Treasury deputy Nigel Ray is off to Washington

By Stephen Easton

August 14, 2018

A couple of weeks after his former chief of staff became the new Treasury secretary, Scott Morrison wants to send the head of the department’s macroeconomic group off to Washington as a representative to the International Monetary Fund.

Deputy secretary Nigel Ray is Australia’s nomination for a two-year term as an executive director at the IMF, the Treasurer announced today, which means he will cast 16 votes at the international financial body.

Nigel Ray. Image: Centre for Market Design.

The arrangement is that the Korean and Australian governments take turns in choosing an executive director to represent a motley crew that includes New Zealand and a list of Pacific Islands, as well as Mongolia, Uzbekistan and the island nation of Seychelles, located off Africa’s south-eastern coast.

“Mr Ray is eminently qualified for this role, having deep expertise in public policy and economic analysis,” Morrison said in the statement.

This won’t be his first diplomatic rodeo, either. Ray is currently Australia’s G20 Finance Deputy, second-in-charge to the G20 Sherpa, David Gruen, the deputy secretary for economics in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. In this case, Morrison explained, his remuneration is set by the IMF.

The new IMF executive director also served as the top economic adviser in the Washington embassy from 1997 to 2000, at the very senior diplomatic rank of minister-counsellor, mainly during former Liberal Party federal leader Andrew Peacock’s term as ambassador.

Ray earned a Public Service Medal for “outstanding public service through contributing to economic policy and the Australian Government’s fiscal strategy in response to the Global Financial Crisis” in the Queen’s Birthday honours of 2013.

He is the executive sponsor of Treasury’s Progressing Women Initiative, which he introduced with the department’s former secretary Martin Parkinson in 2012, shortly before Parkinson was terminated by the Abbott government, later to be rehired by Malcolm Turnbull as head of PM&C.

Ray also sits on the board of the Centre for Market Design, a joint venture between the University of Melbourne, federal Treasury and the Victorian Department of Treasury and Finance.

His academic qualifications include a Master of Economics and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Sydney.

As deputy secretary for macroeconomic issues, Ray’s team look at the performance of the Australian economy as a whole and consider what the future is likely to hold, based on domestic and international influences. In his previous role as head of the fiscal group, he was responsible for the budget, social policy and issues like retirement incomes, Commonwealth-state relations and infrastructure.

Morrison added his thanks to Christine Barron, who is also a senior official from the macroeconomic group, for doing an “excellent job” as an alternate executive director over the past two years.

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