60 Minutes reporter Tom Steinfort spoke for Australians all across the nation when he swore at Treasurer Jim Chalmers in an interview on interest rates.
The exchange transpired as homeowners brace for a 10th consecutive rate rise, with the move expected to produce the highest interest rates Australians have seen in the past decade.
“Do you see similarities between now and what happened in the early ‘90s?” Steinfort asked the treasurer, referencing a difficult period of recession for Australia.
“There’s absolutely no chance that interest rates will get to the level that they were at in the early 1990s. I wanna make that clear,” Chalmers responded.
And while the treasurer had wasted no time in giving his answer, it wasn’t enough to stop Steinfort from scoffing, “yeah, well, we’re all f***ed if that happens.”
In January 1990, interest rates peaked – or hit rock bottom – at a record high of 17.5 per cent.
And now, the RBA is set to deliver more bad news – passing on another 0.25 per cent interest rate rise – with homeowners already feeling their wallet strings tightening when faced with the disparity between house prices and annual wages.
Australia’s inflation rate of 7.8 per cent marks the highest level since the early 1990s and is over twice that of the RBA’s 2-3 per cent inflation target – one they adopted in 1993. – the RBA took on its inflation target in 1993.
Experts fear that further interest rate hikes will see Australia face its first recession since 1991, a concern that Steinfort clearly shares.
Elsewhere in the interview, Steinfort wanted to know if Chalmers believed Australians had seen the worst of the inflation crisis, asking, “do you think we’ve hit the inflation peak?”
“That’s our expectation, yeah,” Chalmers said. “We think that’s most likely, uh, that inflation peaked at Christmas time and has started to moderate. But we won’t know until we get that next set of data.”
“You think we might be through the worst of it?” Steinfort pressed.
“Well, I think inflation is starting to come off,” Chalmers responded, before adding that despite his optimism, Australians shouldn’t expect for things to get easier overnight, “but even as it moderates we can’t be complacent about it, because it’s still going to be a challenge in ‘23, just like it was in ‘22.”
“You paint a picture that we’ve turned a bit of a corner and that there are better times ahead, but the people we’re speaking to – I mean, even when I look at my home mortgage bill – we’re not feeling it,” a sceptical Steinfort pointed out.
To which a smiling Chalmers answered, “yeah, I understand, and I think that certainly the prime minister understands, and that the government understands, that people are under real pressure now.
“We’re doing what we can to deal with it within the constraints of a responsible budget.”
Federal treasurer Jim Chalmers believes we’ve already seen the worst of Australia’s inflation problem. However he says 2023 will still be a challenging time for many families.
— 60 Minutes Australia (@60Mins) March 5, 2023
Images: 60 Minutes
This article first appeared on Over60.