Australia news LIVE: RBA to make rates decision; Sally Rugg and Monique Ryan return to court

Key posts

  • Westpac boss says rate rises ‘blunt tool’
  • RBA’s message changing as rate rises keep coming
  • Russia’s mercenary chief warns of frontline collapse
  • This morning’s headlines
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Westpac boss says rate rises ‘blunt tool’

Staying with interest rate rises, as the Westpac boss says the rises hit some Australians harder than others.

The bank’s top economist suggested the next federal budget should include handouts for vulnerable households that were struggling financially.

As financial markets bet the Reserve Bank will raise interest rates again today King described rate rises as a “very blunt tool,” which were adding to the pain caused by the rising cost of living.

“Prices are through the roof, interest rates are going up, and depending on where you sit there will be opportunities to grow and prosper, or you may need to adjust to survive. So the impacts will be felt in a very uneven way,” King said in a speech to bank customers in Sydney.

The full story on this issue is available here.

RBA’s message changing as rate rises keep coming

As the Reserve Bank of Australia’s board is set to meet, here’s a snippet from senior economics correspondent Shane Wright’s analysis of the bank’s changing message:

The Reserve Bank has gone from believing it could gently bring down inflation with moderate interest rate rises to fearing it will lose the battle to prevent a nationwide breakout in prices and wages.

Before its March meeting on Tuesday, at which the RBA board is expected to agree on a record 10th consecutive increase in official interest rates to 3.6 per cent, regular commentary by bank governor Philip Lowe shows how much the institution’s views have changed as inflation pressures have intensified.

After maintaining as late as November 2021 that no rate rises were likely until 2024, Lowe caught many borrowers by surprise when the bank lifted them from a record-low 0.1 per cent to 0.35 per cent in May last year.

Read the full analysis here. 

Russia’s mercenary chief warns of frontline collapse

In the latest update to the war in Ukraine, the head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary force warned that Russia’s position around the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut was in peril unless his troops got ammunition.

It’s the latest sign of tension between the Kremlin and the private militia chief.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the owner of the Wagner Group military company, has complained about a lack of support from Moscow.Credit:AP

Ukrainian military officials and analysts also reported leaders of Russia’s 155th Brigade fighting near the town of Vuhledar, south of Bakhmut, were resisting orders to attack after sustaining severe losses in attempts to capture it.

For its part, the Russian Defence Ministry on Sunday (Russian time) said Russian forces hit a command centre of the Ukrainian Azov Regiment in south-eastern Zaporizhzhia region. The ministry did not elaborate on the attack.

Reuters could not independently verify the battlefield accounts.

Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin said Russia’s front lines near Bakhmut would could collapse if his forces did not receive the ammunition promised by Moscow in February.

More from Reuters on the clash between the Kremlin and the Wagner mercenary chief here.

This morning’s headlines

Good morning, and thanks for your company.

It’s Tuesday, March 7. I’m Caroline Schelle, and I’ll be anchoring our live coverage for the first half of the day.

Here’s what you need to know before we get started:

  • More coal, gas and critical minerals such as lithium will be shipped to India, as part of government plans to expand upon more than $24 billion in annual exports.
  • Australia faces the threat of war with China according to a panel of security experts.
  • The Reserve Bank of Australia board is set to meet today, which is expected to increase rates for a 10th time.
  • Turning to the Voice to parliament referendum, with Greens and an independent calling for the official pamphlet on the topic to be fact-checked before it’s mailed out to voters.
  • In Victoria, teal MP Monique Ryan and her estranged chief-of-staff Sally Rugg will return to court over a dispute about unreasonable working hours.
  • In NSW, where the Coalition will bring forward its free pre-kindergarten program part of its election pledge.
  • To the latest in world news, where the head of a Russian mercenary force clashed with the Kremlin over ammunition.
  • Meanwhile, in the US where resistance to a ban on social media app TikTok is growing in Washington.
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