Executives from the five major banks expected to pay the government’s $6.2 billion levy are being asked to sign confidentiality agreements before they can see the draft legislation
The move has infuriated Australian Bankers’ Association CEO Anna Bligh, who escalated her war of words with treasurer Scott Morrison over the tax introduced in the budget.
Bligh said the banker were “shocked” by the request.
“A bad tax has now become a secret tax,” she said.
“The Government is going to extraordinary lengths to keep this tax hidden from the people who will be most affected by it and from the public.”
It’s believed the banker are required sign the agreements by 5pm today in order to see the draft bill and then will have just 24 hours to respond.
Their major concern is that signing it not only means they won’t be able to reveal the details publicly, they also won’t be able to discuss it with their respective boards.
“How can Australia’s major banks determine the impacts of this legislation if their senior staff and analysts are in danger of being prosecuted if they speak to stakeholders, the public or the media?” Bligh said.
“A totally unacceptable public policy process has today gone from bad to worse. This is likely to lead to highly flawed legislation, and further risks unintended consequences on the economy and financial system.”
The government is placing a six-basis point charge on the liabilities of five lenders with assessed liabilities of $100 billion: the ANZ, CBA, NAB, Westpac and Macquarie.
Analysts believe the tax could cut bank profits by as much as 6% and lenders have publicly declared that the pain will have to be either borne by shareholders or borrowers and depositors. The banks will have to increase mortgage rates by 14 basis points to meet the cost of levy, Goldman Sachs analysts believe.