Bullock takes the reins at Reserve Bank of Australia

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Bullock takes the reins at Reserve Bank of Australia © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Two women walk next to the Reserve Bank of Australia headquarters in central Sydney, Australia February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz/File Photo

By Lewis Jackson, Stella Qiu and Wayne Cole

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Reserve Bank Deputy Governor Michele Bullock will take over from Governor Philip Lowe in September and has already flagged that leading the country’s central bank through a period of change will be a major priority.

Bullock, the first woman to helm the country’s central bank, will have the task of leading the bank through its biggest internal shakeup in decades while also maintaining the fight against inflation.

“I think a big part of my role is going to be what you just mentioned – leading the bank through change which is a very important part of the next year or so,” said Bullock in a short televised meeting with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Treasurer Jim Chalmers following the announcement on Friday.

The high-profile position carries a salary of A$1 million ($688,300), making her one of the world’s best paid central bankers.

Bullock will take the top job 38 years after she first joined the bank in 1985 after finishing an economics degree at the University of New England in Armidale, the regional town roughly 400km (250 miles) north of Sydney where she grew up.

She completed a masters at the London School of Economics in 1989.

“Michele is an outstanding candidate,” Jonathan Kearns, a former colleague of Bullock’s at the RBA and current chief economist at investment manager Challenger in Sydney. “She is very well qualified. She has experience across the whole gamut of responsibilities of the Reserve Bank. I think that would be very helpful.”

First appointed to senior leadership in 2010 as one of the bank’s assistant governors, Bullock led the payments, business services and financial system divisions before being elevated to deputy governor last year after the shock departure of predecessor Guy Debelle.

“I wasn’t sure I would ever be in this position,” Bullock said in a 2022 interview with her alma mater. “I never thought that Guy Debelle, who was the deputy governor, would leave the Bank. That was the big surprise.”

A review into the central bank published in April recommended sweeping changes including the setup of a separate specialist board to manage monetary policy, less frequent meetings and more public communication.

In one of his final actions before the decision, Lowe announced on Wednesday the bank would now hold a press conference following every policy meeting, which would be cut from 11 annually to 8.

Bullock will now have the task of implementing the remaining changes from the 294-page report, including appointing of the new monetary policy board.

“My dealings with Michele have told me that she is a really good communicator,” said Su-Lin Ong, chief economist at RBC Capital Markets.

“She tries really hard at asking questions, she is very engaging … She is quite refreshing in the way she communicates.”

($1 = 1.4529 Australian dollars)

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