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Wednesday, 3 December 2008
Page: 12378

Mr PEARCE (3:28 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. Prime Minister, I refer to your description today of the Leader of the Opposition’s statement on 21 January that banks are free to set the prices of their own products as they wish as an example of ‘unbridled capitalist ideology’. Is the Prime Minister concerned that on 8 January the Treasurer said this of a rate rise by the ANZ:

… it is entirely their right as a commercial organisation to take this decision in their commercial interests …

Prime Minister, are you planning to call the Treasurer in for a session of ideological reprogramming?

Mr RUDD (Prime Minister) —One thing about the Leader of the Opposition—we know he has a glass jaw. As soon as this was read out, up the corridor they go to Mr Pearce, the member for Aston. Off he comes and says, ‘Look, there is not really a problem after all.’ The problem is that the Leader of the Opposition, supported by the member for Curtin—the rapidly disappearing member for Curtin—who is the shadow Treasurer—

Mr Pearce —Mr Speaker, a point of order on relevance: the question was whether you are going to reprogram the Treasurer.

The SPEAKER —I call the Prime Minister.

Mr RUDD —We had earlier today in question time the question of the member for Curtin, the current shadow Treasurer. The question was along the lines of the pass through of official interest rates to customers. It probed deeply the consistency of the government’s position. What I sought to do in response to that question, which has obviously upset the Leader of the Opposition, was to refer him to his statements in the Australian, where he said:

But banks are free to price their products as they wish. After all, they are in the business of making profits ...

That is what he said. What I was seeking to do, I believe effectively, was to contrast that position on the one hand with the highly orchestrated attack—this time within the first 10 questions of question time—by the member for Curtin, the shadow Treasurer. Can I suggest for those opposite that if they are going to have a consistent line of attack on the government, be it on this, be it on bank guarantees or be it on fiscal stimulus, it would be useful if the policy was consistent.