Bernie Fraser: A brief appreciation

Bernie Fraser has just resigned as Chairman of the Climate Change Authority, of which I’m a Member. His chairmanship marked the culmination of a long career of public service, in which Bernie served as both Secretary of the Treasury and Governor of the Reserve Bank. Over many years, I’ve sometimes agreed and sometimes disagreed with Bernie on particular policy issues, but I’ve always found him to be committed to serving the Australian people and to a broad and humane view of our collective interests. At a personal level, he’s a great person to deal with and work with. He will be a big loss to the Authority, but we have made arrangements to carry on our work.

One of my Twitter followers asked for a post on which people might write appreciative comments, and here it is. If you want to discuss anything else (climate change policy, macro policy in the 1980s and 1990s, the future of the CCA) I’ll be opening a sandpit for this purpose.

13 thoughts on “Bernie Fraser: A brief appreciation

  1. There was much good research flowing out of the Reserve Bank under Bernie’s tenure. It was invaluable to a student of economics at the time. A genuine leader.

  2. Quite possibly the best Treasury Secretary and undoubtedly the best governor of the RBA ever.

    He was intellectually insecure like John Stone visavis Chris Higgins and actively encouraged younger people in treasury to parade their opinions providing they did their homework.

    He came to the RBA under a cloud and suspicion from RBA staff but left with a wonderful reputation. He gave the RBA independence and an inflation target well before it was formalised.

  3. Thank you JQ.

    Bernie represents perhaps the best ideals of such service; fearless advice.

    A perilless and thankless position in the days of RWNJ ideology, with creeping infection in some the RNWJ-lite ‘center’.

  4. Public service with an independent spirit like this reminds me if some research on cultural factors in airline safety. It was funded by Boeing, who have a vested interest in blaming air crashes on human rather than mechanical factors, but SFIK the study was independent and professional. What they found was a correlation between airline safety and lack of deference. In deferential cultures, crew members don’t challenge the captain if they think he or (rarely) she is making a mistake. The safest airlines are El Al and Qantas, based in notoriously un-deferential cultures.

  5. @I am and will always be Not Trampis

    Quite possibly the best Treasury Secretary

    Really? What did he do that was so memorable, other than not be John Stone?

    He came to the RBA under a cloud and suspicion from RBA staff

    True, reflecting the prevailing monastic and in-bred RBA culture. He shook the place up early on by hiring two outsiders for very senior positions, at the expense of two legendary RBA-lifers. (It wouldn’t be a bad idea if the next Governor comes from outside the RBA. All institutions need leadership from the outside every so often.)

    Fraser made headlines early in his RBA tenure by giving an interview in which he said he wouldn’t take crap (or words to that effect) from “dickhead ministers”, of which there were and are many. It’s a wonder he stayed as long as he did as Chairman of the CCA. Life is to short, and he is 74.

  6. As a non-economist member of the public I just remember the great dignity of the man, across several public service positions. Very best wishes for the future.

  7. I always found Bernie Fraser to be both cheerful and honest, qualities that are very rare these days. I am sure he will be sorely missed, in fact, I miss him already. Thank you for your service to the public, Bernie.

  8. I agree Bernie Fraser has always been a fighter for the public interest. His efforts for industry super should also be commended, given the scam-like nature of its competitors.

    I could understand Fraser wanting to retire and hope his health is good. He deserves a rest, but on the other hand there are so few high profile economic commentators like him speaking for the public good.

  9. Bernie Fraser can reflect on a career of exemplary public service. Highlights include the economic reforms while Treasury secretary, introducing a medium-term inflation target now regarded as world’s best practice and increasing contacts with Asian central banks while RBA governor and giving clear unbiased analysis while heading the CCA. And throughout his career, being known for his integrity and modesty. All the best wishes for his retirement.

  10. Bernie Fraser has just (Sept 23) chastised Malcolm Turnbull for reneging on his climate change beliefs, presumeably at the behest of LNP coalition conservatives. It will be interesting to see if the PM uses his own political capital to call their bluff on the ‘deal’ given the gravitas of BF’s expressed disappointment . Hope so but not confident of Turnbull’s political skills…or backbone.

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