Michael Pratt, a prominent Liberal figure who held the federal seat of Adelaide in the late-‘80s, has been a vocal opponent of the Marshall Government’s aggregation crackdown, and met with Lucas after attending one of three public forums run by Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas.
“I’ve never seen so many Liberals at a Labor function,” Pratt told InDaily.
“I want Marshall to lead a two-term Government, but I had to let [Lucas] know the anger in the community and the pressure on marginal seats… I know where this is heading.”
But he also argued the mood of historically Liberal-backing attendees was such that the Labor Party had painted itself into a corner on the contentious legislation.
“Malinauskas and Labor have worked the mood of the electorate that well that they cannot support this [legislation],” he said.
“The forums that they have run have wedged them into making a decision.”
Crossbenchers John Darley and Frank Pangallo also attended the forum at Goodwood earlier this week, telling attendees if Labor opposed the legislation they would kill it off in the Upper House.
But Malinauskas was equivocal today, telling InDaily “there are a number of variables that need to be taken into consideration as we consider this Bill”.
“We’ve had a number of these forums now and the frustration and disappointment at the way the Liberal Party have announced this policy is palpable,” he said.
“But what interests me more is understanding what the real life implications will be of this tax passing or failing.”
However, he added, “to the best of my knowledge Labor hasn’t opposed a money Bill of this nature in the Upper House”.
“There are people who have been making that point, so there are a number of variables that need to be taken into account,” he said.
But he noted the Liberal Party had “created the precedent” by opposing two of the former Labor government’s budget measures – a car park tax and a bank tax.
Lucas told InDaily his “characterisation” of his lunch meeting with Pratt was that “he wanted to give me the Labor Party’s position”.
“I understand they made no commitment in relation to their position,” he said, adding: “I’m well aware of the various people who have been prominent in their criticism of the Government’s position.”
The Treasurer confirmed debate on the final version of the Bill will begin next week – which should force Labor to clarify their position on the legislation.
But if the Opposition seeks to move significant amendments, Lucas has warned he will withdraw the Bill or put it to a decisive vote.
“One way or another, we wouldn’t proceed with it,” he said.
“The Government won’t be supporting a committee or delaying [the implementation] for 12 months or two years…
“The decision will either be taken to implement [the changes] from 1 July, or not – we’re not going to take a decision that has it hanging around for two years.”
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