Interest rates a key issue
By ALEX EASTON
SHE'S a 33-year-old mum from Ocean Shores working as an accommodations officer at Byron Bay; he's a 32-year-old single bloke working in construction and living in a rental place in town.
Sonia Howe and Clinton Adams don't have much in common they'd never met before getting together for the photograph on Page 5, but they're both worried about interest rates and they're both still trying to decide who they will give their votes to when Australia goes to the polls on November 24.
And they're in good company. A new survey by The Northern Star and Tweed's Daily News shows about 15 per cent of voters in the Federal seat of Richmond are still x to decide who they will vote for, while 20 per cent share their concern about interest rates.
Ms Howe's concern about interest rates is intensified by the fact she and her partner bought their first home at Ocean Shores about six months ago. Ms Howe is also worried about climate change and the couple have a three-year-old daughter, so wants more funding for childcare.
Mr Adams said rising rates made it harder for him to buy his first place. Adding to Mr Adams' concern was that rising rates could lead to a slow-down in building activity and therefore work.
It's voters like them Prime Minister John Howard is talking to when he says interest rates will remain lower under the Coalition, as is Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd when he accuses the PM of breaking his word on interest rates six times.
The Reserve Bank has pushed rates up six times since the 2004 Federal election.
So whose message is getting through? For Ms Howe the answer is 'both'.
"I agree that the Coalition's no good with rates; but I don't think (Labor) will be any better," Ms Howe said. "Under the last Labor government interest rates did increase quite wildly."
The tricky bit both for the politicians trying to woo her and for Ms Howe in her efforts to decide how to vote is there is nothing either party can do to show they are better at managing rates, apart from just getting in and doing it.
"That does make it really hard," she agreed. "For me it's a case of time will tell.
Mr Adams said he finds Labor and the Coalition so similar he finds it hard to get excited about either of them he said he couldn't remember who he voted for in 2004.
"I think John Howard's done a good job; but it might be time for a change," Mr Adams said.