Tim Wilson: Inquiry about tax, not my shares
Tempers have flared at the latest parliamentary hearing into federal Labor's plans to scrap cash rebates for some Australian shareholders at tax time, with chair Tim Wilson dismissing claims that he has a conflict of interest.
Economics committee members are holding public hearings across the country to examine Labor's proposal to ditch cash refunds for "excess" franking credits, which would affect about eight per cent of Australians.
The credits are given to those whose share dividends have already been subjected to company tax, and can be used to reduce an individual's basic income tax liability, so they aren't taxed twice for the funds.
The credits can also be paid as a cash refund when someone's total credits exceed the tax they owe, with the measure costing the federal budget about $5 billion a year and deemed by Labor to be "unfair revenue leakage".
Labor has accused Liberal MP Mr Wilson of "highly unethical" behaviour, including not disclosing at hearings that he holds shares in a fund management firm that's campaigning against the proposed tax reform.
He is also related to the chairman of Wilson Asset Management.
But Mr Wilson has told Friday's hearing in Sydney's north that Labor's policy would have "no effect" on the value of the self-managed super fund he holds with his husband.
"This inquiry is about tax. It's not about shareholding or anything else, it's about tax," he said.
Mr Wilson was earlier forced to briefly suspend the hearing due to a man yelling out.
"Nobody should attack members of the community, nobody should attack others who are here," he said upon resuming the hearing.
"Anybody is entitled to attend. Anybody is entitled to participate"
Deputy chair of the committee, Labor MP Matt Thistlethwaite, agreed that everyone is entitled to have their say.
But he asked whether Mr Wilson and his Liberal colleagues have been unduly collecting the data of retirees attending the hearings for campaign purposes, including robocalls, and for fundraising.
Liberal MP and committee member Jason Falinski responded angrily.
"You have no evidence of that whatsoever," he said.
Unusually, there are no formal witnesses scheduled for most of the inquiry's hearings.
Instead, members of the public are given three minutes each to vent their feelings, with hundreds of self-funded retirees so far sharing concerns about what the proposed changes might mean for their incomes.
Attendees on Friday have called the proposal "illogical" and "unfair".
But one woman said the money being paid out through the cash rebates is coming out of the pockets of other Australians, in such a large amount it would "cover the cost of funding public schools right across Australia".
© AAP 2019