Thursday, April 12, 2012

Aspirational Joe

Joe Hockey reckons his income is meagre at just $230,000+. Well, yes. I suppose  if he's comparing himself with his mate, mining magnate, conspiracy-bullshitter and LNP sponsor Professor Clive Palmer, it is meagre. 

I think Joe will find that Clive Palmer's income is what his old boss John Howard would call "aspirational". Most of the rest of us think a $230,000 salary is aspirational, and Hockey's  comment was clumsy at best. I'd call it naive, and insulting to working Australians.

For Joe's benefit, here are some figures to help him get that meagre salary of his into perspective:

* Excludes allowances
It's fair to assume that Joe's perspective may be a little skewed by the fact that he represents the seat of North Sydney, which includes some of Sydney's most affluent communities: Neutral Bay, Milsons Point, Hunters Hill & Woolwich, which has a median household income more than double the national average. Good for them - but even at that level, they're still $100k behind their local member...who considers his own income modest.

And while Joe describes it as 'meagre', his own party's Paid Parental Leave policy has the PPL scheme means-tested and cutting out at $150,000. Both Labor and the Coalition seem to agree that $150K is the figure at which you are well enough off not to need middle class welfare. His meagre income is over $80k above his own definition of "well-off". All these numbers must get confusing for an Arts/Law graduate.

Confession time: I like Joe Hockey. I suspect he's one of the good guys, despite being a Liberal and not knowing how to work a calculator. (Don't Shadow Treasurers have to pass a basic Maths test before they get the gig?) My impression of Joe Hockey is that he is sincere in his beliefs and genuine in his efforts to help his electorate and his country. I can't say that about all of our politicians.

Unfortunately, Joe has just placed himself in the middle of nowhere. His comment today about his 'meagre' income, and news of a secret meeting with Clive Palmer are concepts that middle Australia can't relate to. There's no way to walk it back either; his twitter-mini-spat with Paul Howes this afternoon makes it hard to spin as an off-hand joke.

Aside from Clive representing Big Mining, at the moment he's as well known for his Greens / CIA Conspiracy theory (a blatant lie to draw media attention prior to the Queensland election), his disastrous experiment with a Gold Coast Soccer team, and his stoush with hotel chain Hyatt Regency over the resort at Coolum. 

The man most likely to be the next Treasurer of Australia is having secret meetings with this man. Free advice: if a politician has to meet with one of the Big Mining people, he should pick the least crazy one.

Now, I wonder if Joe can help me with my pay rise debacle...but perhaps I'm being too aspirational.

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