While Joe Hockey’s absurd claim that poor people don’t own cars shows he is clueless about the lives of average Australians, Tony Abbott’s views on cars and public transport are even more bizarre.
In his 2009 political manifesto Battlelines, Mr Abbott claimed that Australians felt like “kings’’ in their cars and that there was little demand for public transport.
Public transport, Mr Abbott wrote was “… generally slow, expensive, not especially reliable and still hideous drain on the public purse.
Mr Abbott, who earlier this year slashed billions of planned Commonwealth investment in public transport, went on to write: “ …there just aren’t enough people wanting to go from a particular place to a particular destination at a particular time to justify any vehicle larger than a car, and cars need roads’’.
So on one hand we have Mr Hockey justifying higher fuel taxes by claiming low-income owners are too poor to own cars, while on the other, Mr Abbott lauds the “freedom’’ he believes Australians enjoy driving on the nation’s roads and uses it to justify not investing in public transport.
Mr Abbott and Mr Hockey lack the most basic understanding of the lives of millions of Australians who use public transport or who, lacking access to reliable train and bus services, struggle and scrape to keep a car on the road.
This complete detachment from normal Australian life explains why the Government is punishing low-income earners with savage Budget cuts to health and education, higher fuel taxes and the cancellation of Commonwealth investment in public transport projects including the Melbourne Metro, Brisbane’s Cross-River Rail project, Adelaide’s Tonsley Park project and a rail link between the Perth CBD and the city’s busy airport.
It is hard to believe Mr Abbott and Mr Hockey could have each lived in Australia for more than 40 years but be so utterly detached from the day-to-day experience of their fellow Australians.
Their stunning ignorance highlights the difference between the Coalition and Labor.
Labor understands mainstream Australia, but when it comes to everyday concerns of average people, the Coalition is in a parallel universe.