SUBJECTS: NAB Interest Rate Announcement, CPRS Green Paper
Today’s decision by the National Australia Bank is a major victory for commonsense and a victory for their customers hit by eight rate rises in three years. Families have been doing it tough after eight rate rises in three years on the back of record inflation. That’s why this is such an important decision and why I have been so vocal about this issue in recent months. I think this decision by the NAB throws down the challenge to all the other banks. Other banks should have a good hard look at themselves and look at what the NAB has done. The NAB has said that they will pass on official rate rises from the Reserve Bank if and when that is decided by the Reserve Bank into the future. I’d like to see the other banks do this as well.
Dr Nelson has come out and said you should ‘box the ears’ of the banks. What’s your response to that?
I’ve got a responsibility to manage the economy and that’s what I’m doing. I’ve made it very clear that I expect the banks to pass on official rate cuts. I’ve made that absolutely clear. The NAB have now said they will be doing that if and when the Reserve Bank takes that decision. I’ve said that all of the banks have absolutely no excuse for not passing on an official rate cut. They’ve passed on rate rises in a nanosecond; they have a responsibility to pass on rate cuts when they come through the system. The National Australia Bank has made a very good start today. I’ve taken on board some of the suggestions from one of their executives today to have a look at some of the issues to do with the deposits and other matters through the Henry Review but they’ve made a good start. They’ve made a public commitment to officially reduce rates if official rates are cut. It’s a good start and I wish the other banks would follow, and I expect the other banks to follow.
Would the Government be prepared to make changes to the emissions trading system if business can prove that it will be hurt by the ETS as it stands?
Well, I’ve spent a couple of months out there consulting with the business community about our Green Paper proposals and I’ve taken on board some of the criticisms they’ve made. But at the end of the day we’ve got to understand there is not a bottomless pit of money here. We will take responsible decisions in the national interest and we do welcome constructive suggestions from the business community.