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Greens caution Government on locking in bank levy rate

Greens Treasury spokesperson, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, provides the following comments on reports that the Government plans to lock in a six basis point levy into legislation.

Senator Whish-Wilson said, “Locking the levy in at six basis points means potentially locking in a revenue shortfall, money much needed for schools and hospitals in this country.

“It appears the Prime Minister and Treasurer have been politically wedged by Labor and the big banks working together to undermine the levy. The Government shouldn’t be making these guarantees before the Parliament has seen the fine detail of the legislation.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to tax the big banks and increase banking competition. If there truly is a revenue shortfall and flaws in the levy structure, this will need to be reviewed by the Senate Legislation Inquiry and fixed.

“If we don’t raise money from the big banks, which made over $30 billion in profit last year, then history shows that it is ordinary Australians who will face cuts to their social support instead.

“I am astonished that Labor seems more interested in playing crass politics and providing political cover for the big banks than in raising revenue to be used for schools and hospitals. They should join with the Greens in trying to make sure that the levy raises the amount of funds that it was supposed to.

“The Greens are considering moving an amendment to the bank levy Bill so that the Council of Financial Regulators can adjust the levy annually to account for the too-big-to-fail premium the big banks receive and to ensure the levy also is sufficient to maintain competition in the sector”, he concluded.

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