Embattled Liberal MP Tim Wilson has lashed out at the critics calling for his resignation.
Mr Wilson has been accused of using his position as chair of the House of Representatives’ economics committee to push a political agenda with its inquiry into Labor’s franking credits policy, which would scrap franking tax credit refunds enjoyed by about 800,000 retirees who pay no tax.
Much of the controversy revolves around a website — stoptheretirementtax.com.au — that Mr Wilson has used to co-ordinate opposition to the policy. The site was partly funded by Geoff Wilson, a distant relative of the MP and founder of Wilson Asset Management.
On Friday Labor asked the Australian Federal Police to investigate whether Tim Wilson had shared voters’ details with the fund after they signed up to give evidence to the inquiry.
That came after reports that people who had registered with the website were receiving advertising from the fund.
“Bring it on,” a defiant Mr Wilson told Sky News this morning.
“This is complete rubbish. We have a website. We encourage people to send a submission through. There was an option for people to sign the Wilson Asset Management petition. The link to the petition was there. If people wanted to sign that then we honoured their request, nothing more,” he said.
“The whole basis of Labor’s argument is just an absolute fiction.
“This is just a grubby, pathetic, sad smear campaign rather than focusing on the issue. And the real issue is retired Australians having their overpaid tax stolen from them.”
Co-hosts Laura Jayes and Kieran Gilbert grilled Mr Wilson on his conduct.
“Back on the petition. When you were asking people to sign up to this committee there was an option to sign a petition. Do you think that was right?” Jayes asked.
“I mean obviously there’s a family and financial link between you and this committee, maybe it would have been prudent to tell people attending this committee of that.”
“Well firstly, the family connection that people keep going on about, the person involved, Geoff Wilson, is my great-grandfather’s cousin’s grandson. You have to go back to the 1850s to draw this ridiculous connection,” Mr Wilson said.
“Secondly, yes I hold shares that are managed by Wilson Asset Management. That was fully disclosed on the parliamentary register, it’s never been a secret, they have always been there. And there is no impact on the value of the shares or the income of the shares as a direct consequences.”
Gilbert suggested Mr Wilson could declare that at the start of every public hearing.
“But I could say that about every share that I own,” Mr Wilson said.
“This is relevant to this one,” Gilbert replied.
“But it’s actually not. All Wilson Asset Management is doing is fighting back against this policy,” the MP said.
“For this policy to have had an impact on me, I would have to be retiring or have a zero tax marginal rate. My marginal rate is 45 per cent, my age is 38.”
.@ljayes: Do you think it was right when you asked people to sign up to the committee to also sign the petition? @TimWilsonMP: I hold shares that are held by Wilson asset management – that was fully disclosed on the register.— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust)
Gilbert asked whether it was inappropriate for Mr Wilson to use the Australian coat of arms on the website.
“It’s a private website. It’s quite clear that it’s a private website, it’s owned by the Liberal Party,” Mr Wilson said.
“It’s entirely consistent with the duties of a member of parliament to use the coat of arms as part of our parliamentary duties.”
“It’s a private website, but you can use your coat of arms?” Gilbert asked.
“Of course you can,” Mr Wilson responded.
He said he had “followed every guideline” and would “not back down”.
“There are one million people, Australian retirees, who will have their overpaid tax stolen,” he said.
“I’m happy to have a discussion about real, comprehensive tax reform, but this is a sham and an attempt to steal retirees’ overpaid tax.
“The focus should be on the people, and them having a voice.”