Australian banks warn surprise taxes scaring away investors

Xavier Trudeau
Juin 26, 2017

Surprise taxes levied on Australia's banking sector are frightening off potential foreign investors by creating a less stable business environment, two of the country's major banks warned.

His comments were echoed by National Australia Bank (NAB.AX) Chief Executive Andrew Thornton, who has said that London-based investors he had met had less confidence in Australia as a place to invest.

In a statement yesterday, ABA executive director of industry policy Tony Pearson said the South Australian bank levy, announced last week, will be negative for investment, growth and jobs in South Australia.

The federal government has said its tax was a much-needed revenue-raising measure from profitable banks to plug Australia's yawning budget deficit.

GST-deprived Western Australia's Labor government is also considering a bank levy as an option, but NSW Liberal Treasurer Dominic Perrottet isn't about to copy South Australia, saying he is more concerned about reducing the tax burden.

Anti-bank sentiment is running hot following a series of misconduct scandals and years of record profits.

A second Australian state on Friday said it was open to charging its own bank tax.

Mr Koutsantonis says the government will defend the tax in the courts if necessary and has already introduced legislation to state parliament to prevent the banks passing the cost onto customers.

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