Last night’s Q&A started out playfully enough, with a now-infamous promo featuring host Tony Jones asking Treasurer Joe Hockey “is that a cigar in your pocket, or are you just pleased to be here?”
Hockey was the lone guest on last night’s show, and with his second budget as treasurer still the subject of heated discussion, he faced plenty of questions about fairness and accountability.
Student Subeta Vimalarajah, who started a petition urging the government to abolish GST on tampons, recorded a video question for Hockey, then showed up in the audience.
She managed to get an undertaking from him to raise the issue with his colleagues, so we’ll see how that goes (the below video is apparently so nice, it needed to be uploaded twice):
Before the budget, the government accused mothers who access government and employer parental leave packages of “double dipping”, which led to some serious questioning about his own use of the $270-per-night living-away-from-home allowance.
Jones brought up figures showing that Hockey has spent more than $100,000 in allowances to pay rent on a Canberra home that is owned by his wife. “Did that go into the mortgage?” asked the host.
“Well, Tony, I don’t know, I pay rent,” Hockey said, appearing somewhat flustered. “You pay rent to your wife?” Jones pressed. “Is there a problem with that?” the treasurer snapped back.
Jones asked whether struggling home owners would find it acceptable that Hockey and his wife effectively received a taxpayer-funded subsidy for buying a house.
Hockey insisted that politicians who travel to Canberra must pay rent on a property, or book hotel rooms. “Does the ABC do that when you travel?” he asked Jones. “They do, but the hotel is not owned by my wife,” Jones replied.
After last night’s show, it’s probably a good thing for Hockey there’s no GST on forced laughter and camaraderie, or he’d be up for a pretty hefty amount.