Chris Bowen, a key backer of returned Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, was sworn in as Australia’s third treasurer in 17 years and faces the challenge of reviving a slowing economy as a mining-investment boom wanes.
Bowen, 40, elected to parliament in 2004 and a former assistant treasurer, takes the top economic role as policy makers attempt to engineer a rebalancing of the world’s 12th largest economy by boosting industries including construction to extend 22 years of economic growth.
“The domestic economy is slowing and China looks more uncertain,” said Martin Whetton, an interest-rate strategist at Nomura Holdings Inc. in Sydney. “Bowen has to deal with the end of the commodities boom and he faces major challenges.”
Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Glenn Stevens and his board slashed borrowing costs by 2 percentage points over the past 20 months to 2.75 percent, joining global counterparts in embracing record-low rates to combat currency strength. The government abandoned a pledge to return the budget to surplus this fiscal year and in May projected a deficit of A$19.4 billion ($18 billion).