by Colin Kruger
“You might have thought we were a bit extreme 6 months ago when we had the placards,” fund manager Geoff Wilson told his Sydney investors on Thursday of the moment his battle against Labor’s franking credits policy went very high profile.
But he credits the franking credits battle, and Bob Brown’s anti-Adani campaign, for delivering the fatal blow to Labor’s election hopes over the weekend.
“It was franking credits and in Queensland it was the fact that Bob Brown came up with his caravan, they were the 2 main factors,” he said citing feedback from the Geoff Wilson Asset Management investor roadshow which hit Brisbane earlier this week.
“I think that one thing that Labor underestimated was the intergenerational impact that this change was going to have,” he said of the franking credit issue which his group dubbed the retirement tax. A survey of thousands of the fund manager’s investors revealed last week that 47 per cent of respondents expected their children and grandchildren would change their vote because of the policy.
Testimony from investors attending the roadshow bore this out. A Queensland retiree told Wilson in Brisbane that he had meetings with his 7 grandchildren who were of voting age to explain the impact that the policy would have.
“He said that those 7 children will never vote Labor again,” said Mr Wilson, but he was quick to assure investors that it was the policy, not the political party, that he was opposed to.
“If the coalition had come up with this policy, we would have lobbied as hard against that. I just wanted to make that very clear,” he said.
Mr Wilson came under intense scrutiny for his role in the campaign and his links to Coalition MP Tim Wilson, a distant relative, who led a parliamentary inquiry into Labor’s proposed changes.
“One reason we were very vocal with our placards six months ago was to get the debate on the table,” he said.
“Our goal was to get franking on the agenda and we’re very happy they did understand it. It was a complex issue,” he said.
With the franking policy expected to be ditched by Labor, it left the investment group to focus on more prosaic issues like the investment landscape.
Some of Mr Wilson’s misgivings about the sharemarket have eased since last November due to expectations of falling interest rates the US and Australia. The US has also shelved plans to reverse quantitative easing which has helped buoy global markets.
But the fact that the Reserve Bank is flagging rate cuts, and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) is now trying to stimulate the flow of credit to the housing sector, does raise concern about the weakness of the local economy.
“The various bodies are seeing the numbers and view the domestic economy as very fragile at the moment,” Mr Wilson said.