Hockey re-ignites fuel excise debate

Hockey re-ignites fuel excise debate

Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey has re-opened the debate about his embarrassing fuel excise gaffe just days after apologising.

Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey has re-opened the debate about his embarrassing fuel excise gaffe just days after apologising.

Speaking on Geelong radio station Bay FM, Hockey suggested his claim that the "poorest people either don't have cars or actually don't drive very far" was misreported and misrepresented by the media.

When asked if he had thought his words on the proposed fuel excise rise had been twisted, Hockey said:

"Look I think anyone who actually looks at what I actually said as opposed to what people were reporting that I said might form that view. But any words I use now will be, again, misinterpreted," he said.

"I just move on with what we're doing and focus on the job that I have, which is to get the budget through, to lay down the plan to fix the economy."

The Treasurer said he didn't want to indulge in self-pity and was determined to overcome the struggles of the "tough game" of politics.

“I am focused on what needs to be done. The best thing that I can do is, when it comes to the economy, lift the tide so that all boats rise.”

On Friday, Hockey attempted to resurrect his derailed budget sales campaign by apologising for the comments that caused so much outrage.

"I am really genuinely sorry ... I'm sorry the words came out as they did," Mr Hockey told Macquarie Radio on Friday.

"I accept responsibility."

He said his comments "were obviously insensitive", but there was "no evil intent".

"What has been said can't be unsaid. I can only apologise for any hurt I have caused ... we are trying to do our best for people who are disadvantaged," he said.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott was among a number of politicians to distance themselves from the comments.

Abbott, when quizzed by reporters about his treasurer's remarks, said: "Plainly I wouldn't say that."

He is standing by his beleaguered treasurer, saying Hockey had a plan to ensure all Australians - "rich and poor alike" - were better off in the long term.

Cabinet minister Christopher Pyne was full of praise for the government's "inspirational" treasurer, but avoided directly backing Mr Hockey's comments.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said it was probably time the prime minister considered dumping his unfair budget or the treasurer.

Later, he was far from impressed with Mr Hockey's apology, tweeting: "It took Joe Hockey more than 48 hrs to realise how insulting his comments were. It took the rest of us four seconds."

Morning news break – August 19

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