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Tuesday, 24 February 1987
Page: 492

Senator CHILDS —Does the Minister representing the Minister for Housing and Construction endorse the view of the spokesman from the National Australia Bank indicating that housing interest rates should increase?

Senator RYAN —I understand the National Bank is talking of lifting the current rate on housing loans from 15 1/2 per cent to 16 per cent and it also wants the present 13 1/2 per cent ceiling lifted. It is necessary to point out at the outset that no other bank is pursuing this line. In fact, the Commonwealth Bank-Australia's biggest housing lender-has indicated that no increase is needed. The manager of retail banking at the Commonwealth Bank, Mr Brian Stott, has indicated that he has no intention whatsoever of lifting home loan rates at present. He said that at the moment with the market as it is he saw no need to adjust home loan rates. Westpac bank has, I understand, also indicated no need to put up rates. It should be realised that, at present, housing lending rates are at a very strong level. The savings bank annual level is over $8 billion. The Government will be looking at the situation as it is crucial that adequate housing lending be available. But we can give an assurance that we will not be lifting the 13.5 per cent ceiling. Of course, in this area, as in most other areas, the Opposition has no policy at all. The Government is willing to take hard decisions to ensure that there is no undue emphasis on monetary policy and interest rates.