The Crest of the Commonwealth of Australia Treasury Portfolio Ministers
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Wayne Swan

Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer

3 December 2007 - 27 June 2013

5 December 2011

Press Conference

Canberra

5 December 2011

SUBJECTS: RBA Board appointments; ALP review

TREASURER:

This evening I want to announce two very important appointments to the Board of the Reserve Bank following the agreement of Cabinet this evening. Tonight I'm pleased to announce the promotion of Dr Philip Lowe to Deputy Governor of the RBA and the appointment of Mrs Heather Ridout to the RBA Board.

Dr Lowe has had a very distinguished career in the RBA for over more than 30 years. The last seven of which have been as Assistant Governor [of the RBA] and during this time Dr Lowe played a key role with Australia's response to the global financial crisis both as Assistant Governor (Financial Systems) and in the position he currently holds which is Assistant Governor (Economic). He brings a wealth of experience to the position of Deputy Governor and I certainly congratulate him on this appointment. He will be appointed for a period of seven years and he replaces Mr Ric Battellino who is retiring from the Board at the end of his term after a career of 39 years at the Reserve Bank.

I would certainly like to take the opportunity to thank Mr Battellino for his time as Deputy Governor and for his loyal service to the Board over almost 40 years. He of course has been at the Bank during a period of great turmoil in the international economy in recent years and of course, as you know, Australia avoided recession during the GFC unlike most other developed economies. I think that is testament to the hard work and the abilities of Mr Battellino and of course the Reserve Bank more generally.

I'm also pleased to be announcing the appointment of Mrs Heather Ridout to the RBA Board and you would be familiar with Mrs Ridout. She has been a driving force in Australian business and public policy development over many years and she does bring a wealth of experience to the position. She's been very active in the business community both as a board member and a business advocate. She's got a very strong understanding of the pressures which are faced by business in sectors of our patchwork economy. Her appointment means that there will be three women on the Reserve Bank Board for the first time, and this follows the appointment of Ms Cath Tanna from the BG Group in March this year and she will be succeeding Mr Graham Kraehe. Mr Kraehe has sat on the RBA Board during one of the most eventful periods in the global economy and I want to thank him for his valuable contribution to the work of the Board.

The promotion of Dr Lowe and the appointment of Mrs Ridout I believe strikes the right balance between stability and fresh thinking on the RBA Board. I think their appointments will ensure the ongoing strength of the RBA Board which of course continues to operate at a very difficult time in the global economy and in particular I want to thank Mr Battellino and Mr Kraehe and congratulate Dr Lowe and Mrs Ridout and wish them all the best in their new roles. Over to you.

JOURNALIST:

Can Heather Ridout continue to advocate for business as she does as is her job now or will that be in some cases a perceived conflict of interest?

TREASURER:

This is a matter for Mrs Ridout. You'd have to speak to her but she's been appointed to the Board because she has an enormous amount of experience. She's a very talented and committed advocate for the business community. She's got a very deep understanding of what's going on, not only in the wider economy, but most particularly in manufacturing industry and I think she'll serve the country well on the Board.

JOURNALIST:

But would you expect her to curb her advocacy at all or are you happy to leave it up to her…?

TREASURER:

No, I'm happy to leave it up to Mrs Ridout. There have been plenty of people who have sat on the Board who have made comment from time to time, and she stands in her appointment because of her commitment, her talent, her experience and her understanding of Australian business.

JOURNALIST:

Do you expect any accusations of her being too close to Labor or anything along those lines?

TREASURER:

Hardly. I think I recall seeing Mrs Ridout at the Press Club the other day. She had a range of opinions to express and not all of them were ones that people would see as being uncritical of the Government.

JOURNALIST:

Were there any external candidates considered for the Deputy Governor's position?

TREASURER:

Since we came to government we've established a new procedure for Reserve Bank Board appointments where the Governor of the Bank and the Secretary of the Treasury draw up a list of people who are qualified for appointment and I choose from that list and take those appointments to the Cabinet. So Mrs Ridout was chosen from a range of very talented people that were brought together by the Governor of the Reserve Bank and Secretary of the Treasury.

JOURNALIST:

But Mrs Ridout has also been very vocal voice for lower interest rates. Is that some of the fresh thinking you want to see on the Board?

TREASURER:

Well, she's been vocal about a range of issues over a very long period of time and she's been appointed to the Board because she has the qualifications and the experience to do the job, not because of any particular view she's had on any particular issue at any particular point of time.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Swan, was the Government in Labor's last term, a government of which you were a senior part, lacking purpose and driven by spin as has been indicated by the Labor Review?

TREASURER:

ell, I don't believe so at all, and I think I said this at the conference at the weekend the thing that I am most proud of was the response of the Government to the circumstances of the global financial crisis and the global recession. We put jobs and good budget management as our first priority during that period and the consequence of that was that Australia was one of the few developed economies that didn't go into recession and our record of job creation over that time has been to the extent of 750,000 jobs over four years. I'm proud of that, the Cabinet is proud of that, the Government is proud of that.

JOURNALIST:

If you are so proud of that, why didn't Julia Gillard make mention of that and Kevin Rudd's role in that in her speech?

TREASURER:

Well, I have made mention of this on many occasions and so has the Prime Minister. We are constantly talking about the record of the Government, not just over the past year, but also over 4 years, and we're proud of that and I've certainly paid tribute to the record of the former Prime Minister on numerous occasions in speeches that I've given, and I will continue to do so into the future.

I've said on many occasions that the role that the then Prime Minister played in bringing together our response to the global financial crisis was first class and so has the Prime Minister.

JOURNALIST:

Wouldn't it be better to release that review so people can see the context rather than (inaudible) strategically leaked to damage Kevin Rudd?

TREASURER:

Seriously Michelle, I don't have access to the review, I have never ever seen the review. I've been involved today and over the weekend and all through last week dealing with a range of really important national issues. I put out the budget update last week, this week I'm preparing for the release of the national accounts, there's a Reserve Bank Board meeting tomorrow. You know, those are the important questions. Some of the things that are being put to me now aren't really issues with which I'm concerned at all.

JOURNALIST:

But it's Labor's review. How are..

TREASURER:

Sure

JOURNALIST:

...you not concerned? It's Labor's review.

TREASURER:

It's Labor's review which has been dealt with by our National Conference and by all of our decision-making bodies. That's what they're there for. I'm a senior Minister in the Government. I'm the Deputy Prime Minister and what the people of Australia want me to concentrate on is doing my job as the Treasurer of Australia and supporting jobs and making the right economic decisions for our future. So for all of that debate, it doesn't really enter into my field of view, Michelle, and I proudly say that. Thanks a lot.