Election 2007, Day 22: Howard apologises for rate rise

Prime Minister John Howard has apologised for the RBA’s interest rate rise announced this morning. He acknowledged that the rise will hurt a lot of borrowers.

“They will be hurt by it, they will be affected by it,” he said, “I know that, I sympathise with them, I don’t like it.”

But he played down the Federal Government’s responsibility for the RBA’s decision, referring to international forces out of his hands, but still argued that his party has the economic nous to manage a stressed-out economy.

Labor yesterday seized upon potential hikes to accuse Howard and Costello of contributing to inflationary policies, being out of touch with the needs of regular Australians and neglecting promises to keep rates at record lows.

Opposition leader Kevin Rudd also said Labor would get to the public service with a “razor gang”, vowing to trim public service expenditure and create policy savings, naming the Coalition’s plan for technical colleges as expenditure it would cut.

The Australian Financial Review has estimated spending by both political parties on tax cuts and road building to reach $35.5 billion in 2007-08, casting doubt of each leader’s claims of sound economic management.

Rudd’s older brother Greg has sold his lobbying business to avoid any conflict of interest in the event his sibling becomes PM.

And let’s not forget the Melbourne Cup yesterday. Neither leader joined the fracas at Flemington. Howard’s favourite, Mahler, came in third and Rudd backed the winner Efficient, after his original pick was scratched.


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