News National Labor opts for $640 million banking fairness fund as it maintains Newspoll lead

Labor opts for $640 million banking fairness fund as it maintains Newspoll lead

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, speaking at Port Melbourne on Sunday, will unveil banking fairness fund details on Monday. Photo: AAP
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Labor leader Bill Shorten will on Monday announce a new bank tax to recoup $640 million from big business to support victims of banking misconduct, as the latest Newspoll reveals sustained attacks have failed to dent his election-winning lead.

According to the latest Newspoll released on Sunday night, Labor’s lead remains unchanged at 53 to 47 despite a fortnight of ferocious attacks of the ALP’s support for the medical evacuation of sick asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru.

Significantly, the Coalition’s primary vote of 37 per cent is also unchanged, with Labor at 39 per cent after a parliamentary sitting week dominated by asylum seeker debate and the fallout from the banking royal commission.

Mr Shorten will take another political risk, announcing a “banking fairness fund” to be imposed on top of the Coalition’s existing banking levy.

Companies to be hit by the new tax include financial institutions among Australia’s top 100 listed companies.

Smaller banks previously untouched by the banking levy will be hit by the new tax, which is designed to raise $160 million a year for four years. It will hit organisations, including AMP, that were savaged in the final report of the royal commission.

“These 500 new financial counsellors will be able to assist Australians to pursue fair compensation through the Australian Financial Complaints Authority under significantly increased compensation caps announced by Labor last week,” the Opposition Leader said.

“Financial counsel­lors provide invaluable assistance, free of charge, to Australians who find themselves in disputes with their banks and other financial service providers.”

The Newspoll result will quell ALP jitters that the all-out-assault on Labor over its support for the medevac bill was a factor in last week’s Ipsos poll that suggested the Coalition was closing the gap.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is also set to announce a $2 billion climate change fund, designed to address perceptions, according to Liberal frontbencher Kelly O’Dwyer, that the Liberals are a party of “climate change deniers”.

Mr Morrison will market the climate change announcement as a “road map” for the future.

The fund, which will involve a $2 billion investment over 10 years, will extend existing programs to “partner with farmers, local governments and businesses to deliver practical climate solutions across the economy that reduce emissions”.

Examples include assisting small businesses to replace lighting, air-conditioning and refrigeration systems to help reduce energy costs, and help for farmers to drought-proof farms.

“Sure you can have higher targets. But they come at a tremendous cost. A cost far worse than the carbon tax Labor said they wouldn’t introduce, but they did and our government had to abolish,” Mr Morrison said.

“Labor runs around the country telling industries and businesses they will be exempted. But if that is true then they have no hope of meeting their targets. Their targets depend on shutting industries and businesses down.

“That’s why I say it is important to have balance in your emissions reduction policies – the cool head as well as the passionate heart. That’s our approach.”

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