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Cashing out: Powerful backers back away as Libs' battle with the base flares

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Liberal coffers have taken a hit as powerful supporters turn their back on the party, with a prominent hotelier admonishing the Marshall Government in an email to state MPs, and a major business backer protesting Treasury’s proposed land tax grab by withdrawing support for a lucrative fundraiser.

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The business backlash against the $40 million-a-year land tax aggregation measure contained in Treasurer Rob Lucas’s June budget continues to intensify, with hotel tycoon Peter Hurley expressing his dismay in an email sent to the Government’s most senior MPs, including Premier Steven Marshall.

In an email sent to several members of the cabinet and assorted backbenchers – seen by InDaily – the Hurley Hotel Group managing director and former Hotels Association president wrote he’d “had many property investors call me”.

“Not one of them believes the budgeted uplift of $40 million. Neither do I,” he said, adding the impost would be significantly higher, even “on the false assumption that the Valuer-General will NOT increase the [land tax] base” in a concurrent revaluation.

The well-known Liberal backer and donor went on to compare Marshall and Lucas’s land tax aggregation gambit unfavourably to federal Labor’s failed election pitch to reform franking credits and negative gearing.

“At least [former federal Labor leader Bill] Shorten and [then-shadow Treasurer Chris] Bowen told us they were going to savage our retirement savings and people were able to vote accordingly,” Hurley wrote.

He insisted there should be no extra impost on existing investments, saying: “The existing regime that investment decisions were based on should be Grandfathered and new aggregation rules apply to all future purchases.”

Contacted today by InDaily, Hurley said he had nothing to add to the email.

The aggregation furore has alienated several strong Liberal backers from the state party, helping fuel a factional takeover by the conservative Right at last weekend’s state council AGM.

It’s also drying up donations from cashed-up backers, with InDaily confirming that prominent property developer Harry Perks, a longtime Liberal donor whose company PPI Funds Management manages several shopping complexes across a range of syndicates, recently pulled out of a fundraising dinner he was helping to organise for the party.

He believes he’s been betrayed by the Liberal Party

Perks, who is overseas, did not respond to inquiries, but the CEO of his PPI Funds Management company, Richard Hayman, confirmed he had “withdrawn his support for that particular event”.

“He was part of the organising committee for [a fundraising dinner but] once they mentioned the land tax aggregation rules, he was very upset,” Hayman said.

“He believes he’s been betrayed by the Liberal Party.”

Hayman said Perks’ role had been to “find people to support the event”, which cost participants $5000 a head to attend a dinner “where people could meet politicians and get in their ear”.

“He was planning on hopefully raising about $75,000,” he said.

It’s unclear if the event went ahead in his absence.

Maurice Henderson, the director of the Liberal Party’s fundraising arm FutureSA, would not confirm Perks had withdrawn from a Liberal fundraiser, telling InDaily: “I don’t know what event you’re talking about.”

Ironically, earlier this year Perks banned federal Labor MP Amanda Rishworth from setting up a meet-and-greet stall at his Seaford Central Shopping Centre, citing the ALP’s longheld refusal to reduce land tax.

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