Many historians agree that Marie Antoinette never actually said “let them eat cake” in the face of economic crisis in France during the 18th century — the misquote was part of a smear campaign by the aristocracy’s opponents perpetuated by the media of the era.
Joe Hockey’s “get a good job that pays good money”, on the other hand, went live on air on Tuesday without any doubt that they were his words. In fact, the Treasurer reiterated his opinion on Wednesday and refused to back down. He didn’t even suggest that his sentence was taken out of context.
This shows a deep disconnect between Mr Hockey and reality — or even common decency.
At his own peril, the Treasurer is alienating and offending huge numbers of Australians. He has lost sense that he, as the man in charge of the nation’s economy, is able to influence whether or not Australians are able to get a “good job” and if their job pays “good money”.
He is also ignoring the reality that 100 percent of the population would get a “good job that pays good money” if they could.
So how does one get a good job that pays well? Perhaps the most obvious start is an education; yet the Government has been pushing to deregulate tertiary education fees and charge interest on HELP loans, effectively making the cost of education skyrocket.
To complement a good education, it is highly beneficial if a job seeker has a strong support network and a safe environment to live in. Yet the Government slashed funding to women’s refuges and attempted to delay Newstart applicants payment for 6 months.
Of course, there are far easier ways to make money — owning property is one. Even without taking negative gearing into account, the rapid increase in Sydney property values can provide a huge source of income. For example, the increase in value of Joe Hockey’s $5.4 million home over the past 12 months ($648,000 at the Sydney median of 12.5 % pa according to RP Data) would be greater than his ministerial salary ($360,000).
The words uttered by the Treasurer are truthful as getting a “good job” would indeed help in property ownership. Yet he has ignored the crucial barriers that lie between a person and a high income.
They are the words uttered by a man who knows that he will miss out on the Prime Ministership and despite holding the Government’s second most prestigious portfolio is being outshone by Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison.
But instead of taking his job seriously and implementing methods to strengthen the Australian economy and empowering everyday Australians, he has decided to ridicule the economy’s backbone of average-income workers.
If only Joe Hockey could do a good job.