Complaints have been made to the Reserve Bank of Australia over bipartisan political remarks made by board member Roger Corbett supporting Tony Abbott in Saturday’s federal election and rubbishing Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
An RBA official said all complaints would be investigated and the findings made public.
Senator Doug Cameron, a Labor frontbencher, called on Corbett to resign from the RBA board accusing him of “running an agenda for the Liberal Party”.
“I just think that trading on your position as a Reserve Bank Board member, trading on your position as the chair of Fairfax and not disclosing that you’re a paid-up member of the Liberal Party is outrageous.
“I’m calling on Roger Corbett to do the right thing and resign as a member of the Reserve Bank Board.”
The RBA’s Code of Conduct clearly states that board members “recognise their role in maintaining the Bank’s reputation for integrity and propriety in all respects”.
It further states: “Members accept that the Governor, and where appropriate on the occasion the Deputy Governor, is the only spokesperson for the Board on monetary and financial system stability policy matters.”
Yet in the Lateline interview with Emma Alberici, Corbett said: “And I think he’ll (Abbott will) be very dedicated, focused on the job. And we certainly need, in the economic times we’re about to go into, some really good, clear leadership.”
Corbett also appears to be in breach of the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 which was introduced by the Howard Government to regulate the financial affairs of Commonwealth authorities and provide stricter rules of reporting and accountability.
Section 24 covers “Use of position—civil obligations and; Use of position—officers and employees”.
“(1) An officer or employee of a Commonwealth authority must not improperly use his or her position to:
“(a) gain an advantage for him or her or someone else; or
“(b) cause detriment to the Commonwealth authority or to another person.”
As a member of the RBA board, Corbett falls under the provisions of this section of the Act.
On Lateline Corbett clearly used his position “to gain an advantage for him or her or someone”. He rubbished Prime Minister Rudd and gave fulsome support to Abbott four days out from the federal election.
The evidence? Corbett told Lateline: “His colleagues sacked him because they judged him to be incapable as prime minister. In my view, Kevin Rudd is a leader that has been really discredited by his own conduct.
“Here’s a man that has really done the Labor Party enormous damage, destabilised it and is now wishing to present himself to the Australian people as a prime minister … and as the incoming prime minister.
“I don’t think the Australian people will cop that, to be quite honest.”
And clearly indicating he wished for an Abbott victory on Saturday, Corbett said Abbott would make a good prime minister “because he’s a very sincere, nice type of human being”.
Do you believe the ex-Woolworths supremo has breached the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 by giving an advantage to Abbott over Rudd from the vantage point of the RBA board? I do.
Corbett is the last person who should lecturing voters about the virtues of Abbott to be PM. Since Corbett took the chairmanship of Fairfax in October 2009, the publishing company’s share price has collapsed to just 56p a share.
Such is the calibre of corporate lions (hamsters?) who are backing the Mad Monk.