As it happened: RBA lifts interest rates to 10-year high; PM’s COVID diagnosis delays energy price talks

Key posts

  • Today’s headlines
  • Reserve Bank lifts interest rates to 10-year high
  • No delay in energy relief, PM says
  • Albanese says he’s ‘not 100 per cent but doing OK’ after COVID diagnosis
  • National cabinet to meet virtually Friday
  • Show us power price plan before national cabinet: NSW energy minister
  • Cap price of power now, voters tell Albanese
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Today’s headlines

Thank you for reading our live coverage of the day’s events. Here’s a wrap of the major headlines today:

  • The Reserve Bank has raised interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point to 3.1 per cent, taking the official cash rate to its highest level in 10 years.
  • RBA governor Philip Lowe said the board expects to continue raising interest rates next year.
  • Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says he’s “not 100 per cent but doing OK” after testing positive to COVID-19 yesterday. He is isolating at Kirribilli House in Sydney.
  • The national cabinet meeting of state and territory leaders has been pushed back to Friday. Regarding relief to energy bills, Albanese said the rescheduled meeting “will have no impact on any price, or on any decisions which are made that we’ll be dealing with”.
  • A teenager has died from meningococcal disease, NSW Health says, after she attended Spilt Milk music festival in Canberra last month.
  • Westpac, NAB and Suncorp Bank have all said they will pass on the latest official interest rate increase to mortgage customers.

    This is Sarah McPhee signing off. Enjoy your evening, and please join us again from tomorrow morning as Broede Carmody leads the day’s coverage.

    NAB, Suncorp to increase mortgage rates after RBA rise

    National Australia Bank and Suncorp Bank have joined Westpac in saying they will pass on the latest 0.25 percentage point increase in official interest rates to mortgage customers.

    NAB announced the change this afternoon. It will take effect on December 16, following Westpac’s move to also pass on the latest official rate rise to home loan customers in full.

    NAB did not announce changes to its savings interest rates, saying: “NAB’s savings and term deposit rates are continually under review.”

    Suncorp said its interest rate rise would take effect on December 15.

    Westpac first major bank to raise rates after RBA

    Westpac is the first major bank to pass on the Reserve Bank’s increase in the cash rate to home loan customers, raising mortgage rates by 0.25 percentage points.

    The country’s second-biggest mortgage lender is also lifting some deposit rates, saying it would raise bonus interest rates by 0.25 percentage points, and it would increase a deposit offer aimed at younger customers.

    Westpac this afternoon said it would increase rates for home loan customers by 0.25 percentage points, and the change would be effective from December 20.

    The move comes after the Reserve Bank’s increased the cash rate from 2.85 per cent to 3.1 per cent, and warned that it expected rates would climb higher to combat high inflation.

    The chief executive of consumer and business banking at Westpac, Chris de Bruin, said customers were paying extra attention to the lead-up to Christmas, and he acknowledged some would face a degree of stress.

    “While the majority of our customers are managing well through this cycle with a strong jobs market and savings built up during the pandemic, we understand some customers may find it more difficult. We have an experienced customer support team ready to work with each customer one-on-one to offer help if they are in a tough spot,” said de Bruin.

    The bank is raising bonus interest rates by 0.25 percentage points on one of its savings accounts. It also said the rate that customers aged between 18 and 29 could earn on one of its savings products would increase by 0.35 percentage points.

    Teen who died from meningococcal attended Spilt Milk festival

    A teenager who died from meningococcal had attended the Spilt Milk festival in Canberra.

    In a statement, NSW Health confirmed a woman in her late teens had recently died from the disease.

    “This is the third death due to meningococcal disease in NSW this year,” the department said.

    “NSW Health expresses its sincere condolences to her loved ones.”

    This masthead has confirmed the teenager had attended the Spilt Milk music festival.

    NSW Health describes meningococcal as a “serious, sometimes fatal illness” that causes meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) and/or blood poisoning.

    Symptoms can include a rash of red-purple spots or bruises, sudden onset fever, neck stiffness, joint pain, nausea and vomiting.

    ACT Health issued a warning on Saturday for festival attendees to be alert for symptoms after the event at Exhibition Park in Canberra on November 26.

    A man from Sydney, aged in his 40s, who had attended the Splendour in the Grass festival died in August from the disease.

    Morrison wants to overturn cabinet secrecy bid in robo-debt hearing

    Former prime minister Scott Morrison is fighting to use secret cabinet documents to firm up his defence before he fronts the robo-debt royal commission next week.

    A closed hearing has been scheduled for Thursday after Morrison’s lawyer said his client’s “reputation is on the line” during a day in which it was revealed government solicitors advised the scheme was illegal, and advice was prepared for the former prime minister’s department that it should change the law.

    Barrister Dr James Renwick said a public interest immunity claim over cabinet material would cause “enormous practical difficulties” and could prevent Morrison, who was social services minister in 2015 when robo-debt was being devised, from being treated fairly by the commission.

    “The Commonwealth is standing in the way of you fully investigating all matters. It also affects Mr Morrison’s interests, which need to be vindicated,” Renwick said, adding his client was “entitled to put his best foot forward.”

    “His reputation is on the line, and he is entitled to answer the [compulsory] notice in a complete fashion.”

    The commissioner, former Queensland Supreme Court chief justice Catherine Holmes, questioned why Morrison needed to cabinet material and said she had to weigh up Morrison’s interests against the public interest in keeping cabinet documentation secret.

    Read the full story here.

    ACCC takes Telstra to Federal Court for allegedly ‘misleading’ customers

    Australia’s competition regulator is suing Telstra in the Federal Court for allegedly misrepresenting internet speeds to customers of its cut-price brand Belong.

    The ACCC alleges that Australia’s largest retailer of telephone and data services, Telstra, made misleading or false representations about upload speeds to residential broadband customers of Belong.

    The ACCC has instituted Federal Court action against Telstra for allegedly misleading consumers.Credit:AFR

    In a statement put out by the ACCC, they claim that Telstra migrated nearly 9000 customers who were on a Belong NBN plan with a maximum download speed of 100 megabits per second (Mbps) and a maximum upload speed of 40Mbps, to a service with a maximum upload speed of 20Mbps.

    “We allege 8897 consumers who signed up to a Belong NBN plan between May 2017 and October 2020 were affected by this change and deprived of the opportunity to make an informed decision about their internet service,” Carver said.

    Read the full story here.

    Rate rise will ‘dampen the Christmas cheer’: Taylor

    Shadow treasurer Angus Taylor says today’s interest rate rise will “dampen the Christmas cheer” for millions of Australian households, and criticised the government for having “no clear plan” on reducing energy cost pressures.

    “All Australians want, as they approach Christmas, is to know that the government has a plan and has their back. That’s not what they’re seeing,” Taylor said in Canberra this afternoon.

    Asked what the federal opposition would do differently, he said they would lay out a plan that did not leave the Reserve Bank “carrying a heavy can” and would not have introduced “toxic” industrial relations legislation, “which will only make the situation worse”.

    “It’s a narrow pathway next year, a very narrow pathway to make sure that we remain with a strong economy,” he said.

    Taylor also wished Prime Minister Anthony Albanese a speedy recovery from COVID-19.

    Mortgage calculator: How much extra will your repayments cost?

    Official interest rates have lifted for an eighth consecutive month. What exactly does that mean for mortgage holders?

    In the mortgage calculator below, enter your loan amount, the length of your loan, your existing interest rate, then click the +0.25 per cent rise for December to get your extra monthly repayment.

    Calculations are based on monthly fixed interest rate increases on principal loan amount excluding requisite monthly repayments, adjustments to repayment amounts, or additional repayment instalments.

    Lenders make individual choices on what is passed on from the RBA so check with your lender.

    Watch back: Shadow treasurer Angus Taylor responds to rate hike

    Shadow treasurer Angus Taylor spoke at Parliament House at 3.30pm AEDT. We will have a playback video of that press conference below.

    Treasurer promises energy price plan by Christmas

    Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the government is committed to having a plan to reduce power prices ahead of Christmas, despite the Prime Minister’s current case of COVID-19.

    “We’ve made it clear that we intend to intervene in that market in a temporary, responsible and meaningful way,” Chalmers said.

    “We need to take the sting out of these energy price rises on behalf of industries and Australians right around the country. That remains our objective. We intend to make our position clear and our plans clear in this area by Christmas, obviously with the Prime Minister laid up as he is with COVID. He’s still working very hard to get to this outcome.”

    Treasurer Jim Chalmers speaking in Sydney on Tuesday afternoon.Credit:Janie Barrett

    National Cabinet was meant to meet tomorrow to discuss potential price caps on gas and coal prices.

    Queensland and NSW have warned that cap on coal would hit state coffers, and asked for Commonwealth funding to replace the lost tax revenue.

    The meeting has been moved to Friday afternoon.

    Chalmers said the government was “prepared to negotiate” with the states to work out a unified position to tackle energy prices.

    “We’ve made it clear that all options are on the table. We would prefer where possible, a regulatory response here. But we’ve said that we are prepared to consider other options as well, including if there’s a case for some responsible contribution from the Commonwealth then obviously that will be part of a conversation,” he said.

    “Obviously when it comes to coal, there’s a greater role for the states in when it comes to the regulatory and other levers. And so we’re engaging with them in good faith.”

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