Subtle change set to take effect on Aussie banknotes as Michele Bullock becomes first female RBA governor

A subtle change is set to take effect on Australian banknotes, as Michele Bullock takes over as governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA).

Bullock, the ninth RBA governor and first female to take on the job, stepped into the role officially on September 18.

The role was previously held by Philip Low, who held the role from 2016.

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All Australian banknotes feature the signature of the RBA governor and treasury secretary — meaning that from this week, Bullock’s signature will appear on banknotes instead of Lowe’s.

While all banknotes printed from Bullock’s taking the reins will feature her signature, the Reserve Bank holds a stock of notes which is released into circulation based on demand.

That stock will still feature Lowe’s signature, meaning notes featuring Bullock’s signature will slowly be released into the system.

Bullock is stepping into the role of governor following a turbulent few years for the economy.

As Michele Bullock steps into the role of RBA governor, her signature will replace former governor Philip Lowe’s on all Australian banknotes. Credit: Reserve Bank of Australia/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Reforming the institution in the wake of an independent review into the RBA released earlier in the year will also be high on her agenda.

Lowe already signed off on many of the changes, but other measures will need to be worked through by Bullock and the new monetary policy board, which was the key recommendation of the review panel.

Under the changes, there will be two boards — one for running the day-to-day operations of the bank, and another to set interest rates.

Current RBA governor Michele Bullock. Credit: AAP

Bullock was taking on the role at a time when the RBA’s job was only getting harder, RMIT associate professor of economics Ashton de Silva said.

“It’s actually having to oversee what is something that’s becoming more and more complex, not just by region but also by cohort,” he said.

The difference between “who’s doing it tough and who might not be doing it as tough” is becoming more pronounced.

During the latest tightening cycle, for example, older generations were earning interest on their savings at the same time as highly indebted borrowers were struggling to pay off their mortgages.

The associate professor did not think Australians should expect a dramatic change in how the central bank manages interest rates to bring down high inflation.

It’s not just up to the governor to make interest rate decisions, but the whole board, and Bullock has been in each meeting since interest rates started going up as deputy governor.

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