Baby you can drive my car… Baby I love you …
It’s an old car. Shocker to look at. Rough in the body. Bit rough inside, too where I’ve carried firewood. It is an old gas-guzzling Ford. But it’s built like a tank. Drives a bit like one, too. Be a whole new experience for you, Joe. But not for us out our way. Out here in the bush, a lot of us are used to keeping our old clunkers on the road. We have to. There’s no alternative. Now you and your mates might be as flash as a rat with a gold tooth, Joe, but for most of us, these days, times are lean. We hang on to our cars. But we’ll lend you the keys just as long as you look after it, Joe. We reckon you need the experience. It will help bring you up to speed. Stop you talking out the back of your neck.
Don’t expect too much, though, Joe. There is no sunroof: just a hole where a kid with issues punched a hole in it. Testosteronic rage. You get a bit of that when you work with young people in the bush. I am sure you have had similar experiences driving Tone and the boys back home from the odd Canberra party. I glued an old rubber door mat over it. Looks shocking but it keeps the rain out. Anyway, you don’t notice much because you really have to concentrate to drive the beast.
You do get used to the way it drives, Joe. Heavy on the steering. slow to get up speed. Slow to stop. The local mechanic had trouble with the last brake job. I got on to him about it but he told me parts were expensive and scarce. It’s an old car, he said. Like you, he is telling me to buy a new car in a kind of a way. But he knows I can’t afford to. it’s also about priorities. If I had money I would get my teeth fixed.
Got me thinking, though, Joe. You get old. You have to keep your old car running. It may be dangerous and expensive to run but you can’t afford to upgrade it. In the bush we need to keep our cars for the bare necessities of life such as food and visits to the doctor.
You know Joe, I thank my lucky stars I have a car at all. Having heard you today explaining once again that raising the cost of petrol won’t hurt that much because most Australians can afford it. Then you were asked about all the rest of us. Ordinary people. Elderly people. People on low incomes. But you had it covered, Joe. You said poor people don’t own cars. It wasn’t a mistake because you have repeated it. Repeating a lie doesn’t make it true, Joe. That;s why we are inviting you to see for yourself.
There’s been a bit of fuss since your claim about poor people but you haven’t backed down. You say statistics show that the more money you have the more cars you own. And the more you pay for gas. But these statistics don’t tell you is the percentage of income is what matters, Joe, People with incomes your size Joe are paying a much smaller percentage of their income than battlers like us. .
Joe, the truth is we can’t afford not to have cars. How else are we going to get into town to buy the groceries? How are we to meet our basic needs? There’s no public transport to speak of. Only in town itself. So I really need the old car. How else am I going to seize those job opportunities the government tells us are there for the taking? How else am I going to get myself and my family to the doctor? Luckily now we are only fifteen minutes out town but the local taxi fare is $25 each way. As we are getting on a bit, having wheels means staying alive. You haven’t shut down the local hospital yet, I got peritonitis not so long ago. that hospital helped save my life. But only after a thirty minute dash in the old Ford.
Joe, we know you love your statistics. What the statistics don’t tell you, however, is that by raising the cost of petrol you are again taxing the battlers to help the privileged. We will pay more as a percentage of our modest income than they ever will. You sort of got part of it right.
Truth is, Joe you are skating on thin ice. Need to tell you that people around here are shaking their heads. Just goes, to show, they are saying, the man knows nothing. Just goes to prove, politicians like him never cared about ordinary people. Real people, not the sort that fork out a few grand for a lunch with you. Many decent ordinary people, here, Joe, are shocked that you could be so ill-informed yet still hold the post of treasurer. We expect our elected representatives to represent us. Act in our best interests. Not run us off the road, Joe.
Now, don’t get me wrong, we don’t think you have a mean streak in your body. But we get the distinct impression you don’t care about us. Not remotely. Ordinary people, pensioners and especially those who live in the bush don’t figure in your calculations.
Truth be told, we are worried about you, Joe. Things you keep coming out with. Things you don’t seem to know. Things you can’t do. Like handle your own budget. You are clearly not travelling well. Perhaps it’s time, Joe, you pulled over and gave the wheel to someone else. Keep both hands free for lighting your next cigar. And keep an eye on that rear view mirror.