SUBJECTS: Interest rates, Alice Springs, Prime Minister’s schedule
KARL STEFANOVIC, HOST: Welcome back to the show. Amidst an already dire state, economists are now expecting the RBA's official cash rate to hit 4.1%, an event that could drive Australia into recession. For more, we're joined by Government Services Minister Bill Shorten in Canberra. And 3AW’s Neil Mitchell in Melbourne. Good morning, guys. Nice to see you this morning. So Deutsche Bank says brace for four more interest rate rises Bill. Is it all your fault?
BILL SHORTEN, MINISTER FOR THE NDIS AND GOVERNMENT SERVICES: No. But it’s a serious issue. In fact -
STEFANOVIC: Sure is.
SHORTEN: These are predictions and forecasts. Government has a rule that the banks independent, they make their policies. I do have the observation, though, that when people take out mortgages, they sort of assess their ability to repay them on, could they repay a 2 or 3% increase in rates? Now we're getting to, there's already been a 3% increase really since people took out mortgages, many people took out mortgages. So, you know, I hope this Deutsch forecast is wrong, frankly. I think inflation is tracking down this year. And I do wonder sometimes if hitting, raising interest rates is shutting – it's a bit like at a certain point, it's like shutting the gate after the horse has bolted. Inflation's coming down and I just worry about people who are going to be doing it hard this year.
STEFANOVIC: Well, if it goes up another 4, I mean, the Reserve Bank governor couldn't have got it more wrong. And a lot of people are loaded up, partly because of what he said about them rising and how fast they'd rise. Neil, what do you think? It's a big issue for the government.
NEIL MITCHELL, 3AW: Hey, I think the honeymoon's over, Bill. I think you got to face it. You can't blame the previous government. And I like your line there. Oh, well, it's beyond our control. Well, you didn't think it was beyond Scomo ‘s control when interest rates were moving. Let's be consistent. What are you going to do? If they move this way, people since April will be looking at extra $250 a week, an extra $250 a week on a 500,000 mortgage?
STEFANOVIC: Well, I think I think that's right.
SHORTEN: Neil –
MITCHELL: what are you going to do, Bill? What are you going to do?
SHORTEN: Neil, I don't mind the stream of consciousness from you, but you're rewriting history there, mate. I know that the Treasurer and the Prime Minister said when the first of the rate's moving, that's a matter for the Reserve Bank. And you and I both know that what's driving it is that inflation has gone up. A lot of that's driven by what's happening in Europe with the war and energy prices.
MITCHELL: But so what are you going to do, Bill? What are you going to do?
SHORTEN: Well, okay, here's a trifecta of things.
MITCHELL: You really wouldn’t be sitting there copping this from the previous government. You would be going after them Bill, you know that
STEFANOVIC: I think the question is -
SHORTEN: Neil, you asked a question, I'll give you a trifecta of an answer -
STEFANOVIC: Bill, the question does stand.
SHORTEN: We're lowering childcare costs, tackling Medicare costs, and we've got wages moving again. So, they're all real things. They're real things.
STEFANOVIC: What are you going to do –
MITCHELL: When will that kick in? When will it help? How will you pay people in the short term? How will you help people pay in the short term? And putting up wages, that’s
probably inflationary in itself.
SHORTEN: This is not your first rodeo about interest rates going up and down. I think if the Reserve Bank goes too hard, I think that's a big problem for a lot of people. But you and I both know. Are you saying, Neil, that we should go all Argentina and take over the setting of interest rates?
MITCHELL: No, I'm saying.
SHORTEN: No? okay thank you.
MITCHELL: That you should show some responsibility here. You are very, you were very quick, very quick to blame the previous government. The honeymoon's over, Bill. Accept it.
STEFANOVIC: All right. As much as I like being in between you guys.
SHORTEN: I'm not sure you do. There’s nothing like a Karl sandwich.
STEFANOVIC: Completely and outrightly lied then. Speaking of the government, the PM has been making headlines lately. Anthony Albanese is getting slammed for spending more time at the tennis than on the ground in the Alice. Bill, The pictures of him digging in to the Magnum, having a few beers. I've got no problem. I've got actually no problem with the PM going to the tennis. But should he have spent more time in the Alice?
SHORTEN: Listen, he went to Alice Springs long before he went to the tennis this year. And the big issue here is Alice Springs and keeping people safe. I know that the Federal Government is working with the Territory Government and local communities.
STEFANOVIC: I'm not sure it's working.
SHORTEN: Well, clearly it's a big problem. But I think when a couple of Liberal commentators want to ping him for going to the tennis, that was the most successful Grand Slam, over nearly a million people went. And I know that Anthony was working every day. He was at the Chinese New Year, Lunar New Year Festival, I should say, in Box Hill on the Saturday. I know I was in Macleod and Rosanna, they’re northern suburbs on Sunday meeting small business. And on Monday, I know he was also helping launch our national arts policy. So, the guy works seven days a week. A photo of him eating an ice cream is, you know, neither here nor there to me.
STEFANOVIC: Now, Neil, he's in good company eating ice cream, by the way, and we're not going to slag him off for that. But should he? The question is, should he have spent more time in the Alice?
MITCHELL: This is the honeymoon's over. Part 2, Bill. Yes, The appearance – look, I don't deny you should go to the tennis. I think it's a good thing. But three days and what, a few hours in Alice Springs? We've got a real crisis there. And Bill's right. That's the important thing. More of it emerged overnight. The whole of northern Australia, I'm told by people on the ground, is headed this way and the Prime Minister not only has to do something, he has to be seen to do something. You know, at least Scomo paid his own way to Hawaii. We paid for Albo to go to the tennis for three days.
SHORTEN: Are you saying that when you're in Melbourne it's like being in Hawaii Neil? And by the way, I just want a -
MITCHELL: Far better, Bill.
SHORTEN: Well you and I agree on that. That's the one thing today.
STEFANOVIC: Righto you two, I’m sick of being in between you, my head’s baking.
SHORTEN: I was going to say, Were there any -
STEFANOVIC: Got to move there, any heads back.
SHORTEN: Were there any Liberal politicians at the tennis over those three days?
STEFANOVIC: A fair few.
SHORTEN: Does that mean they don't care either?
STEFANOVIC: No, no, no.
MITCHELL: They’re not actually in government.
SHORTEN: Yeah, thank goodness for that.
STEFANOVIC: We're going to keep you guys on camera in the break. I love it. You two are electric together.