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Thursday, 21 June 2007
Page: 77

Mr SWAN (2:18 PM) —My question is directed to the Prime Minister. How can the Prime Minister claim that working families in Australia have never been better off when new Reserve Bank figures released today show a further increase in the proportion of household income consumed by mortgage interest has reached a record 9.5 per cent? Prime Minister, is it a fact that the proportion of household income consumed by mortgage interest has more than doubled since 1991, with the majority of the increase occurring since interest rates started rising in 2002?

Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —It is the case that people are buying ever more expensive houses, and they are doing that because of a number of factors. One of them is that interest rates are lower and people can borrow more. The member for Lilley is very good at selectively quoting from things.

Opposition members interjecting—

Mr HOWARD —Well, he is. The Reserve Bank’s March 2007 Financial Stability Review says:

The average mortgage repayment on a new owner-occupied loan as a share of average disposable income is below its peak in 1989.

In other words, notwithstanding the fact that people can now afford to buy ever more expensive houses, it is still below the 1989 peak. So I do not know what the member for Lilley is talking about. I recognise that some Australian families are doing it tough. I always have and I always will. No matter who is in office, there will always be some families who miss out. If you look at overall wages, if you look at unemployment, which is at a 33-year low, you will find that if fairness is the chance of a job of then, as Tony Blair famously said and truthfully said, fairness in Australia is at a 32-year high.