Australia’s central bank gets first female deputy governor

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SYDNEY -The Australian government on Friday appointed a woman as second in command at the country’s central bank, the first female to hold the position in the bank’s 62-year history and a likely contender for the top job in time.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg named Michele Bullock as Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), elevating her from her current position of Assistant Governor responsible for financial stability.

Bullock starts her five-year term immediately following the surprise resignation of former Deputy Governor Guy Debelle in early March. Debelle left to join a green energy group founded by Australia’s richest man, billionaire miner Andrew Forrest.

Bullock joined the central bank straight out of university in 1985 and has served in the economic and international units, business services and currency departments.

In her new role, she will sit on the nine-member policy making Board of the RBA which sets interest rates. The next monthly meeting is due on April 5 when analysts assume rates will be kept at a record low of 0.1%.

RBA Governor Philip Lowe has said it was plausible a hike could come later this year as the economy is growing strongly and inflation is accelerating sharply.

Lowe’s seven-year term as governor ends next year and he has said he would be happy to take a second term if the government offers it.

(Reporting by Renju Jose; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)