Financial transaction tax on table at G20

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Nurses from France, Korea, United States (NNU), Ireland, England, and Australia pose with Bill Nighy at the G20 meeting.

Nurses from France, Korea, United States (NNU), Ireland, England, and Australia pose with Bill Nighy at the G20 meeting.

Nurses from four continents including Australia were present at the G20 Summit in France in early November.NSWNA Assistant Secretary Judith Kiejda and President Coral Levett, joined other nursing unions under the banner of Public Services International in Cannes.The G20 summit was held against the backdrop of financial turmoil in the European Community that threatens to engulf the rest of the world economy.

International nursing unions were in Cannes to pressure world leaders gathered for the summit to act in the interests of working people, not just bankers, in resolving the crisis.

International nurses’ unions and other PSI affiliates are pushing for the introduction of a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) which, they say, would reduce volatility in financial markets and provide substantial revenue for quality public services.

The FTT is a tax on institutional trades of currencies, stocks, bonds, derivatives and interest rate securities, which could raise billions of dollars annually in Australia alone.

Currency speculation leading to ‘hot money flows’ has been a central feature of some of the major financial crises of the last few decades from the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997 through to the GFC and its aftermath.

The FTT is a tiny tax levied on each institutional financial exchange that has a massive impact, bringing stability to financial markets by making speculation less profitable.

There is another significant, positive spin-off. Because of the high volume of financial transactions the tax can bring in substantial government revenues for spending on social services such as health.

Judith Kiejda says the time has come for a FTT and there is growing support among world leaders.

‘Even French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel -both are leaders of conservative parties -have voiced their support for such a tax.

Unfortunately the United States and the Australian government are opposed,’ she said.

Former ACTU President Sharan Burrow, now head of the International Trade Union Confederation, took the argument for the FTT into the G20 summit on behalf of international unions.