National, ACT lambast Government over Adrian Orr's reappointment as Reserve Bank Governor

The National Party and ACT are furious after Adrian Orr was reappointed as the Governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand for another five years. 

Finance Minister Grant Robertson announced Orr's reappointment on Tuesday after the RBNZ Board made a unanimous recommendation to give him another term. 

"I am pleased to reappoint Adrian for another five-year term, effective from 27 March 2023," Robertson said. 

The Deputy Prime Minister said Orr has been "instrumental" in seeing the RBNZ through a period of "considerable" change and his reappointment will allow him to "ensure these changes are bedded in". 

"The Reserve Bank of New Zealand Act 2021 came into force in July this year and has changed how the Bank operates and is governed. This has led to considerable change in the Bank's strategy, people and culture.

"As the Governor, Mr Orr has been instrumental in leading this change and his reappointment will allow him to carry on and ensure these changes are bedded in. In light of global conditions, this is also a time when stability and continuity are paramount for the Bank. 

"Adrian has demonstrated the skills, knowledge and experience to help steer the financial system through the 1-in-100-year economic shock of the pandemic."

Robertson said he was "happy to endorse the recommendation of the Board" and had full confidence in Orr. 

But the appointment has not gone down well with the Opposition. 

National's Finance spokesperson Nicola Willis said the Party was "appalled" Orr had been reappointed without an independent review of the bank's performance during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"We have repeatedly urged the Government to conduct an independent review of the Reserve Bank's performance before endorsing the Governor for another five years. Re-appointing him without first completing such an inquiry is a serious mistake," Willis said on Tuesday. 

"In recent years, Adrian Orr as the Chair of the Monetary Policy Committee signed off on an extraordinary programme of money printing and cheap lending that pumped tens of billions of dollars into the economy. 

"That programme directly contributed to house prices rising 28 percent in one year, inflation rising to a 32-year high and record bank profits."

Willis said Kiwis who are now struggling with high inflation and cost of living deserve an independent review to assess whether the RBNZ took the right approach during the pandemic. 

"The Government's refusal to even ask these questions shows contempt for the New Zealand public," she added. 

"It's not enough for the Minister of Finance to lean on the endorsement of the board he helped appoint. He should have kicked off a thorough external review to satisfy himself and New Zealanders that the Bank did the best it could have. 

"Instead, he has directly shied away from any semblance of accountability. The 'ask no questions' approach is unacceptable."

Willis also repeated National's many calls for an independent inquiry into monetary policy decision-making during COVID, including its contribution to the cost of living crisis and house price increases.

It's a view shared by ACT leader David Seymour who said Orr's reappointment "shows the low standards Labour is setting for New Zealand". 

Seymour hit out at Orr accusing him of overseeing a term of "poor leadership, poor focus and poor outcomes". 

"In September I sent Finance Minister Grant Robertson an extensive letter outlining the many reasons we can't afford another term of Adrian Orr in the role," Seymour said. 

"He has shown poor leadership throughout his term, punctuated by high staff turnover and a failure to accept any responsibility for these issues."

The ACT leader said his Party has "no confidence" in Orr and said Robertson "should not have appointed him for a full term". 

"This just shows the low standards Labour is setting for New Zealand. Reappointing Orr says it is ok to have a Governor with questionable leadership skills, a diffuse focus, and terrible outcomes. 

"The Minister should have aimed higher, it's what New Zealanders deserve so they are not the victim of monetary incompetence that amounts to a thief in their pocket."

It's not the first time Opposition parties have called for a review of the country's economic policies during the pandemic. 

Earlier in the year the Greens, National, and ACT all called for an inquiry into the economic response to COVID-19. 

They said inflation and increased inequality are a result of the Government's COVID cash and the Reserve Bank's money printing.

But not everyone was critical of Orr's appointment. The Financial Services Council CEO Richard Klipin welcomed the news. 

"The past three years have been an incredibly difficult time for the country, our people and our businesses," Klipin said. 

"We look forward to continuing to work with the Governor and the RBNZ team to help grow the financial confidence and wellbeing of all New Zealanders."