Labor MP’s trainwreck interview
A LABOR MP has highlighted unrest within the Opposition by several times declining to back Bill Shorten's threat to roll back tax cuts for medium-sized businesses.
Member for Bass, Ross Hart, stood his ground on Tasmanian radio and would not endorse the so-called Shorten "captain's call" to repeal the legislated tax relief if Labor was elected to government.
One reason might be that 40 businesses within Mr Hart's seat, which he won last election, would be affected.
Mr Hart's position contrasted starkly with attempts by senior Labor colleagues to protect the Opposition Leader, who yesterday, without the formal ratification of shadow cabinet, announced the policy aimed at businesses with a turnover of $10 million to $50 million.
Mr Hart called in to radio station, and demonstrated his reluctance to give his leader's announcement a tick in an exchange with host Brian Carlton:
Mr Hart: "I have answered that question …"
Carlton: "No you haven't. You have done everything you possibly can to avoid answering that question, Ross. Do you support the leaders' decision?"
Mr Hart: "We'll have a conversation about that at another time. Thank you very much. Bye."
Carlton: "No let's do it now, Ross. Clearly there is not a lot of support here is there."
Mr Hart: "Ahh no I don't …"
Carlton: "How long has Bill Shorten got his leadership?"
Mr Hart: "Bill is the leader."
The Opposition is hoping the words of the little-known back bench MP will be forgotten after Parliament rises on Thursday for a long Winter break. However that won't insulate Mr Shorten from government attacks today.
Elsewhere in the interview, which the government distributed widely, the Labor MP was asked if he was on a unity ticket with Mr Shorten.
Mr Hart: The leader has announced that he would support a reduction in, uh, in, sorry, a repeal of the tax rate. It has not been discussed, as I understand, by shadow cabinet.
Carlton: Well no this is exactly the point Ross. It hasn't been discussed by shadow cabinet; caucus didn't get a crack at it either. This is a captain's call on which your leader has staked his leadership I would argue and here I am getting from you, a bit of a equivocation. Do you support the bloke or not?
Mr Hart: Well as I said previously, I would support businesses in Northern Tasmania and Tasmania genially being profitable and making a profit so they can pay tax, irrespective of whether there is going to be a tax cut at a particular rate or not.
Carlton: Do you back your leader Bill Shorten's call to repeal the tax cut for companies of a turnover of between $10 and $50 million?
Mr Hart: Well, that's a matter that has been announced by Mr Shorten. He - Interviewer: So you don't Ross? You don't support this, do you? You don't support what your leader has done?
Mr Hart: I'm not saying that Brian. I'm not saying that.
Carlton: Yeah but you're not saying you agree with him either, are you?
Mr Hart: Let's have a conversation about that at another time.