RBA cash rate meetings to stretch over two days

Reserve Bank board members will meet over two days and have more time to mull over key economic material as part of a shake-up to the way interest rate meetings are run.

Training and support for leaders to become more open and inclusive – aimed at improving the organisation’s culture – and more succinct post-meeting statements can also be expected in the future.

Governor Michele Bullock expressed her “100 per cent” support for the reforms while stepping though the next steps at the Australian Business Economists dinner in Sydney on Wednesday night.

Allowing for deeper and informed deliberation ahead of interest rate decisions was a key recommendation from an independent review into the central bank.

Rather than receiving material for the cash rate meeting four days before, as they do now, board members will attend a meeting with key staff roughly 10 days prior.

“It will provide analysis of issues that are relevant to a few upcoming meetings, not just the immediate one,” Ms Bullock explained.

The official monetary policy board meetings will start on Monday afternoons and allow for more time to consider staff forecasts, economic assessments and other material.

“My own experience in the current meetings is that there is never any shortage of questions – just a shortage of time to address them all in the meeting,” she said.

After sleeping on those deliberations, board members will reconvene on Tuesday, with one topic for discussion the post-meeting statement so they can collectively decide how best to explain the call.

Ms Bullock also ran through other changes to the RBA’s refined communications strategy.

Communications expertise will now feature throughout the policy development process “from the early stages to the board’s ultimate decision”.

This will be driven by the newly appointed chief communications officer, Sally Cray.

Ms Bullock said the central bank had already taken steps to improve its culture, with the review revealing a perception that leaders do not listen to alternative views.

“We won’t change the culture unless we can change our leadership behaviours,” she said.

She plans to remain chair of the bank’s diversity and inclusion council, despite the deputy governor usually holding this role.

Former chief Philip Lowe had already signed off on a number of suggestions raised by the reviewers before he left, including fewer meetings a year and post-board meeting press conferences.


Poppy Johnston
(Australian Associated Press)


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