An Albanese government minister has called for "full transparency" from Reserve Bank of Australia governor Philip Lowe who is under attack for providing a private briefing to major bank traders following last week's interest rate hike.
As the governor prepares to be grilled by members of the House of Representative's Economics Legislation Committee tomorrow and at a Senate estimates hearing on Friday, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister, Patrick Gorman, told Sky News government MPs on the committee will be asking Dr Lowe "some tough questions".
The RBA head was already under significant pressure last week after announcing the central bank's ninth consecutive interest rate increase and flagging at least two further rate hikes were likely.
But revelations in the Australian Financial Review that two days after that decision Dr Lowe provided a private briefing for bankers and opted not to deliver a public address outlining the reasons for the decision has intensified criticisms of the governor, whose five-year term ends in September.
Senior members of the government, including Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Treasurer Jim Chalmers, have refused to comment on Dr Lowe's tenure but Dr Chalmers said yesterday there was a "broader issue here about how the bank communicates the context for its decisions".
Several Labor MPs have voiced disquiet about the governor's performance.
Last week, Member for Bruce Julian Hill, who chairs the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit, said that although he was not personally attacking Dr Lowe, the governor's 2021 comments that a rate hike before 2024 was unlikely had been "less than wise".
"I would think it is not a controversial observation that both independence and judgement are required [of the RBA governor] and the country should have broad confidence," Mr Hill said.
Asked if that confidence had been damaged, the Labor MP pointed to "criticism that has been made by respected economists, discussion that has been heard in Economics Committee hearings ... that making a highly specific forecast was less than wise".
Mr Gorman refused to be drawn on Dr Lowe's decision to private brief bankers about the latest rate decision, saying "it's not the government that decides the diary and appointments of the governor of the Reserve Bank".
But he said the public wanted the governor to explain the RBA's monetary policy.
"I know that government members will be asking tough questions of the governor of the Reserve Bank this week at the House Economics Committee and in Senate Estimates," he said. "That's what the Australian public expect. We deserve full transparency from the governor of the Reserve Bank."
A review into the structure and operations of the Reserve Bank is due to deliver its report to government next month.
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