The Courier-Mail

DE­POSIT TAX WITH­DRAWN PM de­clares $1.5b ‘La­bor idea’ dead for good


SAVERS should be spared higher costs af­ter the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment dumped its plans for a bank de­posit tax.

Prime Min­is­ter Tony Ab­bott an­nounced he would dump the 0.05 per cent tax on de­posits up to $250,000 just months af­ter Trea­surer Joe Hockey had sig­nalled he wanted to im­pose it only on the Big Four banks.

But the Gov­ern­ment will suf­fer a $1.5 bil­lion hit to its Bud­get as a re­sult of the back­down. The tax was ini­tially planned un­der La­bor, but not leg­is­lated and the Coali­tion was plan­ning to im­pose it from 2016. Mr Ab­bott yesterday la­belled the im­post a “La­bor tax” as he killed it off.

“La­bor’s bank de­posit tax is dead,” Mr Ab­bott said.

“The last way to make our banks strong, the last way to pro­tect de­pos­i­tors is to hit banks with more taxes.”

Mr Hockey de­nied he had been rolled over the plans by Cab­i­net, say­ing he ar­rived at the de­ci­sion to aban­don the tax af­ter dis­cussing it with banks and other groups.

“Now is ex­actly the wrong time to ap­ply such a tax to bank ac­counts, when peo­ple are re­ceiv­ing lower re­turns than they may have ex­pected in the past,” he said.

The de­posit tax was meant to go into a fund to be used if banks col­lapsed in another fi­nan­cial cri­sis.

It was orig­i­nally pro­posed by the Re­serve Bank of Aus­tralia, Trea­sury and bank­ing reg­u­la­tor APRA.

The $1.5 bil­lion the tax was ex­pected to raise over four years was counted on the Gov­ern­ment’s bot­tom line, mean­ing it will add to the deficit un­less it is off­set with new sav­ings in the mid-year Bud­get up­date later this year.

Mr Hockey said banks had since ac­cepted they need to in­crease their cap­i­tal, which would guard against the risk of a col­lapse.

The pol­icy change came as Cab­i­net shelved plans for changes to com­pe­ti­tion law to help small busi­ness, which was fiercely op­posed by large firms.

Banks and se­niors’ groups wel­comed the back­down on the de­posit tax.

WE have now been with­out a chief jus­tice in Queens­land for two months since Tim Car­mody re­signed af­ter a year of con­tro­versy and up­heaval in our courts and le­gal com­mu­nity.

At­tor­ney-Gen­eral Yvette D’Ath an­nounced she would con­sult with ap­pro­pri­ate peo­ple in the ju­di­ciary and peak bod­ies such as the Bar As­so­ci­a­tion and the Law So­ci­ety, although the an­nual mid-win­ter break most judges take de­layed this process some­what.

In essence we are where we were on July 1. We know noth­ing be­yond the facts: we have no chief jus­tice, the At­tor­ney-Gen­eral is con­sult­ing and there is no timeline on what is hap­pen­ing.

Premier An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk and her La­bor col­leagues were harsh crit­ics of Camp­bell New­man’s LNP for the way the se­lec­tion and ap­point­ment of Jus­tice Car­mody was un­der­taken.

They crit­i­cised Mr New­man and his at­tor­ney-gen­eral Jar­rod Blei­jie for not con­sult­ing and mak­ing an “out­sider” ap­point­ment of Jus­tice Car­mody from chief mag­is­trate to the top judge in the state.

The con­cur­rent up­roar from other judges and se­nior lawyers added to a per­cep­tion the ap­point­ment was botched and set the stage for Jus­tice Car­mody’s pre­dicted demise to slide to­ward in­evitabil­ity.

Given that Jus­tice Car­mody first tele­graphed, in an in­ter­view with The Courier-Mail, the pos­si­bil­ity he might leave the Supreme Court early into his ten­ure soon af­ter the Jan­uary 31 elec­tion, the Gov­ern­ment should have been think­ing of what to do in the event he did step down long be­fore it be­came of­fi­cial.

That we have heard noth­ing from the At­tor­ney-Gen­eral since her ini­tial re­sponse to his res­ig­na­tion is start­ing to look more like dither­ing than de­lib­er­a­tion. We would have thought a Gov­ern­ment that com­plained so loudly about se­crecy and opaque de­ci­sion- mak­ing un­der the LNP would have been a lit­tle more com­mu­nica­tive and trans­par­ent in its pro­cesses.

This is not to sug­gest we should have a run­ning com­men­tary on who Ms D’Ath is con­sult­ing with and who may or may not be on any short­list, but rather an as­sur­ance that the process of se­lect­ing a new chief jus­tice is pro­ceed­ing and ap­pro­pri­ate peo­ple are be­ing spo­ken to.

One of the prob­lems with the ap­point­ment and brief ten­ure of Jus­tice Car­mody was the pub­lic­ity and sense of cri­sis it at­tracted.

There was never a sense of the calm and qui­etude as­so­ci­ated with su­pe­rior courts and judges.

It would be a pity if the se­lec­tion of a re­place­ment was to be­gin in con­tro­versy be­cause the Gov­ern­ment did not take the peo­ple of the state into its con­fi­dence.

We are also en­ti­tled to hear what the Gov­ern­ment’s plan is to make this se­lec­tion process, and the over­sights of the courts gen­er­ally, more trans­par­ent and ac­count­able.

Some lawyers, such as Bill Potts and Re­becca Fogerty writ­ing in The Courier-Mail to­day, ar­gue for an in­de­pen­dent ju­di­cial se­lec­tion panel that could draw up a short­list for con­sid­er­a­tion by the at­tor­ney-gen­eral and cab­i­net. There are also sug­ges­tions for a ju­di­cial com­mis­sion to han­dle is­sues that arise con­cern­ing judges.

At the mo­ment we have the ul­ti­mately un­sat­is­fac­tory sit­u­a­tion of the chief jus­tice be­ing re­spon­si­ble for ac­count­ing for him or her­self and other judges.

All of these are worth­while ideas to con­sider and, af­ter six months in of­fice, we should have at least an out­line of the Gov­ern­ment’s think­ing on such im­por­tant mat­ters.

Ms D’Ath and Ms Palaszczuk should put this at the top of their list for ac­tion and get on with se­lect­ing some­one and ap­point­ing them.


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