A disappointing cheap shot from ACT

I keep an eye on what quite a few political parties have to say.  Among the bits and pieces that turn up in the in-box is the ACT Party’s newsletter.  This afternoon it had this gratuitous piece in it.

Keep Politicians away from Monetary Policy
Like the rugby boor who wants to endlessly debate past refereeing decisions, we have Russell Norman, with time on his hands now, tweeting about the OCR decision: Would Reserve Bank have made (mistaken) decision to start tightening last year if Board (w broad economy reps) were deciders not just Gov? One thing Russell obviously is not, is an expert on monetary policy.

Who knows what the answer to Russel Norman’s question is.  It might well have depended both on the sort of Board chosen, and the quality of the people appointed to it.  But it seems to me that is an entirely reasonable question for an opposition party finance spokesperson to be asking.  Parliament made the Reserve Bank operationally independent.  Parliament funds the Reserve Bank.  The Minister of Finance takes the lead in setting the policy target.  And the Finance and Expenditure Committee –  which Norman has served on for some years –  has an important role in scrutinising and holding to account the Reserve Bank, including in its conduct of monetary policy.  And, as everyone recognises, Reserve Bank choices, and  occasional Reserve Bank mistakes, have implications for people and their businesses.  People elect MPs to hold public agencies to account.  And we learn by reviewing past decisions in the light of experience.  Who does ACT think should be asking questions if not MPs?

I’ve long been rather ambivalent about the ACT Party, but have usually respected their willingness to treat serious issues seriously. And, in fairness, much the same could be said of the Greens.  There are plenty of Russel Norman’s observations about monetary policy that I’ve disagreed with over the years, but his proposal for a different governance structure is not unusual internationally, and his question as to whether it might have made a difference to the actual path of policy seems an entirely reasonable one.

Cheap shots of this sort don’t advance either the issue, or the reputation of the ACT Party.

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