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Wednesday, 11 September 1985
Page: 448

Senator ARCHER —Is the Minister for Finance aware that letters have been sent to Bankcard customers announcing that the Bankcard interest rate has risen from 18 per cent to 21 per cent? Having in mind pre-election and post-election promises, can the Minister tell the people of Australia just when interest rates will fall and by how much?

Senator WALSH —I have heard about the notified increase in the Bankcard interest rate. The Bankcard interest rate has been 18 per cent ever since Bankcard was introduced. I cannot remember precisely when that was but it was in 1977 or 1978. In other words, when Bankcard was introduced the interest rate charged was at least 50 per cent higher than the prevailing Commonwealth bond rate and probably as much as 70 per cent higher. It is not surprising in those circumstances, since interest rates are very much higher than they were when Bankcard was first introduced, that the interest rate should have been increased now, although I stress that since the financial system has been deregulated by this Government that is a decision for the financial institutions to make and not for the Government. As the Treasurer said the other day, this Government is a can-do government which does things. It does not talk about deregulating as Mr Howard did for five years. It does not talk about stimulating growth, as Mr Howard did for five years. It does not talk about reducing inflation, as Mr Howard did for five years. It does not talk about increasing total employment, as Mr Howard did for five years.

The PRESIDENT —Order! The honourable senator is debating the question now.

Senator WALSH —The Government does all of those things.