RBA Governor calls on banks to help post-COVID-19 recovery

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on May 21, 2020
RBA Governor calls on banks to help post-COVID-19 recovery

Image source: Newtown grafitti, Flickr

Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe has called on Australia's banks to not be afraid to lend, as Australians begin to move out of COVID-19 restrictions.

Speaking via Webinar in a special session of Australia's financial regulators, Dr Lowe reiterated the importance of banks and lenders using their existing capital and liquidity buffers to help the Australian economy. 

These buffers, strictly compulsory under Australian banking laws, essentially act as rainy day funds for the banks to keep topped up for use in case of an emergency.    

"If there was ever a time to allow these buffers to be used, now is that time," Dr Lowe said. 

"We should not expect to see capital buffers be maintained during a once-in-a-century shock.

"These buffers have been built up to be utilised in events such as this, and some reduction in capital ratios is entirely appropriate as lenders support their customers through this difficult period."

Buying a home or looking to refinance? The table below features home loans with some of the lowest variable interest rates on the market for owner occupiers.

Lender
Advertised rate Comparison rate* Monthly repayment Rate TypeOffsetRedrawOngoing FeeUpfront FeesLVRLump Sum RepaymentAdditional RepaymentsPre-approval

VariableMore details
LIMITED TIME OFFER

Smart Booster Home Loan Discounted Variable - 2yr (LVR < 80%)

  • Fast turnaround times, can meet 30-day settlement
  • For purchase and refinance, min 20% deposit
  • No ongoing or monthly fees, add offset for 0.10%
LIMITED TIME OFFER

Smart Booster Home Loan Discounted Variable - 2yr (LVR < 80%)

  • Fast turnaround times, can meet 30-day settlement
  • For purchase and refinance, min 20% deposit
  • No ongoing or monthly fees, add offset for 0.10%
VariableMore details
ZERO APPLICATION FEESFEE FREE OFFSET

Owner Occupier Accelerates - Celebrate (LVR < 60%) (Principal and Interest)

  • We lower your rate based off how much you’ve paid down your loan
  • Automatic rate match
  • No upfront or ongoing fees
ZERO APPLICATION FEESFEE FREE OFFSET

Owner Occupier Accelerates - Celebrate (LVR < 60%) (Principal and Interest)

  • We lower your rate based off how much you’ve paid down your loan
  • Automatic rate match
  • No upfront or ongoing fees
FixedMore details
USE A MARKET LEADING APP TO HELP YOU PAY OFF YOUR LOAN SOONER

Fixed Home Loan 1 year (Principal and Interest) (LVR < 80%)

  • Make up to $20,000 additional repayments per fixed term
  • Redraw available – lets you access any extra loan repayments you’ve made
  • Choose to rate lock for 90 days (fee applies)
USE A MARKET LEADING APP TO HELP YOU PAY OFF YOUR LOAN SOONER

Fixed Home Loan 1 year (Principal and Interest) (LVR < 80%)

  • Make up to $20,000 additional repayments per fixed term
  • Redraw available – lets you access any extra loan repayments you’ve made
  • Choose to rate lock for 90 days (fee applies)
VariableMore details
REFINANCE IN MINUTES, NOT WEEKS

Variable Owner Occupied, Principal and Interest (Refinance Only)(LVR <75%)

  • No application or ongoing fees.
  • 100% free offset sub account.
  • Fast online application, approval in minutes not weeks.
  • Mobile app, Visa debit card, Apple and Google Pay
  • Refinance loans and variable rates only.
REFINANCE IN MINUTES, NOT WEEKS

Variable Owner Occupied, Principal and Interest (Refinance Only)(LVR <75%)

  • No application or ongoing fees.
  • 100% free offset sub account.
  • Fast online application, approval in minutes not weeks.
  • Mobile app, Visa debit card, Apple and Google Pay
  • Refinance loans and variable rates only.

Rates correct as of January 22, 2022. View disclaimer.

Dr Lowe spoke on behalf of the Council of Financial Regulators, which includes the likes of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), the Australian Treasury and the RBA.

"We are living through the biggest and the most sudden economic contraction since the 1930s," he said. 

"Last week we had a stark reminder of the very human cost of these efforts, with almost 600,000 jobs lost in April and more than 750,000 Australians on zero hours. All up, total hours worked in Australia fell by an unprecedented 9 per cent in April.

"One obvious source of uncertainty is the pace at which the various restrictions are eased. The faster that the restrictions can be lifted safely, the sooner and stronger the economic bounce-back will be and the less economic scarring will take place."

He said it is important that banks continue to support the flow of credit into the economy, as consumer confidence does not appear to be high despite the economy beginning to reopen, and that people have large degrees of uncertainty about the health of their own finances. 

"It is interesting that the initial evidence is that countries that have had fewer restrictions are also experiencing very large contractions in economic activity," he said. 

"This suggests that voluntary decisions that people have made in response to the uncertainty about their health and their finances is also playing a major role.

"In the face of this uncertainty, people have been reluctant to go out and spend and businesses have been reluctant to invest."

Dr Lowe also said there's a limit to what can be achieved through monetary policy, such as cash rate cuts, highlighting the important role Australia's financial institutions have to play in helping the economy emerge from COVID-19. 

"As part of this effort, it is both understandable and desirable that lenders draw on the buffers that were built up in better times," he said. 

"It is in the banks' own interest and in the interest of the broader Australian community that banks support their customers now and also support them in the recovery phase when credit will be needed so that businesses can once again expand."


APRA Chairman Wayne Byres shared Dr Lowe's opinion, and said that the strength of Australia's financial system has been critical to its COVID-19 response. 

"That strength is the product of a concerted and persistent effort by the industry, reinforced by regulators, to build-up resilience during the good times," Mr Byres said. 

"The age-old adage of saving for a rainy day is never more apt than now. We’re glad we did it, even though it wasn’t always easy or popular at the time."

ASIC Chair James Shipton meanwhile said it expects banks and lenders to continue to treat customers fairly during and after the COVID-19 crisis. 

"There has never been a greater need for the financial services industry to live up to the professional expectations of the community," he said.

"More than ever before, we – and the community – expect financial services professionals to perform their crucial roles competently and conscientiously."

Australian banks have already done a lot to support Australians during the coronavirus crisis, with the Australian Banking Association (ABA) reporting that its 22 member banks have deferred payments of nearly half a million mortgages.

In total, ABA member banks have deferred a total of 643,000 loans worth more than $200 billion. 


Disclaimers

The entire market was not considered in selecting the above products. Rather, a cut-down portion of the market has been considered. Some providers' products may not be available in all states. To be considered, the product and rate must be clearly published on the product provider's web site. Savings.com.au, yourmortgage.com.au, yourinvestmentpropertymag.com.au, and Performance Drive are part of the Savings Media group. In the interests of full disclosure, the Savings Media Group are associated with the Firstmac Group. To read about how Savings Media Group manages potential conflicts of interest, along with how we get paid, please visit the web site links at the bottom of this page.

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author-avatar
William Jolly joined Savings.com.au as a Financial Journalist in 2018, after spending two years at financial research firm Canstar. In William's articles, you're likely to find complex financial topics and products broken down into everyday language. He is deeply passionate about improving the financial literacy of Australians and providing them with resources on how to save money in their everyday lives.

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