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Treasurer Wayne Swan has taken aim at Australia’s biggest home lender, labelling it selfish for lifting its mortgage and business lending rates.  swan_rudd_hand_400

Other banks have refused to rule out following the Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s (CBA’s) surprise decision to lift its home and business loan rates by 10 basis points to offset higher funding costs.

The opposition said the government’s huge debt burden was putting pressure on interest rates, while a prominent market economist said it may force the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) to cut the official rate again to counter any impact from CBA’s move.

CBA said it took Friday’s decision “reluctantly”, but at a standard variable mortgage rate of 5.74 per cent, up from 5.64 per cent, it was still the lowest on the market.

The rate hike will add $18 a month to repayments on a $300,000 home loan over 25 years.

The bank said it had absorbed as much of its additional funding costs for as long as it could.

“Unfortunately, we have seen the bank’s wholesale funding costs remain high and continue to increase as previous long term funding matures and is replaced with new funding at significantly higher cost,” CBA group executive of retail banking services Ross McEwan said in a statement.

Such reasoning drew no sympathy from the treasurer.

There are ups and downs when it comes to those decisions over time, but there are few decisions I can think of that are more selfish than this one,” Mr Swan told reporters in Brisbane.

“I think Australians, rightly, will be furious with the Commonwealth Bank.”

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd echoed those sentiments during a speech to a business lunch in Brisbane.

“We are all in this together – businesses, workers, government and the Reserve Bank – and today’s decision by the Commonwealth Bank runs counter to this nationwide effort,” Mr Rudd said.

The other three major banks – ANZ, National Australia Bank and Westpac – said their rates were constantly under review.

NAB said it had no current plans to raise its home loan rate but noted “all Australian banks” had been incurring significantly higher funding costs for some time.

Opposition treasury spokesman Joe Hockey said the government was putting pressure on interest rates by running up a huge debt.

“Kevin Rudd and Wayne Swan feigned outrage about this interest rate increase, yet they are directly responsible for it,” Mr Hockey told reporters in Sydney.

“This is the beginning. You will end up with higher interest rates directly as a result of the spending binge of the Rudd government and the massive debt they are accruing.”

Home buyers may be enjoying the lowest mortgage rates in 41 years, but have already missed out on about 30 to 40 basis points of the RBA’s total 425 basis points of official rate cuts, with banks refusing to pass on the cuts in full because of the cost of funding.

For small businesses it has been even worse, being short changed by about 140 basis points.

The CBA’s decision comes in a week that saw massive boosts to both consumer and business confidence, as well as data showing sustained growth in home lending – sucked in by low mortgage rates and a more generous first home owners grant.

April mortgage data showed loan demand has grown for seven straight months to a 14-month high, as well as record demand from first home buyers and the strongest interest from investors in nearly two years.

It also showed that the banks have cornered more than 92 per cent of all loans – a 33-year high.

Westpac chief economist Bill Evans said CBA’s decision could well be countered by another cut by the RBA.

“If it does have an impact, particularly on confidence in the housing market, which has been the most encouraging source of recovery in the Australian economy, it may bring a rate cut back on the table at the Reserve Bank,” Mr Evans told Sky News

Source  :  www.thedaily.com.au

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WHILE the plunge in western suburbs property prices is common knowledge, at least one prominent millionaire is willing to test the waters.

 

Eileen Bond, ex-wife of businessman Alan Bond, wants to sell one of her plush Peppermint Grove homes.  eileen
The View St mansion, which is on the market for $6.35 million, has been used as a guesthouse for “Big Red’s” family and friends since she moved to Leake St to live behind her daughter, Jody, three years ago.

Real estate agent William Porteous said Ms Bond was downsizing and looking for something more practical.

Her daughter lives in another part of Peppermint Grove and so she bought a house directly behind her daughter’s which is just more practical for their day-to-day lives,” he said.

Jody Fewster lives with her husband, Damian, and their two sons, aged six and 10.

Ms Fewster said they had always been a close family.

We even lived in View St with her for a short time when we first came back from Sydney; it’s a fantastic house, she said.

Ms Fewster said her house was attached to her mother’s through an adjoining room and gymnasium.

We love having mum here, we have a ready-made babysitter, she said. Ms Fewster said the View St home held precious family memories.

I really miss the tennis court there, she said. At Christmas we’d all be out there playing cricket under the lights.

The classic Italianate residence has four bedrooms and four bathrooms, and a marble ensuite to the master bedroom.

It also has a swimming pool and a two-storey foyer, and is on a 1500sqm block.

Source  :  www.news.com.au

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Prominent real estate agent Michael McKenna and a Dianella settlement agent are among those who have been sentenced following an investigation into the bribing of Landgate officers.

Between them, four men were convicted of nine counts of bribery and fined $65,000.  bribes

In the District Court in Perth yesterday, Judge Kevin Sleight heard settlement agent Gordon Andrew Poulton, 66, committed two counts of bribery by placing $1000 of gift vouchers into two envelopes and addressing them to Landgate supervisors.

Judge Sleight called Poulton’s efforts “abhorrent to our system” and fined him $10,000.

McKenna received a $20,000 fine and 12 month community based order, including 80 hours of community service work, after being convicted of three counts of bribery, while another man, whose name was suppressed, was fined $10,000 for one count of bribery.

Ian Croasdale, a former Landgate officer and self-confessed impersonator of television star Kenny, was earlier fined $25,000 and received a sentence for accepting three $500 bribes.

Croasdale was a qualified cartographer who had been employed by Landgate for 31 years until the Corruption and Crime Commission brought the bribery allegations.

www.watoday.com.au

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