I was just watching the Liberal scare ad on interest rates and it struck me that there was a gap in the history between Whitlam and Hawke. What was happening in those eight years?
Suddenly, like a bad memory recovered in therapy, it came back to me. I was paying 13 per cent interest on my mortgage, and the Treasurer was a little guy with big eyebrows. What was his name? Can someone remember? Will this Reserve Bank graph job jog any memories?
UpdateCommenter Peter Martin points to this series on the 90-day cash rate (Excel file) At the kind suggestion of commenter “George”, I’ve made a graph of this series, which goes from the Gorton government to the present day.
The all-time record for high interest rates (23 per cent) goes to the “short sharp squeeze” under the Whitlam government, but Howard, as Treasurer, managed a creditable second place with 21.4 per cent in April 1982.
The peak for Hawke-Keating was 18 per cent under in 1989, but by 1993, interest rates had already fallen back to historically low levels. The oft-repeated claim of Howard-Costello to have lowered interest rates shows up here as completely spurious. A more accurate statement of their achievement would be “preserving the low interest rates we inherited”.