11 May 2017
Sydney, 11 May 2017: The CEO of the Australian Bankers’ Association Ms Anna Bligh today warned that the Federal Government’s new $6.2 billion bank tax is fraught with even more uncertainty after Treasury officials were unable to answer key questions at a briefing with banks in Sydney today.
“Not only has the Government kept the banks and the public in the dark on this new tax, it is now clear that they have kept Treasury in the dark too,” Ms Bligh said.
Bank representatives left today’s meeting with more questions than answers, with more than 20 important issues that were unable to be addressed.
These includes serious and complex issues such as:
- The basis on which Treasury calculated the $6.2bn estimate.
- How the new tax would affect transactions between the five banks and the Reserve Bank, and how that might impact the broader economy.
- Which of the banks’ commercial activities will be captured by the tax.
“It is even more clear that this is policy on the run, playing fast and loose with the most critical sector of the Australian economy.
“Alarmingly Treasury officials also confirmed the Government was abandoning normal processes in preparing the legislation,” Ms Bligh said.
Today’s meeting with Bank representatives and Treasury officials less than two days after the Treasurer announced the tax in Tuesday’s Budget is the first time banks have been consulted on the new tax.
Confirming that this bad public policy has been introduced in haste, banks have only until midday Monday to make submissions to Treasury about the new tax. Normally, parties making submissions on new legislation have several weeks to respond.
Treasury also confirmed that it would only provide draft legislation next Wednesday giving banks only a day to respond. Even more concerning, the draft will not be released for public consultation.
“Serious questions need to be asked about the indecent haste with which this new bill is being shoehorned into Parliament in a way that will avoid normal drafting and review processes and the scrutiny that should accompany such a critically important piece of legislation.
“As we said on Tuesday, this is bad public policy concocted on the run as a political tax grab to fill a Budget black hole,” Ms Bligh said.
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“…banks can go back to their normal processes and that is working out what’s right for every single customer, on an individual tailored basis with a proper assessment. That is the best thing for the customer.”
Access to credit opens up opportunities and fulfills aspirations. Getting it right requires the right balance between consumer protections and the flow of credit.
Interviewed by AM’s Peter Ryan, ABA CEO Anna Bligh talked about the substantial drop in loan deferrals since their peak during the pandemic, falling from 900,000 to 300,000.