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Monday, 23 February 1987
Page: 493

Madam SPEAKER —I call the honourable member for Fisher.

Government members interjecting-

Mr SLIPPER —It really is quite pathetic the way the Australian Labor Party tries to divert attention from its own factional problems. My question is addressed, once again, to the Prime Minister. I refer him to the figures released yesterday by the Real Estate Institute of Australia on home loan affordability.

Honourable members interjecting-

Madam SPEAKER —Order! I ask the honourable member for Fisher to restart his question. No one was able to hear the early part of it because of the noise in the House.

Mr SLIPPER —The Government is frightened, Madam Speaker. My question is directed to the outgoing Prime Minister of this nation. I refer him to the figures released yesterday by the Real Estate Institute of Australia on home loan affordability. Is the Prime Minister aware that since the 1984 election average monthly home loan repayments have increased in New South Wales from $472 per month to $678 per month, in Victoria from $405 per month to $609 per month, and in the other four States by amounts ranging from $97 per month up to $207 per month? What is the Prime Minister's excuse for this staggering increase in the cost of home loan repayments?

Mr HAWKE —This is about the fourth run of this question. I will repeat to the House the reasons-not the excuse-that I have given before. The Government acknowledges that because of high interest rates the repayments of many home buyers now form a higher proportion of income than a couple of years ago. But on several occasions in answering similar questions I have pointed out to the Opposition, and attempted to instruct it on, the role of monetary policy in the current economic environment. We on this side of the House understand that economic facts are something alien to the Opposition's analysis of any political situation. This Government will not walk away from the facts. We will make the unpalatable decisions which are necessary to face up the undoubted economic problems imposed upon this country.

The honourable member, in asking his question, referred to some observations that have been made in the last couple of days about housing and interest rates. In that context I remind the House of what was said today on the Macquarie network on the 12.30 Report in an interview with Mr Brian Stott, the General Manager Bank Operations, Retail Banking, at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. Against some suggestions that there would be a further lift in home loan interest rates, this is what Mr Stott had to say:

. . . our current thinking is that we have no intention whatsoever of lifting home loan rates at the present time nor do we consider it related to the market oriented rate of prime.

He said:

I'm a little at a loss to understand what their strategy is-

he is talking about the National Australia Bank Ltd-

or what they are getting at.

He suggests that it might be trying to set the stage for putting some pressure on the Government in regard to a housing package rate, but in conclusion he said:

But at the present moment on the market as it is we would see no need to adjust home loan rates at all.

It is a great pity that this Opposition first of all refuses to face up to the facts of the economic situation which require, unfortunately, the sort of monetary policy which gives the interest rate levels which we have. No government in its right mind wants high interest rates for a day longer than is necessary. We would like to have them lower. But what we say, as distinct from honourable members opposite, is that we will not engage in what the honourable member for Boothby properly refers to as snake oil mixtures. That is the language of the honourable member's so-called coalition partners. Does the honourable member remember that he is in coalition with them? What the honourable member for Boothby is saying is: `A plague upon your snake oil', and all credit to the honourable member for Boothby for describing the honourable member and the Leader of the Opposition-for that is what he is doing-as snake oil merchants. The honourable member can go on flogging his snake oil and he will finish up where he deserves to be-deeper and deeper in the economic and political mire.