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Wednesday, 26 November 1986
Page: 3814


Mr REITH(7.37) —Tonight I want to address the House for a few minutes on the question of the increasing cost of Christmas presents, but before doing so I want to put it in the context of certain policies of the Federal Government. If ever there were a mark of a government in decline it would be this Government's ever-increasing number of broken promises. In 1983 the Government promised pensioners that their incomes would be increased to 25 per cent of average weekly earnings-a promise that has been dashed in the meantime. The Government promised pensioners that their incomes would not be affected, and then we had the ill fated introduction of the assets test. A general promise was made to veterans that consultation would always precede any amendments or changes to their entitlements. We had that inglorious day in this Parliament when we resumed for a one-day sitting to ram through legislation which affected every veteran in Australia. In 1983, the Government promised to reduce petrol prices by 3c a litre. Petrol prices have gone up since as a result of ever-increasing Federal taxes. We had that great promise in the 1983 election that there would be no capital gains tax. Of course, following the 1984 election, we had the introduction of Labor's capital gains tax. As an example of a broken promise within a broken promise, we had Labor spokesmen saying that family homes would not be subject to Labor's capital gains tax when the truth is that the homes of tens of thousands of Australian families will be subject to Labor's capital gains tax. In December 1984 we had one of those grand promises, since broken in grand style, that interest rates would be reduced in the forthcoming term of the Hawke Labor Government.


Mr Beale —They sowed the seeds and they will reap the harvest.


Mr REITH —That is right. The honourable member reminds me of the wonderful words of the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke), in referring to the alleged successful policies of the previous 20 months, when he said: `We have ploughed the fields and sown the seeds. In the very near future we will harvest the crop'. When that promise was made in November 1984 the prime rate was 13 1/2 per cent and it is now 18 1/2 per cent. The small overdraft rate was 14 1/2 per cent. It is now 6 per cent higher and stands at 20 1/2 per cent. The Bankcard rate stood at 18 per cent but now stands at 22 1/2 per cent.

I started my speech by talking about the cost of Christmas presents. I did so because many low income people will find themselves requiring a personal loan to buy Christmas presents for their children and families for Christmas 1986. So, today I rang a number of finance companies, and the Minister for Territories (Mr Scholes), who is at the table, will be interested to know that these are finance companies situated in Canberra, for which he is essentially responsible. These are the rates that people in Canberra will be paying on personal finance. I inquired about loans of $2,000, with repayments over a 24-month period. For HFC Financial Services Limited the monthly payments were $131, with an effective interest rate of 36.42 per cent.


Mr Beale —How much?


Mr REITH —It was 36.42 per cent, with a total interest payment over the period of $938. Other people contacted today showed that interest rates are in the vicinity of 27 per cent, and in one example the interest payable over the period was $616. Interest rates have gone up and up since this Government was re-elected and the people who will feel the bite and the disadvantage of Labor's deliberate policy of high interest rates will be those very people in respect of whom Labor claims a monopoly of compassion. A deliberate policy of high interest rates affects low income people, and those people will be feeling the impact of Labor's high interest rates as they purchase Christmas presents at the end of this year.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Leo McLeay) —Order! The honourable member's time has expired.