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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 6 Hansard (14 May) . . Page.. 1520 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

He was probably the first economist to work for the bank, and possibly the first economist to be employed full time in the public sector. It was Sir Leslie who steered the Commonwealth Bank as it became an important contributor in public policy debates in the 1930s and 1940s. It is this period that academics mark as the true start of central banking in Australia.

The Current Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, Ian MacFarlane, said of Sir Leslie:

The history of central banking in Australia and the history of Sir Leslie Melville are largely coterminous. If you read through the archives of the Reserve Bank you could be forgiven for thinking Melville was the Reserve Bank.

On his retirement, Sir Leslie was acknowledged-by his protégé Nugget Coombs-to have made a contribution to the theory and practice of central banking without equal in the world.

Sir Leslie was the principal economic adviser to the Australian government at the Imperial Economic Conference in Ottawa in 1932, and at the World Economic Conference in London in 1933. On the eve of the Second World War, Sir Leslie was appointed as architect of Australia's war economy.

Sir Leslie recalled recently that the wartime currency crisis was such that people would stop him in the street and ask whether they should send their wealth offshore. He pioneered solutions to this, and other economic concerns of a similar magnitude. He was the first to call his colleagues together to discuss problems and come up with solutions.

The next step in Sir Leslie's career was his involvement with the setting up of the Bretton Woods institutions-the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and later the World Trade Organisation. It was because of the visionaries involved in their inauguration that these institutions stood as positive examples of international cooperation. Bretton Woods institutions ensured that the isolationism which contributed to the Depression and the Second World War would not factor so greatly again in world economic affairs.

Sir Maynard Keynes acknowledges Sir Leslie's role at Bretton Woods, saying, "He upheld the dignity and integrity of Australia with the most marked success." In 1953, Sir Leslie was appointed the second Vice Chancellor of the ANU, after leaving the Commonwealth Bank. He has left an indelible mark on Canberra by entrenching the ANU as one of the top Australian universities. He played a major role in the difficult amalgamation of the Canberra University College and the ANU. Sir Leslie is famously quoted as saying, "There can be no end to the building of a university."

Sir Leslie was an adviser to Prime Minister Menzies and later to the board of the Reserve Bank, beginning the tradition, which has lasted for 40 years, of an ANU economist sitting on the board of the central bank.

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