Politicians battle it out over banking issues

Labor's plan to call on banks to sign a social charter or face a levy has been criticised by the Minister for Financial Services and Regulation, Mr Joe Hockey. Mr Hockey claims imposing a levy onto the banks will increase fees for consumers as the banks hike up their charges in an effort to recoup some of their costs. Amidst public concern over bank fees, branch closures and inadequate rural banking services, banking is shaping up to be one of the key policy issues in the lead up to the Federal election.

Mr Hockey's comments come after opposition spokesman on financial services and regulation, Senator Stephen Conroy, said a Labor government would ask the banks to sign a voluntary social charter to show commitment to their social obligations or face a levy if they do not oblige. Mr Hockey believes that consumers could pay an extra $15.40 in bank fees if a $100 million levy was imposed.

‘Labor's levy would cost customers, says Hockey', The Australian Financial Review, 13/03/01, p 27.