It’s sorta like the recession we had to have, but the language is a little more diplomatic.

The Prime Minister and the Treasurer have told us this morning that interest rates simply had to rise because the economy is so good.

When they finally got together, that was. At first just the Treasurer was going to do a presser at 10:00 in the Blue Room. Then word came out that the PM was joining him too. Contradictory advisories briefly floated around. Then there was talk that some special housing affordability measure would be announced. So it was an expectant band of hacks gathered in the Prime Ministerial courtyard for a 10:15 job.

The Reserve Bank is raising interest rates by 0.25 per cent to 6.5 per cent, their highest level in ten years and the fifth rate hike since the 2004 election.

“I am aware, and the Government is aware, that this decision will hurt some homebuyers, and we’re very conscious of that,” the PM admitted. “It will have an impact on some household budgets.”

But the rate rise, he says, will be offset by tax cuts: “We were very pleased that we had a sufficiently strong budget position to provide tax relief and other benefits to families in the recent Budget which was the fifth budget in a row where the Government was able to provide taxation relief whilst still retaining a very strong fiscal surplus.”

And it was back to the central message of the day: “What this decision by the Reserve Bank does is to place economic management, once again, front and centre in the political and social debate in this country.”

Economic management – and IR.

“Changing industrial relations will put upward pressure on interest rates,” the PM said. “It will be a fundamental policy reversal that would be bad for the economy and bad for interest rate settings.”

Then it was over to his loyal deputy, who began with an ever-so-sweet “Thanks very much, John.”

“The statement released by the bank made it clear that the reason why it raised the official cash rate was that domestic economic demand had signalled a pick up in the pace of growth,” the Treasurer said. “That is that the economy is strengthening.”

The Treasurer stressed that interest rates were still lower than when the Howard Government came to office.

“The fact that after the longest continuous expansion in Australia’s history and 2.1 million jobs the official cash rate is still lower than it was when the Government was elected shows the distance we have travelled since 1996 and the improvement in economic fundamentals.”

Forget the fact that Australians have higher debts and are handing over a greater proportion of their incomes to service them than ever before.

Rates are up. You’ve never had it so good.

PS. And as for that line about the states being to blame for interest rate rises? Oh, apparently that was all Ian Macfarlane’s idea. Or so the Treasurer says. That makes about as much sense as this answer from Question Time yesterday on his opinion of the PM’s economic management skills:

Mr COSTELLO—I have lived through the best of times and the worst of times, as William Shakespeare once wrote.

An opposition member—It was Dickens.

Mr COSTELLO—Oh, I am sorry, it was Charles Dickens. I thought he wrote ‘now is the winter of our discontent’. I am reminded to quote the member for Lilley—I am reminded of that famous Australian poet, Banjo Paterson, was it not, who wrote those immortal words: ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, oi, oi, oi!’ This is someone who would not know his Shakespeare from his Dickens or his Paterson from his soccer chants. He purports to want to become the Treasurer of Australia. All I can say is, ‘some mothers do ‘ave ‘em.’

CHRISTIAN KERR  writes: ”Here’s perhaps the best pork plan for the Prime Minister to fund …”

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