Big banks win and public loses from Hockey bank levy backflip

Responding to Joe Hockey’s decision today not to proceed with a bank levy, Greens Treasury spokesperson, Adam Bandt, questioned the timing of the announcement and said the Treasurer had blown another hole in the Budget while letting the big banks off scot-free.

“Joe Hockey has caved in to the big banks and blown another hole in government revenue,” said Mr Bandt.

“Why make this announcement now? Has the public lost billions in revenue just so a Prime Minister and Treasurer under pressure could appear smiling together in front of the cameras?

“The big four banks make world-leading record profits, yet the government doesn’t have the guts to ask them to pay a bit more tax.

“When it comes to balancing the books, the Abbott government thinks it’s fine to make people pay more to see the doctor but not to ask the big banks to pay a bit more tax.

“The Greens proposed making the deposit levy fairer by having it apply to the big four banks only, which would have raised revenue without it being passed on to everyday account holders. If the big four tried to pass it on to customers, people could walk down the road to a smaller bank or credit union that didn’t have the levy.

“The big banks already get a big leg-up from the public, as everyone knows the government will support the big four if they look like falling over, which allows them to get funds more cheaply than their smaller rivals.

“This decision from Joe Hockey will keep an uneven playing field tilted against the smaller institutions, blow a hole in the Budget and let the big banks off scot-free.”

A properly set levy on the big four banks would have raised about $3bn a year, according to the independent Parliamentary Budget Office.

Media contact: Adam Pulford, 0429 109 054