What should have been a routine economics committee meeting devolved into a shouting match between a protestor and embattled Liberal MP Tim Wilson, as calls for his resignation as chair of the House Economics Committee continue to mount.
Mr Wilson’s opening remarks during the committee’s inquiry into franking credits were interrupted on Friday morning when an unidentified man erupted into shouts, claiming the “process is a scam”.
“It’s a sham,” he added.
Other audience members confronted the protestor and tried to remove him from the meeting – with the protestor falling to the ground at one point in the confusion – before Mr Wilson himself fired back.
“This is a formal inquiry of the House of Representatives,” Mr Wilson said, describing the protestor’s behaviour as “childish”.
Calls for resignation growing
The protest is the just latest development in an ongoing saga that started on Tuesday 5 February when Sydney Morning Herald reported the Minister may have colluded with fund manager Geoff Wilson in organising the inquiry into the controversial Labor Party policy.
— Lin Evlin (@LinEvlin) February 7, 2019
Both Messrs Wilson are reportedly related to one another, and Tim Wilson has a declared investment in funds operated by Geoff Wilson’s business Wilson Asset Management (WAM).
Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen called for Mr Wilson’s resignation in the wake of the report, meanwhile a further story from Sydney Morning Herald has alleged fellow Liberal MP Jason Falinski of using the inquiry as a Liberal Party fundraiser by selling tickets to events featuring Mr Wilson as a speaker.
A spokesperson for Mr Falinski’s office told The New Daily the tickets in question cost $25 a head, and went towards the bar tab and venue hire for the function.
“The story eludes that we charged people for the hearings. That’s just wrong,” they said.
That paid event was immediately followed by a free-to-attend public forum where Mr Wilson was also present to take questions.
Retirees voice their concerns
Following Friday’s unexpected shouting match, numerous retirees outlined their concerns with Labor’s proposal to remove refunds, with many worried it could force more self-funded retirees onto the pension and place a strain on the federal budget.
But Australian National University Centre for Social Research and Methods principal research fellow Ben Philips told The New Daily while there’s merit to the idea, the savings provided by the refund scheme would be small at best.
“The pension does cost the nation more than the refunds. I think the last modelling I saw was around $5.5 billion for the franking credit refunds and $50 billion for the pension,” he said.
However, many of the recipients of franking credit refunds wouldn’t pass the asset test used by government to determine who needs the pension, and as such wouldn’t greatly add to the pension bill.
“We might make some savings [by keeping the refunds], but they probably won’t be large.”