Former RBA governor passes away

RBA central banks Jim Chalmers Reserve Bank of Australia

22 March 2023
| By Laura Dew |
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Former governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, Robert Johnston, has died, aged 98.

Johnston led the Reserve Bank (RBA) from 1982 to 1989 during the Hawke-Keating years, which included the deregulation of the banking system and the floating of the Australian dollar. 

He first joined the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), the precursor to the RBA, in 1940 before going to serve in World War II and returning in 1946. 

In 1957, he was appointed assistant secretary and contributed to the migration of the CBA into the RBA. He later spent time as the RBA’s representative in London and in Washington, DC, and was appointed governor in 1982. 
In 1986, he was made a Companion of the Order of Australia for his services to banking. 

Johnston was succeeded by Bernie Fraser, who held the governor post from 1989 to 1996.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers said: “Bob was a truly great Australian. He dedicated his life to the service of Australia’s people and the transformation of the Australian economy.

“As governor of the RBA from 1982 to 1989, Bob oversaw some of the most significant economic reforms in Australia’s history.

“In what would be a defining decade for our nation in the Hawke-Keating years of the 1980s, Bob led the Bank through the floating of the Australian dollar, the deregulation of the banking system and helped shape the RBA into an important and respected institution in Australia’s finance landscape.”

A statement from the RBA said: “Johnston is remembered for his sound judgement, integrity and enduring commitment to the advancement of Australia’s central bank. The Reserve Bank Board and staff extend their sincere condolences to his family”.


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