Albanese names RBA successor for Lowe

RBA Jim Chalmers interest rates Phil Lowe

14 July 2023
| By Laura Dew |
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Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has announced the successor for Philip Lowe at the Reserve Bank of Australia.

Earlier today, Money Management reported that Lowe was unlikely to be re-appointed for another term. 

Following a meeting with Cabinet, Albanese has now confirmed deputy RBA governor, Michele Bullock, as the successor. 

She will be the first female governor of the RBA and will take up the role from 18 September with a new deputy governor being appointed in due course.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers noted she will now be involved in implementing the changes to the bank following its independent review.

He said: "Michele Bullock has made it very clear to us that part of her role is to make sure that we can implement, in the best possible way, the recommendations of the Reserve Bank Review. We’ve had a number of conversations about that and I know that [she] is committed to the review process, as am I.

“She brings that experience and expertise but also that heft and gravitas which will actually be a really important asset when it comes to a relationship with the various RBA boards and in implementing the review. She has the best combination of attributes to help us do that.”

Commenting on the appointment, Lowe said: "The Treasurer has made a first-rate appointment. I congratulate Michele on being appointed Governor. The Reserve Bank is in very good hands as it deals with the current inflation challenge and implementing the recommendations of the Review of the RBA. I wish Michele all the best."

Bullock said: "I am deeply honoured to have been appointed to this important position. It is a challenging time to be coming into this role, but I will be supported by a strong executive team and boards. I am committed to ensuring that the Reserve Bank delivers on its policy and operational objectives for the benefit of the Australian people."

Other possible candidates in the frame had included Finance Department secretary Jenny Wilkinson and Treasury secretary Steven Kennedy. 

Former deputy governor, Guy Debelle, had previously been expected to be the natural successor to Lowe but he left the RBA  to take up a chief financial officer role at Fortescue Metals Group which he then left in November 2022 for health reasons after suffering a bicycle accident.

Lowe has faced criticism this year over his insistence to raise interest rates with rates having lifted from 0.1 per cent to 4.1 per cent since last year. 

This is in an effort to control inflation which was 5.6 per cent in the year to May and rose as high as 7 per cent last year. The RBA’s target inflation range is 2-3 per cent.

He had also stated that rates would not rise until at least 2024 which turned out to be incorrect. 

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Submitted by Anon on Fri, 2023-07-14 10:32

World's worst kept secret...

Submitted by Greg on Fri, 2023-07-14 10:55

Another institutionalized RBA staffer , we need change in the RBA not more of the same. we need someone from the private sector

I really don't think recruiting someone from the private sector would make any difference. Governments around the world have been pumping up their economies with excess liquidity. Now comes the hangover. A Labor foot soldier like Bernie Fraser might have had enough influence on the reconstituted RBA board (or not) to implement monetary policies more in line with Labor's expansionary fiscal policies but the end result would only be worse. Interesting days.

Submitted by Graeme Bennett on Fri, 2023-07-14 13:50

I can only wish Ms Bullock well. Next in line to be Chalmers' scapegoat I suspect.

Lowe will likely be supportive of her. He will no longer be constrained by his role and may find reasons to criticise various Labor policies. My guess is he may bring on further rises in interest rates prior to the end of his term to spare the newby the embarrassment but after that the new governor will likely follow the same recipes in the central bankers' cookbook as Lowe. Any criticisms from Labor may be commentated on by a cranky citizen Lowe.

I would wonder whether Labor has thought this through but you would know I was being disingenuous.

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