Poll suggests bank tax to factor in SA election

A Galaxy poll of key South Australian marginal seats shows the proposed bank tax might decide the March state election where the Labor Government is currently running neck and neck with the Liberal Party.

With minor parties including Nick Xenophons’s SA Best attracting 38 per cent support, the allocation of preferences is likely to be crucial in determining the election result.

The Advertiser and the Sunday Mail published a state-wide Galaxy poll on the weekend that revealed the majority of South Australians oppose the tax. The Australian Bankers’ Association (ABA) has now commissioned Galaxy to conduct a poll of eight key marginal seats in South Australia - Elder, Dunstan, Colton, Gibson, Mawson, Black, Adelaide and Hartley.

“This unprecedented state tax will hurt investment, competitiveness and business confidence in South Australia and will be an additional cost to the economy at a time when South Australia can least afford it,” said ABA Chairman and CEO of National Australia Bank, Andrew Thorburn.

“This proposed bank tax is bad policy – it is bad for bank customers, shareholders and employees and bad for business, investment, jobs and growth in South Australia. It has already raised concerns offshore about the attractiveness of investing in South Australia.”

Thorburn’s deputy chairman at the ABA, Mike Hirst, the CEO of Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, added that even though the South Australian tax doesn't apply to regional banks, the imposition of the tax was “difficult to justify given state governments have no role to play in competition or bank policy”.

“Banks play a major role in economies by providing the credit and other infrastructure required to drive economic growth and underpin investment – which is critical for South Australia,” he said.

‘Flip flopping’

While the Galaxy poll showed that South Australians are reacting very differently to this proposed South Australia bank tax compared to the federal bank levy that was announced in May, it is unclear to what extent the Liberal Party will be willing or able to capitalise politically.

On Monday, Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis labelled SA Liberal Party leader Steven Marshall as “weak” and accused him of 11 days of “flip flopping over his party’s position on the major bank levy”.

“When the major bank levy was announced as part of the State Budget, Steven Marshall immediately said the Liberal Party would not block the measure,” he said.

“Then on Tuesday last week, after one meeting with ANZ chief executive Shayne Elliott, Steven Marshall indicated he did not support the measure, but refused to say whether the Liberals would seek to block it in the Upper House.

“It has now been 11 days since the major bank levy was announced and we still don’t know what Steven Marshall’s position is. This week-and-a-half of flip flopping is proof Steven Marshall is a weak leader who lacks the authority required to make decisions and stick to them.”

UPDATE: Steven Marshall confirmed late on Monday that the Liberal opposition in South Australia will oppose the Weatherill government's bank tax.

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