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Labor leader acknowledges cash rate/unemployment ‘mistake’

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has conceded he “made a mistake” after being unable to recall the correct cash rate or unemployment rate.

While visiting Tasmania on Monday morning (11 April) for the beginning of the six-week federal election campaign, the leader of the Australian Labor Party (ALP), Anthony Albanese, was unable to correctly answer economic figures relating to the official cash rate and unemployment in Australia.

During several press conferences over the day, Mr Albanese was asked a series of questions relating to affordability and his party’s plans for managing the rising cost of living in Australia. The cost of living and housing affordability is a key focus point for the Labor Party this year, which has already announced several initiatives it would seek to introduce to help make housing more affordable.

While at one press conference, Mr Albanese was asked if he knew the cash rate (which has sat at a record low figure of 0.10 per cent since November 2020) “off the top of [his] head”.

He replied: “Oh, look, we can do the old Q&A stuff over 50 different figures. The truth is they are absurd.

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“The Reserve Bank, over the coming period, the Reserve Bank have said that there will be multiple interest rate increases regardless of who is in government.”

Mr Albanese was pushed for a response to the cash rate question later in the press conference, which he again did not directly answer, before being challenged: “Is it your expectation then that leaders don’t have to be across these kinds of details that directly impact voters lives, are you not going to answer those kinds of specific questions for this campaign?

The Labor leader replied: “Not at all. What I was not going to enter into, is an auction in terms of the Tasmanian unemployment rate and the various rates that are put forward.

“I’m happy to know that the last time I filled out petrol was $2.2 a litre.

“I know how much the price of bread is, I know how much a litre of milk is. I know about those things that affect ordinary people.”

Mr Albanese was then asked about the national unemployment rate (currently 4.0 per cent, according to the latest ABS data [for February 2022]), to which he replied: “The national unemployment rate at the moment is ... I think it’s 5 point… four… Sorry, I’m not sure what it is.”

Labor senator Katy Gallagher, the shadow minister for finance, then correctly stated: “The Reserve Bank’s current rate is 0.1. And the unemployment rate’s at 4 per cent.”

‘I made a mistake. I’m human’

Later in the day, the Opposition Leader conceded that he “made a mistake” on the economic questions from journalists.

“Earlier today I made a mistake. I’m human,” he said.

“But when I make a mistake, I’ll fess up to it and I will set about correcting that mistake. I won’t blame someone else, I will accept responsibility.

“That’s what leaders do.” 

He was asked once again what the cash rate and unemployment figures were, to which he responded: “Yes, I do.

“0.1 is the cash rate, which is very different from the interest rate that people pay, of course, and 4 per cent is the unemployment rate.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was also asked whether he knew the cash rate and unemployment rate while starting his campaign trail. He replied: “0.1 per cent is the cash rate, it’s been there for some time.

The unemployment rate, I’m happy to say, is 4 per cent, falling to a 50-year low. It came down from 5.7 per cent when we were first elected. More importantly, as we went into the pandemic, we were facing unemployment rates up around 15 per cent. Now it’s 4 per cent.” 

 


[Related: LATEST PODCAST: Rate watch]

Labor leader acknowledges cash rate/unemployment ‘mistake’
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Annie Kane

Annie Kane is the editor of The Adviser and Mortgage Business.

As well as writing about the Australian broking industry, the mortgage market, financial regulation, fintechs and the wider lending landscape – Annie is also the host of the Elite Broker and In Focus podcasts and The Adviser Live webcasts. 

Contact Annie at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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