could smash him.

        What happened in Silicon Valley episode 8? Meh.

      • migtronixMEMBER

        There was a long scene where everyone is attempting to ascertain how long it would take Ulrich to masturbate the entire audience.

        Things like Mean Jerk Time (MJT), Hot swapping on the down stroke, and Tip To Floor (TTP) length were deliberated…

      • Oh that’s right that was good.

        A good show, good that it portrays IT guys as what they are. Wankers! Mostly…

      • @mig,

        The Laird is one the few male-only venues in Melbourne i.e. it caters for men who don’t really need the company of women.

        Any further detail about this venue is most likely not suitable for this website, but they have their own website which you can google -NSFW. Suffice to say that they are very direct about what happens at some of their events, and one such event was called the W__er’s Club. As they say in the classics – ‘does what it says on the tin’.

  15. When combined with the yearly round-the-world first class airfare for themselves and their spouse […]

    It boggles my mind this whole family travel thing exists as well. Definitely one of the more egregious lurks.

  16. This is why we must introduce a simple multiple choice exam on ethics before anyone is to be admitted into parliament. Questions can range from football match expenses to wedding travel costs, bike rides and bottles of grange.

      • migtronixMEMBER

        No they’ll pass with flying colours, and proceed to forget they ever took the test for later potential court appearances..

      • migtronixMEMBER

        They’ll be like “Aw man, really, that test was about what I should do? Wow. I totally answered like what I expected others to do. My bad dawg!”

  17. Free_Market_Delusion

    See I feel perfectly comfortable not voting.

    Don’t think I will ever vote again.

  18. hzubrica73MEMBER

    Any calls by Tony Abbott for a Commission of Audit into this and other government waste?

    ……. crickets.

  19. JOE Hockey has defended his practice of claiming a $270-a-night taxpayer-funded travelling allowance to stay in a Canberra house majority-owned by his wife…

    Understood. Now how about we withthold the dole for young people for 6 months, but after the 6 months we pay them $270 per night?

    Would that be fair?

  20. You just have to look at THAT face and you know you’re looking at a rent seeker par excellence. Typical parliamentarian parasite through and through.