Australia considers amending deposit guarantee: Treasurer

SYDNEY, October 22, 2008 (AFP) – Australia is considering changing its multi-billion-dollar bank deposit guarantee scheme by charging savers who have more than one million dollars in the bank, Treasurer Wayne Swan said Wednesday.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced on October 12 an unlimited three-year guarantee on all deposits in institutions such as banks, credit unions and building societies to shore up confidence amid the global financial turmoil.

Swan said the government was consulting with industry figures over a plan to charge a fee for guaranteeing deposits worth more than one million dollars (675,000 US) but insisted that the guarantee still stood and was comprehensive.

“What we are looking at doing and we’ve discussed this with the Reserve Bank, and the Treasury is talking about it, is putting in place a fee above a certain level,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

The announcement of the guarantee scheme helped calm stock market turbulence prompted by the credit crunch as Australians breathed a sigh of relief that they would not risk losing their life savings if banks here were to collapse.

But a major political row has erupted over whether the decision not to put a cap on the amo