Reserve Bank of Australia governor Philip Lowe will face his six-monthly grilling from federal politicians on Friday, coming at a time when the central bank has made marked changes to its view on the outlook.
In last week’s quarterly statement on monetary policy, the RBA now sees inflation at the top end, or above, its two to three per cent target out to 2024, and the unemployment rate dropping below four per cent.
A jobless rate of this level has not been seen in 50 years and currently sits at a 13-year low of 4.2 per cent.
Dr Lowe now believes a hike in the cash rate from a record low 0.1 per cent this year is “plausible”, having for some time indicated there would be no change until 2024.
The House of Representatives economics committee, under the leadership of new chair and Liberal MP Jason Falinski, will scrutinise the RBA’s thinking around its inflation target and the outlook for monetary policy.
It will also look at the the RBA’s decision at its February board meeting to cease its its bond purchasing program.
“Monetary policy has been incredibly consequential for the Australian economy and the decisions the RBA take have an impact on everyone,” the committee said in a statement.
The central bank is expected to undergo a review of its policy framework after the federal election due by May.
Both Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and his Labor counterpart Jim Chalmers support such an inquiry.
While inflation has finally returned to the RBA’s target, it has taken some seven years to get there. Economists say that suggests the target has been set too high, for too long.