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‘First time in history’: RBA’s first gender-balanced board

Two more women have been appointed to the RBA’s board, making it “gender-balanced for the first time in history”, according to Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

The Morrison government has appointed Coca-Cola Amatil group managing director Alison Watkins and Commonwealth Serum Laboratories (CSL) director Carolyn Hewson as members of the Reserve Bank Board, each for a five-year period.

Ms Hewson and Ms Watkins replace Allan Moss, previous director of Macquarie Group, and Catherine Tanna, managing director of EnergyAustralia.

Ms Watkins’ experience comprises senior roles in agriculture and banking sectors. As well as being the group managing director of Coca-Cola Amatil, she is also a Business Council of Australia Board member and non-executive director of The Centre for Independent Studies. 

Ms Hewson is a former investment banker with over 35 years’ experience in the finance and energy sectors. She is currently a director of CSL Limited and Infrastructure SA, and a former director of BHP, BT Investment Management and Westpac Banking Corp.

Ms Watkins’ term commenced on 1 December, while Ms Hewson’s is set to start on 29 March next year. 

According to Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, the new appointments mean that the RBA’s board is now “gender-balanced” for the first time.

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He said: “This is the first time in the history of our central bank there is a gender balance on the board. Of the appointments that the Commonwealth could make, we now have Carol Shwartz, Alison Watkins, Carolyn Hewson and Wendy Craik. Four women of outstanding quality,” he said.

Mr Frydenberg also noted the male members of the board: Philip Lowe (governor), Guy Debelle (deputy governor), Mark Barnaba, Ian Harper and Steven Kennedy (Treasury Secretary).

“[I]t’s a very significant announcement [that] Alison Watkins and Carolyn Hewson are being appointed to the board of the Reserve Bank,” he said.

“I wish them well. It couldn’t be a more important time to be on our central bank as the Australian economy continues to recover from the first pandemic of such a size in a century and the greatest economic hit since the Great Depression.”

The announcement comes following Michelle McPhee’s recent appointment to the RBA. As announced earlier this month, Ms McPhee will take over from Lindsay Boulton as assistant governor for business services at the RBA in March 2021.

[Related: RBA announces new assistant governor for business services]

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