• Wed. May 3rd, 2023

RBA governor Philip Lowe to face grilling from Labor, Liberal MPs

ByGurinderbir Singh

Feb 13, 2023

Smith and Labor backbench MP Jerome Laxale also confirmed they would ask the governor to respond to a report in the Australian Financial Review on Saturday that he had a private lunch with traders from the major banks, which coincided with a rise in bond yields.

“My focus when the RBA governor appears before the House committee on Friday will be the impact of rate rises on renters,” Laxale said.

“I’m also keen to seek clarification on reports that the governor prioritised a cosy insiders lunch over addressing the Australian public [over interest rate rises].”

The comments come after this masthead revealed last week that six Labor MPs had taken the unusual step of questioning Lowe’s performance as governor, with some of those MPs suggesting his seven-year term should not be extended beyond September.

Chalmers said the Bank was independent and it was up to the governor to explain the lunch with traders and why he had not given a public briefing at the start of the year, something he has done in previous years.

“I don’t clear his commitments that he makes in his diary … I think Governor Lowe will be before two parliamentary committees through the course of the week. No doubt people will want to ask him about that and he can explain it,” he said.


Shadow treasurer Angus Taylor said Chalmers was “always looking for someone else to blame”.

“The government and the treasurer need to focus on what they can do to tackle inflation, not focus on the Reserve Bank governor.”

Macroeconomics Advisory chief economist Stephen Anthony, a former treasury official, warned last week the chance of a recession next year could be as high as 70 per cent due to the impact of the RBA’s high interest rates, coupled with a slowdown in key markets such as China.

The treasurer said despite the difficult economic conditions ahead, the government expected to avoid a recession – in line with Treasury and RBA forecasts – though the economy was expected to slow in 2023. He added the government did not expect to post a surplus in any of the next four years, despite a short-term boost to the budget bottom line because of relatively high commodity prices.

Labor last year ordered a review of Australia’s central bank, the first in 40 years, and it is examining the bank’s structure, culture, accountability, board member appointments and the bank’s 2 to 3 per cent inflation target.


Chalmers said he had recently discussed how the bank communicates the context for its decisions with the RBA review panel. This could open the door to the governor holding press conferences in the future.

There is a growing expectation that Lowe will not have his seven-year term extended to ten years as happened with the previous two governors, Glenn Stevens and Ian Macfarlane, and Chalmers said a decision on the governor’s future will be made by mid-year.

Lowe has also been criticised for warning against high wage rises to workers and came under fire before the COVID pandemic for holding interest rates too high between 2017 and 2019, with independent research suggesting up to 250,000 jobs were not created during this period as a result.

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