Lowe bought house with taxpayer help

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Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe paid off his eastern Sydney house with the aid of a heavily discounted, taxpayer subsidised mortgage, it has been revealed.

Mr Lowe’s five-bedroom home in Randwick, purchased in 1997 for $1.075m – the same year he was appointed head of the RBA’s economic research department – was aided by a half-price loan from the RBA, Sky News revealed.

According to Sky News, Dr Lowe took out two loans to purchase his Randwick property, including $241,000 loaned by the Reserve Bank.

The broadcaster reported his interest rate was locked at half the standard variable rate being paid by Commonwealth Bank customers under the scheme.

An RBA spokesperson confirmed Dr Lowe had repaid his loans a number of years ago, that he did not have a borrowing facility with the RBA, and all financial disclosures are correct.

Tax-payer subsidised mortgages for RBA employers were relatively common place until the Officers’ Home Advances Scheme was scrapped in 2001. News Corp Australia in 2003 revealed around a quarter of RBA employers were receiving subsidised mortgages at the time.

The RBA spokesperson said there are currently 11 loans remaining on the scheme, totalling $300,000.

RBA Governor Philip Lowe purchased his Randwick home for $1.075m in 1997. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Nikki ShortRBA Governor Philip Lowe purchased his Randwick home for $1.075m in 1997. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Nikki Short

Dr Lowe last year admitted he no longer had a mortgage.

“I’ve lived in my house for more than 25 years and over those 25 years, I’m in the fortunate position of having paid it off,” he said last February – before the 10 consecutive hikes.

The revelation of the reserve bank boss’ discount mortgage came one day after Dr Lowe handed down the tenth consecutive interest rate hike, and as at least 880,000 Australians begin to brace for a “fixed-rate mortgage cliff” when they move to variable loans this year.

He suggested on Wednesday the central bank may soon be able to pause interest rate hikes as inflation falls from its peak.

Dr Lowe, who has worked for the central bank since 1980 – and currently earns about $1m a year – has repeatedly come under fire for telling Australians in 2021 there would be no interest rate hikes until 2024.

He has conceded the board made an “embarrassing error”.

Earlier, Dr Lowe said the RBA was looking to soon pause interest rate rises. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary RamageEarlier, Dr Lowe said the RBA was looking to soon pause interest rate rises. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage

Following a speech to the AFR Business Summit on Wednesday, Dr Lowe would not be drawn on whether the rate hikes were putting a strain on his own hip pocket.

He laughed off the question, but acknowledged people who were feeling the brunt of the interest rate hikes were those on the lower end of the income scale.

“I’m just one person in 26 million. So, my personal, um, circumstances, aren’t going to affect the aggregate, are they?” Dr Lowe said in response.

“It’s difficult because monetary policy is falling unevenly across the community and the people who have been most affected are people who have borrowed in recent times and having to pay a higher mortgage payment.”

Dr Lowe’s seven-year tenure as governor is set to expire on September 17, with Treasurer Jim Chalmers yet to decide whether he will reappoint him.

Read related topics:Reserve BankSydney

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