Should Reserve Bank Governors have to retire at 70

Michael Reddell blogs:

Someone who has paid closer attention to some of the details of those provisions than I have pointed out to me recently clause 46(1)(c) of the Act.    Under the provision, no one can serve as Governor, or Deputy Governor, once they are aged 70 or over.

This provision is quite old.  The legislation was passed in 1989, and life expectancy has increased by perhaps five years since then.  In addition, New Zealand legislation passed since then has prohibited compulsory retirement ages, unless they are specifically provided for in statute (as this one is).  There is a similar statutory age limit for judges.

I wasn’t aware of this provision and am surprised it exists.

You need an age limit for judges as they have a life-time appointment. But Governors are appointed to finite terms of up to five years, so why shouldn’t a 66 year old be eligible for a five year term?

The Act not only requires that no one can be Governor or Deputy Governor once they turn 70, but it also requires that first terms as Governor must be for five years.

There are, for example, two current and four former Deputy Governors who are still professionally active.

Peter Nicholl was Deputy Governor in the 1990s, before going on to serve as Governor of the central bank of Bosnia.  He is still apparently professionally active on the international central banking consulting circuit. But he is 72, and so barred from serving as Governor here.

Murray Sherwin succeeded Nicholl as Deputy Governor.  He is now chair of the Productivity Commission, and in many ways could be a very good Governor if he was interested.  But it appears that he is turning 65, probably next year, and so the age-70 limit could be a constraint.

Grant Spencer is a current Deputy Governor, and will have served in that role for a decade by the time Wheeler’s term expires.  Spencer has considerable experience inside the Bank, as well as decade in relatively senior roles at ANZ, but also appears to turn 65 shortly (the first academic publication I could find dated back to 1974).

Seems silly that such strong candidates are ineligible because they are now aged 65 or older.

Comments (18)

Login to comment or vote