Premier Mark McGowan says his Government is giving “active” and “serious” consideration to introducing a bank tax after its $400 million gold royalty increase was torpedoed by the Liberal Party.
Mr McGowan said a bank levy, already under consideration in South Australia, would raise $800 million over four years.
He argued the defeat of the Government’s gold royalty Budget measure was partly the fault of some in the WA business community for not questioning the gold industry’s claims about job losses and mine closures.
“It is obviously something we are seriously considering,” Mr McGowan said.
“The business community of WA needed to step up and ensure the ridiculous gold campaign didn’t receive the attention it did.
“The fact they didn’t means we have to look to other means to raise that money.”
Treasurer Ben Wyatt, who met international credit rating agency Standard and Poor’s yesterday, said the bank tax was worth a closer look but he had reservations.
“I have some apprehension in a couple of regards,” he said.
“Will it survive the challenges in South Australia? I want to understand what impact a bank tax would have on an economy in WA. We have a different economic structure to South Australia.”
He said the WA Government would also have to look at spending and that “things that were previously unpalatable may have to become palatable” to fill the $400 million shortfall.
Australian Bankers Association chief executive Anna Bligh said another tax would be the wrong action to take after losing on the gold royalty plan.
“WA needs to grow its economy and attract business investment, and a new tax on banks would do nothing to achieve this,” she said.
“The ABA urges the WA Government to maintain sound economic policy and not introduce a bank tax.”
The next challenge for the State Government will be securing the passage through Parliament of its payroll tax increase, which will bring $435 million in revenue.
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA is campaigning against the increase, warning it will cost 1300 jobs in the first year. “The Liberals must now join with the crossbenchers and National party to commit to blocking the Government’s ill-conceived payroll tax hike,” the CCI’s chief economist Rick Newnham said.
Opposition Leader Mike Nahan is yet to commit to supporting the payroll tax increase.