John Fraser quits Treasury

  • John Fraser is stepping down as Treasury secretary, one of the most powerful economic policy positions in Australia. He was a member of the RBA board and the Council of Financial Regulators.
  • He will be replaced by Phil Gaetjens, who has been both a political adviser and a public servant.
  • Fraser’s time at Treasury has been marked by a significant reduction in the federal budget deficit.

John Fraser, the former investment banker who has been a key policy player in a period when Australia has been significantly reducing its budget deficit, has quit as federal Treasury secretary after three and a half years.

He will be replaced by Philip Gaetjens, who has worked as both a political staffer and a public service executive.

The Treasury secretary is one of the most powerful economic policy-making positions in Australia, sitting on the board of the Reserve Bank board and the Council of Financial Regulators.

Fraser, a former CEO of UBS Global Asset Management, brought a fresh edge to the position from his background in investment banking. His two predecessors, Martin Parkinson and before that Ken Henry, were both career public servants. Treasury worked hard to increase its liaison with industry under his tenure.

John Fraser. Image: Treasury

The Council of Financial Regulators in particular has guided some significant policy shifts for the financial sector in recent year. Australians have accumulated record levels of household debt as interest rates have fallen over the past decade, leading to concerns about financial stability.

As Scott Morrison’s Treasury secretary, Fraser has been in a critical leadership role through a series of transitions in Australia’s economy in recent years, most notably a faster-than-expected reduction in the federal government deficit.

Philip Gaetjens, a former Chief of Staff to Treasurer Scott Morrison and also to former Treasurer Peter Costello, is the new Secretary of the Department of the Treasury.

He is a former Secretary of the New South Wales Treasury and has been a senior executive in the Commonwealth Treasury.

He also held senior executive positions in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the South Australian Treasury and Finance Department.

Treasurer Scott Morrison praised Fraser.

“Since his appointment in January 2015, Mr Fraser has provided exemplary leadership and advice on economic and financial issues,” he said.

“John has built a strong and respected senior executive team, and has taken a keen interest in recruiting great talent into Treasury,” said Morrison.

“John has also significantly upgraded the Treasury’s liaison program with business and the broader economy, with a particular focus in rural and regional areas.

“In this context, John drove the expansion of Treasury’s presence outside of Canberra to both attract new officers with a business background into Treasury and ensure Treasury was more plugged into what was happening in the wider economy.”

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