TREASURER Tom Koutsantonis has called for three critical crossbenchers to consider not voting on the controversial bank tax, saying their investments in banks may raise a conflict of interest.
Opposition Leader Steven Marshall and the Liberal party room will meet on Monday to decide their position on the $370 million bank slug, and are considering voting against it in Parliament.
The two Australian Conservatives MPs, Dennis Hood and Rob Brokenshire, are leading the charge to axe the tax and have been backed by the Nick Xenophon Team’s John Darley.
If the Liberals join them, there will be enough votes against the tax to stop it becoming law.
The registrar of members’ interests reports the three MPs who have promised to vote against the bank tax have investments with at least one of the big four banks.
Upper House standing orders say: “No Member shall be entitled to vote upon any question in which the member has a direct pecuniary interest not held in common with the rest of the subjects of the Crown”.
However, it offers an exemption for matters “which involve questions of state policy”.
Mr Koutsantonis said the Conservatives had stated the affect on shareholder returns was one of the major reasons they were mounting a bid to block the tax, and should consider their positions.
“It is now a matter for these three legislative councillors to consult the standing orders and make a judgment on whether they should participate in the votes on the major bank levy,” he said.
Mr Darley told The Advertiser the shares he declared an interest in were held by his wife, and every South Australian was affected by banks either through a mortgage or their superannuation.
“Tom should pull his head in,” Mr Darley said.
“It’s a ludicrous move from a desperate person.”
Mr Darley said he hoped the Liberals would “stiffen up their backbone” and block the tax.
Australian Conservatives SA Leader Dennis Hood said his declared shares were held by his wife.
“To suggest that in any way affects any decisions that would be made by any parliamentarian is just a low blow,” Mr Hood said.
“Regardless, this is clearly a question of state policy and you could hardly find something with a bigger impact than a $370 million tax that will cost jobs.
“Using that logic, any MP who owns a home shouldn’t vote on the ESL. It’s ridiculous.”
Mr Brokenshire said his investments included deposits, but he had no bank shares.
“Competent treasurers should be taking care of their own business and balancing the state’s finances rather than again hitting the people of SA for even more tax,” he said.
Originally published as Kouts calls for bank levy backdown ahead of Lib vote