Bankers chest-beating over levy changes

The Australian Bankers’ Association says the government was “forced to make concessions to the bank levy” after meeting with the big four banks.

Late on Tuesday, Treasurer Scott Morrison provided further details of the bank levy and revealed that the first payment would be delayed by three months – an outcome for which the big banks had lobbied.

In a media statement following the Treasurer’s remarks, the ABA claimed the government's announcement proves that its original design “had major flaws”.

“The government has been forced to make concessions to the bank levy following the banks’ one and only opportunity to meet with Treasury on such a major budget measure,” ABA chief executive Anna Bligh said.

After noting that the banks welcome the concessions, Ms Bligh said the big four remain concerned about what she described as the government’s “poorly-designed tax grab”.

In addition to postponing the first payment of the levy, the legislation announced this week showed the levy will no longer apply to derivative transactions and money the banks hold with the RBA.

“Banks had argued for both of these changes,” Ms Bligh said.

The Treasurer is confident that the ACCC will prevent the major banks from hitting borrowers with mortgage rate hikes, and even outlined how the regulator will promote smaller lenders.

“The ACCC inquiry will illuminate how the banks respond to the introduction of the levy and give all Australians the information they need to get a better deal elsewhere from any of the more than 100 other banks, credit unions and building societies, as well as other non-bank competitors,” he said.

The major banks’ market value has fallen by around $39 billion since the budget, according to the ABA.

[Related: ACCC could steer borrowers away from the big four]

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