The Reserve Bank and Reform of the Currency: 1960–1988
A Separate Central Bank
Legislation in 1945, based on wartime regulations, defined for the first time a broad central banking role for the Commonwealth Bank, encompassing macroeconomic objectives.
This step did not end the long-running debate about the need to separate commercial from central banking. By the late 1950s, the Government had decided to establish a separate central bank.
The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) became a reality on 14 January 1960. The original corporate body was preserved under the Reserve Bank of Australia name and the commercial and savings bank business put into a new Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
Dr HC (Nugget) Coombs, Governor of the Commonwealth Bank since 1949, was appointed the RBA's first Governor.
By the time Coombs retired at the end of his third term as Governor in 1968, the RBA had established branch offices in all other State capitals, Canberra, Darwin and London and had a staff of 3 200; this compares with about 800 nowadays.
The possibility of locating the RBA head office in Canberra had earlier been considered but Sydney was finally chosen and a site for a new head office building in Martin Place, Sydney, was purchased in December 1958. The building was completed in 1964 and staff moved in during 1965.
An abstract design was chosen for the emblem of the new central bank. It was designed by Mr Gordon Andrews who was also to design Australia's first decimal currency notes.