Labour says expanding the Reserve Bank's focus to achieving full employment as well as controlling inflation would bring New Zealand into line with Australia and the United States.

Finance spokesman Grant Robertson confirmed its new policy in a speech in Wellington today which includes not just expanding its focus but increasing transparency in its decision-making.

Instead of the Reserve Bank Governor being the sole arbiter of the official cash rate, a committee would make the decision and its minutes published within three weeks of a decision, noting any dissenting views.

The current governing committee of the Reserve bank would be joined by three independent experts appointed by the Governor in consultation with the Finance Minister.


The operational independence of the bank from the Government of the day would remain, as would the current inflation target of 1 to 3 per cent.

"Our policy introduces a more open and inclusive process, establishes a committee with some external members, and the committee's minutes published so that the financial market can have a more sound understanding of the trends in the decision-making process," Robertson said.

Australia and Britain followed similar models.

"We are doing this because in the wake of the global financial crisis there has been a significant challenge to the effective operation of monetary policy, in particular, in dealing with low or no inflation environment."

Robertson said that since the Reserve Bank Act came into effect 28 years ago there had been a massive change in the way the global economy operated.

"It's time to review our approach to monetary policy and ensure it is meeting New Zealand's need in the 21st century.

"The next Labour Government is determined to focus on creating more jobs and higher wages."

Finance Minister Steven Joyce said at the weekend he had asked for advice on the Reserve Bank's governance structures and whether the informal committee which already operates should make the official cash rate decision.

He has also questioned whether the bank should be responsible for reviewing its own legislation.

Treasury has asked former State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie to do some work for it on bank governance and committee decision-making.