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MAIN CONTRIBUTORS TO CHANGE
FINANCIAL AND INSURANCE SERVICES (-6.3%)
The major contributor to the decrease in financial and insurance services was deposit and loan facilities (-14.1%). Other financial services (+0.6%) and insurance services (+2.8%) provided offsetting increases.
There was a fall in the prices of services charged by financial institutions including services where prices are principally derived from interest-rate margins. Interest rates have decreased significantly since September quarter 2008 and the impact on prices varied across the range of products covered in the CPI. For more detail on the calculation of prices of financial services, please see the appendix in the June quarter 2008 publication.
Over the twelve months to March quarter 2009, the financial and insurance services group fell 1.4%, driven by a 6.0% fall in deposit and loan facilities that was offset by a 10.3% rise in insurance services.
Most categories of food rose this quarter. The most significant contributors were vegetables (+6.0%), take away and fast foods (+1.7%), fruit (+3.3%), snacks and confectionery (+2.4%) and restaurant meals (+1.2%) which recorded rises in most capital cities.
The rise in vegetables resulted mainly from adverse weather conditions, which caused supply issues for a number of vegetables. Seasonal factors also contributed to the increase in the price of vegetables and fruits.
Over the twelve months to March quarter 2009, the food group rose 5.7%, with strong positive movements in all capital cities. The increase was predominantly due to price rises in take away and fast foods (+6.3%), restaurant meals (+4.6%) and fruit (+7.9%).
The main contributor to the increase in health costs this quarter was pharmaceuticals (+13.0%), with smaller contributions from hospital and medical services (+2.3%) and dental services (+1.8%).
Pharmaceuticals prices rose as a result of the cyclical reduction in the proportion of consumers who qualify for subsidised medications under the Pharmaceuticals Benefit Scheme at the start of each calendar year.
The rise in the net cost of hospital and medical services was mainly due to the cyclical reduction in the proportion of consumers who qualify for subsidies for out-of-hospital medical expenses under the Medicare Plus safety net at the start of each calendar year.
Over the twelve months to March quarter 2009, the health group rose 5.3% due to increases in hospital and medical services (+6.8%), dental services (+4.7%) and pharmaceuticals (+2.6%).
The main contributor to the decrease in transportation costs this quarter was the fall in the price of automotive fuel (-8.1%). This was slightly offset by an increase in the price of motor vehicles of 1.3%. This increase in motor vehicles follows a decrease of 2.4% in the December quarter 2008. All other categories in transportation rose, with the most significant contributions being from urban transport fares (+3.3%), motor vehicle repair and servicing (+1.1%), motor vehicle parts and accessories (+2.7%) and other motoring charges (+0.6%).
Automotive fuel recorded three consecutive monthly falls in October (-1.7%), November (-17.4%) and December (-13.5%), before rising in January (+2.5%) and February (+11.4%), then falling again in March (-3.7%).
The following graph shows the pattern of the average daily prices for unleaded petrol for the eight capital cities over the last fifteen months.
Over the twelve months to March quarter 2009, the transportation group fell 4.6%, with the main contributors being automotive fuel (-16.7%) and motor vehicles (-1.9%). Some offsetting increases were provided by motor vehicle repair (+4.1%), motor vehicle parts and accessories (+7.1%), other motoring charges (+4.7%) and urban transport fares (+5.3%).
Most categories of housing recorded price rises this quarter. Rents (+1.7%), electricity (+3.6%) and house repairs and maintenance (+1.7%) were the main contributors to the increase. The only offsetting price fall was in house purchase (-0.5%).
Average rents rose in every capital city, ranging from 4.0% in Darwin to 1.3% in Adelaide.
Through the year to March quarter 2009, the housing group rose 5.5%, mainly due to rents (+8.1%), house purchase (+2.0%) and electricity (+7.7%).
EDUCATION GROUP (+5.4%)
All education indexes rose in the March quarter, with the commencement of the new school year. Secondary education rose 7.6%, preschool and primary education rose 6.6% and tertiary education rose 3.2%.
Secondary education was the main contributor, mainly due to wide-spread fee increases. Both preschool and primary education fees rose with providers reporting that rises were to cover increases in wages and other operating costs.
Through the year to March quarter 2009, the education group rose 5.0%.
The fall in recreation was mainly due to domestic holiday travel and accommodation (-5.1%) and overseas holiday travel and accommodation (-4.0%). The major offset was provided by audio, visual and computing media and services (+4.7%).
Through the year to March quarter 2009, the recreation rose 0.5%. This rise was mainly due to other recreational activities (+6.4%) and overseas holiday travel and accommodation (+3.4%). Audio, visual and computing equipment (-10.4%) provided the major offset.
ALCOHOL AND TOBACCO (+1.0%)
The alcohol and tobacco group recorded a rise of 1.0% in the March 2009 quarter.
Rises in tobacco (+1.9%), spirits (+1.9%) and beer (+0.5%) were due to the effects of the federal excise tax increase from 1 February 2009, as well as general price increases and the cessation of specials in some cities.
A decrease in wine (-0.7%) was mainly a result of price reductions and store specials in most cities.
Through the year to March quarter 2009 the alcohol and tobacco group rose 5.7%.
HOUSEHOLD CONTENTS AND SERVICES (+0.8%)
Most expenditure classes in the household contents and services group recorded rises this quarter, with the most significant being toiletries and personal care products (+1.6%) and other household supplies (+1.6%). The largest offsetting falls were in glassware, tableware and household utensils (-3.0%) and towels and linen (-2.8%).
The rise in toiletries and personal care products was due to price increases and discontinuation of specials in most cities. The rise in other household supplies was due to price rises in all capital cities.
Through the year to March quarter 2009, the household contents and services group rose 1.9%, with positive movements in all capital cities. The increase was predominantly due to rises in other household supplies (+5.2%) and furniture (+2.4%). Child care (-18.5%) recorded the largest annual negative movement due to the increase to the Child Care Tax Rebate implemented in September quarter 2008.
CLOTHING AND FOOTWEAR (-0.5%)
The fall in clothing and footwear prices this quarter was mainly due to a fall in women's footwear (-3.7%), children and infants clothing (-2.6%) and men's outerwear (-2.1%). Women's outerwear (+1.5%) provided the most significant offset displaying rises in all capital cities except Adelaide and Perth.
Over the twelve months to March quarter 2009, the clothing and footwear index rose 2.1%. The increase was mainly due to rises in accessories (+7.6%) and men's outerwear (+2.4%).
The rise in communication costs was due to increases in the cost of telecommunication (+0.4%).
Through the year to March quarter 2009, communication rose 1.0%.
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