Backlash’s dig at Reserve Bank (RB) Governor Phillip Lowe is by no means the first in the media but it’s really blaming the messenger. Far be it from me to defend Lowe but I do think many people forget that the decisions he announces are made by nine members of the Reserve Bank Board.
Lowe’s entire career has been with the Reserve Bank except for a couple of years at the Bank for International Settlements. Michele Bullock joined the Reserve Bank fresh out of university and has worked there ever since.
The other seven members of the board include two who are closely associated with the right-wing think tank, the Centre for Independent Studies, along with a director of the Liberal think tank, the Robert Menzies Institute. So, three conservatives at least.
Companies that various board members currently work for, or have worked for, at senior executive or directorship level, include Fortescue Metals Group, HBF Health, Deloitte, BHP, Schroders, BT Investment Management, Westpac, AMP, CSR, AGL Energy, AGL, CSL, Wesfarmers, Equity Trustees, Trawalla Group, McKinsey, GrainCorp, and Berri Limited. So very big-business oriented.
The secretary of the treasury is ex officio a member of the board too; a career public servant.
There’s also a former judge with trade union associations, and an economics professor who’s also a dean of a business school.
So the Reserve Bank Board looks to be politically conservative with a distinct big-business orientation and with perhaps as few as one member who’d put the interests of citizens before businesses.
Changing the governor alone is unlikely to make much difference. Until the board becomes more representative it’d be unrealistic to expect that decision-making will change much under Michele Bullock.
She’ll just be the new messenger.