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Big bank levy is a gamble with our hip pockets

RISK: Will the big bank levy proposed by government end up hurting everyone?
RISK: Will the big bank levy proposed by government end up hurting everyone? Contributed

OPINION: I'M NOT sure about this latest Federal Budget handed down.

I see glimpses of change, but at second glance, am not sure they're anything more than smoke and mirrors to convince voters this government is tackling the big issues.

I can't see how, in any situation, the five biggest banks in Australia are going to roll over and accept a multi-billion levy being slapped on them.

It's already been widely reported the impact will flow straight down to us, the customers.

NAB top brass have told the ABC the levy simply can't be absorbed, and will be borne by those already coughing up for ATM, service, account and other fees, as well as interest.

If this occurs, the levy is nothing more than an added tax on us.

Opinions vary.

Only yesterday morning someone told me they believed it was shrewd politics to impose such a levy.

It takes the wind out of Labor's sails in that it's hard to argue the Coalition isn't willing to take on the big banks when they lob a policy grenade like this.

For the average punter, by the time it gets to the banks increasing fees on us to recoup their cash the policy will be a distant memory and most will probably just resent the banks for taking more of our money.

As Scott Morrison put it, banks aren't overly popular as-is.

But it's a gamble from a government to wave the stick that is popularity at major financial institutions.

It's almost a dare from the government: Go on, increase your fees on the public and cop the backlash.

Risky, risky business, and if the banks do opt to lean on the masses to cover the cost the government will no doubt make noise about it.

But it's extremely short-sighted or horribly naive at best to think a business operation as significant as a big bank would forego its bottom line just to appease a government, or its customers.

Given the level of apathy in this country I also doubt how many of us would actually take the effort to shift our funds and take our business elsewhere, if a bank was to creep its fees up on us.

It seems dangerous policy to me and it would be silly for us to direct our anger entirely at the banks when they do draw on us to cover costs.

The government should feel some heat for it.

It'd be lovely if the banks copped the levy on the chin and protected us, but businesses are different to charities and we all know how much the dollar rules above all else these days.

Perhaps there is merit in some level of negotiation or flexibility in the levy though.

If banks committed to not recover levy costs via increased fees, perhaps the government could agree to lift or at least reduce the levy once the budget is returned to surplus?

Topics:  banking big banks budget column community federal government federal politics finances levy my say opinion politics


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