Labor MP Refuses To Back Shorten In Painful Interview
"Let’s have a conversation about that another time," he dodged.
A first-term Labor MP repeatedly refused to back leader Bill Shorten, and later was forced into an embarrassing clarification, in a radio interview some are calling a "hart attack".
Ross Hart, the member for the Tasmanian seat of Bass, appeared on the Tasmania Talks radio show on Wednesday and was asked about Shorten's controversial "captain's call" promising a Labor government would repeal any tax cuts for businesses with turnover of $10 million to $50 million.
Shorten's decision came as a surprise to some Labor MPs, with Hart admitting in the interview the announcement did not go through the normal process of being agreed on by the shadow caucus or cabinet.
"There’s been a lot of observations about the fact that this has been, as you say, a captain’s call,” Hart said, saying it was "a matter for Bill Shorten".
When asked several times if he supported Shorten as leader -- just days after media speculation, rubbished by Labor, that Anthony Albanese may be preparing to mount a leadership challenge -- Hart kept dodging the question.
"I would support businesses in northern Tasmania, and Tasmania generally, being profitable and making a profit so that they can pay tax, irrespective of whether there’s going to be a tax cut at a particular rate or not," he said in response to one question about his support for Shorten.
"That’s a matter that’s been announced by Mr Shorten," Hart said in answer to the next question about his support for Shorten's tax policy.
"Let’s have a conversation about that another time," was another reply Hart gave.
Host Brian Carlton kept pushing, asking bluntly “do you back Bill Shorten’s decision?"
"He’s the leader of the party, he has announced this, there’s been a lot of observations about the fact that this has been, as you say, a captain’s call. He has announced it in response to a direct question with respect to this issue, that he wants to see a repeal of this. That’s a matter for Bill Shorten. He has announced that, as I said."
Many media outlets jumped on the interview, saying it illustrated confusion and a lack of support for Shorten's "captain's call".
Some outlets called the interview a "train wreck", while others described it as a "hart attack."
Hart later posted a pair of tweets saying what he would not in the interview -- that he did support Shorten's plan. But the firm answer came too late to dodge the damaging headlines already spinning around the nation's media channels.
Labor MP Ed Husic tried to brush it off as inexperience on the part of Hart, who joined the parliament after being elected at the 2016 poll.
The government is still trying to shore up the numbers in the Senate to pass its company tax measures.