Monday, 19 June 2017
Major Bank Levy Bill 2017, Treasury Laws Amendment (Major Bank Levy) Bill 2017; In Committee
I will not pursue this any further except to ask the minister one question in relation to recommendation 1. I hear what the minister says, and of course it is appropriate that the Senate is able to set up committees in two years time to look at whatever it needs to. The committee would have hoped that the government might have actually made a firm commitment to that. There were calls which, I have to say, I and some other committee members thought had some merit, in that there should be a sunset clause in the legislation. So, the legislation would read 'when the budget got into surplus'—but better words than that!—then this levy would stop. But that was a bit prescriptive, so the committee, as I said, took a conciliatory view in saying, well, let's not make that mandatory but let's get the government of the day—and it may not be this government; I hope it is, but it may not be—to at least have a look in a couple of years to see whether the levy is repairing the budget, which is the basis upon which it is introduced, and whether it is affecting competition in the banking market and whether it is one that should continue forever rather than only, as was the rhetoric around it, to the time when the budget is repaired.
Whilst the minister is right—the Senate can set up whatever committees it likes—I would have hoped that there might have been some government imprimatur that says, 'That's a good idea; we will do that in two years.' It does not cost the government anything. It does not in any way limit the passing of the bill. But it is something that I think would show good faith and would also address some of the very genuine concerns that were raised at the committee hearing. I accept that some of the submissions made to the committee may not have been 'genuine', but many were, and the committee tried to pick up on those and made what we hoped would be helpful recommendations to the government.