Reserve Bank of Australia Annual Report – 1960 Special Activities

SEANZA Central Banking Course

The Bank was represented at the Third SEANZA Central Banking Course held early in 1960 in Bombay. These courses were planned originally to enable young central bankers from the countries of South-East Asia, New Zealand and Australia to be trained through courses concentrating on the problems of less fully developed economies—particularly those undertaking programmes of rapid economic development.

Interest in the courses has now greatly extended and at the latest course 16 countries were represented—Australia, Burma, Ceylon, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaya, Nepal, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, South Africa, United Kingdom and Viet-Nam. There were visiting specialists from several of these countries and from the United States and Brazil, the International Monetary Fund and International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Economic research

The research activities of the Bank are being developed, and steps have recently been taken to enable more attention to be paid to developments overseas, particularly those affecting Australia's northern neighbours in Asia, and to develop long range statistical research, including the flow-of-funds study which has already been mentioned. The Bank has continued the practice, begun some years ago with the issue of supplements to the monthly Statistical Bulletin, of publishing, where appropriate, the results of its statistical research work.

In addition to its own research, the Bank is continuing to make grants to universities to assist post-graduate research into economic and financial matters bearing on the Australian economy. Most of the funds provided in 1959/60 were for the continuation of projects already in progress. New projects included research into trade credit in Australia, and capital formation in the sheep industry of northern New South Wales.

Rural Liaison Service

During the year, the Rural Liaison Service continued to facilitate the flow of information on rural matters to the trading banks. The three major means of communication used by the Service were again its publications, the conduct of enquiries in response to specific requests, and the organisation of regional conferences of bankers.

The Service again co-operated with other interested bodies, notably universities and government departments, in field surveys and the investigation of problems in the rural sphere.

A further regional conference was conducted during the year in South Australia. Eight such conferences have now been held, embracing all mainland States,

Papua and New Guinea

The central bank has for some years taken a special interest in Papua and New Guinea. It has recently carried out a survey of native economic development in many areas of the Territory, with particular reference to the increasing use of money by natives and the adequacy of banking facilities.

On 18th August, 1960, the Bank opened a branch in Port Moresby. This will enable it to carry out its central banking functions in the Territory and to keep informed of problems that face banks in this changing environment.

Automation in banking

In order to keep abreast of developments in automatic cheque handling techniques, the Bank has, as part of its research programme, maintained contact with a considerable number of overseas institutions, including banks, machine manufacturers and printers. At the same time, first-hand experience in data processing methods is being gained by processing cheques of several Government departments on the Bank's installations of conventional punched card equipment.

The developments taking place in specialised automatic cheque handling equipment overseas are of great interest to the Bank, which considers that a closer investigation of its potential for the Australian banking system is warranted. This view is generally shared by the major Australian trading banks which, along with their counterparts in other countries, have recognised the desirability of instituting some degree of joint research into their common problems. In order to intensify this research, the Bank has recently joined with the Australian Bankers' Association and the Commonwealth Banking Corporation in the formation of an Inter-Bank Automation Research Group.

Another field for automatic equipment is in the work of the Inscribed Stock registries which the Bank conducts for the Commonwealth Government. Continuous study is made of the most efficient ways of handling the considerable volume of work involved, and this has led to the installation during 1959/60 of modern electronic data processing machines at the larger registries. These machines are used to handle the inscribed stock accounting, loan applications, and interest payments.