BankSA has put on ice plans to set up a new team in Adelaide, which would have created 150 jobs, in response to the South Australian Government’s budget.
The bank yesterday lashed out at the Government’s new bank levy, describing it as bad public and economic policy.
It pulled out of this morning’s post-budget lunch in protest and chief executive Nick Reade later announced that plans to create a business process automation team in Adelaide were now on hold.
“As a proud and passionate South Australian, yesterday I was looking forward to a jobs budget. What I think we got instead was an anti-jobs budget,” Mr Reade said.
“Through Bank SA and the broader Westpac group we are one of, if not the largest private sector employer in South Australia.
“We employ over 3,800 people, which is three Holden plants and now we’re being penalised for that.”
“A really good example in a deterrent in investment is we were about to embark on setting up a business process automation team right here in Adelaide with up to 150 jobs and overnight we put that on hold.”
SA Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis described the bank’s behaviour as “hysterical”.
“This is exactly the type of behaviour the Australian public are sick and tired of with some of the Australian banks,” Mr Koutsantonis said.
“What 150 jobs? I think this kind of hysterical behaviour and I think some of the non-answers we got out of Bank SA today spoke volumes about who they are and really they’re taking their orders from Sydney.
“This is about Westpac, this isn’t BankSA. This isn’t some South Australian iconic company.
“Quite frankly this is appalling behaviour to try to frighten people in South Australia, and it’s exactly the type of behaviour that means the banks are held in such low esteem.”
Bank SA boss Nick Reade (left) responds to the state budget. (ABC News: Leah MacLennan)
Started with a lunchtime protest
The Westpac subsidiary was one of two principal sponsors for the post-budget lunch, organised by the ALP’s fundraising arm Progressive Business.
South Australian Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis arrives at the post-budget lunch. (ABC News: Nick Harmsen)
The bank had “a couple of tables” to which it had invited clients and guests, the organisers told the ABC.
Unfortunately for the bank’s executives, the ABC understands they had already paid for the lunch.
Mr Koutsantonis addressed the audience about his budget measures and joked there was a “no refunds policy” for the lunch.
The bank yesterday said in a statement the levy was a “distortionary policy could influence decisions banks make about investments in SA”.
“We were disappointed by the Federal Government bank levy, but the SA proposal is double taxation and is a disgrace,” the bank said.
“The South Australian economy faces challenges but populism will not deliver the robust and sustainable economy South Australians deserve. As we have previously noted, there is no ‘magic pudding’.”
The Finance Sector Union said Bank SA should not be using workers as leverage in its fight with the State Government over its new banks levy.
The Westpac subsidiary says plans to create 150 jobs in the state through a new business process automation team are now on hold, because of the state government’s new banks levy
The levy – revealed in Thursday’s state budget – mimics the Federal Government’s tax on the big banks, and is expected to bring in about 370 million dollars over four years.
Punishing finance workers a ‘disappointing’ response
Finance Sector Union SA executive secretary Jason Hall said his organisation did not support the levy but said it did not make sense to punish the state’s finance workers.
“The levy isn’t actually calculated on the business that BankSA or Westpac has in South Australia, but actually as a ratio of GDP nationally,” he said.
“So it’s disappointing that they’re choosing not to have jobs in South Australia just to make a point about the levy.”
He said that “given banking history”, frontline staff at banks were likely to “cop the brunt of any extra taxes put on the finance industry”.