Hockey accused of rental ‘double dipping’

Joe Hockey has been attacked for what one voter has called “double dipping” as the debate on paid parental leave turned to political allowances.

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Less than a fortnight out from the Abbott Government’s second budget, the Treasurer took part in a special one guest episode of the ABC’s Q&A program, facing questions on budget measures, marriage equality and tax reform.

Mr Hockey was questioned by audience member Mark Travers over allowances for politicians living away from home.

It follows allegations from News Corp Australia that Mr Hockey has claimed more than $100,000 in allowances relating to a house owned by his wife.

Mr Hockey said the allowances were not taxpayer-funded subsidies, citing it as a payment that applies for public servants that travel away.

“It has been a common practice on all sides of politics because ultimately most people want to have the same place over a number of years where they can leave their toothbrush at night,” he said.

“That’s what you want, instead of a hotel room or whatever the case or renting different accommodation as people do… I was away 185 days last year. You try to have the same bed, try to have the same place to leave a shirt.”

‘I’m sorry if you have taken offence’

Mr Hockey also apologised for the debate around his budget’s new paid parental leave proposals, which has described parents accessing payments from both the government and employers as “rorters” who were “double dipping”.

When pressed by host Tony Jones, the Treasurer conceded the wording was wrong.

“Yes, I totally accept that,” he said.

“No problems. I accept that.”

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Mr Hockey took the chance to defend the government’s new PPL proposal, saying costs had to be cut to meet childcare funding commitments.

“It was patently obvious that in the case of the government, we were paying a full wage replacement paid parental leave scheme to government employees and then they were also claiming $11,500 from the government’s paid parental leave scheme which is separately delivered by Centrelink,” he said.

“From our perspective, you couldn’t do both and still put more money into childcare.”

‘It is like a sausage machine, right?’

Mr Hockey also continued his attack on the modelling commissioned by Labor which shows that the low income families will be hit hard by his second budget.

Modelling by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) in Canberra stated that a family with two children and a single income of $65,000 will be $6164 a year worse off by 2018-19.

The modelling has not been released in full, a move which Mr Hockey said was “flawed”.

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“We haven’t seen it,” he said.

“You are asking me about something I haven’t seen, the Government hasn’t seen and most of the media haven’t seen.”

Mr Hockey went on to compare economic modelling to a sausage machine, saying “what you put in and what comes out” could be frightening. 

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