Reserve Bank of Australia Annual Report – 1996 International and Community Relations

Contacts with other central banks

During the past year, the Bank has been active in encouraging enhanced co-operation among central banks of the Asian region. In a speech in September 1995, the Governor proposed that such co-operation be promoted through the existing group known as the Executive Meeting of East Asia and Pacific Central Banks (EMEAP). This group comprises the central banks, or monetary authorities, of Australia, People's Republic of China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. The Governor envisaged that, in time, closer co-operation would be embodied in new institutional arrangements, modelled loosely on the Bank for International Settlements.

Until recently, EMEAP had met twice a year – once in Japan and once in another member country – for general discussions on matters of mutual interest. In November 1995, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority convened a special informal meeting of EMEAP members with a view to exploring further the Governor's initiative. In an early gesture of closer co-operation, a number of EMEAP members have signed bilateral repurchase agreements (involving agreements to buy and sell back US government securities, as a means of generating additional liquidity in times of need). For its part, Australia has signed repurchase agreements with Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia and Thailand.

In the first half of 1996, a number of ad hoc meetings of EMEAP members were held to follow up earlier initiatives to identify areas of central banking where regional co-operation might most fruitfully be pursued. The proposals developed at these meetings provided the basis of the first EMEAP Governors' meeting in Tokyo in July 1996. The Governors agreed to establish working groups on payments systems and other financial market developments, on central bank operations, and on prudential supervision. The Governors also agreed to meet together each year, recognising the growing areas of common interest.

The Governor also participated in other high-level meetings in the region. In December, the Bank hosted the annual South Pacific Central Bank Governors' meeting in Sydney. This meeting was attended by representatives of eight central banks (Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu and Western Samoa). The Governor attended the SEANZA (South East Asia New Zealand and Australia) Governors' Symposium in Beijing in October.

Senior officers participated in other major regional meetings, including the APEC Finance Ministers Working Group; SEANZA Forum of Banking Supervisors; and the Four Markets Meetings (involving also Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore). Senior Bank representatives also attended regular meetings of the Bank for International Settlements, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

The Bank hosted several major international meetings in 1995/96. The twelfth Pacific Rim Banknote Printers' Conference, hosted by Note Printing Australia, was held in Melbourne and Sydney in November. Representatives from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Mexico, the Philippines, Thailand and the USA attended, along with observers from Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway. A meeting of the Four Nation Advanced Counterfeit Deterrence Group was held in Sydney in November, with representatives from Australia, Canada, UK and USA.

In March/April, the Bank co-hosted, with the Bank for International Settlements, a Payment and Settlement Systems Seminar for central bankers from the EMEAP group.

Officers from a number of other central banks continue to visit the Bank for short-term training attachments. This year these training attachments involved the central banks of Fiji, Thailand, Tonga, Vietnam, Western Samoa and the Russian Federation. Two officers from the Central Bank of Uzbekistan were attached to the Bank for training for a three-month period; this program was sponsored by the Australian Program for Training in Eurasia. Reserve Bank officers also visited a number of other central banks to provide technical assistance, including Bank Indonesia (payments systems); Bank of Papua New Guinea (establishment of screen-based trading of foreign exchange, and internal auditing); National Reserve Bank of Tonga (bank supervision); and State Bank of Vietnam (internal auditing and accounting, as part of an IMF Mission). Two officers are on long-term secondments to the IMF, participating in that body's technical assistance program for countries of the former Soviet Union. In addition, two officers are on secondment, respectively, to the Central Bank of Yemen and the National Bank of the Republic of Macedonia, as part of IMF programs.

Senior staff participated as lecturers in several training programs organised by the South East Asian Central Banks (SEACEN) Centre. These included courses on “financial liberalisation and innovation – supervisory concerns” (Thailand); “supervision” (Taiwan); and “currency management and operations” (Malaysia). In addition, the Bank provided a speaker for a South Pacific Central Bankers' Training Course, hosted by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand; for a seminar on off-site supervision of banks, organised by the People's Bank of China; and for a Global Payments System Seminar at the Hong Kong Monetary Authority. The program of secondments from Bank Supervision Department continued, with an officer recently commencing a 12-month assignment with the Bank of England.

The Bank's fifth post-graduate scholarship was granted to an officer of the Bank of Papua New Guinea (BPNG), who is undertaking a Graduate Diploma in Commerce at Monash University. The Bank has agreed to extend this post-graduate scholarship for the BPNG for a further five years.

External financial assistance

Drawings under two outstanding facilities made available to the Bank of Papua New Guinea were repaid in the past year. Drawings under the swap facility for US$20 million made available in May 1995 were repaid on expiry of the agreement in August 1995. Drawings under the two-year swap facility of A$85 million made available in February 1994 were repaid on expiry in February 1996.

Information services

During the year, the Bank continued its active program of disseminating information and explaining its monetary and banking policies. This is an important part of the Bank's efforts to be transparent in its actions and accountable for its decisions.

In addition to public talks, the Governors make annual appearances before the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Banking, Finance and Public Administration. This year, the Committee's focus was on the Bank's monetary policy role. Senior officers also appeared before the Senate Select Committee on Superannuation, following various allegations in Parliament relating to the operations of the Reserve Bank Officers' Superannuation Fund (OSF). In its Report the Committee concluded that “there was no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the OSF”, and the Chairman said that “this inquiry has demonstrated the allegations to have been completely without merit, and they have now been laid to rest”.

In July 1995, the Bank convened a conference on Productivity and Growth, the proceedings of which were published in September 1995. During the year, the Bank also published four presentations made at a Seminar for Teachers in June 1995 which covered “Monetary Policy in Australia”, “The Reserve Bank's Domestic Market Operations”, “The Exchange Rate and the Reserve Bank's Role in the Foreign Exchange Market”, and “Prudential Supervision of Financial Institutions”. This material, which is available in booklet, video and audio tape formats and is targeted mainly at secondary and tertiary students in economics/commerce, has been marketed through State and Territory boards of secondary school studies, as well as through universities. The Bank's Economic Group published 11 Research Discussion Papers in 1995/96.

During the year, the Bank also published a new edition of the booklet which brings together its public statements on aspects of its supervision of banks: Prudential Supervision of Banks – Prudential Statements.

As required under the Equal Employment Opportunity (Commonwealth Authorities) Act 1987, the report for 1994/95 on the Bank's equal employment opportunity program was tabled in Parliament in November 1995.

Other community relations

Through the Bank's Economic and Financial Research Fund (EFRF), $38,675 was paid in 1995/96 towards seven university projects. In addition, the Bank continued to contribute towards the costs of the monthly survey of inflationary expectations undertaken by the University of Melbourne's Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, and to the Group of 30's study programs.

As part of its broader community relations activities, the Bank has a modest budget for donations to charitable organisations. During 1995/96, the Bank gave a total of $20,000 to 41 charities Australia-wide. The Governor is Chairman of the Financial Markets Foundation for Children, the financial community's charity organisation which raises funds for research into medical and social problems affecting children.

Freedom of Information Act

Section 8 statement

The Reserve Bank is an exempt agency under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 in respect of documents concerning banking operations (including individual open market operations and foreign exchange dealings) and exchange control matters.

Facilities for access and Freedom of Information procedures: Inquiries under the Freedom of Information Act, including requests for access to documents, should be directed to the Secretary, Head Office, or the Managers of branches, or the Managing Director at Note Printing Australia. Applications should be accompanied by the application fee (currently $30). Facilities to inspect documents to which access has been granted are available in the Bank's branches.

Organisation and functions: The Reserve Bank is Australia's central bank. It was established by Commonwealth legislation in 1911. Its functions, powers and responsibilities are specified in the Reserve Bank Act 1959, the Banking Act 1959, the Financial Corporations Act 1974 and in Regulations made under those Acts. The Bank's organisation chart appears at the end of this Report.

Categories of documents: Lists of publications, including speeches, articles, occasional papers, information booklets, conference volumes, regular media releases and other publications, are published from time to time in the Bank's monthly Bulletin. Other documents held by the Bank are in the form of working notes and files covering policy and operational matters, statistical data, personnel, premises and general administration.


Eight requests for access to documents under the Act were received in 1995/96, compared with four in the previous year. Details for the latest year are set out below:

Requests received
On hand at 1 July 1995 1
Received during year 8
Action on requests
Access granted in full 3
Access granted in part 2
Access refused 3
Requests withdrawn or lapsed
Current at 30 June 1996 1
Internal review
Applications 1
Review by Administrative Appeals Tribunal
Outstanding at 1 July 1995
New applications 1

The cost to the Bank of administering the Act in 1995/96 is estimated to have been approximately $32,800, compared with approximately $28,200 in the previous year.