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Wednesday, 26 November 1986
Page: 3815

Mr REITH(7.48) —I appreciate the opportunity to address the House further on this important matter and take it as a recognition by members of the House of the great importance of this subject. I was talking about the interest rates payable by ordinary Australians on personal loans and plastic money and the figures that I had obtained today from finance companies in Canberra. HFC Financial Services Ltd is charging a rate, I was told over the phone, of 36.42 per cent. Among the other finance companies contacted today was Esanda Ltd-a monthly payment of $109 at an interest rate of 27 per cent. I understand that the minimum payment on Custom Credit Corp Ltd's Custom Card is about 4 per cent or $80, but again the interest rate is an effective 27 per cent. I contacted the Australian Guarantee Corporation Ltd, which has an effective interest rate of 25 per cent with a monthly repayment of $106.74. Lastly, I contacted Avco Financial Services Ltd. Remember, Mr Deputy Speaker, that we are talking about $2,000 borrowed over 24 months. Avco's repayment was $124 a month, an effective rate of 30.62 per cent.

This is not money that is difficult to obtain. One can simply ring up these finance companies and effectively get the nod over the phone. When I asked one finance company representative about the necessity to provide security, the answer was: `Not necessary really'. Another said: `You do not need security if you have a job'. Others said: `Provided you check out on paper'. It really is very easy to come by this sort of money. Before making any further comments on that, let me say that it is not my intention to shoot the messenger. What I am simply saying is that these figures represent a very clear message which says that Labor's deliberate policy of high interest rates is hurting ordinary Australians, in particular those Australians least able to afford them. The last year under Labor has been pretty hard for people. Let us not forget that unemployment levels in this country are very high, particularly high, of course, for the young unemployed in our nation. Who could suggest otherwise than that these people at the end of the year should be reasonably be able to look forward to providing some presents for their children and their families? The sad fact is that under Labor's deliberate policy of high interest rates these people will have a reminder of those rates, every month over the next 24 months, with their instalments on their 1986 Christmas presents. There is a real sense of frustration in the community because we have a government which relies upon monetary policy to keep up the Australian dollar and fails to look to fiscal policy as a way of doing something about our problems. In laymen's terms, our problem is simply that we are spending too much and we have to cut back. Unless Australia does cut back, people overseas will rightfully say that until we get our act together, until we start to clean up our financial affairs, they will put some downward pressure on the Australian dollar. That is what has been happening. As we have heard today during the debate on the matter of public importance, this is a Government that really has been throwing taxpayers' money away at a great rate. For example, I think $11,000 was given to a group to design a surfboard for women because their centre of gravity is lower than that of men. It is about time that the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) acted upon his own words, which are that much of this expenditure is indefensible silliness. It is about time that the Government got off the monetary track and started to impose some real fiscal discipline into the Budget and bring things back into order so that we can get this country going again. On behalf of all those disadvantaged Australians who find themselves this year borrowing money from finance companies to pay for their Christmas presents, I make this plea to the Government: Get your house in order; get your act together for the advantage and benefit of disadvantaged Australians.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member's time has expired.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 7.53 p.m.