Vale Robert Johnston, former RBA Governor

The Reserve Bank and federal government have paid tribute to former RBA Governor Robert Johnston, who died on Monday aged 98.

Tribute to Bob Johnston: Treasurer Jim Chalmers

Mr Johnston, who started his career at the Commonwealth Bank in 1940 at the age of 16, was appointed the RBA’s Chief Representative in London in 1976.

This was followed by a secondment to the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. After his return to the Reserve Bank in 1979, he was involved in the Campbell Inquiry into the Australian Financial System and became the Bank’s representative on the government task force that examined the Committee’s recommendations.

 He was appointed RBA Governor from a seven year term from 1982 to 1989.

“Bob Johnston was a truly great Australian who dedicated his life to the transformation of the national economy and helped make the RBA an important and respected institution in the financial landscape,” Treasurer Jim Chalmers said in a statement.

The RBA said Mr Johnston would be remembered for his sound judgement, integrity and enduring commitment to the advancement of the central bank.

Mr Johnston helped migrate the central banking functions of the Commonwealth Bank over to the newly created Reserve Bank and as Governor, oversaw some of the most significant economic reforms in Australia’s history, including the floating of the Australian dollar and the deregulation of the banking system.

He also helped to steer the economy through the currency crises of the mid 1980s and the October 1987 stock market crash.

Mr Johnston enlisted as an RAAF radio operator in 1943, serving in various locations during WWII including Darwin and Indonesia.

In 1986 he was made a Companion of the Order of Australia for his services to banking.

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