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Major banks put themselves ahead of SA small business, workers and their families

Friday, 30 June 2017

South Australia’s 140,000 small businesses and the workers whose livelihoods depend upon a vibrant small business sector will be the winners from the bank levy

Minister for Small Business Martin Hamilton-Smith said the $370 million to be raised by the levy underpins the Future Jobs Fund, as well as the expanded Job Accelerator Grant scheme and payroll tax cuts – all of which will help thousands of small businesses grow and employ more people.

He said it represents just one third of 1 per cent on the big banks’ billions in annual mega-profits. It will go directly to small business and the families who depend upon them through grants, tax exemptions and payroll tax reductions.

It will boost infrastructure spending and stimulate the construction and services small business sector. Take that tax away, and hundreds and thousands of South Australian families suffer.


The State Government has delivered a significant package of support for the small business sector, which employs almost 250,000 people in South Australia and is worth $34 billion each year.

Key small business budget initiatives include:

  • A new permanent payroll tax rate of 2.5 per cent in South Australia for small businesses with payrolls between $600,000 and $1 million. The Budget will also extend payroll tax discounts to businesses with payrolls between $1 million and $1.5 million, benefitting an additional 1,300 businesses in this bracket.

  •        In a measure designed to boost employment among young people, businesses that register a new employee for a Job Accelerator Grant (JAG) will receive an extra $5000 if the person employed is an apprentice or trainee. The expanded scheme means businesses with payrolls between $600,000 and $5 million will receive up to $15,000 for each apprentice or trainee above current staffing levels, while small businesses with payrolls up to $600,000 will receive up to $9000
  •        The State Government has maintained the $10 million Small Business Development Fund, comprising Start-up Business and Expansion grants and expanded the Export Partnership Program

Quotes attributable to Minister for Small Business Martin Hamilton-Smith

The Australian Bankers Association claims the big five banks employ 8000 South Australians and every single job is crucial. The small business sector employs hundreds of thousands of people. The big five banks do not appear to care about those individuals’ needs, which are equally important.

The bank tax will cost the wealthy big five a tiny proportion of their mega-profits and they claim it will damage business confidence. Wrong. What will damage business confidence, investment jobs and growth, is the deliberate campaign of self-interest the big five banks have decided to run.

This campaign has several objects: to stop money being transferred from the big five banks to small business, to protect their mega-profits; to scare the people of South Australia and other States like WA and Tasmania, who have budgets due in the near future into adopting this tax and to frighten and intimidate South Australians to the view that it is in their view - for the banks to continue to pay no GST and to exempt themselves of at least $4 billion dollars’ worth of avoided tax.

This deliberate campaign demonstrates they are prepared to damage business confidence, and to talk down the state economy in their own self-interest.

Small businesses everywhere are suffering from excessive bank charges on everything from transactions to late payment fees. Banks are foreclosing on businesses large and small across the state in their own self-interest. They frequently make it difficult for businesses to borrow and grow. Now big banks want to sledge the state and small business to protect their mega-profits.

Small businesses across the state have choices. Smaller banks such as the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank and a range of credit unions and other financial institutions are available to them. The big banks have closed dozens of branches in SA, sacked hundreds of workers and forced small business and account holders to talk to call offshore centres to solve the slightest of problems. The big five banks have exported jobs to cheaper overseas labour on an ongoing basis yet through this campaign they pretend to support SA.

This is a choice between the big five banks and small business. The State Government is on the side of David - not Goliath. We are on the side of the small family business – not the big five banks based in the eastern states, who aim to strip our profits out of the state while returning crumbs to the table.