AS FEDERAL Treasurer Joe Hockey continues to stand by his comments that a fuel excise increase won’t affect "poor people", Member for Eden-Monaro Peter Hendy acknowledged all residents in his electorate will be “disproportionately” affected.
In the May budget, the government announced plans to end the 13-year freeze on the indexation of the fuel excise in order to raise $2billion for road spending.
On Wednesday, the Treasurer said only high income earners would be affected by the fuel excise rise because “the poorest people either don't have cars or actually don't drive very far in many cases”.
Following criticism by Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, Mr Hockey apologised for appearing callous, but said his comments were based on facts.
"The fact of the matter is that I can only get the facts out there and explain the facts, how people interpret them is up to them," he said.
However, people in every income bracket in the Bega Valley will be affected by the proposed tax hike.
Unlike their city counterparts, they do not have the same access to public transport and have no choice but to drive in order to get to work and medical appointments, and to take their children to school.
Dr Hendy confirmed residents would feel financial pain from an increase in the excise, but claimed they would be better off in the long run thanks to improved roads.
“Regional and rural Australians are disproportionately affected by the fuel excise,” he said.
“The government acknowledges this and is committed to balancing this through spending the money raised by the fuel excise on improving roads.
“I’ve already announced $50million for the Queanbeyan bypass and other money given to the Bega Valley and Eurobodalla Shire Councils for upgrades to black spots on the Princes Hwy.
“I’m will be working with regional mayors to ensure Eden-Monaro continues to get a fair share of the fuel excise money,” he said.