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Tuesday, 8 August 2006
Page: 8

Mr SWAN (2:36 PM) —My question is to the Treasurer. I refer to the Treasurer’s claim that interests rates in Australia are low. Apart from New Zealand, can the Treasurer name a country with a comparable economy that has mortgage interest rates that are higher than Australia’s?

Mr COSTELLO (Treasurer) —New Zealand, of course, has substantially higher interest rates than Australia, because New Zealand has had nearly as strong a growth as Australia. But, as I said earlier, Australia has had stronger growth than every country in the OECD and, in living standards, has overtaken all the countries of the G7 except for the United States. Let me make this point: the standard variable mortgage interest rate is 7.8 per cent, and the Reserve Bank noted in its decision that many people pay less than that. That was one of the things that it put into its statement. We can measure that mortgage interest rate against the historical situation in Australia. Under this government, the mortgage interest rate has averaged 7.16 per cent, whereas under the Labor Party it averaged 12¾ per cent.

Mr Bevis interjecting

The SPEAKER —Order! The member for Brisbane.

Mr Bevis interjecting

The SPEAKER —The member for Brisbane is warned!

Mr COSTELLO —The standard variable mortgage interest rate, which is now 7.8 per cent, compares with the mortgage interest rate of 10.5 per cent when this government was elected. So, if you look at it in comparison with the Australian experience, and if you especially look at it by comparison with the Australian Labor Party’s record, these are substantially lower interest rates than under the previous government and lower than they would be under the Labor Party.