10 Oct 2008

Politicians told to respect Reserve Bank's independence

1:10 pm on 10 October 2008

Politicians have been warned they should leave monetary policy to the Reserve Bank.

National Party leader John Key urged the bank on Thursday to bring interest rates down after central banks around the world made co-ordinated rate cuts.

Mr Key says the Reserve Bank should move with the rest of the world and cut interest rates before the bank's next meeting in two weeks.

The Reserve Bank Act of 1989 gave the Reserve Bank full operational independence and it has become a convention that politicians seldom comment on what it should do, a convention Mr Key broke with yesterday.

United Future's leader Peter Dunne says while politicians should not be directing the Reserve Bank, people do need some reassurance and the bank has not provided it.

But one of the architects of the Act which made the Reserve Bank independent, Sir Roger Douglas, says politicians should respect the governor's independence and leave it to him.

However, he says it is clear the bank will cut rates soon so the comments are unlikely to do any harm.

Sir Roger is standing for the ACT Party this election, but was the finance minister in 1989 when the Reserve Bank Act became law.

Inappropriate - Cullen

A spokesperson for Finance Minister and Labour's finance spokesperson, Michael Cullen, says it would be inappropriate to say anything that could be interpreted as putting pressure on the Reserve Bank.

The bank meanwhile has indicated it is no hurry to cut interest rates, saying it is monitoring international developments very closely but the centre of the financial crisis is in the United States and Europe.

New Zealand's next monetary policy review is scheduled for 23 October.