Pissheads at the RBA

Now I’m not a big of the RBA – I’d outsource most of it and shut down the rest – but some stories are a tad over the top.

TAXPAYERS have been slugged a $166,000 booze bill over the last three years racked up by bankers at the Reserve Bank of Australia — the organisation in charge of the country’s fiscal responsibility.

First things first – the RBA is not “in charge of the country’s fiscal responsibility”. Nobody is doing that important job. In theory, however, that function should be performed by the Department of Finance.

But what of the notion that we have a whole bunch of inebriated public servants in Sydney living it up on the public credit card?

I would have thought that any large organisation that run conferences and seminars and meetings and so on across the year and has visiting international speakers and so on would be expected to spend some money on alcohol. Throw in a strategic retreat and a Christmas party and add that up over three years and you’re going to see a largish bill. That is what we see here.

On the other hand, the $761 spent on XXXX Gold stubbies does need to be investigated and probably refunded.

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54 Responses to Pissheads at the RBA

  1. stackja

    Bank not very reserved?

  2. Bigpeteoz

    That is equal to $1,000 per week on piss.
    Why in God’s name are we spending so much on piss for a bunch of arseholes who do SFA for our dollars.
    Is this a “let them eat cake” moment?

  3. Tim Neilson

    Yes but if governments didn’t impose huge taxes on grog it wouldn’t be an amount worth worrying about.

    PS how many employees does the organisation have? Maybe if the payroll were slimmed down a bit the grog figure would go down as well.

  4. John64

    the $761 spent on XXXX Gold stubbies does need to be investigated

    A Royal Commission into the banks I would support.

  5. Sinclair Davidson

    1347 employees in 2016.

  6. Roger

    The thing is, Sinc, this sort of thing gets tax payers annoyed because we know it’s only the proverbial tip of the iceberg of public sector profligacy. Why can’t they just have tea and biscuits at conferences and contribute to their own Christmas party fund like most in the private sector do?

  7. Tim Neilson

    1347 employees in 2016.

    Thanks Sinc. So at one stubby per employee for a post work drink on site every Friday we’ve accounted for well over $100k of the total. And as you say the rest is easily explicable by a Christmas party, even before we get to special events etc.

    So you’re right – there’s no reason to assume that they’re living the high life on this.

  8. dopey

    Not even Les Patterson would spend that much.

  9. Tim Neilson

    Actually I think I might have miscalculated – one stubby per week for 1347 employees for 3 years would be way way over 160K.

  10. Entropy

    Most of the plonk would be consumed, by non RBA people I would assume.
    I am more interested in why the RBA needs 1347 employees. It doesn’t have counter staff.

  11. John Comnenus

    God help our finances which are held hostage to the appalling judgement and waste shown here by the RBA. $761 on XXXX Gold. Is someone on Senate Estimates going to hold someone to account for buying XXXX Gold. Even on the most generous assessment a case cost $45, so these people drank one case of XXXX Gold and then brought another 16 slabs.

    Royal Commission now. We need to know names.

  12. closeapproximation

    the organisation in charge of the country’s fiscal responsibility

    That’s Daily Telegraph quality reporting for you.

    What hope is there for civic responsibility and strong institutions when people don’t understand the basics of our governing structures ?

    Ignorance leads to cynicism which leads to low expectations which leads to corruption. That’s why poor journalism is a danger.

    Having said that, Reserve Bank has control over cheap credit, which does indeed have a major impact on everyone else’s fiscal responsibility!

  13. John Comnenus


    you need to lift your companies game. Almost every Friday our company bundies off around 3:30 to 4 depending on workload and deadlines and gets on the beer, white and red wine, softies or even whiskey all on the company account. And the beers are all decent beers like Boags and Peroni etc.

    The kitchenette has a well stocked bar fridge and people have been known to get a bollocking from the rest of the team if the bar fridge is under stocked or not stocked with sufficient range of drinks. There have been a number of Friday evenings where the car park remains half full and a fleet of taxis have taken the team home on Friday.

    I am already counting down to beer oclock – not far off. Just need to finish some tender writing!

  14. They must get pissed with Tony Abbott a lot.

  15. Sinclair Davidson

    Clearly the $761 on XXXX is some sort of industry assistance program.

  16. Sinclair Davidson

    … it’s only the proverbial tip of the iceberg of public sector profligacy.

    In all seriousness cutting the booze bill is a false economy. As others have suggested why have over 1000 employees? Why have an RBA at all? These are the more serious issues.

  17. dopey

    “why the RBA needs 1347 employees?’
    To keep interest rates on hold.

  18. stackja

    Development as a central bank (1920 – 1960)

    By the end of the 1950s, controversy over the organisation’s dual functions as a central bank on the one hand, and a trading/savings bank on the other, came to a head. Legislative changes in the form of the Commonwealth Banks Act 1959 and the Reserve Bank Act 1959 formally divided the two operations. The Reserve Bank of Australia was established on 14 January 1960 as the successor in law of the Commonwealth Bank, assuming control of all central banking activities. The remaining functions (trading/savings bank activities), together with the newly constituted Commonwealth Development Bank, became the Commonwealth Banking Corporation.

  19. Jeannie

    Oh we are all so naive. Even you Sinc.

    I would suggest the $166,000 refers only to the booze that goes into the RBA cellars. To be consumed in the boardroom. I believe they have a wonderful selection of Penfolds Grange. Possibly the best in the country.

    But the main spend on wine will not be reported. It will be on credit cards, mainly in restaurants. Carefully hidden in the accounts somewhere and probably about ten times The $166.000.

    Oh the joy of being a public servant with a weak government.

  20. Snoopy

    Throw in a strategic retreat and a Christmas party and add that up over three years and you’re going to see a largish bill.

    I don’t think government departments pony up for staff drinks in these enlightened times. Universities do?

  21. Antipodean

    The XXXX Gold is obviously accounted incorrectly and should be located in cleaning supplies, specifically toilet cleaner…

  22. Roger

    In all seriousness cutting the booze bill is a false economy. As others have suggested why have over 1000 employees? Why have an RBA at all? These are the more serious issues.

    I did say it was merely the tip of the iceberg.

    “why the RBA needs 1347 employees?’
    To keep interest rates on hold.

    Pay that!

  23. Sinclair Davidson

    But the main spend on wine will not be reported. It will be on credit cards, mainly in restaurants.

    I’m sure that happens too. But more interesting – does the RBA pay fringe benefits tax? Or at least have to report a fringe benefits tax equivalent number?

  24. To be fair to the RBA, if you looked at the RMIT fringe benefits accounts you’d find a lot of plonk as well. Martin Bean looks like the sort of bloke who can knock back Grange with the best of them.

  25. Entropy

    I don’t think government departments pony up for staff drinks in these enlightened times. Universities do?

    Departments don’t pay for staff drinkies. In fact, even bringing in your own grog for Friday evening drinks is a real big no no these days in a lot of agencies. Retirees might get away with bringing it in for the send off.. The RBA however, is a statutory body and thus has a bit of independence and therefore leeway shall we say.

  26. Sinclair Davidson

    M0nty – I don’t know what the VC drinks, if anything. But at RMIT we do have to keep track of entertainment expenses etc for fringe benefit tax purposes. My question is whether the RBA has to keep the same records?

  27. Snoopy

    Monty looks like the sort of bloke who can knock back bottomless Fanta with the best of them.

  28. Entropy

    I wonder how many RBA employees have sweet overseas gigs complete with expense account?

  29. Entropy

    I would say they do Sinc. I would suspect their accountability requirements might be quite a tad higher than a university.

  30. Sinclair Davidson

    I would suspect their accountability requirements might be quite a tad higher than a university.

    I would hope so – but given the trouble they have had with the notes company I doubt it.

    The issue isn’t whether they capture entertainment expenses (of course they do) but whether they also calculate fringe benefit tax liability. That’s not the same thing.

  31. Sinclair Davidson

    I should also point out that the RBA looks to be paying about $13 for Oyster Bay Sauv Blanc. That is a really good price in the shops (the best I’ve ever seen it is for $12 and it’s usually about $16 a bottle. But they should be able to get wholesale prices.

  32. Yon Toad

    Frankly folks, I am beyond caring. This country is already at Year Zero and totally fecked.

  33. Bruce of Newcastle

    Do they use the Persian approach to setting interest rates?

    “… any decision they make when they are sober, is reconsidered afterwards when they are drunk.”

    Herodotus knew bankers!

  34. Dr Fred Lenin

    What do they actually do these 1,000 odd highly paid people? Apart from setting the scandelously low interest rates that destroy savings ,and encourage irresponsible people and governments into huge debts they will never pay back . If interest rates were 6 or 7 percent the whole facade of modern government would collapse ,and the pretend econo y would be in deep trouble

  35. EvilElvis

    I’m with you Ton Toad.

    At what point should we be paying for entertainment expenses, booze or otherwise, for these useless fucking public servants. They produce nothing and do not contribute one iota to the finances of the country. And despite trying to be another department or body run as a business, they’re not and never will be.

    Private companies can get pissed until the cows come home, they will be held to account at some stage, the public service never is.

  36. Combine Dave

    Given XXXX is locally made and these ‘elite’ govies have a tendency to spend prolifically on Euro swill, mandating XXXX as the sole alcohol allowed to be purchased by any public servant in Australia will contribute greatly to small government in Australia and reduced spending and Australian jobs.

  37. Maggie Ward

    I believe no one is in charge of finances, I trusted Cormann would keep his head down but he has joined the Turnbull fray, no doubt jockeying for leadership and none worthy of our trust.

  38. Squirrel

    The RBA types one sees on the telly look like the sort of people who would regard fish paste sandwiches and cordial as wanton indulgence – clearly still waters run deep. I think, though, this might be part of the Coombs legacy – laid down a very fine cellar, apparently.

  39. Snoopy

    You haven’t lived until you’ve witnessed government auditors gone wild.

  40. Andrew

    On average each RBA employee, including their visitors and guests, spend 70c a week or about $35 a year on alcohol on the corporate card, meals during business travel, Friday night drinks, midyear and Xmas parties?

    FMD, this is the model of efficiency. 1 drink in roughly 2 months, about 6 a year. They must be Muslim (which would also explain ZIRP, since they don’t believe in ribaa).

  41. Terry

    The real investigation should focus on why the RBA needs 1347 employees…

    …for WHAT?

    That entire alcohol bill wouldn’t cover even one FTE.

  42. Robber Baron

    Hard working public servants deserve a well earned drink. They slave away doing extraordinary complex economic things that make our economy the envy of the world. These diligent employees have to endure the criticisms from people that don’t have PhDs and never had the awesome responsibility of holding the levers of the economy in their hands.

    Shame on you cats….shame.

    The RBA is responsible with its expenditure; it’s not like it can literally just print money!


  43. Fuck every one of you who mentioned Grange.
    I used to own a bottle of 1984, a bottle of 1992 and 2 bottles of 1996 (to be opened when the youngest turned 21 …….THIS FUCKING YEAR), but my ex took all of them…..ALL OF THEM…… [sulks away crying]

  44. max

    End the Fed

    Paper Money and Tyranny

    All great republics throughout history cherished sound money. This meant that the monetary unit was a commodity of honest weight and purity. When money was sound, civilizations were found to be more prosperous and freedom thrived. The less free a society becomes, the greater the likelihood its money is being debased and the economic well-being of its citizens diminished.

    Honest Money

    You shall do no injustice in judgment, in measurement of length, weight, or volume. You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt. (Leviticus 19:35–36)

    Your silver has become dross, your wine mixed with water. (Isaiah 1:22)

  45. JohnA

    First things first – the RBA is not “in charge of the country’s fiscal responsibility”. Nobody is doing that important job. In theory, however, that function should be performed by the Department of Finance.


    The word “country” should be replaced by the words “Federal Government.”

    Then both the assertion and the rebuttal would be vastly more logical.

  46. OldOzzie


    interested in your thoughts on this Grace Collier Article

    Peter Costello our best hope against Bill Shorten

    You think Australia has problems now? Imagine everything going from bad to worse as it will when, say, Bill Shorten becomes prime minister. What a depressing thought.

    Time flies. The next election grows closer by the day and all across the country people are preparing mentally for what they see as the horribly inevitable — rearranging their affairs, battening down the hatches, plotting their escape routes.

    While Coalition supporters can feel the darkness coming with growing dread, Coalition politicians seem determined to bring it on. With the odd exception, government types present a despondent front.

    Australia looks like a poorly managed business under union attack, run by executives who haven’t a clue how to defend it and can’t really be bothered anyway. Let them have Labor and see how they like it then — this is the vibe emanating from Canberra.

    In the absence of adequate leadership, the question becomes: How do we save Australia from Shorten?

    No one seems to know. But this week a reader came forward with a historical book by Robert M. Edsel, Saving Italy, set in 1943. Italy has been occupied and the world’s greatest cultural treasures have been seized. The book recounts the tale of two unlikely heroes, an artist and a scholar, both American, who go on a mission to find and save billions of dollars of missing art, including works by Michelangelo, Donatello, Titian, Caravaggio and Botticelli.

    In the book, German field marshal Albert Kesselring is pivotal in helping the heroes. Against orders, he arranges an unconditional surrender of the Germans in Italy to prevent imminent shelling of the artworks and precious monuments. He has to choose between saving the treasures and risking his life. While agonising over his choice, Kesselring is asked by another officer: “What will you do, sir, what answer will you give the German people, if at the critical moment they should appeal to your sense of responsibility?”

    “You can be sure,” answers Kesselring, “that in such a situation I would not hesitate to place everything I have and am at their disposal.”

    The federal seat of Higgins lies in Melbourne’s leafy southeast. It’s a blue-ribbon seat for the Liberals and flush with funds because generous donors live within its boundaries.

    Peter Costello — our greatest treasurer in living memory and the prime minister that should have been but wasn’t — held this seat for years. When he left, it was passed down to his staff member, Kelly O’Dwyer, and what a fine mess she has made of it. She is a living example of why political staff with barely any life experience should not be allowed to graduate into the parliamentary ranks.

    Some time ago Peta Credlin made the headlines, as there was a rumour she was being recruited to take the seat of Higgins off O’Dwyer. To save Australia, though, we need Peter, not Peta. We need Costello, and perhaps Peter needs us as much as we need him. For sure, there is unfinished business here, a path avoided that should have been trodden, opportunities missed that can now be taken up.

    With regular monotony, people within Higgins contact me to criticise O’Dwyer. This does not happen with any other politician. My sympathies go out to these people, and I agree with their sentiments, but at some point the complaints must end and decisive action must occur.

    This week, heavyweights within the seat met again to talk about the situation. Considerable funds are at the ready and a plan of action has been discussed.

    There is common agreement O’Dwyer must go, and the aim is to persuade members in the seat not to endorse her at the next preselection. There are several people prepared to throw their hat in the ring, but the preferred candidate would be Costello. However, there is uncertainty about how to approach him and how to make that pitch succeed.

    Members in Higgins need to stand up and be counted. Not to endorse O’Dwyer would involve some awkwardness and discomfort, but circumstances warrant it. A delegation must be sent to Costello, and then he needs to stand up and be counted, too.

    As soon as he is in the seat, he must challenge for the leadership and the partyroom must endorse him. His return must take the form of a fast track to the top job. It has to be all or nothing as he has already done his time, proved his worth, and shouldn’t have to gin around doing it all again.

    In Saving Italy, one man stood up when he didn’t have to and saved the nation’s treasures from the German army. There is no comparison being made here between Labor and the Germans, but our nation is precious, our economy is a treasure, and we do need saving at this point.

    Costello is our best hope. He could save Australia from the present version of the Coalition and a Shorten prime ministership. To readers I ask: What are your thoughts on this issue? Do you want Costello back and do you think he should go straight into the top job? To Costello I ask: What will you do, sir? What answer will you give the Australian people if, at the critical moment, they should appeal to your sense of responsibility?

    As Grace says

    Costello is our best hope. He could save Australia from the present version of the Coalition and a Shorten prime ministership. To readers I ask: What are your thoughts on this issue?

  47. Gbees

    What’s the debt now $600bn and counting? Time for a rather large scotch. Hiccup.

  48. OldOzzie

    This sums up the Turnbull Coalition/Liberals and Australia at the moment

    High taxes, more regulation? Sounds like Turnbull’s Coalition

    Picture the scene. It was this year’s budget lockup and I was trying to keep my head down. I made the mistake of reading the speech that would be delivered in a few hours. Now these speeches are generally vacuous drivel, but this year’s really set the bar at a new low. Scott Morrison would be speaking as if he were a Labor politician.

    “We must choose to guarantee the essential services that Australians rely on. We cannot underestimate just how important these services are to people. We must tackle cost-of-living pressures for Australians and their families. We cannot agree with those who say there is nothing that the government can do.”

    My god, I thought; the Treasurer is our father in Canberra and he is here to look after us. His likely defence is that the focus groups made him say this.

    If that weren’t bad enough, the next instalment came after the entrance of the Treasurer to our room in the lockup. When confronted by some awkward questions about the case for the major bank levy, he quoted the title of the song: Cry Me a River.

    In other words, he simply didn’t care that the new impost was ill-considered and economically damaging. He couldn’t even outline a sensible rationale for seeking to rake in more than $6 billion in four years from the four big banks and the Macquarie Group. That the burden of the tax would be borne by customers, shareholders and workers was but a passing consideration for our caring father. But his flock — again thanks to those focus groups — was telling him they didn’t like the banks. The logic is that if you don’t like them, he will impose a whopping new tax on them.

    The only way I could get the Treasurer’s preferred song out of my head was to impose another one. And it went like this: you’ve lost that liberal feeling / bring back that liberal feeling.

    To my mind, this aptly sums up what has happened to the Turnbull government. It has abandoned support for liberal ideas; for the centrality of individual responsibility. Malcolm Turnbull and other senior ministers increasingly reject the importance of competition and choice as the means of ensuring consumers get the best deal. Instead, they (erroneously) think more government regulation, aggressive bully­ing of businesses and trammelling on legitimate commercial arrangements are the way forward.

    There are many — too many — examples and I will go through some of them. But here’s an important general point: if the Liberal Party wants to turn its back on its principles — and I haven’t even mentioned its general embrace of higher taxes and its botched superannuation initiatives — then voters are likely to turn to the real deal when it comes to the rejection of free market economics and install Labor.

    Labor’s embrace of big government, high taxes and more regulation is also a repudiation of the Hawke-Keating legacy. But, let’s face it, Labor can concoct a form of words that goes with its retreat from those halcyon days; think fairness, inequality, helping minority groups and the like.

    These slogans play less well in the hands of members of the Coalition government even though some of them, including the Prime Minister, laughably think they can lay claim to that much-distorted adjective, fair.

    So let’s go through some of the anti-Liberal policy initiatives the Turnbull government has implemented or is proposing to implement. Of course, the major bank levy is right up there as one of the most preposterous.

    That the Treasurer could keep a straight face telling us that he was instructing the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission to ensure that the banks didn’t pass the levy on to their customers was a truly amazing sight. What does he thinks happen to taxes? Does he think that businesses absorb the GST?

    And how does Morrison’s dub­ious intervention square with the Treasury’s modelling on the revenue that will be gained from the levy, firmly assuming it will be passed on to customers and therefore not affect the banks’ profits? Otherwise, the revenue from the normal company tax paid by the banks would be reduced, and we couldn’t have that.

    It is almost impossible to list the new regulatory interventions affecting the banking sector, most of them simply costly and likely to prove ineffective. There are regulators falling over themselves to impose higher costs on the banks.

    Arguably, the cost of all these new, ongoing intrusions — think, in particular, the absurd banking executive accountability regime — will be higher than the alternative of having a royal commission into banking, which for political reasons the Liberal Party has done everything to avoid.

    Then we go to the energy space. Here the government makes the mistake of openly expressing its reservations for undertaking a series of extraordinary anti-market interventions but proceeding notwithstanding.

    Consider the decision to restrict the export of gas for which there had been previous government approval. Or consider the government’s determination to remove the right of the transmission companies to appeal the decisions of the regulator, overriding the basis of good governance of regulated industries.

    And then, willy-nilly, the government agreed to 49 of the 50 recommendations of the Finkel review on energy security, even though many of them are ill-conceived and add up to a new layer of costly regulation on a sector that is already overwhelmed by a labyrinth of complex and inconsistent rules and regulations.

    And because we don’t have enough energy agencies — there are dozens if you add in the state-based ones — another will be added: the Energy Security Board.

    There is also the truly bizarre decision of the Coalition government to support the entreaties of the Nationals to re-regulate the sugar industry in Queensland, turning its back on the previous difficult and expensive decision to remove the single desk selling arrangement in that industry.

    And what about the Treasurer’s decision to refuse to lower the prohibitive tariff on imported second-hand cars even though there will be no local manufacturing in this country from the end of the year?

    Evidently, regional car dealers and parts suppliers were able to pressure the government to reject this clearly pro-consumer decision. Note that the importation of relatively new second-hand cars is commonplace in New Zealand and other countries, and causes no problems at all. Instead, the Turnbull government’s motto is: rent-seekers, come on down.

    During the week, a senior member of the Turnbull government texted me to ask why I was so angry about the government. I’m not angry; I’m just bitterly disappointed. If the Turnbull government ever had a chance of convincing the electorate that it could govern well, it needed to stick with the principles it inherited from the Howard years. And those principles involved commitment to individual responsibility, competition, choice, low taxation and getting government out of the way as much as possible. On all scores, this government has been a complete flop.

    Let’s face it, telling the voters that the government is here to look after us will always end in tears. Disappointment, frustration, enfeeblement — these are the likeliest outcomes.

  49. Alexi the Conservative Russian

    OMG, Since has a sense of humour. Well I never!

  50. Alexi the Conservative Russian

    Bloody spell checkers!!!

    OMG, Sinc has a sense of humour. Well I never!

  51. Motelier

    On the other hand, the $761 spent on XXXX Gold stubbies does need to be investigated and probably refunded.


    Some people just have no taste.

  52. Up The Workers!

    “Pissheads at the R.B.A.”?

    What a Wunch of Bankers!

  53. While we supply them with booze, why not throw in cigarettes, drugs, escorts, the works.

  54. dangermouse

    Enjoy! … before we all convert to Islam

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