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RBA: Australia names first woman to lead its central bank

Michele Bullock has been named as the next governor of the RBA

Michele Bullock has been named as the next governor of the RBA

Australia’s central bank says it will be led by a woman for the first time since it was founded in 1960.

Michele Bullock will succeed Philip Lowe, who is coming to the end of a seven-year term as governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA).

Her appointment comes as the country has been battling rising prices and the RBA is facing a major shakeup.

It has raised interest rates to their highest level in over a decade in a bid to tackle inflation.

The Australian financial services industry is male-dominated and has one of the nation’s widest gender pay gaps.

Bullock, who is currently the RBA’s deputy governor, is due to start her seven-year term as governor 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,” Bullock said in a statement on Friday.

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

Bullock has been described as an RBA insider, having joined the central bank as an analyst nearly four decades ago.

In that time she has held senior management positions, including assistant governor and head of the payments policy department, before being appointed as the RBA’s deputy governor in April 2022.

Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said in a post on Twitter that Bullock was “an outstanding economist, with a long and distinguished career at the central bank.”

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

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Lowe, the RBA’s outgoing governor, said the central bank was in good hands as it deals with the rising cost of living.

“The Treasurer has made a first-rate appointment. I wish Michele all the best,” he said.

The RBA is under pressure to tackle inflation, which is stretching household budgets.

The central bank has raised interest rates 12 times since last May – to mixed reactions from economists. The RBA’s main interest rate is currently at an 11-year high of 4.1%.

In theory, raising interest rates makes it more expensive to borrow money and encourages people to spend less, which can bring down inflation.

Lowe faced criticism after suggesting that Australians should work more and spend less to deal with higher borrowing costs.

“If people can cut back spending, or in some cases find additional hours of work, that would put them back into a positive cash flow position,” Lowe said at a financial industry conference last month.

He has also defended the central’s bank decision to raise its main interest rate for the twelfth time, saying “homeowners are doing fine”.

Earlier this year, the Australian government released its first external review of the RBA in 40 years.

The review made 51 recommendations, including calls for the central bank to have a clearer monetary policy framework and greater accountability.

Australia’s financial services industry continues to have one of the nation’s highest gender pay gaps, according to government data.

The Workplace Gender Equality Agency found a 28.6% difference in remuneration between males and females across the sector last year.

This was higher than the national gender pay gap of 22.8%.


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