TopicsAlbanese Government adding pressure to cost of living; Stephen Jones undermining RBA; Balloons entering US airspace;

07:55AM AEDT
14 February 2023

Journalist: So, there are reports today that hundreds of thousands of homeowners with fixed rate mortgages face a nearly 17,000 repayment cliff this year. What could be done to help these people?

Simon Birmingham: It’s crucial the Albanese Government stops making the Reserve Bank’s job harder and therefore the life harder for many Australian families and starts to make it easier by contributing to the downward pressure on inflation. The Albanese Government at present has put more spending programs in place, is creating multi-billion dollar funds, has industrial relations reforms that will hurt productivity and all of these things just add to the pressure on inflation and therefore the pressure on the Reserve Bank. What we want to see is an environment where fiscal policy complements monetary policy in trying to put downward pressure on inflation, and the government needs to step up and make hard decisions to be able to do that.

Journalist: Are you saying the government should be spending less?

Simon Birmingham: The Government should clearly be making sure they’re not putting more pressure on spending and of late their policies have been putting more pressure on spending. They have legislated new areas of multi-billion dollar spending, they have created and are creating new multi-billion dollar funds that they want to establish just at the time when the Reserve Bank is sending a real warning out to the Australian community and to Government that it should be helping with fixing the problem of inflation, not adding to the problem and challenging inflation.

Journalist: Do you believe the ongoing rate hikes could trigger a recession?

Simon Birmingham: Well, look, I’ll let economists undertake the predictions of what could occur. What we know is that Australian families are feeling real pressure of inflation and of interest rate rises. They want to see interest rate rises come to an end as quickly as possible, but they’ll only be able to do so when inflation is brought under control and the Albanese Government should stop pursuing new multi-billion dollar funds. That can only make a difficult situation worse and mean Australians end up paying more. They should instead be trimming their spending, not pursuing new multi-billion dollar funds. And people like the Assistant Treasurer, Stephen Jones, should cease going out there and trying to give lectures to the Reserve Bank about whether they’ve been enough interest rate increases already and instead do their job of ensuring that fiscal policy works in tandem with monetary policy to bring inflation under control and with doing that minimise the risk of future interest rate increases.

Journalist: Should the RBA’s government get to keep his job?

Simon Birmingham: That will be a matter for the government at the appropriate time. Right now the pressures are real. The pressure of inflation is real and needs to be fixed. The pressures on Australian households are real and need to be minimised and that can best occur in terms of the Albanese Government actually ceasing its pursuit of new multi-billion dollar funds and instead reining in its spending wherever it can.

Journalist: Does Australia have reason to be concerned about the Chinese spy balloons over the US and Canada?

Simon Birmingham: We have reason to be concerned about the fact that this is adding tension to an already difficult and challenging world. To have seen now, some four potential incidents over the last couple of weeks is of concern and I would urge China to be open, transparent and engaging with the United States to reduce tension in response to these issues and to provide the best possible chance to move back to effective dialogue between the two world superpowers, rather than the type of enhanced tension that we’ve seen as a result of these incidents.

Journalist: Are you aware of any reports of similar incidents happening here?

Simon Birmingham: I’m not aware of any such incidents, but of course, it’s important that Australia have confidence that our security and surveillance systems are adequate to be able to detect and that we ensure that we have confidence that the response systems are in place to equally protect information and security of Australia and facilities across Australia. Thanks, everyone.