With friends like these…

It’s not just Blair MP Cameron Thompson citing interest rates as a “positive” for the Coalition.

Terry McRann:

I for one like, really like this interest rate rise. I am most certainly not sorry that the official rate has risen to its highest point since mid-1996…

I like it because of what it tells us about the state of the Australian economy — rocketing along at a pace even healthier than just a year ago.

Andrew Bolt:

By almost any measure you care to take, Australians in general are indeed better off than ever. In fact, the most astonishing thing about this election is that Howard is about to be junked despite an economic record he could bronze and hang in his study with pride. Take it from me, Howard can’t believe it himself.

The Government Gazette:

Employer groups yesterday backed the Prime Minister’s claim, saying Labor’s approach to industrial relations could trigger a damaging and inflationary breakout on wages.

Update: Ms Ove at the GG:

Now interest rates have gone up for the sixth time since the last election, and for the first time in an election campaign.

That’s very good news for Howard. He’s just not allowed to say so.

Posted in elections
40 comments on “With friends like these…
  1. Muskiemp says:

    Geez we didn’t know how well off we were under the Hawke Keating governments. Silly us.

  2. Paul Burns says:

    The commemtators cited are right about the state of the economy.What they son’t seem to get, and neither does Howard, is that regardless of his “economic” achievements the electorate wants Howard to go. The only reason he didn’t go last election was that Latham was such a nutter the people went for more of Howard.It had little to do with interest rates. Latham lost it with that handshake. Now the ALP has a leader who is a viable alternative. So long as the ALP keeps Garrett locked up in a cell somewhere till after the election, and doesn’t shoot itself in the foot in the last week of the campaign we’ll have a Labor Government. Whether it will be a Labor Government or Another Liberal Party only time will tell. But after years of Hoaward I’m prepared to at least give them a go.
    Howard had lost this election before the last one – he only needed a credible opponent.

  3. jethro says:

    Don’t forget Caroline Overington at the GG: “Rates Rise Is Good News For Howard”


  4. Sans Blog says:

    The insanity coming from the Government Gazette just defies belief:

    Rates rise is good news for Howard – Carolyn Overington

  5. mikestasse says:

    The commentators may be right about the economy, trouble is they confuse economy with society. Do they even know the difference?

    In any case, growth is finished. It’s only a matter of time before oil gets so expensive we all start curtailing our driving, and only a little longer before there are queues at petrol stations to get the small amount of fuel we can afford to buy to just get us to work and back….

    Limits to growth were accurately predicted by the Club of Rome in 1970, nobody took any notice, and here we are.

    All this talk of which Party will be the better economic manager is a complete joke. Well, it would be if it weren’t so bloody sad really….

  6. mbahnisch says:

    The comments thread is a good read on Overington’s “blog”:

    Suggestion for blog title of 26 November: Coalition Electoral Wipeout Magnificent News For Howard. You sad, sad woman.

  7. joe2 says:

    “Howard is about to be junked despite an economic record he could bronze and hang in his study with pride”, says the bolt.

    How about that. Not only can they be polished but apparently, now, bronzed. It would still be better suited in the littlest room in his house.

  8. Enemy Combatant says:

    Quite so mikestasse. Of course it’s only natural for card carrying Mammonists on fat salaries like McCrankers, La Bolta and Caroline O’Crackers to push The Economy uber-alles theme.

    The people who will decide this election are Australians who live in communities that have been messed about way beyond a fair thing by Debt Stress and the anti Fair Go bastardry of SerfChoices.

    We are not Seppoes. It’s not just “The Economy, Stupid”.
    It’s about human beings as well, and Team Rodent are going down because they pushed a NeoConservative agenda that worked for a while when fortified with Rovian spin in BushWorld, however a majority of decent working men and women and youth of Oz are about to reject El Rodente’s agenda bigtime, and a bloody good thing it will be too!

    Of interest on November 24 will be how many of King Kirribilli’s coconuts will drop off with him.

  9. Hal9000 says:

    Costello and Swan were on RN this morning arguing about historical interest rates. Swan failed to effectively counter Costello’s highly misleading remarks about interest rates under John W Howard, Treasurer, in the early 1980s, when the 90-day bill rate got to 22%. Costello’s line was that home mortgage rates were 13.5% at the time, which was a whole lot less than the dreadful 17% under Hawke-Keating. Like so much of Howard regime propaganda, it’s kind of true, but higly misleading.

    The true bit is that home mortgage interest rates were indeed pegged under Fraser-Howard (and the first year or two of Hawke-Keating). The misleading bit is that the banks simply weren’t lending money at the pegged rate when they had to pay 22% for their cash – if you wanted to buy a house in 1982 and you didn’t have the cash amount handy, you had to take out a cocktail of loans including personal and credit card loans where the interest rate might be 30%. I had many friends who took out substantial credit card loans to buy houses. The mortgage interest cap was abandoned by Hawke-Keating because it operated to keep new entrants out of the market, making the proverbial young homebuyers pay penalty interest while giving established mortgagees concessional rates. Swan was so busy squawking about Costello being a liar he failed to nail the canard.

  10. mbahnisch says:

    Perhaps Swan thought that explaining all that makes the argument too complex? I take your point, Hal9000, but I have a feeling that whenever the pollies start doing the whole “back in 197x interest rates were at y”, “But back in 198x they were z!” thing people just turn off.

  11. Now beef air to Ms Overington, who is single handledly the person most responsible for the decline in Ratty’s credibility with her coverage of the AWB saga

  12. mbahnisch says:

    It’s odd, isn’t it? It’s almost as if there are two Caroline Overingtons – one who does serious investigative journalism and the other who writes incredibly stupid puff pieces…

    I ran into someone who’d met her recently and was told she really does believe Howard’s spin and can’t countenance a Labor win.

    I wonder what Overington #1 thinks?

  13. Katz says:

    Shorter Coalition Flying Monkeys: “We apologise for making you battlers tighten your belts to make our election victory more likely. To show how sincere we are, we intend to cry all the way to Kirriblli House.”

  14. Katz says:

    “I have a feeling that whenever the pollies start doing the whole “back in 197x interest rates were at y”, “But back in 198x they were z!” thing people just turn off.”

    I think you’re right Mark.

    This may be the way to cut through.

    The other night on the Victorian edition of the ABC News Alan Kohler reported some statistical work submitted to him by a viewer.

    This work showed that for the last twenty-five years or so, Australian interest rates were whatever the average OECD interest rates were + 1.2%.

    This 1.2% premium persisted whether it was an ALP or a Coalition govt.

    And this premium was remarkably stable.

    Bottom lines:

    1. This premium probably represents the risk premium for Australia being close to the bottom of the capital markets food chain.

    2. Howard and Costello have been unsuccessful at narrowing this premium despite the growing sophistication of world and Australian capital markets.

    3. 1.2% is much less important when it is added to 20% (as under Labor) than when it is added to 5% to 6% (as under Howard). Instead of this figure representing a 5% risk premium as it did under Labor, it represents a whopping 20% risk premium under Howard. So much for the expertise of the Howard government!

  15. Lloyd says:

    Overington at the Sydney Writers festival came across as a total flake despite the good work on AWB. It’s hard to reconcile the 2 Overington’s that’s for sure.

  16. mbahnisch says:

    Katz, I’ve always liked Swan’s line “the new interest rate reality”. He points out that housing loans were much smaller when Keating was around and that there’s never been a higher percentage of income going into mortgages than now.

    It’s nice and simple, and connects well with people’s own understanding. I liked Kohler’s graph – and point – too, but I don’t think you could distil it easily into a soundbite. It still requires too much explanation for a ten second grab.

  17. Stephen Bayne says:

    All this interest rate is good thing crap will go down just as well as this is the recession we had to have. As an average Joe I honestly can’t see how this could be a positive when Seven’s 4:30 last night reported the thing as if Howard had just died.

  18. joe2 says:

    “The economy is not “tanking.’’ The economy is in good shape. Everybody who wants a job today can get one. The rise in interest rates is designed to keep inflation in check. That is a sign that people, and business, are spending” said Ms Ove in comments.

    Another way of saying you have never had so good and you should all be bloody thankful. Having failed ‘big time’ on the interest rate lower under us lie there is a new theme. Let’s just move on to the next big porky…..record high employment figures. I just wonder if labor will tackle them on this score.

    employment scam figures.

  19. Helen says:

    Got to love this piece by Annabel Crabb in the SMH.

    …In fact, it was such a brilliant trap that after a while Pooh and Piglet forgot they had even built it, which was around about the point at which they both fell into it.

    Three years ago in Australia, another pair of adventurers came up with a similar sort of trap.

    One of the adventurers was shortish, with eyebrows of a beetling type, and the other tallish and loudish and sort of pleasingly treasurer-shaped…

  20. Helen says:

    It’s odd, isn’t it? It’s almost as if there are two Caroline Overingtons – one who does serious investigative journalism and the other who writes incredibly stupid puff pieces…

    Caroline Overington, to my surprise, was in the documentary Forbidden Lies helping Alison Broinowski wade through the many leads and red herrings presented to her by the chameleon Norma Khouri. Although they ultimately fell short of nailing Khouri, Overington came across as quite professional and competent.

  21. Greg says:

    Yeah, we’re spending all right, but not saving. Spending up big on credit cards, spending up big – and often beyond our limit – on buying a home, and this latter is the one we’re depending on, the one we’ll sell to fund our melanoma treatments or perpetual alzheimer’s care when Medicare and the pension are gone. Or maybe just to buy a caravan and head up the coast with the other grey nomads to pick mangoes for some spending money. When the housing bubble bursts, there’s gonna be trouble. Think of all those out-of-work real estate agents and their effect on unemployment. Yeah, we’ve got it good, and we’re gonna get it, too.

  22. gandhi says:

    Folks, a massive story – Rudd and Costello went into secret meetings with News Ltd executives this morning!!!


  23. carl says:

    The media coverage of the rates rise has been hilarious, its like its finally hit home that Howard is dead.

    I especially loved channel 9 promoting the fact that they would have ‘special live coverage’ of the meeting of the reserve bank. Yes, because grey suited economists meeting behind closed doors is must see tv!

  24. Enemy Combatant says:

    MB: “It still requires too much explanation for a ten second grab.”

    “If Australian working families have never been better off under a Howard/Costello government, how come they’re battling so hard to make ends meet?”

    7 seconds.

  25. jo says:

    only a few more hours until we find out what scandal news ltd have up their sleeves on the ruddster – any updates on this ‘hot crikey tip’ from earlier this week?

    i remember someone posting here – a few days before the strip club expose – saying “something’s going to come out which is going to finish rudd”..

    and is this why kev was having a “secret” meeting with news execs today?

  26. LuckyPhil says:

    Jo 25
    Don’t hold your breath, read the next Crikey.

  27. mbahnisch says:

    Penberthy specifically denied to Crikey that the rumour was true. The “secret” meeting might be a sign that Rupe is about to switch sides and back the winner. It will be hilarious to watch Shanahan, etc, all start furiously spinning Rudd’s way. That’s assuming they don’t have a shadow editorial team and punditariat hidden in a basement somewhere!

  28. mbahnisch says:

    Crossed with LuckyPhil.

  29. LuckyPhil says:

    Ratapeadia – new type of thesaurus where you can detect the fine difference between synonyms e.g. sorry and apology.

  30. jo says:

    thanks, mark & lucky – musta missed it!

    in that case – it’s their masters voice on the hooter from new york city.

    with wendy on another ext. to translate.

  31. joe2 says:

    “Penberthy specifically denied to Crikey that the rumour was true”.

    Thanks Mark that really helps, I think.

  32. Andyc says:

    joe2 (post 18) “Let’s just move on to the next big porky…..record high employment figures. I just wonder if labor will tackle them on this score.

    So easy that I cannot understand why they haven’t done it a million times already.

    Consider a debate between a representative of the ALP and a Right Wing Dead Meat:

    ALP: “how many hours of work do you need to do to be employed?”

    RWDM: “one hour a week or more [or whatever this week’s definition is]”

    ALP: “what hourly rate would someone need to be paid to cover their basic needs if they are only working one hour a week?”

    RWDM: “er…”

    ALP: “how many part-time jobs in the whole of Oz offer that hourly rate or better?”

    RWDM: “er…”

    ALP: “ABS statistics show that basic housing/feeding/transport/bills expenses in the suburbs for an individual are on average $$$$/week and for a family of four, $$$$/week. At a minimum wage hourly rate of $$/hour, that means that people need at least xxx hours of work per week to live. Or, if they work, say, a 20-hour week, their hourly rate needs to be at least xxx/hour. If they are earning less, then they do not actually have enough work to live, even if you call them “employed”. How many Australians are actually earning less than that?”

    RWDM: “er…”

    ALP: “Why don’t you know?

    RWDM: “er…”

    ALP: “Don’t you care?”

    RWDM: “er…”

  33. zebbidies spring says:


    That’s a great line – unfortunately, when unemployment was at the 9% mark, the definition was still 1 hour per week, each week, for four weeks. Labor still vulnerable.

    The “working poor” line is the key, as in “if the Liberals’ economic management is so great, why the hell is your life so hard?”.

    Reminds one yet again about the un-evenness of the distribution of the Great Prosperity.

  34. murph the surf says:

    Andy C – please line up all the people who actually have a job for one hour a week first.
    If you find such a person I’ll listen to their answers about how they get through the week.

  35. joe2 says:

    “please line up all the people who actually have a job for one hour a week first. If you find such a person I’ll listen to their answers about how they get through the week”.

    ‘murph the surf’ you miss the point completely.
    There are various options as to “how they get through the week”…
    ie dole , min wage and topup, homeless etc

    The fact is, they are in the abs figures as being “employed” and thus the official figures are a load of crap.

  36. mikestasse says:

    Andy C – please line up all the people who actually have a job for one hour a week first.
    If you find such a person I’ll listen to their answers about how they get through the week.

    Andy, I’m one such person.

    Getting through the week is EASY mate……. I live sustainably.

    I have no power bills.
    I have no car
    I have no mortgage
    I grow all my own food.

    10 years from now, YOU will be doing it too.

  37. Andyc says:

    mikestasse: it was actually murph who challenged me to find one such person, but thanks for pointing out that it is possible. For some. But absolutely not for everyone.

    While we still have a high-tech, urbanised civilisation, it is not possible foreveryone to do so. Our best bet for making a sustainable existence as comfortable as possible is to keep scientific research into alternative energy and sustainable living going as long as possible, while working on politicians and industry to support that rather than hinder it. So for now, we need people in specialised, high-paid jobs, working in cities, and being paid enough to do so. And similarly, we need all the other urbanised workers who keep those cities running. This way, just possibly, we may be able to reduce waste and population smoothly enough not to collapse back into a permanent dark age.

    And while we have an urbanised, specialised, society, most people will need far more dollars than they can earn in an hour per week.

  38. mikestasse says:

    I disagree……

    Our best bet for making a sustainable existence as comfortable as possible is to simply stop doing everything we’re doing now. I no longer need ‘the system’ (I like to call it the Matrix – hence my avatar).

    The Matrix is stuffed. Make no mistake. Every morning I turn the radio on expecting, even WISHING the economy would collapse. And it will.

    Without the ever growing ever cheap source of energy needed to extract and distill all the other ‘sources’, everything will grind to a halt. You should read James Howard Kunstler’s “The Long Emergency”.

    Furthermore, we don’t need “scientific research into alternative energy”, we already know how to do all that stuff, my house runs on it just fine. What we need to do is stop procrastinating.

  39. murph the surf says:

    I don’t think it is necessary to comment on the last comment – maybe just to wish the writer good luck.

  40. mikestasse says:

    I make my own luck thanks very much. BUT you should read this:


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