Prime Minister Scott Morrison ignored questions about a potential impact on the Coalition’s electoral chances if interest rates rise on Tuesday.
It came as cost-of-living concerns once again dominated the campaign on Monday, and ahead of a widely expected move by the Reserve Bank’s board to raise official rates for the first time in years.
But, campaigning in Victoria on Monday, Mr Morrison said the bank’s decision was not political.
“It’s not about me… It’s about Australians themselves,” he said in Geelong.
“It’s not about politics. What happens tomorrow is about what people are paying on their mortgages. That’s what worries me. »
“I mean, sometimes you always see things through a totally political lens. I do not know. And Australians don’t. Australians are focused on what they are paying for and who they think will be best able to manage an economy and manage finances so that they are in the best possible position to achieve their aspirations. Australians know that there are pressures on interest rates.
If the RBA raises rates on Tuesday, it will be the first federal election mid-campaign rate hike since 2007 – the year former Prime Minister John Howard lost to Labor’s Kevin Rudd.
But repeatedly asked whether he would be responsible for any rate hike, Mr Morrison referred only to “macroeconomic factors” and the economic blow of the pandemic.
He noted the official exchange rate was at an all-time high and said there were “hundreds of billions of dollars on household balance sheets” that Australians had saved during COVID – and many had also switched to fixed rates.
The Australian had been preparing “to deal with these shocks that they knew were coming”, he said.
“Can you imagine how much harder it would be to pay a mortgage if we hadn’t had Jobkeeper and 700,000 people were out of work, or if we hadn’t increased the cash flow – which would have seen the small businesses collapsing all over the country – all the support we’re giving first time homeowners to get in and own their homes in the first place? »
“We have taken steps to strengthen the resilience of our balance sheets and that of the balance sheets of families of households and the balance sheets of small businesses so that they can face and overcome the challenges that we are going to face.”
Mr Morrison also took aim at the Labor Party’s housing policy, announced at the party’s campaign launch in Perth on Sunday.
This will allow the government to take up to 40 percent in first-time buyers’ properties, to help them enter the market. It looks like a plan announced by Mr Morrison in 2008 – which he denied on Monday.
“I had no plan for the government to own people’s homes,” he said.
Mr Morrison said Labor’s plan would put landlords “in last place”.
‘Labour have a plan where they want the government to own your house, it’s not just that, you’re last in line when it comes to your house,’ he said.
“The bank has the first call on it. The government has second call on it, and you come last when it comes to your own home.
Earlier, Mr Morrison and Mr Rudd were mobbed as they joined hundreds of people at Eid prayers, to mark the end of Ramadan, in Parramatta, Sydney’s west.
He was there with Parramatta Liberal candidate Maria Kovacic. Mr Rudd was there with the Labor candidate, Andrew Charlton.
The government announced on Monday that it would expand access to the Commonwealth Elderly Health Card.
A further 50,000 older Australians will have access to the concession if the Coalition is re-elected, with the threshold for singles rising from $57,761 to $90,000 from July 1.
The couples threshold will also increase from $92,416 to $144,000.
Labor said it would match the pledge.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese, meanwhile, joined thousands of union members marching in Brisbane on Labor Day, as the party promised higher wages and more secure jobs if it wins the May 21 election .
“We’ve been through a really tough couple of years and essential workers… have kept this country going through this tough time,” Mr Albanese said.
“You deserve more than thanks. You deserve a government that cares about workplace safety. You deserve a government that wants to raise your salary.
Addressing the media and a small United Workers Union crowd before the march, Mr Albanese attacked the stagnation of wages over the past decade under the coalition government.
“Our plan for safer work today will be a May Day and Labor Day theme, a day when we celebrate that workers have fought to win wages and conditions over a very long time” , did he declare.
“The simple principle we celebrate today is a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.”
But Mr Albanese and his industrial relations spokesman Tony Burke were unable to answer questions about what the party would accept as a benchmark for real wage growth.
“Anytime things go up, except wages, there’s a simple benchmark,” Burke said.
“I’ve been pretty clear, people can’t keep rolling back on their pay and conditions.”
Labor has pledged to convene a jobs summit as one of their first actions if they form government in May and draft a white paper on ‘full employment’.