Saturday 21 Jul 2018 | 14:04 | SYDNEY
Saturday 21 Jul 2018 | 14:04 | SYDNEY

Didn't we quit the EBRD?


Stephen Grenville

13 July 2011 11:14

Three years ago I drew attention to a news item reporting that Australia would leave the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, noting that this departure made good sense. The EBRD's interests in Eastern Europe were always peripheral to ours and resources could be focused on our national interests closer to home. Leaving would also bring to an end a pleasant London posting for retired politicians and bureaucrats.

It's not clear (at least to me) what happened. We were due to leave in 2010. But when Peter Reith departed from the Director's job, a senior public servant kept the seat warm. He has now been replaced by Bob McMullan.

Meanwhile, success in Eastern European reconstruction has shrunken EBRD's target clientele. Mission largely accomplished. But instead of disbanding, it is looking for fresh pastures and new borrowers in North Africa. No international agency ever works itself out of a job. Perhaps the best example is the Bank for International Settlements: set up after WWI to oversee the payment of German reparations, it is still going strong.

Bob McMullan has served the nation well in a variety of roles, most recently as Parliamentary Secretary for International Development Assistance. Thus he is ideally qualified. We should be grateful that he is ready to go on serving the nation. He might have been even more useful as our Executive Director at the Asian Development Bank in Manila. Having such a high-profile and effective politician in the role would have sent a clear message on where our priorities lie. Sending him to London sends a different message.

Photo by Flickr user Stew Dean.