Television Interview with Natalie Barr – Sunrise – Friday 2 February 2024


SUBJECTS: Interest rates; Inflation rate drops; Bigger tax cuts for more Australians

NATALIE BARR: Three State Premiers are demanding the Reserve Bank cuts the cash rate when it meets next week. Queensland Premier, Steven Miles started the call on social media saying it needed to, “Take the pressure off households.” 

He’s also called out the banks saying there’s no rule that they can’t actually cut their rates first. Victoria’s Jacinta Allan and WA’s Roger Cook are also calling on the RBA to lower rates.

For more I’m joined by Education Minister Jason Clare and Deputy Opposition Leader, Sussan Ley. Good morning to both of you.


BARR: Jason, do you think it’s appropriate that the Premiers step in and tell the RBA what to do?

CLARE: I think all Aussies want to see interest rates go down. Ultimately, it’s a matter for the RBA though, and to get the RBA to cut interest rates we’ve got to get inflation down. And that’s happening. We got good news about that this week. We’re seeing inflation cut by about half over the last 12 months. In monthly terms, inflation has dropped from 8.4% to 3.4% in 12 months. So that’s good.

If you can get inflation down, then we’ll see interest rates go down. We know there’s a lot of Aussies that are doing tough and would like to see their interest rates go down.

BARR: Yeah. Probably a few self‑funded retirees might disagree with you ’cause they like the high interest rates. But you’re right, probably most people.

Sussan, Steven Miles is also saying that the Big Four Banks can act alone, they can start cutting their rates themselves. Are you calling for that; do you think they should?

SUSSAN LEY: Well, Nat, this is economic idiocy from the Australian Labor Party. If we let politicians set interest rates, interest rates would always be low, and the Australian dollar would be worthless.

We would, for example, have economic ruin, like you see in Argentina and Zimbabwe, or you have seen. So this is quite crazy, and the suggestion that three Premiers – I don’t know if they can even spell RBA – should be responsible for interest rates in this country.

I don’t think that they did this without Anthony Albanese knowing about it, and I’d like Jason to call out those Labor Premiers today on breakfast television because Australians are hurting; they’re opening up household bills and they’re struggling. And we know that the cost‑of‑living relief that they were promised is insufficient, will take too long to arrive and is not going to address that cost of living pain.

BARR: Okay. Pretty harsh words there for Premiers.

CLARE: That’s just throwing political mud on morning television. I think what these Premiers are doing is reflecting the view of a lot of Aussies that are doing it tough. And I think if you Google it you’d find Liberal Premiers have said the same thing in the past.

The bottom line is the RBA makes this decision, and if we want to see interest rates go down, we’ve got to get inflation to go down. And guess what, the action that we are taking is working. Inflation is going down, it’s cut in half over the last 12 months, and part of that is a budget surplus and investing taxpayers’ money wisely to give them the sort of relief that they need, whether it’s in childcare, whether it’s cutting the cost of medicine, whether it’s in electricity bills and now with those cost‑of‑living tax cuts that we hope the Liberal Party will vote for next week.

BARR: Yeah, let’s talk about those.

LEY: Maybe the Premiers are frustrated with Anthony Albanese, because he’s not delivering the cost‑of‑living relief that Australians need, because remember that this is all you will get, $15 a week from Anthony Albanese’s tax changes ‑‑

CLARE: So you’re going to vote against it?

LEY: ‑‑ between now ‑ and no change between now and May from this Labor Government, and when it kicks in in July, this is all you will get a week ‑‑

BARR: Okay, so Sussan ‑‑

LEY: ‑‑ $15.

BARR: ‑‑ so Sussan, Seven News Political Editor Mark Riley ‑‑

LEY: You look at the cost of living ‑‑

CLARE: So you’re going to vote against it?

BARR: ‑‑ in his story last night on Seven News said you guys are actually going to vote for it, that is the word from inside the Coalition. Is that the case?

LEY: Oh, Nat, we’ll make up our mind ‑‑

CLARE: So you haven’t made up your mind yet.

LEY: ‑‑ when we see the legislation, but we haven’t seen the legislation, and we don’t know what the Greens will do in the Parliament, but we do know that you can’t trust anything this Prime Minister says, because this liar from the lodge has told ‑‑

BARR: Is it ‑‑

LEY: ‑‑ so many lies about what he has promised the Australian people, so of course we’ll see the legislation, of course we’ll make our decision in due course.

BARR: Is it true that you guys are about to do a deal with the Government because you want to freeze the Greens out?

LEY: We will make our decision when we see the legislation, because there’s no justification for how this has come about, and it doesn’t stack up. And when we see what the Prime Minister has said, in all of the language he’s used, it’s just not clear why he has done this.

The whole thing is built on a series of lies, Nat, and I don’t trust this Prime Minister until I see the fine print of what he puts in front of the Australian people.

So the pressure should be on him, is on him, and indeed we don’t know what the Greens will do.

BARR: Well, actually the pressure’s on you. They’ve announced it, you guys have got to decide whether you support it ‑‑

LEY: And that’s what? What does it look like? One day we hear the Prime Minister saying, “I won’t do deals.” The next day he says, “I might do deals.” The next day the Greens are saying, “We won’t support it.” So clearly there’s going to be quite a lot of argy‑bargy between Labor and the Greens before we see the fine print of the legislation.

BARR: Okay, have you sent them the details, Jason?

LEY: And we need to ‑ and we need to do that.

CLARE: They’ve got the detail, they’re holding the money up there, they’re just prevaricating because they can’t make up their mind.

LEY: That’s $15 a week, that’s $15 a week in cost‑of‑living relief ‑‑

BARR: Jason, have you sent them the detail?

LEY: ‑‑ that’s it, and it doesn’t kick in until July.

CLARE: All the detail was released last Thursday.

LEY: Jason, that’s ‑ that’s pathetic.

CLARE: Hang on, I heard you out, Sussan, you don’t need to constantly interrupt, okay. We’re saying that we think every Aussie deserves a tax cut, not just some under your plan, and that 11 million Aussies deserve a bigger tax cut.

BARR: Have you given them the detail?

CLARE: Nat, all of the detail is there.

BARR: Sussan?

CLARE: All of the detail is there.

LEY: Detail is actually draft ‑‑

CLARE: All of the detail is there.

LEY: ‑‑ the detail is actually legislation, Nat, that’s what goes through the Parliament, and we don’t know what that looks like, and we don’t know what deals that you are doing with the Greens.

CLARE: Nat, it’s been ‑‑

LEY: We know you’re talking to the Greens, and we know the Greens are all in favour of increased taxes.

CLARE: Nat, everyone watching ‑‑

LEY: And you haven’t ruled out ‑‑

BARR: Okay, final word, Jason.

CLARE: Almost every single person watching is going to get a bigger tax cut here if the Liberal Party would just get out of the way. They were very quick to bag Woolies because they wouldn’t sell what they wanted them to sell. They’re quick to bag the journalists up in the Press Gallery.

LEY: ‑‑ the bigger tax cut ‑‑

CLARE: ‑‑ but it’s taken them ‑‑

LEY: This is the bigger tax cut.

CLARE: Hang on a second. You don’t need to constantly interrupt. It’s taken you over a week, and you still can’t work out that Aussies deserve a bigger tax cut, that people are doing it tough, and they need you to get out of the way and help make it happen.

LEY: They deserve cost‑of‑living relief.

BARR: Okay.

LEY: Real cost‑of‑living relief.

CLARE: And that’s what this is.

BARR: All right, we’re wrapping it ‑‑

LEY: Real cost‑of‑living relief.

BARR: ‑‑ we thank you both for coming in today.