Australia has appointed the first woman to lead the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) in the 63-year history of the central bank.
Michele Bullock, a veteran economist at the central bank, will take over from outgoing governor Philip Lowe in September.
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“I am deeply honoured to have been appointed to this important position,” Bullock said in a statement on Friday. “It is a challenging time to be coming into this role, but I will be supported by a strong executive team and boards. I am committed to ensuring that the Reserve Bank delivers on its policy and operational objectives for the benefit of the Australian people.”
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese described Bullock as an “outstanding economist and leader”.
“Her appointment strikes the optimal balance between providing exceptional experience and expertise and offering a fresh leadership perspective,” Albanese said.
Bullock joined the RBA in 1985 after graduating from Australia’s University of New England the previous year. She served in a variety of roles related to areas including payment settlements and government banking before being appointed as the first woman deputy governor in April 2022.
Interest rate hikes
Bullock’s appointment comes after the government decided not to reappoint Lowe to a second seven-year term.
Lowe’s replacement had been widely expected after the outgoing governor came under heavy criticism for overseeing a steep rise in interest rates that heaped pressure on mortgage owners, some of whom had taken on cheap debt during the pandemic.
Lowe said the RBA would be in “very good hands” and well-positioned to tackle above-target inflation under Bullock.
“I wish Michele all the best,” Lowe said.
The RBA announced the first of 12 consecutive interest rate hikes in May last year in an effort to tame inflation, which peaked at 7.8 percent in January.
The benchmark rate currently stands at 4.1 percent, the highest in over a decade.