The ABA has accused the government of introducing policy with “indecent haste”, noting that Treasury was unable to answer key questions during a meeting with banks yesterday.
In a statement, ABA chief executive Anna Bligh said the federal government’s new tax on banks is now fraught with even more uncertainty.
She said yesterday’s meeting between Treasury officials and bank representatives was the first time banks were consulted on the new tax.
“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.
The ABA said banks left the meeting with more than 20 unanswered questions.
These included issues such as the basis on which the tax was calculated, how the tax would affect transactions and impact the economy and 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,” Ms Bligh said.
According to Ms Bligh, Treasury officials also confirmed that the government would be abandoning normal processes to prepare the legislation.
The banks only had until midday Monday to make submissions about the new tax, a process that normally takes several weeks.
Further, draft legislation will only be provided to the banks next Wednesday, giving them one day to respond, and will not be released for public consultation, she said.
“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,” Ms Bligh said.
“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.”
Earlier this week, the banks confirmed that this tax would be passed on to consumers.
Senator Katy Gallagher yesterday called on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Treasurer Scott Morrison to explain how they will prevent this.
“Banking customers, employees and shareholders should not become the victims of the government’s fiscal incompetence and their inability to rein in the deficit,” she said.
“Whilst Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison like to talk tough on banks, when the rubber hits the road, they simply fold. The big test for Malcolm Turnbull out of this budget is whether he will stand up to the banks and their CEO's and ensure that the cost of his levy is not simply passed on.”
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