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Monday, 23 June 2008
Page: 3016


Senator FIELDING (Leader of the Family First Party) (4:27 PM) —Family First agrees that the Reserve Bank needs to be independent, and enhancing independence makes sense as long as the detail backs that up. The issue for Family First is that you need independence but you also need accountability. We need to make sure that the accountability is not only to the government of the day but also to the parliament. If you look at the second reading speech of the Treasurer, Mr Swan, it says:

Inflation pushes up interest rates, eats away at family budgets, and threatens future prosperity—that is why the government is so determined to deal with it.

This is in regard to the Reserve Bank Amendment (Enhanced Independence) Bill 2008. This is something that affects every Australian through interest rates and therefore we need to make sure that we not only have independence but back that up with accountability. The coalition has moved to have some accountability with the Reserve Bank governor appearing before the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics. The coalition abused the Senate for three years and now they are ignoring it.

So Family First will be moving an amendment to the coalition’s amendment to make sure that the governor makes himself or herself available to give evidence before the Senate Standing Committee on Economics and the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics. This will ensure that we have full accountability to parliament, and the house of review can also make sure that the government of the day does not ignore warnings from the Reserve Bank—the Labor government has been saying that the government of the day ignored warnings from the Reserve Bank about inflation. Making the Reserve Bank accountable to the Senate, which has not got the control of the government of the day and has not got the control of the coalition, would make it even more accountable to the Australian people and to the Australian parliament. So Family First will be moving an amendment to the coalition’s amendment to make sure that the Reserve Bank Governor must make himself or herself available to give evidence before the Senate as well as the House of Representatives.