Government sources are concerned the ongoing revelations have stifled the momentum of the committee just as it been gaining traction among retirees furious at Labor’s $50 billion policy that could see some of them lose tax refunds on shares worth up to $30,000 a year.
Mr Falinski’s letter to donors is part of a barrage of political campaigning timed around the committee hearings, where one Liberal MP has handed out party membership forms. The inquiry, ordered by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, is costing taxpayers $160,000 in bookings, flights and accommodation for the MPs.
North Sydney MP Trent Zimmerman robocalled voters on Monday urging them to attend Friday’s inquiry in Chatswood. Liberal Party fundraising vehicle, The Bayside Forum, also invited Goldstein voters to a «triple treat» with Mr Wilson, charging $220-a-head to discuss the inquiry and other issues.
In his letter to the trustees of self-managed superannuation funds Mr Falinski said Labor’s plan to scrap cash refunds for excess franking credits would significantly hurt retirees. The Liberal MP lists a self-managed super fund in his Parliamentary register.
Coalition MPs are two times more likely than the rest of the population to have self-managed super funds. One-in-seven are likely to be affected by Labor’s policy to strip cash refunds from retired shareholders when they retire, according to the database.
«Tim Wilson, chair of the House of Representatives economics committee has been travelling around the country to hear from retirees concerned about this shameless attack on their savings,» Mr Falinski said in the letter.
«I will be hosting drinks with Tim Wilson and Dave Sharma to hear about their plans to take the fight to Labor.»
The event, «a federal fundraiser in support of the Mackellar FEC» — Mr Falinksi’s branch — is one of many to come, Mr Falinski said. The event was booked at the same venue as the inquiry, Dee Why RSL, and cost $25 a head.
«There is an election coming up so we are doing fundraising all the time,» he said. «I wouldn’t count [the Dee Why event] as a fundraiser because it didn’t raise any money.
«I utterly reject that it was tied to the committee in any way, shape or form,» he said.
The committee’s deputy chair, Matt Thistlethwaite, said Labor was awaiting legal advice on Mr Wilson after Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday backed the embattled MP.
«The PM must sack him,» he said. «We’ve got a laundry list of transgressions including his obvious conflict of interest, the misuse of the committee for political purposes and now using the committee to fundraise for the Liberal Party.»
Some shareholders in funds run by Wilson Asset Management also remain concerned that their details are being used for Liberal Party promotional material.
One investor said he had been «targeted with MP Tim Wilson’s propaganda and petition-signing emails, as were my colleagues who hold shares in the listed entities».
«My email address isn’t listed anywhere publicly, and I’ve never had any dealings with the MP’s office,» he said. Wilson Asset Management has strongly denied sharing any client details.
Another voter said they received «two Wilson Asset Management newsletters» after being contacted by Mr Wilson in their electorate. Mr Wilson has declined multiple requests for comment on whether he has shared the private information of voters in his electorate with the financial services firm. The two collaborated on a government-run website and petition, which Mr Wilson has not ruled out the company partly funding.
A third, Brighton resident Gwen Woodford, said «yes» to a robocall by Mr Wilson, only to receive multiple emails promoting Wilson Asset Management funds and an official letter from Mr Wilson.
«I just think none of the contact passes the sniff test,» she said.
Mr Wilson’s letter urges constituents «to campaign against Labor’s retirement tax» and contains the Parliamentary coat of arms next to Liberal Party branding, a clear breach of Commonwealth guidelines.
The Prime Minister and Cabinet regulations stipulate that «arms must not be used with political logos».
In phone calls to investors days after Labor announced the policy in March last year, Geoff Wilson said if Labor did win government, his funds could «easily use a different structure» and be transformed into a trust adapted to the changes.
Labor announced in August it would establish a minimum tax rate of 30 per cent on trusts. Trust payments are taxed at the marginal rate, meaning trust payments to retirees that don’t pay tax are not currently deducted.
Mr Wilson told investors in December that Labor’s franking credit policy «was going to devastate people’s lives».
«I’ve never seen a poorer policy in my life,» he said.
Eryk Bagshaw is an economics correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.