Speeches

Speeches Chris has made in the Australian Federal Parliament.

ADJOURNMENT Interest Rates

October 30, 2006

Mr HAYES (Werriwa) (8.59 p.m.)—If there were ever a statement that crystallised in the
minds of all Australians just how much this government—particularly the Prime Minister—has
changed, it was when the Prime Minister made comments last week that an interest rate rise
by the Reserve Bank might be the best thing that could happen for Australia.
Home ownership is not only the great Australian dream but also the cornerstone of economic
opportunity and ongoing prosperity. For most Australians, to own a home is to have a physical
testament to years of hard work and effort. A permanent address, some surety in the future
and security for the family are of critical importance to the social and economic stability of all
Australians. It is something that this government has actively undermined as it presides over a
record high level of household debt repayment in this country.


While the Prime Minister has adopted the constant refrain that interest rates were nominally
higher under the Keating government, it is widely accepted that the repayment burden has
never been higher than under this government. Australians have never before struggled like
they have presently in order to meet an interest rate rise, but Australians had never before
held the same levels of household debt that they endure today.


As anyone who is paying off debt knows, it is not the level of interest rates that is the big
consideration, it is the proportion of your pay packet required to meet your mortgage
repayments that matters the most. That proportion has never been higher than it is right now.
Until this government, Australians had never had to dedicate up to nearly 10 per cent of their
take-home pay to service their mortgage. Under this government the capacity of many
Australians to buy a house has eroded and it is eroding still. Under this government the
proportion of household income required to service the mortgage is 50 per cent higher than it
was under the Keating government.


The Prime Minister was asked about this fact today in question time and, as always when
confronted about interest rates, he dodged the question. His position, as it has been
previously, is to go back and record the position of interest rates under the Keating
government. The people out there who are servicing their mortgages and people who are
struggling for home ownership do not care about the Prime Minister’s interest rate history
lessons because they only care about today’s interest rate reality—the interest rate they are
paying on the mortgage, on their business loans or on their credit card debt.

Homeowners, small business owners and anyone who has accumulated credit card debt care
about one interest rate and one interest rate only, and what they know is that interest rate is
now on its way up. They care about interest rates now because that is the rate that is used to
calculate their mortgage repayments, their credit card payments and their small business loan
repayments. But worst of all is that one thing that is being driven down is their property
prices. Residents of western Sydney know that an interest rate increase not only means that a
greater amount of the family budget will be eaten up in servicing mortgage repayments but
also will mean another drop in the value of their property.


Homeowners and those who have invested in residential properties for retirement savings care
little for the Prime Minister’s excuses as they watch the value of their property fall, driven
down by rising interest rates and the continual resetting of mortgage repayments to a much
higher bar. They know that this government and this Prime Minister are out of touch with their
concerns. Everything that this government has done of late is the exact opposite of what
working Australians want. They did not expect to have their take-home pay and job security
slashed through John Howard’s extreme industrial relations laws, they did not expect to be
paying more and more for health care, health insurance and medications and they certainly did
not expect to be paying out record amounts in servicing their mortgage repayments. They
certainly did not expect to have their property values slashed as a consequence of this
government’s actions. (Time expired)

WE'LL PUT PEOPLE FIRST