Prime Minister Tony Abbott still supports his treasurer even though he doesn’t agree with his view that poor people don’t drive much.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott is standing by Joe Hockey even though he doesn’t agree with the treasurer’s poor-people-don’t-own-cars argument.

Mr Hockey has been labelled out of touch with ordinary Australians following his defence of a budget measure to restore indexation of the fuel excise.

Asked by reporters on Friday whether he agreed with his treasurer’s comments, Mr Abbott said: “Plainly, I wouldn’t say that.”

But he went onto to defend Mr Hockey, saying he had a plan to ensure all Australians were better off in the long term.

He said the best thing the government could do for all Australians – “rich and poor alike” – was to get the budget back under control so that services everyone needed, but especially low-income people, were delivered effectively.

Asked whether Mr Hockey still had his support, Mr Abbott replied: “Of course.”

While conceding that not all elements of the budget were popular he was “very proud” of what he and the treasurer had brought down.