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Thursday, 5 December 1985
Page: 3017

Senator BOLKUS —I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer whether his attention has been drawn to claims published in Monday's Advertiser newspaper that `Labor is pushing your interest rates through the ceiling'. Has he also seen a claim by Liberal Opposition Leader Howard that promises made by Mr Hawke and Mr Bannon about the present ceiling on housing loan interest rates were `worthless'? Can the Minister say whether there is any basis in fact to these claims?

Senator WALSH —There is no basis of fact in the advertisements the Liberal Party is running in South Australia. Senator Bolkus is absolutely correct about that. He is correct also, as far as I know, in what he said about Mr Howard and--

Senator Bolkus —Olsen.

Senator WALSH —Yes, that is his name. I am glad that the Labor Party knows his name, even though evidently the Federal Leader of the Liberal Party does not. He gets him confused with Mr Bannon, although the difference between the two should be very clear to him by next Sunday morning-indeed, probably on Saturday night. The Advertiser newspaper has reported the things to which Senator Bolkus referred, but of course there is no truth in either of those claims. In fact, as I said in Question Time, I think last Monday, and repeated on a previous occasion, the Treasurer gave firm assurances some weeks ago that this Government will not deregulate housing interest rates. By contrast, of course, a Liberal government would. Mr Howard said in the House of Representatives on 13 September that a Liberal government would do that. When Mr Howard was Treasurer, he lifted the ceiling on housing loan interest rates by 3 per cent on three separate occasions within 18 months. If a Liberal government were to be elected we could expect interest rates on housing loans to go up by another 3 per cent probably, just as they went up by 3 per cent in the last 18 months of Mr Howard's treasurership. Contrary, of course, to the advertisements and all the other wild claims that have been made and published in the Adelaide Advertiser, home mortgage interest rates would undoubtedly be increased if Liberal policy, as expounded by the Liberal Party Leader, Mr Howard, were ever implemented. As I have previously noted, the South Australian Premier, Mr Bannon-he is the Premier, not the Opposition Leader, as Mr Howard appears to think-has already pointed out that the effect of the deregulation of bank interest rates for housing loans would add about $70 a month to the repayment obligations of the typical borrower. That is the sort of slug which can be expected if Liberal policy is implemented.