Australian bank shares have been sent reeling on speculation the federal government's imminent economic statement will include a new bank deposit levy.
Finance Minister Penny Wong declined to confirm the talk but said the International Monetary Fund and the Reserve Bank had put their views on the need for a fund to cover deposit protection.
"The treasurer has made clear he is consulting on that," she told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.
"But as I have said to you before, before a budget or budget update there is always speculation, a lot of it is not true, a lot of it is inaccurate and I'm not going to be commenting on that speculation."
On the Australian Securities Exchange, investors sold down bank shares by more than one per cent at one stage amid rumours a levy would build a fund to protect deposits with the level set at $100,000.
Presently, banks pay the government a fee to guarantee deposits over $250,000.
Deputy Australian Greens Leader Adam Bandt welcomed Labor's adoption of Greens' policy.
National Australia Bank chief executive Cameron Clyne was either unaware or reluctant to discuss the issue after being repeatedly quizzed on it during a business luncheon in Sydney.
"I'll give you two options. Option one is I'll make an ill-informed, smart alec response without all the facts," an exasperated Mr Clyne said.
"Option 2 is I will research the information, I will meet privately with treasury officials, understand their thinking, and I'll make an informed comment. You want the former I'm giving the latter."
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said he would respond to the government's economic statement when he sees it.
"We are not going to respond piecemeal to rumoured or individual items that may or may not be in it," he said.
"All of these, whether it is a bank deposit tax, whether it is an increase in cigarette tax, it's all a hit on you the people."
The government will increase the tobacco excise by 12.5 per cent every year for the next four years to raise an extra $5.3 billion in revenue.
Labor is selling it both as a health measure and a help towards returning the budget to surplus in 2016/17.
Treasurer Chris Bowen said the tobacco tax hike will form a substantial measure in the economic statement.
"In terms of revenue impact, it will be one of the biggest measures," he told reporters in Sydney.
He said the statement will also show all the costs of the government's asylum seeker resettlement plan with Papua New Guinea including aid, development, construction and operational costs, in an "open and transparent" way.
He called on the opposition to do the same about their Nauru proposal.
"Of course they won't be bringing down their economic statement before the election," he said.
"They have torn up the Charter of Budget Honesty in what I believe is an act of vandalism."
Senator Wong was asked when the government's economic statement would be released.
"In the near future," she said.