Treasurer Wayne Swan has urged the big banks not to ignore the Reserve Bank and raise interest rates.

The RBA decided to keep rates steady at 4.5 per cent, but speculation is mounting over whether the big four will increase rates anyway.

Andrew Cook reports.

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The RBA’s decision to keep interest rates steady surprised many investors who were tipping a 0.25 per cent increase.

But Treasurer Wayne Swan has cautioned the big four banks not jump ahead of the RBA by increasing their rates.

Wayne Swan, federal treasurer: “The banks are making healthy very, very healthy profits and I don’t believe there is any justification what-so-ever for the major banks to move over and above any Reserve Bank decision.”

Today also marked the end of Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s trip to Belgium for the Asia-Europe meeting.

And while she says it was productive she admits taking care of foreign affairs is not how she wants to spend her time.

Julia Gillard, Prime Minister: “Given the choice I’d probably be in an Australian classroom talking to a teacher and watching some kids learning to read.”

Meanwhile Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has issued an apology over using jet-lag as an excuse not visit Australian troops in Afghanistan.

Tony Abbott, Opposition Leader: “Look it was a very poor choice of words on my part and I apologise if I have created the wrong impression and I apologise if I have given offence.”

Mr Abbott is also in Europe this week, meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron.

And while he won’t be visiting troops on his way home he says it’s only a matter of time.

Andrew Cook, QUT News.