Opposition warns against RBA distractions

·2-min read

The central bank should remain "laser-focused" on controlling inflation and avoid distractions from the main game, the federal opposition says.

Shadow treasurer Angus Taylor welcomed the independent review into the Reserve Bank of Australia, but said the focus should remain on preserving its strengths.

"With rising interest rates weighing heavily on the minds of Australian families and household budgets, it is essential the RBA's mandate remains laser-focused on containing inflation," Mr Taylor said in response to an issues paper released by the RBA review task force.

"We don't want to see the containment of inflation, containment that underpins a strong economy, diluted with new objectives."

The first independent review into the central bank since the 1990s was announced by Treasurer Jim Chalmers in July.

According to the issues paper released on Wednesday, the bank's objectives - to keep the currency stable, maintain full employment and boost economic prosperity - will be up for discussion, as will its strategies to meet these goals.

Currently, the RBA aims to keep inflation between two and three per cent to create the conditions for long-term economic growth and employment.

The institution's past performance will also come under scrutiny.

The RBA has attracted criticism for suggesting that interest rates would not start rising until 2024, although governor Philip Lowe has since clarified that this forecast was "highly conditional".

Noting that clear communication helps "build and maintain public trust", the review will also look into how well the central bank communicates its decisions and reasoning.

The review will examine the institution's governance structure, as well as the culture of its workplace.

The review task force also pointed to two key challenges facing the RBA in the future.

The reviewers said central banks were well equipped to handle economic problems caused by demand fluctuations, but disruptions on the supply side were more challenging.

Ongoing pandemic impacts, climate change and geopolitical tensions were flagged as potential threats to supply chains.

The paper also said the central bank had trouble responding to economic downturns when interest rates are kept low.

"That is because, with interest rates lower on average, there is less room for the RBA to reduce its policy interest rate before reaching the effective lower bound, when it is as low as it can practically go," it said.

The only areas outside its scope are the RBA's payments, financial infrastructure, banking and banknotes functions.

The RBA governor will face a parliamentary committee on Friday, which will grill Dr Lowe about existing interest rate policy and efforts to counter inflation.