Hear their capes flap in the wind. Admire the spandex stretched over their taut bodies. Breathe and lose yourself to their pheromone feast. Suits won’t woo Western Sydney. As the election nears, our pudgy political class is turning into superheroes.

It's a bird, it's a plane. No, wait. Oh, it's just a politician…

They used to be lawyers, doctors, businessmen, academics, mindful of their every word, shoving paragraphs into sentences, knowing that they would be judged by the soundness of their logic. But now that they’re talking to simple voters, they do away with making sense, and focus on larger and bolder claims.

Their side is responsible for all the good that has come to this country, while the other slashes jobs, racks up debt, drowns refugees. Forget the power the people have vested in them: to make laws, manage budgets, oversee the civil service. Super politicians can do so much more: conjure growth out of thin air, create jobs by the tens of thousands, breathe passion into our children’s teachers.

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  • R White says:

    06:58pm | 13/03/13

    “To answer Roberts question [s]” Gross job numbers increased by 796000, but unemployment increased by 213000” Not so. 1. The actual increase in employment was 818,600, Dec 2007 to Jan 2012 (ABS, 6202.0, trend terms spreadsheet table at http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/6202.0) 2. In a period of rising employment, it’s reasonable to equate… Read more »

  • marley says:

    06:12pm | 13/03/13

    As I said, you missed the point - which is not that the government doesn’t listen to Treasury or the RBA, but that, with the best advice in the world, governments no longer control economies (if they ever did). They can fiddle around the edges, make the regulatory more or… Read more »


IT’S time for the Reserve Bank to stump up on Tuesday with an interest rate cut to kick-start the nation.

And construction's in the lead!

The Australian economy has been a one trick pony for much of the past decade, but our prized runner - the mining industry - just turned lame. It is time for the Reserve Bank to give the other parts of the economy retail, manufacturing, services and construction a giddy up this Tuesday.

It’s a close call - given the Reserve Bank has already cut interest rates 1.5 percentage points over the past year - but another rate cut at 2.30pm looks like the favourite.

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  • `Rick says:

    05:49pm | 05/11/12

    BINGO ! Read more »

  • Esteban says:

    05:43pm | 05/11/12

    Please don’t give Wayne Swan any ideas about printing money. Whilst allthe bad things about a strong AUD get plentt of air time what about the good things? If the AUD was @ USD.70c we would be paying a lot more for our fuel. Imagine what effect on businesses a… Read more »


One of my first jobs in journalism was as the banking reporter. The thing you learn quickly on the banking round is that banks like to give out free stuff to journalists (Mortgage holders? Another matter entirely).

I can… but I choose not to. Pic: News.com.au

Offers of free lunches at swanky city restaurants are swiftly forthcoming. Umbrellas emblazoned with the corporate logo are common gifts, and yes, I took a few.

And so it was that on a rainy day in early November 2010, I found myself heading out to dinner, casting a wary eye at the skies and another at my Commonwealth Bank freebie umbrella sitting by the front door.

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  • Esteban says:

    06:32pm | 08/10/12

    Banks have to meet certain balance sheet requirements as set out by APRA. Those guidelines limit how much an individual bank’s balance sheet can carry in loans. By calling for the more loans to be written from equity you are asking for APRA guidelines to br broken. The other funny… Read more »

  • andye says:

    05:49pm | 08/10/12

    @Esteban - Apparently it isn’t that much of an issue, considering the massive profits. Banks are more than just a simple business, they are part of the financial system and regulated accordingly. They also receive guarantees from the taxpayer. People require a bank account just to get paid and function… Read more »


Campaigning for better banking is a bit like the start of the footy season. We begin as optimists, trying to forget the disappointments of last year, the unfair penalties and questionable free kicks, hoping instead for some healthy competition.

Make a break for it. Escape the Big Four. Picture: Fox Sports

That is where the similarities end. While other national sports have salary caps and at least the semblance of a level playing field, our big four banks have spent the pre-season again demonstrating why they are about as popular as a tram of drunk Collingwood supporters.

Recent weeks brought interest rate rises outside of the Reserve Bank cycle and more record profits, set against a backdrop of outsourcing, job losses and tales of high-seas parties that could put “mad Monday” to shame. Even the most hardened optimist would admit there seems more chance of Russell Crowe’s Rabbitohs claiming the NRL trophy than our major banks putting customers first.

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  • B-Rad says:

    01:41pm | 03/07/12

    I am with one of the “Big 4” and honestly being with them for so long and them having all my accounts and House stuff and credit card makes it so simple to deal with and they are always so responsive. I am very happy with them. P.S. I do… Read more »

  • Thomas says:

    06:14pm | 08/03/12

    The big 4 arent terrible, but they arent the best option in many cases either. Sure, if you are convinced of the argument that they are “safer”, its hard to convince you otherwise, but just remember, there are several credit unions, building societies and non bank lenders who have not… Read more »


Wayne Swan has made a mockery of his Finance Minister of the Year award in his dithering, spineless effort at pressuring the banks to do the decent thing on interest rates.

No matter who pulls the trigger first, Swan should have stopped the whole scene

Swan went into half-arsed PR mode yesterday, using the media to spruik the line that the Big Four banks should drop interest rates 0.25 per cent in line with the RBA’s 0.25 per cent cut in the official cash rate.

He could have, and should have, done more. His role is not to lamely express dismay on our behalf. He is the Federal Treasurer. He has contacts. At moments like this, he should personally contact the Big Four bank chiefs and threaten all manner of medieval punishments if they fail to pass on the rate cut, the whole rate cut and nothing but the whole rate cut.

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  • Jay says:

    07:48am | 10/12/11

    We live the same day every day.It is time Corporations start looking at Space as a viable business opportunity. A privately owned/captalized Space station/Hotel and then go from there. If we wait for NASA and other State run agencies to pull their fingers out of their backsides nothing will happen.… Read more »

  • Frank says:

    07:36am | 09/12/11

    There should be some sort of penalty put on banks who dont pass on the RBA’s cash rate decisions in a timely manner..there is a reason the RBA does it and its not because of the Bank’s bottom line..just DO it Read more »


$6.4 billion in profit: Westpac Bank. $5.7 billion in profit: Commonwealth Bank. $4.2 billion in profit: the NAB. And $4.5 billion dollars in profit: the ANZ bank.

Cartoon: Jon Kudelka

That is $21 billion in profit made by the big four banks on the back of the worst global recession the world has seen since the Great Depression. $21 billion in profit made while the government continues to provide some guarantees to the banks first provided during the global financial crisis.

The Greens believe enough is enough.

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  • Sandy says:

    09:38am | 29/11/10

    Jordan.  Happy to take you up on futher debate after you read my posts over at The Drum: Telling Porkies about the Banks. Read more »

  • acotrel says:

    06:09am | 19/11/10

    Denny, If the Labor Party had proposed more regulation for the banks, instead of Joe, we’d really have heard all about it! Ssme with the ‘pink batts’ debacle.  The level of regulation required to do that without the stuff-ups would have brought a huge public outcry, with you guys leading… Read more »


This time yesterday Australians were merrily preparing for the Race that Stops the Nation, confident in the economists’ predictions the RBA would avoid the un-sportsmanlike act of hiking interest rates on Cup Day.

Someone had a good day on Cup Day. Cartoon: Peter Nicholson

Just 24-hours later all hell has broken loose.

The RBA might have turned on the rates tap with its 25 basis points rise in official interest rates announced at 2.30 yesterday afternoon, but the Commonwealth Bank forced open the flood gates with an immediate move to put its own rates up 45 basis points.

Commbank boss Ralph Norris is not talking this morning, instead letting the Australian Bankers Association make the running.

Association chief executive Stephen Munchenberg said: “What the Commonwealth Bank is saying is that that marginal effect has built up 2 basis points or 0.2 per cent each month, and that’s now built up over nearly a year since the banks last moved interest rates, so there’s a cumulative effect there.”

Westpac just announced its profits have risen 84 per cent in the last 12 months. Yes, that wasn’t a typo - 84 per cent. In the 12 months to September 30 the Gail Kelly-steered Westpac made a net profit of $6.346 billion.

Apparently Kelly is due to make an announcement later today. Wonder what on earth that could be.

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It’s time for a hard conversation about money. Some Australians, it seems, have literally bet their houses on interest rates staying at the current record lows.

Glenn Stevens: You can't say he didn't warn you

There’s a stock-standard way of reporting the outcome of a Reserve Bank meeting in which the board decides to leave the target cash rate unchanged. You’ll have heard it on radio: “Homeowners can breathe a sigh of relief after the RBA left interest rates on hold”.

But with interest rates as low as they are, any homeowner who is really holding their breath waiting for the RBA decision these days is, quite simply, living beyond their means.

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  • Vicki PS says:

    12:32am | 08/12/09

    Tom, while it may be true that house prices have risen disproportionately, it’s worth remembering that 28 years ago, when I bought my first home, home loan interest rates were around 13.5%, and continue to rise to peak at 16%.  That had a marked effect on affordability! Read more »

  • Steve of Cornubia says:

    03:45pm | 07/12/09

    @ not a bogan - I’ve been made redundant five times, recd a payment once. Plenty of people get redundancy payments today; they just have to be a member of a strong union, in a large organisation. As for ‘cheap’ houses, how about $249K, fully renovated, 45mins to Brisbane CBD… Read more »


Wayne Swan went on the front foot this afternoon in response to the 0.25 per centage point interest rate rise the RBA has just announced.

Is it his fault?

Before Joe Hockey could race to the back of the NSW Parliament to accuse the Government of being responsible for the rise, Mr Swan predicted he and Malcolm Turnbull would try to pin it on him and the Prime Minister.

“Never forget that if the Liberal Party has their way Australia would be in recession right now,’’ Mr Swan said. ``For the Liberal Party to claim now that interest rates can stay at record lows is simply laughable and demonstrates their lack of any economic credibility whatsoever.”

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  • Miles says:

    03:54pm | 07/10/09

    The masses can’t see the forest for the trees generally.  Property has been the most over-hyped thing in recent years - with everybody clambering over each other to load themselves with debt.  Debit which makes the banks and government more wealthy - not the average punter.  And like Jim stated… Read more »

  • G says:

    01:53pm | 07/10/09

    Those careful with their home loans very likely kept their payments up as rates fell. They’ll feel no pain at all as rates start to return to normal. Even those who took the cuts should feel little or no pain at one .25pt rise, or even two or three in… Read more »


Update 2.35pm: The RBA has just announced it has raised the official cash rate by 0.25 a per centage point to 3.25 per cent.

The Rudd Government is yet to make a hard decision. But this won’t stop them leaving the heavy lifting to someone else - namely Glenn Stevens at the Reserve Bank.

Listen to Obi-Wan - an interest rate rise is a good thing

Whether the RBA decides to lift interest rates today or on Melbourne Cup day, this will be a hard decision. It will mean increased pressure on family budgets and small business.

For the more than 200,000 Australians who have bought their first home recently, it will their first Rudd rate rise, with more to follow.

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No pay rise and no relief on the mortgage. It hasn’t been a banner day for Kevin Rudd’s working families. But that’s the price of prudence.

Cartoonist Jon Kudelka of The Australian

The Reserve Bank’s decision to leave interest rates unchanged at 3 per cent was no real surprise. Not much has changed since the nine board members’ last met in June, certainly nothing to convince them that the time was right for a little extra economic stimulation.

The Fair Pay Commission’s decision to deny Australia’s 1.3 million battlers a pay rise was a little more unexpected. The ACTU argued strongly for another $21-a-week hike to the minimum wage.

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  • Jasper says:

    08:53pm | 09/07/09

    The lowest paid would have pumped all of that payrise back into the economy, thus providing another economic stimulous package. They can’t do that now. Read more »

  • Curtis Woolford says:

    02:18pm | 08/07/09

    And guess what. In your other News Limited newspaper you celebrate there being no payrise. You Murdoch press are hypocrites. Read more »


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