Banks can help customers impacted by bushfires
30 October 2020
The final report of the Royal Commission into Natural Disaster Arrangements is a critical step towards improving the way Australia responds to catastrophic weather events.
The Australian Banking Association has welcomed its recommendations and vowed to continue working with governments on their implementation.
“Banks play a vital role in helping Australians survive and recover from bushfires and other disasters”, said ABA CEO Anna Bligh.
“When disaster strikes, Australians need fast access to cash and support to help them survive. This report makes several recommendations to make that happen”, she said.
The ABA welcomes Recommendations 9.4 and 9.5 which will lead to the identification of critical infrastructure and the relevant risks to those sectors during emergencies.
“Banking services should be recognised nationally as critical infrastructure and included in planning and preparation efforts”, Ms Bligh said.
“Improving coordination between critical infrastructure providers and governments is key to ensuring we are better prepared next time”.
“When disaster strikes, Australians need fast access to cash and support to help them survive. This report makes several recommendations to make that happen”ABA CEO Anna Bligh
The banking industry has already been engaging with state and territory governments to improve consistency of emergency payments and financial assistance – issues identified in Recommendations 22.1 – 22.4.
Access to financial counsellors is also a key element of community resilience and recovery and deserves focus under the remit of Recommendation 22.5.
The ABA supports the development of an enduring funding model made up of a fixed level of Government funding and levies on the financial sector and non-financial sector participants that reflect the drivers of financial hardship.
This will ensure a sustainable funding base so people suffering terrible hardship can access critical advice and support when they need it.
Banks have a key role to play in the management of physical and transition risks associated with climate change. Each ABA member is undertaking specific actions tailored to the individual characteristics of their bank to address climate change. The banking industry in Australia supports the goals of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.
The ABA commends the work of Natural Disaster Royal Commissioners Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin AC, the Honourable Dr Annabelle Bennett AC SC and Professor Andrew Macintosh.
National Bushfire Recovery Agency Coordinator Andrew Colvin has also played a critical role in helping Australians recover from last summer’s bushfires.
Access to credit opens up opportunities and fulfills aspirations. Getting it right requires the right balance between consumer protections and the flow of credit.
Interviewed by AM’s Peter Ryan, ABA CEO Anna Bligh talked about the substantial drop in loan deferrals since their peak during the pandemic, falling from 900,000 to 300,000.