Fears of hike in Australian interest rates

July 29, 2006 at 11:46 AM
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SYDNEY, July 29 (UPI) -- An Australian opposition Labor Party official Saturday predicted a series of interest rate hikes in the face of rising inflation.

Labor's finance spokesman, Lindsay Tanner, told a broadcast interview the Australian Reserve Bank would raise the interest rate 0.5 percent when it meets Tuesday or "25 points next week and 25 points at some stage in the next two or three months."

The impact of such a rise "would have a devastating impact on hard-working Australian families," Tanner told an Australian Broadcasting Corp. news program.

Prime Minister John Howard argued in a separate radio interview that the Reserve Bank should not be in a rush to raise interest rates despite a surprise jump in inflation in the June quarter, mainly due to the high price of gasoline and fuel oil.

The Australian Council of Trades Unions is seeking pay increases of up to 6 percent to keep lowest-paid workers in line with inflation. That would mean an across-the-board hike of AUD30 ($22.98) a week in all minimum wage rates.

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