Bligh appointed ABA chief executive

Former Queensland premier Anna Bligh will replace Steven Munchenberg as chief executive of the Australian Bankers Association, a role which will require her to weather the storm of a possible Royal Commission into the major banks.

In a statement Bligh said she is excited about the opportunity to strengthen public trust in the banking system.

"Our banks are critical to the strength and stability of our national economy and the prosperity and well-being of every Australian," Bligh said.

"We all rely on our bank for the most important financial decisions of our lives, so we want a system that is open, fair and trustworthy. I am excited by this opportunity to lead and shape the reforms needed to strengthen public trust and confidence in our banking system."

Bligh's predecessor Munchenberg has repeatedly denied the need for a Royal Commission, branding Labor's calls as unnecessary and a waste of taxpayer funds.

"People don't believe a Royal Commission is the right way to go when they understand that it can't impose fines on banks or force banks to pay compensation, and it can't change laws or do anything other than make recommendations which the Government of the day is not bound to implement," Munchenberg said in an October 2016 statement.

"Of those who believe banks need to improve the way they operate, the majority want action now, not in two to three years' time via a Royal Commission."

Bligh has more than 30 years' experience in public service, initially with community organisations, before entering the Queensland Parliament in 1995. She held ministerial responsibilities for a number of portfolios including education and finance, and served as Treasurer and Deputy Premier before becoming Premier from 2007 to 2012. In 2012, she suffered a heavy electoral defeat, winning only seven parliamentary seats.

ABA chairman Andrew Thorburn welcomed the new chief officer, adding that her appointment demonstrates the industry's willingness to change.

"Anna's focus will firmly be on the culture within banking and lifting respect for our profession; creating a strong vision for customers and on how our industry responds and leads on regulatory reform," Thorburn said.

"As I've met with Anna I've seen the leadership, values and accountability she will bring to the role - and a willingness to confront and challenge the industry to continually improve."

Bligh is currently the chief executive YWCA New South Wales, a role she has held for the past three years. She will commence her new role on 3 April.

Read more: Royal CommissionABAAnna BlighAustralian Bankers AssociationSteven MunchenbergAndrew ThorburnDeputy PremierGovernment ofLaborQueensland ParliamentSteven MnchenbergTreasurerYWCA New South Wales
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