ACT Party unleashes on Reserve Bank for hiring 'diversity adviser'

  • 09/03/2024
ACT leader David Seymour, left, and Reserve Bank Governor Adrian Orr.
ACT leader David Seymour, left, and Reserve Bank Governor Adrian Orr. Photo credit: File

The ACT Party is accusing the Reserve Bank (RBNZ) of not focusing on inflation after it started advertising for a "diversity adviser" role. 

This week, the central bank announced it was hiring a principal diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) adviser - offering prospective employees the chance to embed "Te Ao Māori lens across policy, processes and systems"; utilise "gender and ethnic pay gap analyses"; and communicate "with credibility the linkage between proposed DEI initiatives, organisational strategies and the benefits to organisation in a variety of fora". 

ACT, a Government Coalition party, said the role wouldn't help lower inflation.

"It is inconsistent with the bank's single mandate to focus on price stability," a post on the party's X page said. 

ACT criticised the RBNZ for also saying in the job ad it was "growing". 

"While other public bodies work hard to make cuts, the bank boasts that it is 'growing' and 'reaching... new heights,'" the party said. 

"This is despite having its dual mandate cut down to a single mandate in December." 

But economic policy reporter Dan Brunskill dismissed ACT's criticism.  

"DEI might be irrelevant to inflation targeting… But it might be useful in work ensuring remote communities have access to cash, payments and banking," he responded on X.

The RBNZ responded to the criticism, telling Newshub in a statement that financial inclusion is "increasingly recognised as an important feature of a modern financial system".

"We see an inclusive financial system as one in which all New Zealanders have reasonable access to financial products and services that meet their needs," an RBNZ spokesperson said.

"Diversity, equity and inclusion are a critical part of our strategic approach and key to achieving our vision of being a 'Great Team, Best Central Bank'. It means broadening our workforce, our approach to stakeholder engagement, and our policy knowledge to become a more inclusive, effective, and innovative central bank."

The spokesperson said by broadening the RBNZ's talent pool it is able to create the "intellectual capability to dig deep into complex issues and adopt a wider lens to research, advice, and how we approach problems".

The Government late last year, under urgency, pushed through legislation narrowing the central bank's focus solely onto achieving price stability and away from supporting maximum sustainable employment. 

This was an election promise from ACT and Coalition leaders National. 

Parliament repealed the RBNZ's dual mandate despite Treasury officials recommending the Government didn't amend the Reserve Bank Act to remove the dual mandate. 

Instead, Treasury suggested the Coalition only issue a new remit to the central bank's monetary policy committee.