19.04.2024

Australia appoints first female governor in central bank’s history

Michele Bullock has created history after becoming the first-ever woman to head Australia’s central bank since its founding in 1960.

Prime minister Anthony Albanese announced on Friday that Ms Bullock, 60, will succeed Philip Lowe as the governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA).

She was selected for the top job on Friday after beating out treasury secretary Steven Kennedy, department of finance secretary Jenny Wilkinson and incumbent governor Mr Lowe.

Ms Bullock who currently serves as the RBA’s deputy governor will start her seven-year term on 18 September.

“It is a challenging time to be coming into this role, but I will be supported by a strong executive team and boards,” she said in a statement.

“I am committed to ensuring that the Reserve Bank delivers on its policy and operational objectives for the benefit of the Australian people,” she said.

Mr Lowe said Ms Bullock’s elevation was 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,” he said.

The prime minister took to social media to congratulate Ms Bullock.

“Congratulations Michele Bullock, Australia’s 9th Reserve Bank Governor. Michele is an outstanding economist, with a long and distinguished career at the central bank. At a critical time for the global economy, her job will be an important one,” he tweeted.

“We believe she has the experience, expertise and fresh perspective to lead the RBA as Australia – and the world – face ongoing economic challenges.”

Ms Bullock joined the RBA as an analyst in 1985 and has been serving as its deputy governor since last April. The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper said Ms Bullock is a self-described “proud country girl”.

She was born in Melbourne, but moved to Armidale in regional New South Wales when she was nine.

She holds a Masters of Science (Economics) degree from the London School of Economics and a Bachelor of Economics (Hons) degree from the University of New England.

Kathy Gallagher, the finance minister, said this was “a historic moment for Australia”.

“Congratulations Michele Bullock – an accomplished economist & leader – on a well-deserved appointment as Governor of the RBA. This is a historic moment for Australia with Michele’s appointment seeing our RBA led by a woman for the first time!” she tweeted.

“It’s the best combination of that experience and expertise but also a fresh leadership,’’ treasurer Jim Chalmers said.

“One of the things that I have really admired about Michelle Bullock is her contribution to the Reserve Bank review. Michelle has thought deeply about how we take the bank forward into the future.

“She does have a lot of experience. A respected leader, and that’s what we treasure.”

Earlier on Thursday, Liberal party leader Peter Dutton said anyone who had worked closely with the Albanese government was “tainted”, according to the local media.

“We’ve made it clear to the government we don’t believe it should be somebody who is ‘familiar’, if you like, to the government, somebody who has been working very closely with the Treasurer, or the Finance Minister, or the Prime Minister,’’ Mr Dutton told 2GB.

“We’ll support the government when they make the announcement, but not if it’s somebody who is tainted, or can be seen to be tainted – even if it’s somebody of a very high calibre and character – and whether it’s been somebody that’s worked closely with the Liberal or Labor government before,” he said.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that while Mr Lowe only held only four press conferences in his seven years, Ms Bullock will face the media’s questions at least eight times a year as the head of the RBA.

“I have always taken the view that if opportunities present themselves, you should have a crack,” she reportedly said to her alma mater University of New England in a rare interview last year.

“For me, it has always been about just getting new experiences and enjoying what I’m doing, and part of that has been not being afraid to take a step somewhere different.”

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