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Tuesday, 8 August 2006
Page: 5


Mr BEAZLEY (2:24 PM) —I am staying in a hotel with 200 other people, I do not know what they will make of that! My question is to the Prime Minister and it follows the answer he gave to the member for Lilley. Why doesn’t the Prime Minister tell the truth about interest rates and admit that, according to the Reserve Bank, a bigger share of household income is being consumed by mortgage interest payments today, on his watch, than under Mr Keating?


The SPEAKER —Order! That question went very close to trying to imply something that should be part of a substantive motion but I will call the Prime Minister.


Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —I very happily and readily concede that people pay more for their houses now than they did 10 or 20 years ago and as a result they borrow more. It stands to reason that if you are richer with your assets, in order to acquire those assets you have to borrow more money. That is the explanation for what the Reserve Bank said.


Mr Albanese —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The question went to a bigger share of household income. That is what the Prime Minister has to respond to.


The SPEAKER —The Prime Minister is answering the substance of the question.


Mr HOWARD —On any measure, including measures used by the Reserve Bank, this country is wealthier than it was 10 years ago. Average Australians are better off than they were 10 years ago. The debts are higher but the assets are larger. It is a matter of elementary economic logic.