Government to review and reform Reserve Bank Act

Finance Minister Grant Robertson.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson. Photo credit: Getty

Finance Minister Grant Robertson says changing the Reserve Bank policy targets is unlikely to impact mortgage rates in the near term.

Labour wants to add "maximising employment to the price stability objective of the bank".

"We also want to institute a committee-based decision-making model for monetary policy ... to replace the Governor as a single decision-maker," he said.

"There has been significant pressure on monetary policy in recent years, particularly in the wake of the global financial crisis. In addition, it's my view that monetary policy should play its part in the overall economic goals of our government," Mr Robertson said.

On Tuesday he released the terms of reference for the Government's review of the Reserve Bank Act, and re-signed the current policy targets agreement with acting reserve bank governor Grant Spence.

The coalition agreement between Labour and New Zealand First included a commitment to review and reform the Reserve Bank Act 1989.

The Reserve Bank implements monetary policy by setting the Official Cash Rate (OCR), to keep inflation between 1-3 percent.

Mr Robertson said the operational independence of the bank would remain and he didn't accept that inflation rises would be more likely under the new model.

"I think New Zealanders like and appreciate the fact that their mortgage rates stay steady and they have certainty about that," Mr Robertson said.

"This decision is about making sure that we take into account all of the factors that will help grow the economy, and for us it's important that employment's included in that. My view is that this should not have a dramatic effect, certainly in the near term, about [mortgage rates]. There are many other things that impact on mortgage rates."

The review will have two phases and an Independent Expert Advisory Panel will be appointed by Mr Robertson shortly.

Mr Robertson hadn't seen Ian Rennie's report into the Reserve Bank, which was commissioned by outgoing Finance Minister Steven Joyce, but said he looks forward to receiving it.