8 February 2023
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the Attorney-General representing the Treasurer on the topic of interest rate rises and the big banks.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: At 2pm today, the Reserve Bank of Australia announced it is lifting the cash rate by 0.25 per cent to 3.35 per cent. This rate rise is the ninth interest rate increase in a row. Over the last 12 months, we have seen the RBA increase the cash rate target by 3 per cent, increasing the cost-of-living pressures faced by South Australian families.
Late last year, the Australian Financial Review claimed that the big banks would play down the extent to which rising interest rates are boosting profits when they record bumper full year earnings. The same article stated that the big banks have passed RBA increases on to their customers while also increasing their profit margins.
SA Labor first proposed a levy on major banks back in 2017 when the then Treasurer, the Hon. Tom Koutsantonis MP, told SBS News that, and I quote from his media statements:
…these banks are making super profits yet every year they close more branches, they charge us more fees and they make more profits.
At that time, a bank tax was estimated to raise $340 million over four years. A free school breakfast and lunch program in South Australia would cost just $128 million a year and provide relief to many families who are struggling to put food on the table. Public schools provide free lunches in Japan, Norway, France and some parts of the United States. My question to the Attorney-General therefore is: will the government commit to bringing back a big bank levy to pay for programs that would support families in need, such as programs for free school breakfasts and lunches?
The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector): I thank the honourable member for his very important question and his timely contribution in updating the chamber about Reserve Bank decisions that have happened this afternoon. I certainly will pass those questions on to the Treasurer in another place in relation to the ideas that I know the Hon. Robert Simms has put forward. I have read them in the media and we always welcome—
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: Sorry, I can't—sorry, I'm being interrupted.
The PRESIDENT: Order!
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: Oh dear. I will pass that on to the Treasurer and I will certainly bring back a reply.