At the Australian Financial Security Authority (AFSA) panel today, Michele Bullock said geopolitical events beyond the RBA's control could act against efforts to curb inflation.
The RBA boss said price shocks from events like the war in Ukraine and the recent situation in Israel-Palestine "just keep coming" and warned the impact on the Australian economy could go beyond higher oil prices.
"The problem is that we've just got shock after shock after shock, and the more that that keeps inflation elevated, even if it's from supply shocks, the more people adjust their thinking," Ms Bullock said.
"The more people adjust their inflation expectations, the more entrenched inflation is likely to become, so that's the challenge."
If public perception is that inflation will continue for the foreseeable future, spending is likely to increase, because people feel their money won't be worth as much in a few months time, which in turn keeps inflation strong.
It's something the RBA has mentioned continuously in explaining why the cash rate hikes seen throughout this year and last were so aggressive, to bring inflation down as quickly as possible before it became 'entrenched' in people's expectations.
Domestically, Ms Bullock was more positive, saying monetary policy tightening is starting to bite, and highlighting the strong savings buffers many households built up during the pandemic, which are helping to absorb increases to mortgage repayments.
However, she said rising property prices, "sticky" service price inflation and the tight labour market could all work against the work the RBA have done to contract the economy.
November's monetary policy decision is considered the most live in months by many analysts, with important data like quarterly CPI inflation, to be released prior, likely to inform Ms Bullock and the board's call.
How Israel-Palestine conflict could impact the Aussie economy
It's a bit solipsistic given the horrific developments unfolding in the middle east, but the escalating situation could have a big effect on Australian affairs.
Shane Oliver, Chief Economist at AMP, said so far, the impact on oil prices has been modest, but this is coming after a price resurgence before the conflict broke out.
"From an economic and investment perspective the concern is that it will lead to [another] surge in oil prices that will add to inflation, keep interest rates higher for longer and add to the risk of recession," Mr Oliver said.
"The key is whether oil supplies from major producers in the Middle East are impacted. Israel along with Lebanon & Syria are not big oil producers.
"The main risk is if Iran, which backs Hamas and Hezbollah in Lebanon, is drawn into the war which could threaten its oil production, 2.5% of global consumption [and] the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz, through which 20% of world oil flows."
He said that if Iran didn't get involved directly, the impact on share markets could be minimal, but that the risk of this happening remains substantial.
Mr Oliver also said that the RBA should "look through" price shocks like this rather than further increase interest rates.