Another, Michael Nordstrom, said he had voted Labor all his life. «What they have done is not right,» he said.
«When [shadow treasurer] Chris Bowen said if you don’t like it you can go vote for someone else — that really got me going.»
The Prime Minster’s video producer, Tony Walters, has been photographed recording video interviews with people testifying inside the hall hosting the inquiry.
The interviewees were made to sign disclosure agreements authorising their use by the Liberal Party.
One told the committee that they assumed their interview with the Prime Minister’s Office constituted an official submission to public inquiry, only to be told by committee members that they had to formally submit by tabling their statement.
The conduct has raised the concerns of the committee secretariat who have never seen political operatives making advertising content inside an inquiry hall. «That is not what the committee is about,» said a member of the secretariat.
At one recent committee hearing in Queensland, MP Andrew Wallace handed out Liberal Party membership forms.
The interviews are set to be used by the Prime Minister’s office as part of a «retiree tax» social media campaign. Its first instalment was posted within a week of the comittee’s first inquiries in Sydney last year.
The inquiry has already cost taxpayers $160,000 for room hire and transport. Thousands more is expected to be laid out to cover the expenses and production costs of Mr Walters to attend each hearing as it travels around the country from Perth to Brisbane.
Liberal MP Tim Wilson, the committee chair, has also been criticised for his links with a prominent fund manager and distant relative, Geoff Wilson. His company, Wilson Asset Management, is likely to have its business model challenged by the Labor policy.
Mr Wilson failed to declare his investments in funds run by the firm to inquiry hearings, and used the taxpayer-funded probe to help spruik Liberal Party fundraisers.
The company part-funded a government emblazoned website, stoptheretirementtax.com, that automatically transferred the names, emails, addresses and phone numbers of voters signing a petition against to the policy to the business.
It can now be revealed Mr Morrison has been promoting the website through his social media channels since November, urging voters to «voice their concerns».
The ads, authorised by Mr Morrison and the Liberal Party, fail to tell voters that their details will be passed to Wilson Asset Management, a company with $3 billion in funds under management.
Half-a-dozen retirees have reported receiving advertising from the company since the website was launched last year.
The Australian Information Commissioner has begun preliminary inquiries to establish if it has jurisdiction over a potential breach of the Privacy Act by Mr Wilson.
One of Labor’s committee members, Josh Wilson, said it was sad to see the «anything goes» approach run down the integrity of the committee process.
«It’s another strange and questionable element of a campaign circus that keeps producing new acts,» he said.
The Speaker, Mr Smith, decided not to refer Tim Wilson to the privileges committee for contempt but warned the actions could be «seen to have caused damage to the committee’s reputation and damage to the house committee system more generally».
It is not the first time an inquiry has been used for political ends.
Labor harnessed an industrial relations inquiry in the lead up to the Longman and Braddon byelections last year to fuel a campaign about workers’ wages and conditions.
And One Nation leader Pauline Hanson held press conferences with bank misconduct victims outside the banking royal commission last year.
The committee is scheduled to hold its final set of meetings in the Victorian suburbs of Brighton, Malvern, Mornington and Torquay on March 19 and 20.
The Prime Minister’s Office was contacted for comment.
Eryk Bagshaw is an economics correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.