Macfarlane gives banks Y2K OK

Australian banks, credit unions and building societies have completed final Y2K testing and are ready to handle the date change, according to the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA).

In an address last week to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics, Finance and Public Administration, RBA governor Ian Macfarlane was confident Australian financial organisations have successfully completed Y2K compliance projects.

"As well as making sure their systems are compliant, [organisations] have also been sending out very clear messages to their customers about the safety of their deposits," Macfarlane said.

Public over-reaction to Y2K are where problems may arise, Macfarlane said.

"It is not just a matter of getting the technical side right, but it is also important that we don't run into a problem of public over-reaction.

"All the indications here are that the vast majority of the public are taking a sensible and calm approach and have not been influenced by alarmist stories or predictions of doom - not that there have been a lot of these anyhow," he said.

Despite warnings of cash shortages, Macfarlane has advised the public not to risk having too much cash on hand or at home.

"The safest place for your savings is in the financial institution that it is presently in," he said.

"Don't fear that the country will run out of cash. We have printed enough notes to provide for any conceivable demand."

Macfarlane said the RBA will have a team on hand on December 31 with a communications centre receiving up to date information from the financial institutions. The centre will be linked to the federal government's National Co-ordination Centre in Canberra as well as international centres.

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