Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Monday, 16 March 2009
Page: 2751

Mr PEARCE (9:49 PM) —I rise tonight to bring to the attention of the parliament a very important issue, a very serious issue, and that is the lack of government interest, the lack of government action, and the lack of government assistance in helping people who are being charged incredibly high bank fees, particularly in these times. When I talk about fees, I am referring particularly to fees attached to exiting from arrangements in relation to home mortgage contracts with banks.

This is an important issue because at the start of last year the government talked up interest rates. You will remember that the Prime Minister and the Treasurer went around the countryside saying that the inflation genie was out of the bottle. The Prime Minister said that inflation was a monster. In fact, the Prime Minister declared war on inflation. In doing all of that, they talked up inflation. They egged on the Reserve Bank Board to increase interest rates, and what happened was that many, many Australians locked themselves into loans at a rate of interest only to find that, shortly after, the interest rates started to decline; in fact, they reduced quite substantially. They now find themselves locked into these high-interest rate home loans after the Prime Minister, the Treasurer and the whole government ran around Australia talking about the genie being out of the bottle.

There are many hundreds of examples, but I will refer to three in particular. The first relates to a single mother of two young children. The woman is separated from her husband in very difficult circumstances. She wanted to change her arrangement with the bank and was asked to pay $80,000 in fees. She sold her house for $620,000, but she was asked for $80,000 in fees.

The second case involves a person who had locked himself into a fixed mortgage interest rate of 8.44 per cent. He approached the bank to switch back to a variable rate and was asked for $70,000 in fees. A person in my electorate of Aston also wanted to move from a fixed rate loan to a variable loan and was asked to pay tens of thousands of dollars in fees to do so. As a result of not being able to afford those fees, he now finds himself each and every month paying hundreds of dollars more in repayments than is actually required as a minimum.

There are several questions that need to be asked about the government’s actions in talking up interest rates—actions the Australian people followed by locking themselves into fixed interest rate loans. Some of the questions, include: what has the government done to assist these people, particularly in these very distressing and difficult times? What has the Prime Minister done personally to assist these people? What action has the Prime Minister of this country taken to assist these people? Unfortunately, the answer to all these questions is that nothing has been done. The Prime Minister has done nothing to help these people. The government has done nothing to help these people. The Prime Minister and the government should do something. They should sit down with the banks and negotiate with them. The Prime Minister boasts about having the banks under his fingertips, yet he will not talk to them about trying to help people. I am calling on the Prime Minister and the government to do something to help these people who are in very difficult circumstances at this time and in need of help, and who are not getting any help or any assistance from the government because they do not care. (Time expired)