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Joe Hockey blames misreporting for furore over poor people and driving comments

Treasurer Joe Hockey has suggested his claim that the "poorest people either don't have cars or actually don't drive very far" was misreported by the media, re-opening debate about the embarrassing gaffe.

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Hockey says poor gaffe was misreported

Were the Treasurer's comments about poor drivers misreported? You be the judge.

But Mr Hockey has insisted he has moved on and is focused on getting the Coalition's budget through the Senate, adding he would not "indulge in self-pity".

Asked on Geelong radio station Bay FM on Tuesday if his words about the proposed fuel excise rise had been twisted, Mr Hockey appeared to agree, despite apologising just days earlier.

"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.''


Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Education Minister Christopher Pyne both distanced themselves from Mr Hockey's comment on Friday, with Mr Abbott declaring that "plainly, I wouldn't say that" and Mr Pyne declining six times to endorse the comments.

The Treasurer issued a grovelling apology hours later in an interview with friend and 2GB broadcaster Ben Fordham, using the words ''sorry'' and ''apologise'' eight times and insisting he had no evil intent towards the less well-off in society.

During his apology he said his comments "were obviously insensitive. Obviously. What's said can't be unsaid. I can only apologise for any hurt that I have caused."

Mr Hockey said on Tuesday that politics was a tough game and that "I am not going to indulge in self-pity, that would be a very conceited thing to do. I am focused on what needs to be done."

Asked in a subsequent interview on Tuesday morning why he had apologised  on Friday if his words had been twisted, Mr Hockey declined to elaborate further.

"The matter has been dealt with,'' he said.

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said on Tuesday the Treasurer had "emerged from hiding only to get straight back to his old trick of playing the blame game for his failure to sell his unfair budget".

"Mr Hockey has gone from blaming the media, blaming business groups, to now blaming everyone for twisting his comments on poor people not owning cars or driving very far,'' he said.

"The Treasurer clearly isn't sorry for offending millions of Australians. He's just sorry for himself."

The Treasurer's comments on Tuesday echo those he made about two weeks ago when he told a business luncheon that "everyone is against me".

Mr Hockey's colleagues and political allies have questioned his judgment and the quality of advice he has been receiving following last week's gaffe.

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