OPPOSITION Leader Bill Shorten has accused Treasurer Joe Hockey of being an "arrogant", "cigar-chomping" politician after his comments Australia's poorest would not be affected by the increase to the fuel excise because they "don't have cars".

ABC News reports Mr Hockey defended the budget measure to bring back twice-a-year increases to the fuel excise, by saying the wealthy will be hardest hit.

"The people that actually pay the most are higher income people, with an increase in fuel excise and yet, the Labor Party and the Greens are opposing it," he told 612 ABC Brisbane.

"They say you've got to have wealthier people or middle-income people pay more.

"Well, change to the fuel excise does exactly that; the poorest people either don't have cars or actually don't drive very far in many cases."

On Wednesday afternoon, Mr Shorten used a press conference to question if Mr Hockey was keen to live up to "the caricature of the cigar-chomping, Foghorn Leghorn of Australian politics".

"It's so remarkably arrogant and out of touch that I couldn't believe an Australian politician would say it," Mr Shorten told reporters

"Joe Hockey just doesn't get how rotten his Budget is.

"He said that poor people won't be hurt by his fuel tax because poor people don't drive cars, or don't drive cars very far."

Mr Shorten said states including Western Australia have already cut their public transport budget, ensuring that even those on low incomes will likely require a car.

Mr Hockey has since described the publicity around his Wednesday-morning comments as "hysteria".

In Perth on Wednesday afternoon, Mr Hockey said there was "a great deal of hysteria around some of the initiatives in the budget".

"For example the hysteria in relation to my comments this morning on car usage and fuel - my office is releasing the data that's been provided to us and everyone can see that the fact is that there is a clear trend in Australia that the higher the household income the more fuel taxes are paid by that household," he said.

"Simple as that, so therefore it's good to get the facts out."



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