In the Media

SA govt to lobby MPs over bank tax

South Australian Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis will lobby upper house MPs this week in a bid to get the government’s controversial bank tax through state parliament.

The levy faces continued opposition from the business sector while the Liberals and the Australian Conservatives have vowed to vote it down.

Crossbencher Kelly Vincent has offered her support in return for $41.5 million in funding for mental health and disability services.

But her vote won’t be enough and Mr Koutsantonis says he will continue to call on her fellow legislative councillors to change their mind.

“This week I will be imploring crossbenchers to choose thousands of South Australian small businesses over five east coast banks,” he said.

The levy was included in this year’s budget and only applies to the big banks in a bid to raise about $360 million over the next four years.

The banks have argued the levy is unfair, will deter investment and hit confidence.

But the treasurer said all of their claims had been proven wrong with investment up in recent months and unemployment down.

“All we are asking is that the big banks pay their fair share of tax so that we can use that revenue to fund payroll tax cuts and other job creation measures to grow South Australian jobs,” Mr Koutsantonis said.

Ms Vincent said in securing her vote the government had agreed to a range of measures that ensured all South Australians had access to high-quality healthcare and disability support.

But the state’s peak employer body questioned the sense of promising the funds for the support of just one upper house MP, accusing the government of “desperation to get a deal across the line”.

“It’s a dumb tax, it’s an arbitrary tax, it’s a tax by ambush and it’s going to punish all South Australians,” Business SA chief executive Nigel McBride said.

“The bank tax has been recognised nationally as a bad idea and it has given the other states one more reason to point the finger at South Australia.”