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60 Minutes reporter Tom Steinfort drops F-bomb during rate hike interview


A 60 Minutes reporter interviewing Treasurer Jim Chalmers dropped the f-bomb to describe the prospect of a return to 1990s interest rates.

Reporter Tom Steinfort surprised the treasurer on Sunday night’s program when he used the swear word after this exchange.

“There is absolutely no chance that interest rates will reach the levels of the early 1990s,” Dr Chalmers said.

The reporter Steinfort stated in response, “We’re all f***ed if they do that.”

“Will that be on the show?” Dr. Chalmers replied.

In January 1990, interest rates reached a record high of 17.5 percent.

The tense exchanges come as homeowners prepare for the tenth consecutive rate hike on Tuesday in a move likely to see Australia’s highest interest rates in the past decade.

The RBA is being tipped to deliver more bad drugs — and an expected rate hike of 0.25 percentage points — to halt the nation’s inflation crisis and dampen spending.

It is the fastest monetary tightening imposed on homeowners by the RBA since the introduction of an inflation target in 1993.

ANZ chief executive Shayne Elliott predicts the latest increases will hit homeowners “much harder” as families really start to feel the pain.

“Obviously it’s going to be a lot more stressful (for borrowers) in the next six months than it has been in the past,” he said.

Mr Elliott told The Australian that many homeowners are also coming off fixed rate mortgages only to be hit by steep variable rates.

“We think rate hikes will bite much harder from now on because we will be over that buffer that we have already built in,” he said.

“Cost of living pressures are going to bite even more.”

The current official spot rate set by the central bank is 3.35 percent, but that is expected to rise to 3.6 percent on Tuesday.

That’s the highest official cash rate since September 2012, when rates hit 3.5 percent.

For a household with a $500,000 mortgage, it adds $77 per month in payments, according to RateCity.

But the real pain becomes apparent when you consider that since May 2022, the same family has been hit with additional payments of $980 per month, or $11,800 per year.

On a $750,000 mortgage, borrowers pay an additional $116 per month. That’s almost $1400 a month or $16,800 a year.

Westpac recently joined the other major banks in predicting a spike rate of up to 4.1 percent. That would mean two more rate hikes after Tuesday’s expected rate hike.

As the cost of living increases, treasurer Jim Chalmers said consumers should not pay unjustified price increases.

“We need to make sure that companies don’t cave out in an inflationary environment,” he said.

“It wasn’t that long ago that people at this desk were always talking about how we’re all in this together.

“We need to make sure that the price hikes that companies are asking their customers to pay are justifiable and justifiable.”

Dr. Chalmers said inflation emphasized that workers’ wages were not the problem.

“One of the problems for most of a decade, at least, is that wage growth is too stagnant,” he said.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.